Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Libraries as offices, and some technology advice.

I arrived at the library today to find a talk being given by Basia Bonkowski, author of the memoir Shimmer. I'll just sit down and listen for a bit, I thought. A question came from the cosy audience: what was your writing schedule like for the book (a topic which seems to hold endless fascination for audiences the world over - aspiring writers themselves perhaps, looking for the secret?)? Well, said Ms Bonkowski, I had two small children and after I dropped them off at school at 9am, I turned down everything else so I could spend four hours writing. Then at 1pm I stopped to do the errands I needed to do before picking the kids up again.

Here I was, in the library, having just dropped my son off at creche with 4 hours to write, and what was I doing? Not writing. So, feeling guilty, I slunk away and began my working day.

The Christchurch libraries have become my new office. I have talked before about how I can't work at home. Working in the library is great. They have wireless internet for when a little procrastination is in order, and no other distractions. I find the general hum and bookishness of the place very conducive to working on a book. Yesterday I went to the Sumner library, which is near my mother's house, where I stole two hours. It is amazing how I seem to be able to write just as much in two hours as I can when I have a whole day. I think this is because I have to only focus on one thing - getting some words out - whereas on my full days I tend to start slowly (because I have all day, right?) and spend a lot more time reading books and websites for research and thinking about the overall novel instead of just the next 500 words.

As I was typing away at the Sumner library, my brand new computer froze on me. I rebooted it, hoping that it would autorecover the file I had been working on. It didn't. Not only that, but when I opened my memory stick, all the files, despite still being there, with names and 'last modified' dates on them, were completely blank. 0 kb used. Blank.

Luckily I have been almost vigilant about backing up this novel. The memory stick contained all the files that I had held on my work computer at the university, which I had already backed up onto another memory stick (thank God). But I lost what I had written that day and the day before, which admittedly wasn't very much.

I learned a valuable lesson. Apparently, if you open a file in a memory stick you should copy it over to your hard drive and then start working on it. Otherwise it can behave in all sorts of strange ways, and it doesn't automatically autosave like a hard drive file would do.

Not the most inspired post today but I hope that is useful to someone. The reason I'm letting myself add to my blog? I wrote my afternoon's minimum quota in half an hour today. Must have been thanks to a kick up the posterior by one Basia Bonkowski. Think I'll go back and write some more. 


5 comments:

artandmylife said...

I did much of my Masters work in the local library. Now I cram in as amuch as I can in the mornings where I only have 1 at home.

I find at home there are too many distractions even without kids. At home, if I get stuck on some writing , suddenly folding the washing or cleaning the bath becomes very appealing.

Gondal-girl said...

I wish my local library, metres from my house was as welcoming. Mine usually packed with pensioners and people who don't want to pay for a newspaper, taking turns at reading it....

Bookman Bettie said...

Christchurch Libraries are wonderful and saved me when I was in Chh last year for the Writers Festival. Sadly there was no wireless internet connection available at the venu (unbelievable really in this day and age) and my hotel (The Heritage) wanted to charge an arm and a leg for their access (equally unbelievable) but th good old public library came to the rescue and I was able to report on the Fetival twice a day via my blog.
http://beattiesbookblog.blogspot.com/2008/09/christchurch-public-libraries-bloggers.html
Oh I feel for you losing two days writing. I hope it comes back to you..........

Mary McCallum said...

Very generous of you Rachael to share this with us - definitely useful for me in all sorts of ways - especially the stuff about the memory stick.

Maggie May said...

I had the lucky opportunity to break my foot and have a few months off work, where all I had to do while my children were in school was write. It was amazing. I loved this post. It's what I wish I could do...go write in a library or bookstore. Being surrounded by books never fails to comfort and inspire me.