Going mobile: Take your office along for the ride
ONLINE COLUMN: Web Savvy
Published: August 4, 2009
|Writers who travel frequently learn certain truths. Your luggage will be lost by an airline at least once. That editor you've been itching to write for will call at the worst possible moment. And even if you're not doing work-related travel, inspiration will bump into you like a stranger on a crowded street. Technology will ultimately enable the airline to find your luggage. It will also enable you to seal that freelance deal or quickly key a first draft on the run. |
Taking your office along for the ride is fairly easy. The trick is to control the weight of that portable office but still have enough tools to meet your needs. The other trick is to get the stuff into a single bag. For me the linchpin is the laptop bag. I bought two bags before I found one that worked for me. The first bags I bought had a lousy shoulder pad. Then a vendor gave my husband a free bag at a trade show. I don't know who manufactured the bag, but the shoulder pad is very plush. That eases the pull on my shoulder and neck when I'm required to walk a distance. There's plenty of room in the bag for my cable, laptop and other items because the inner compartments are roomy.
Of course you need a laptop, netbook or notebook that weighs less than a 10-lb. bag of potatoes—hopefully a lot less.
I always take a mini digital recorder and I have a lightweight, small digital camera I use just for travel. I only take my best camera when I'm doing a special story if I'm traveling because you can always dress up or adjust an image in your preferred editing program.
With the portable office, it's definitely the weight that counts.
A necessity for me is a hands-free device so I don't have to hold my cell phone. My Bluetooth works great for that; my only complaint is the ear bud part is a little too big for my ear. I paid approximately $45 for mine through my cell phone service provider, and that price includes the charger.
A writer should never be without her business card—you never know when opportunity will knock.
Going mobile requires more than tools. Since I began my business, I've used a customized "To-Do" form to keep up with deadlines, meetings and reminders. I take that form along in my notebook—I usually staple each week's form on top of the form from the previous week. I tend to scribble everything from phone numbers to story ideas on that form—I organize it by using tables for each item. That way if someone calls and I'm asked a question, I have a means of jogging my brain.
Despite the wonders of technology, you'll also need a pad and pen of course. As a writer, I think those items are actually a security blanket.
I rely on hotels for Internet connectivity. I take the cable just in case the wireless option runs too slowly, but most cell phone companies have an option for Internet service.
The bonus with your portable office is that you can cover events live. There's nothing quite as exciting as blogging away during a sporting event or concert, and if you have a web cam on your computer, your reader can get the full experience even if he's halfway around the world.
An extra, if you like to keep water handy, is one of those tony new water bottles, a nice nod to going green. There are a number of styles, but the one that caught my eye is the Platypus Platy Bottle. It collapses but will hold ½ liter. It's self-described as "featherweight." There's another, an "earth-friendly" bottle called a "CornTainer." You can do a search for refillable water bottles and there will be numerous options.
Taking your office mobile can lead to exciting newsbreaks, but there's also sentiment sometimes for the days when phones weighed more than a 5-lb. bag of potatoes and required a carry-bag as well. Going mobile as a writer is necessary, but leaving that portable office behind on occasion is worth considering. Even writers need a break sometimes.
New Web site targets poetry skeptics
Most poetry Web sites target poetry lovers, but the new site YourDailyPoem.com targets poetry skeptics. Founded by Jayne Jaudon Ferrer, Your Daily Poem is an outgrowth of Ferrer's e-mail 'Poetry Parade.' Subscribers get a daily poem by e-mail during April when National Poetry Month is celebrated. What started as a challenge by her brother and brother-in-law, to find poems they would bother to read, turned Ferrer into a "poetry missionary," as she refers to herself. "I looked for the most amazing, outrageous, gut-punching poems I could find and, at the end of the month, they had to admit they'd read them all. They didn't like them all," laughs the poet and author of four bestselling gift books for women, "but they read them—and that was the point."
Jayne Jaudon Ferrer
Eventually many of Ferrer's more than 500 subscribers urged her to do the parade year-round. She says she's had wonderful support from poets. Ferrer features a broad variety of work at the site. Some poets she's published include multiple NEA fellowship winner Philip Dacey, campus icon Marge Piercy, beloved children's author Frank Asch, and Pushcart Prize winner Gregory Orr, who called Your Daily Poem "quite wonderful." Santa Cruz poet and workshop leader Ellen Bass lauded the goal of the new site, saying, "My belief is that people really do love poetry, but they need to be given the poem they'll love."
Many who know Ferrer call her a poetry warrior, and that is an understatement.
Ferrer invites published poets to submit their most "lovable" poems. "This is not a venue for the morose or oblique," she cautions. "The point of Your Daily Poem is to show the pleasure and accessibility of poetry and to encourage people to make it a regular part of their lives; think Robert Frost, not Sylvia Plath."
Ferrer's subscribers enjoy poems from the past, and work by established and emerging poets.
Submissions to www.YourDailyPoem.com should be sent in the body of an e-mail to email@example.com. Copyright information and publication details, if applicable, should be included along with an author bio of 100 words or less. A few personal facts are preferable to a detailed list of awards. It's all about the targeted audience. Ferrer said, "Only academics care that you won an award. The general public is more intrigued by knowing you were inspired to write by your fourth grade teacher or that you collect comic books in your spare time."
Netbooks vs. Notebooks: What's the difference? [Web Savvy]
True Immediacy: Covering Events Live [Web Savvy]
Web site for Jayne Jaudon Ferrer's poetry skeptics subscribers and for poetry lovers as well.
--Published Aug. 4, 2009
Join us next time as we talk to author Kim Addonizio about her new online workshop for poets, and about how the Web impacts her work.
Kay B. Day
Florida journalist Kay B. Day has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. The author of two books, she has written for The Christian Science Monitor, United Press International, The Florida Times-Union and Sky News. To read Kay's other Web Savvy columns about writing for the Web, click here.