I’ve just been paid for a big film job I completed earlier in the year, and I decided to treat myself. It’s not exactly special, but I’ve invested in a new keyboard. Here’s why:
I work on a Mac, which is the only sensible choice for my video editing. The Mac came with a wireless keyboard and magic mouse. Now, the mouse is superb. No complaints. It’s a dream to use, and I don’t begrudge it batteries. And in isolation, the feel of the keyboard is ideal – the keys are low and responsive, and for a clumsy typist like me (for the most part, I’m a four-finger thug) there’s nothing to trip over. As a result, it helps me type quickly and efficiently.
BUT… it’s too damn short. Look at it against the new one. It’s smaller than my last laptop keyboard. Where are the number keys?
I fact, I don’t care about the number keys. But why are the cursor keys packed together like urchins in a bus stop? My hands are big and I type too fast, so I constantly hit Shift when I’m pitching at Up. And where are the Home/End travel keys? And where’s the Delete key? I miss all of that, and I want it back. Pus I resent dripfeeding batteries into it every two months. Plus it gives me RSI in my right hand little finger, which hangs useless and suspended while my middle and forefingers hammer out der stories. I don’t know why, but the pain goes away with a bigger keyboard. A wired mouse is a pain in the ass, but when I work glued to a screen, a wired keyboard makes no difference whatsoever to my workflow, either for editing or writing.
So there you have it: time for a new, full-size, slimline, wired keyboard. Happy days. If you write a lot, then it’s important to be comfortable in the tools of your trade; over the last few years, I’ve used keyboards that I cursed every time I touched them. Or thought about them. Keyboards with stuck or missing letters. A keyboard where the space bar only worked if it was smashed on the left. A keyboard with a dodgy USB cable, leading to entire lost paragraphs when the thing came loose; though maybe this is my fault for staring at the keyboard, rather than the screen. I wore through the keyboard on my old laptop to the point that my most frequent letters ceased to function. I’ve written on typewriters before, too. I love the clunk-thwack-bang of a solid metal typewriter, but all romance aside, those things are completely unsuited to the way I work: constantly revising, deleting, reshuffling, backtracking, jumping ahead, cutting and pasting and stitching it together. I use Cmd+S, X, C and V more often than full stops. And I often work out of sequence, too; a necessarily chronological workflow would drive me distracted.
Speaking of which – I’m currently giving the free trial of Scrivener a run, on the advice of novelist pals Ali Shaw and Iain Maloney. For the most part, I’m extremely impressed at how it helps me organise my work – but I’ll write more on this another time.
For now – a pox on miniaturisation!
Postscript: my friend Tom has just alerted me to this. Oh, my.