A couple of years ago I contributed a chapter to a book, and despite my best intentions, and the best and kind attentions of my editor, I totally misunderstood the brief. In short, dear reader, I had to do it all again.
That would have been fine, once I’d gone through the three stages of writing grief (“It’s all their fault”, “It’s all my fault”, “I can’t do any better”). However, I was on holiday in Lyme Regis when the news came through on my phone. I was starting the reading for a textbook I was writing, and had in mind a largely ICT-free holiday of good old fashioned reading and noting. So, several thousand words to write, no laptop.
This led to me trying to write coherent things on my mobile, at the time a perfetly servicable samsung of some sort. Reading academic texts and editor’s notes on a phone is not really as hard as it sounds I told myself. I convinced myself that writing with only my thumbs couldn’t be that hard either.
I lasted two days. Then I went looking for an internet cafe, finding one in the Lyme Regis business support centre. This is a nice place, but a bit austere, on the edge of the town centre. In terms of the cost of parking, of the use of the cafe, and of my marriage at having ruined four days of our holiday I think I spent several times the value of the free copy of the book that I received almost a year later.
In the end I could see that my editor was right, I could do a better job. I learned to read the brief, and to read in between the lines of my feedback better. I also yearned from that moment on to own a cheap bluetooth keyboard that I could pack in a suitcase, just in case. Now I do own one, and by way of a test I used it to type this blog, which has no other purpose than to see if it works well.