DisPatches, June 1999
My Writing Life With Macintosh
George Barker's memoirs, Moongate Dreams, are available at www.tiny-trickle.com.
I have been a small-time writer almost all my adult life. Due to cerebral palsy, I typed with the measured grace of a tortoise on valium, using one stiff finger. To me, six words a minute represented Olympic speed. If I tried to race ahead madly, I made lots of mistakes. My copy used to be grubby and fly-specked with XXXing out and strike-overs.
Until I got a state-of-the-art 512k Macintosh computer with a MacWrite word-processing program in 1985, I felt disadvantaged as a writer. I was still no typing gazelle, but now I could turn out squeaky-clean pages. The delete key, the cut and paste capabilities, and the amazing way I could move big chunks of copy from page to page made writing as simple as drinking rum and coke through a straw.
Computer technology is changing and improving at such a rapid rate that just trying to keep up with what's new is almost a job in itself. Hence, I hesitate to recommend a Macintosh for every CP who wants to write or get on the Internet. But, for me, Macs are best. They are user-friendly. For anyone who, like me, is a slow typist, icons beat number strings. I can use a mouse, but find it awkward with my clumsy hands. A physical therapist friend introduced me to to the Kensington Turbo Mouse, which is much simpler for me.
Writing is like climbing a mountain. When one starts down among the trees, flowers and gurgling rills and tiny waterfalls, everything is exciting and beautiful. After half a day of plodding, the landscape becomes boring, precipitous fields of granite and ice. When one reaches the top and gazes outward at the vast valley, fatigue turns to triumph and a feeling of accomplishment.
In order to get that feeling of accomplishment, I require information. The best source for me is the Internet and the World Wide Web. I have trouble holding and turning the pages of books and magazines, but no such problem with a computer screen. All the information I want and will ever need is available to me through my computer.
It has changed my life.