Monday, August 11, 2014

Teaching An Old Dog

by Shannon Baker

I’ve reached that curmudgeon stage when I find myself grumbling, “I don’t like change.” Some of you who know me will laugh at that because I’ve moved eight times in the last eleven years. But I’m talking about technology.

I haven’t always been so sluggish. Back in the day, I actually could program my VCR. I was an early adopter with computers, using one of the first Peachtree accounting programs. I wrote features for an online newspaper when it was a brand new phenomenon, and had a bag phone before the Big Lebowski made it look cool.

Still, as technology accelerates and especially since my last daughter left home, I seem to be falling further behind. I was just getting the hang of using the remote to DVR and create my own programing when we moved to rural Nebraska last fall, where we don’t get those handy options.

Last spring, a friend of mine published an audio book and wanted me to review it. Strictly because of this need-to-know, I entered in the world of audio books. That’s so freaking awesome! I can walk and listen to books on my phone. I’m getting so much more “reading” done now. I’m even really close to figuring out Overdrive and being able to borrow audio books from the library. As soon as the books I bought are finished, I’ll need-to-know how and I’ll do it.

Now, thanks to my good friend, Mark Stevens, (Allison Coil Mystery Series), I have to learn yet another new thing. He keeps telling me about these great podcasts for writers and readers. In fact, one of his suggestions—which he wrote about in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers August newsletter—is called just that, Reading and Writing Podcast.

How hard can this be?

Ha. All I wanted to do was download these podcasts onto my phone so I can happily tromp around town, ear buds inserted and listen. But my phone is an Android and these are iTunes. Or something. At any rate, my silly phone refuses to download the app to make listening possible. I know there’s a way to do this and it frustrates me to no  end!

After way too much time, I finally resorted to kyping my husband’s iPod Shuffle. Then I had to figure out how to use that. Not impossible but a small learning curve was involved. All set and very happy, phone stuffed into my pocket--because who would leave the house without the ability to check email or take a call?—Shuffle clipped onto my T-shirt, earbuds firmly planted, I can wander around my small town for hours. I’m reading and being inspired and sinking deeply into the writer’s brain.

But now I have a very low-tech problem. Walking and running have always been my free-brain time. That’s when my mind wanders and weaves into my stories and characters. Whenever I have a particularly hairy story issue, I strap on my tennis shoes and off I go.

I love my new resources but I need my old untethered time, too. Guess I’ll just have to put in more miles.

How about you? How do you balance reading and learning with dreaming time?

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