Thursday, January 07, 2010

Inventions for Writers

With all the gadgets and gizmos for writers out there on the market, I still carry around a mini wish-list in my head of things I wish these tech people would invent for us writers. Such as:

Back to Work Reminder: This could be a screensaver that inspires me to stop staring at it and get back to work -- other than a photograph of this month's bills. Or maybe just a disembodied hand that would pop out of my screen and smack me in the head whenever I idle too long.

Comfortable Headphone/microphone Set: I mean so comfortable I can wear it all day and never feel it on my head. I'd say mink-lined, too, but I hate the idea of minks being slaughtered just to pamper my skull, so fake mink-lined.

Crick Relief Product: Something I can rub on, wrap on or brace my head on to get rid of the crick in my neck after I finish work for the day. A tall strapping young man who would either sit adoring at my feet (which he would rub now and then) feed me grapes or fetch me books would be a nice compromise.

Doubt Time-Out Cage: One exclusively designed to contain the obnoxious bitch my internal editor, as long as it comes with a matching muzzle and a beating stick.

End-All Counter: For once I'd like a 100% accurate across-the-board word counter that counts the same on every system, so I don't find out 24 hours before a manuscript is due that I went over my wordcount by 5K again.

Financial Spreadsheet for the Weary: A program that does not require the Treasury Department, a CPA and Einstein five years to explain its functions to me. One that accepts standard math formulas and does my taxes for me would be nice, too.

Hand Cream: My hands get seriously chapped in winter, but I need a lightweight, silky, 100% natural product that doesn't make my fingers sticky and that I can wear to bed at night without smearing it all over the linens, my face, my guy . . . okay, wait, I might want to think this over a bit more.

I-don't-want-my-period-on-deadline-week Pill: Until I finish menopause, one that will prevent Mother Nature from delivering my monthly "gift" seven days before a book is due, and that will also not give me a stroke, a heart attack or blood clots in my legs. Or just warp speed me through menopause, now, please.

Imagination Restoratives: Anything here -- bath salts, scented candles, or an exotic tea -- that gives my sense of wonder a nice nudge. A matching body spray that solves all my plot problems would be wonderful, too.

Mac for Dummies: No, really. I want to try out a Mac, but I'd need one designed for stupid people who can't even be trusted to make their own system recovery disks. I even have the name for it already: the iDiot model.

MP3 Player Minus Buds, Max Screen: I'd like one that does not have those ear bud things, which common sense tells me are very bad for your ear drums, and has a backlit screen larger than a matchbook so I can actually read it. It should also be simple enough for a not-too-bright three year old to operate, since that is the equivalent of my technical know-how (see Mac for Dummies.)

Multiple voice text-to-speech program: I would love to hear a manuscript read back to me with a primary female narrator but also additional different voices for the dialogue (something I could customize so I'd hear male and female voices reading the dialogue lines.) Then I want to program it with a steely Clint Eastwood voice to answer the phone whenever NY calls.

Non-glaring Reading Lamp: One that emulates sunlight and is adjustable to fifteen or twenty different illumination settings and can be easily moved, clipped on and used wherever I want to read, including the bath tub (and yes, it should also be fully immersible, unless you want the Kyndred series to be over really, really fast.)

Novelist's Word Processor: Simple page formatting, simple save, Courier New 12 pt. font, the ability to print or make into a .pdf, and that's all I need. Oh, and the ability to manually remove page numbers and restart them elsewhere without having to read an entire freaking manual, thank you, Bill Gates.

Permanent Ink Pens: I need the kind that do not bleed through paper but don't self-destruct and spit up ink in their own barrels and then leak all over your purse or pocket (yes, Sharpie pen, I am talking about you.)

Reader's Armchair: I really need one that is comfortable enough to read while sitting in but not so comfortable I fall asleep instead. Built-in hands to rub my shoulders when I'm reading a galley and hold me in a comforting embrace while I sob over the inevitable screw-ups would be lovely, too.

Simple E-reader: I want one that has a huge screen, is backlit, maybe two buttons at the most. One that will not tire my eyes and does not try to sell me anything else at all. The manufacturer should have absolutely zero access to the device as well. I'd also like to have a stylus and touch-marking system so I could make notes in the margins, save them and upload them to the computer. P.S., I'd like the model I'm sold not to be changed, improved or otherwise upgraded or made obsolete for a minimum of ten years.

Spill-proof, Dust-repellent, Bangable-enabled Standard-size Keyboard: Something along the lines of an AlphaSmart Neo, which my daughter now assures me is practically indestructible. I'd also like it to have an electrify option I could enable whenever a certain nosy family member visits and tries to sneak on and rifle through my computer after I go to bed. Not a lethal charge, of course, but just enough juice to singe off his eyebrows.

Universal Notebook: I'd like a one-size-fits-all, expandable notebook that will accept anything from a twenty-page synopsis to a six-hundred page manuscript and with three inner rings that refuse to warp, bend, or get caught on the holes in the pages, and that doesn't weigh a ton. It should also have a self-destruct charge that I can detonate remotely, say from my deathbed.

Writer Slippers: Be nice to have some that are heated and keep my toes from turning into little Popsicles during winter, and that don't make me look like the Cat in the Hat, Sam I Am or that kid from Where the Wild Things Are.

What are some of the inventions you'd like to see? Let us know in comments.

16 comments:

  1. I think I would go for the simple E-reader. That's just something that should be invented, with no other function than reading.

    Oh and the imagination restoratives are great too! :)

    And maybe some device that can close you off from the rest of the world...

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  2. I'm with you on the Reader's Armchair.

    I am looking to for a brain to text input device.

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  3. All MACs are for Dummies. Seriously, I call them idiot proof. I'm not a computer person, which is why I love love love having a MAC.

    You should take a tour through the tutorials on apple.com . They make it all look simple- every program- and they're not wrong.

    I can't vouch for the VR program though, which I know is important to you.

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  4. You know how to lock your computer so unless nosy visitors have your password, they can't get in, right? I would have daily heart attacks if my kids could access and accidentally delete my files. I lock.

    I would also like the non-destructible keyboard, immune to playdoh.

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  5. Oh, and spa socks: they have little microwavable inserts that you heat, put back in, and wear warm fuzzy comfort while you write. I love, love, love my spa socks. Especially during winter.

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  6. A writer's word processor - so my mac loving friends tell me - exists. It's called Scrivener...
    http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.html

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  7. I want a kid shield. Something that lets them interrupt me when it's a true need--like for a hug or a question or other legit stuff--but bounces them right off (silently) for "he's on my side of the couch!" and other nonsense.

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  8. I would like either a no-sleeping pill that would make sleep unnecessary or some contraption that would allow just a few more hours in the day... say four.

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  9. Anonymous10:20 AM

    I didn't get all the way thorough the list, but I did want to let you knw there is a product called Biosilk Silk Therapy that is a lightweight miosutriezer. It does have a mild perfume, but this one doesn't bother me.
    I haven't used it on my hands on a regular basis, but I do like it. It's pretty pricey (which is why I only use it sparingly) and I live west of Chicago -- so my hands have severe issues in the winter. They crack and bleed. Personally, I was given a Mary K gift one year of a hand buffer, cleanser, and two moisturizers, and I thought that stuff actually did pretty well. However, I'm too lazy (and cheap) to purchase that on my own. So I stick to Neutrogena.
    JulieB

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  10. Anonymous10:24 AM

    Oh -- just looked at the back of the lotion -- I don't think it's 100% natural. And, apparently, it's flamable. Please disregard :)
    JulieB

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  11. Gold Bond Ultimate Healing Skin Therapy Lotion. Dermatologist tested, hypoallergenic, gentle enough to use on your face (though I wouldn't)

    You only need a drop the size of a pea, it's not greasy, lasts 24 hours, doesn't smear on anything and works like magic! Yes, it's about $7 a tube, maybe a bit more, but as long as you don't have a 21yo DD who thinks it works great on her legs, it will last for ages.

    I need blinders. Simple ones, maybe on a headband, so I can slip them on and off with ease. I have found myself so easily distracted lately.

    Along with about a hundred other things that I won't bore you with.

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  12. I reiterate everything Sasha says about Macs. I'm not a computer dummy, but I detested Macs for years because when the first one came out, I couldn't figure out how to open a file. But all the advocates got me wondering, so I'd go to the Apple store and poke around. I'd poke around when I was in the BX. And I could open programs, find files, and other stuff. So I got a Mac Mini ($599 -- not a lot invested, so I didn't have much to lose). I had a monitor, keyboard, and mouse, so that was no big deal. And I absolutely love it! Incredibly easy to use. I have a Switching to the Mac (The Missing Manual) book, but I rarely need it.

    VR is a potential deal killer. I believe a Mac version of the Dragon has been released recently, but I'd strongly recommend researching that and other possible programs to find out what real users think.

    On the back to work reminder, I once sent a system message that said, "Blink" to a subordinate of mine who would get very engrossed in his imagery projects. Maybe something similar that popped up every so often would help.

    The MP3 player thingie? I'm guessing the Mac Tablet that is supposed to be announced later this month might be worth looking into. Is projected to work nicely as an e-reader, too.

    When you find that universal notebook, let me know your source. I want one, too.

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  13. For Hand Cream: I recommend Weleda. Fast-drying and wonderful for hands. The pomegranate one is silkier than the skin food.

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  14. My vote is for your Crick Relief Product in the tall strapping variety. But I fear side-tracking might ensue. :-)

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  15. You ever tried any of the body products from Lush? All natural stuff and I haven't ever used anything that leaves me hands feel slippery-well, other than the massage bar, but that's the point of a massage bar.

    I'm a Lush addict. I admit. I need an intervention, but I don't want one.

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  16. I'd like a timer when I'm blogging so that I can then pay attention to other things.

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