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Writing on Your Smartphone

I don't know what a statistician might say about how much time we spend with

our faces in our phones, but seems to me like it's a lot. It also seems like I hear student-writers and, well, lots of writers, at all levels, complaining about the lack of time available to write. I can't really say that I'm any different. I always wish there was more time to write. But I also find that I do an awful lot of writing, and I do a lot of it on my phone. In fact, I wrote an entire book on my iPhone, using the Notes app that comes standard on the thing. The Book of Freaks is comprised of mostly very short pieces, sometimes short short stories, sometimes they're more like prose poems. In part because these pieces were so little, they were easy to compose in short bursts on my phone. But I suppose it would also work with a longer single narrative or nonfiction piece that a writer could return to over and over whenever she felt the urge to get to it or when an idea struck her. We'll find out; I have draft of a nonfiction book currently on my Notes App. In this latter case I was forced to write the book that way, because I was working "undercover" and pretended to be texting people and stuff, but in reality I was writing notes about everything going on around me.

I live in Midtown Atlanta, which means I walk a lot, because I can walk to work, to the grocery store, to restaurants and bars, so I'd often get an idea, or a snippet of language would come to me, while I was walking down the sidewalk. I simply pulled out my phone, opened the notes app, and jotted the idea or sentence down. Usually it was riddled with typos and other errors, as is wont to happen when writing on your phone, but I didn't really care. The list of beginnings to pieces or single sentences and what-have-yous was (is) endless, but I didn't really care about that either. What mattered was that in later moments, when I had the time to sit down in peace at my computer and spend a few hours writing, rather than staring at the scary blank page and blinking cursor on Microsoft Word, I could simply take out my phone, look through my notes list for something interesting, send it to myself, and get to work. And that's how The Book of Freaks came to be.

Writing is, of course, really all about rewriting, revising, screwing around, and getting the words right, but it is a huge hurdle to get the first inklings of text out of your brain. But rather than spending all our time on our phones seeing what others have posted on Twitter or Facebook or whatever the kids are into these days, as writers, why not use that mini computer to start getting our stories, poems, and essays written. I've found that, for me, there's really no excuse for not having something to work on. So if you see me with my face stuck in my phone, chances are, I'm working on a new book.

Below are some excerpts from The Book of Freaks, so you can see the kinds of texts I've written on my phone and ended up publishing.

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