Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Small Does Not Mean Powerless & Other Lessons I Learnt As A Person & As a Writer This February

On Monday my Kitty reminded me small can be very deadly 

I'm a flawed human being. No, no, no, don't laugh! I know that's not news. It's's always interesting when I see myself through someone else's eyes.

Sometimes it's scary because they see this glowing, fabulous person on a day when I'd swear I look like Gollum.

Other days, I'm Sauron to them and have to remind myself that while not perfect, I'm not that evil or complex.

Then there are days, rare days, when someone sees me very clearly and they don't like what they see,  and they gently suggest that I change.

Those times, I can see they have a valid point, respect that are urging me towards "socially" acceptable behaviour and either put in some work because their suggestion fits in who I am/want to be, or thank them kindly for their suggestion and just move on with my life because what they suggest does not fit in who I am.

Anyhoo, this month I learnt that:

Lesson 1: Some warts are beautiful

In general, I like me and  I know that removing some of the warts in my personality will be beneficial for my interactions with family, friends and business associates.

However, some warts suit me and they don't hurt anyone, and removing them would bend my personality into something that I'm not.

The change would also be hard work all the time and probably, not very sustainable, as I'd have to constantly bite my tongue or do things I don't want to or in a way I don't want to, just because "that's how it's done."

The important thing for me, is to know which warts hide a cancer and which ones are just a beauty mark  and if it's a beauty mark to the people who love me, I'm keeping it. (Thank you, Cindy Crawford for showing me and the world a wart can be beautiful).

Lesson 2: Somehow the universe conspires to make change difficult

The second lesson I learnt is that change is hard, whether it's change in direction or character/ personality or in a way you do something.  For example, soon after I mentioned on this blog that I was going to focus on writing more fiction, I was inaundated with client work. It felt as if the world was saying, " are you really going to say no to non-fiction, even though we have these lovely offers lined up for you?"

And ja, some of the work was/is interesting.  For example, I just finished a piece this morning for an IT security company (they do a lot of complicated stuff, but in my head I call them hackers for hire,  because they test the IT security systems of large corporates so they can block their vulnerabilities).

How can an honest-to-god IT fangirl say no to writing about that? Still, I also had to turn down some things down while crying inside, because there are not enough hours in the day to do it all.

Lesson 3: Some ideas are brilliant and will probably make someone rich, but I'm not the person to make them happen

That has been a hard pill to swallow. I'd love to write a literary novel that changes the world somehow, or do some huge community development project that changes lives.

The glitch is that I'm happiest when I'm in my office, writing, whether fiction or non-fiction.  And God bless me, I love reading genre fiction, even the predictability and formalaic feel of it. It's probably another flaw in my personality, because rumour has it that I have the brains to appreciate well-written literary fiction or even just mainstream fiction. And yet, most days I choose genre fiction for my intertainment.

That little twist in my brain is probably the same one that makes me read the last chapter of a novel first, before I begin the first chapter.

 I have to know how it ends to enjoy putting the puzzle pieces together and for me, the pleasure of reading comes from How and Why it happened, not from What happened.

And other than children's books, I can see myself writing a whole lotta genre fiction and being satisfied with that. No great South African novel hiding in my psyche, unfortunately. That same lesson applies to my life and business, BTW.
Lesson 4: Slow and steady does the job

I like to believe that I'm an OK writer. The challenge for me has always been that I'm a relatively slow writer and when a client wants a piece in very short order, sometimes my brain just gets stuck.

I'm not talking about something reasonable, like a news article or two per day. That's easy enough to do. But something more complex,  like someone asking for a report based on several meetings attended by more than 10 people, resulting in a  4-hour long audio, with all parties quoted accurately and statements attributed to the right people, in four days?

Luckily, my contact understood that this was not a reasonable request under any circumstance, and was willing to take my "No" to her own people.

Back when I was still green in this business, I would have taken the job ( and been grateful for it) and then spent the next four days killing myself to achieve a miracle, then been rapped on the knuckles because either I didn't meet the deadline anyway, or the work was shoddy.

As a former journalist, I do understand that speed is necessary to get things done in business or your competitor will eat your lunch and dinner. But I've also come to appreciate that quality work requires adequate time and attention to detail and when the people you deal with are used to crazy speeds, or have to face the consequences for being slow, it is hard to say "No."

On a broader scale, I've also come to appreciate that you can steadily whittle down a big project until you reach your objective.

At the beginning it may look big and overwhelming and when there are other parties who have stake in it and are pushing for it to get done now, it can also be very stressful. But if you do a little bit every day, eventually the progress does add up.

Lesson 5: Being small does not mean you're powerless

See that big snake at the beginning of the post? I'm told it's a cobra. My Kitty had a confrontion with it my garden and killed it. Ja, let's not discuss what else shares space in my vegetable and herb garden, huh? Because the problem with living close to nature? It's that sometimes you're too damn close to nature!

My point though is that Kitty, who probably doesn't even weigh a kilogram, consistently scratched that snake with her sharp claws until it bled to death.

Of course she wanted to tell me all about it, strutting into my kitchen with her bloody feet to miao all about it. Me? I was just scared when I first saw her bloody feet (not her own blood) and the snake, worrying about what would have happened if I met it alone in the garden, or what would have happened to Kitty if she lost.

She has earned a lot of respect from my family ( and some locals who are superstitious about cats) and has been getting a lot of treats as a reward. Anyhoo, I'm sure March will bring more lessons for me: some of the easy enough to digest, others kicking my butt. That's just life.

What did you learn this February and how are you applying it to your own life?

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Dreams, Priorities and Money

Brainstorming on my chalkboard wall
One of the scariest aspects of my decision to focus on fiction for 2015 and to take on less client work is where the money for paying bills is going to come from.

On the surface, I have a good framework set up to achieve this goal - a stable home with enough room for a home office, a freezer full of  a variety of vegetables from my summer garden, an Autumn garden just starting out and Internet access to research and write my stories. I even have a little bit of cash for bills and some luxuries. All I need to do is to knuckle down and write, edit, polish and submit my stories, then rinse and repeat.

For the past couple of years, I've done well enough writing non-fiction and blogging. But now that I'm facing this new writing challenge head-on, I'm stuck on the thought that being an IT journo, freelance writer and blogger is not an indicator that I can write fiction. And even if some of my fiction is accepted by publishers, will readers like it enough to buy it?

Also, what if  I do get published but don't sell enough books to make a living? That is the fate of many authors who have to have day jobs to subsidise their  royalty income. Keeping that reality in mind, is it wise to want to make a living from fiction or realistic to even try?

 I'm old enough and experienced enough in the writing business to know that my chances of success are miniscule. Yet, wise or not, I know I have to at least give this phase of my life and writing career a good try. I spent a big chunk of my career focussing on non-fiction because I had figured out how to sell my services to potential clients.

I was grateful for the work and enjoyed, even felt passionate, about some of the projects, as they resonated with my own values. So I have no regrets for doing the work and hope that in future, I will still be given the opportunity to work other non-fiction projects that combine my knowledge, skills, interests  and values and still pay well.

But more than a millenia years ago when I was still a child growing up in very rural, dusty Phokeng, my greatest dream was to write novels. That is why I entered this business in the first place.

The village didn't have running water or electricity or waste disposal then. I'd attended part of my Grade 1-2 under a tree, so the local schools didn't have a libraries then.  So becoming a novelist was as far-fetched as moving to Mars. Yet, that was my dream.

Now I'm at that stage in my life where I have a fighting chance to succeed as a fiction writer, I have to give it a good try, or I will fail that little girl who read everything she could get her hands on and dreamt that some day someone would read something she wrote.

Not trying would also be failing people like my father, who believed that I could succeed as an author despite the odds. He did everything he could to support my writing career even if we both looked like stupid dreamers back then.  So for him and that little girl, and many other people who supported me along the way, I have to do my best.

 Still, my fears refuse to stay silent. Some days the nay-voice is so loud that it drowns out the stories that I could be writing down. That's when I start working on Plan B, C or D, for when I fail as a novelist. The alternative business plans are sound enough and would be brilliant plans actually, if they were part of my dream.

But this past January, I realised that no matter how well thought-out and packaged any business idea might be, for me it is still another way to procrastinate from writing. If I'm focussing on Plan B, I'm not failing as a fiction writer. Except, not trying means I am failing. So this February I resolved to say "Not for me, thank you" more often.

Of course I might have to change my tune by the end of the year and beg for work, any work, even crappy sweatshop-type projects, if the fiction writing doesn't gain traction.

I know it's very unlikely that I will make a good living from fiction within a year or two, so I'll still need to do some client work to pay bills, but my plan is that by the end of the year I will have placed some good projects with publishers, and be in edits for some of the projects.And that can only happen if I put most of my focus on the writing process.

In the past four months I've submitted three children's books with a local traditional publisher and intend to finish a couple more and submit them too. I also have a novella that is making the rounds with epublishers. I have no idea whether they will like the work or not, but my philosophy at this stage is that, the more I have polished work out there being seen by publishers, the better my chances of placing some of the manuscripts.

So my main writing job in 2015 will be to write as many stories as I can and once they are ready, find homes for them. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Minutiae Of A Writing Life In Phokeng

The words came today. Lots and lots of words. It wasn't the story that I had been working on, that I wanted to write. It wasn't part of a client project either. Still, when the words are begging me to write them, I'm not going to argue :)

I wish I had a good quality camera to capture the charm of this room

There is a lot stuff happening in my home office- there's a PC, a laptop, printer, notebooks and pads and pens to write with, a fan to combat the extreme heat and various hand creams to make me comfortable, speakers for when I play music or my favourite radio station, books, seeds, my sun hat... The green kist is packed full of fabrics that I also plan to use for me or the house. It has also been known to serve as a visitor chair:)

I love... love my new chalkboard wall too, where I'm currently scribbling out a children's story. The problem with that story is that my pacing was off, but putting it on the wall like that, I can make sure I have the same number of sentences in each page.

From my main workstation I can easily look up at the wall, I can see if the words on my manuscript fit the allocated space or not, and thus, cut out whatever excess I have.

Last night I was climbing up and down the kist so I could reach high up on the wall ( I AM short!) and just being a able to move and stretch as I write, music playing in the background... it was great. Now all I can hope for is that these words that are streaming out are publishable. Somewhere.

If it's on this wall, I don't have to remember it
As you can see, my main planning board made it into this office too. You've probably seen it it various versions of my home offices. That's my trusty brain dumping place, where I usually pin up every idea that ever makes it through my mind long enough to be scribbled down, whether it's to do with business, writing,or any of my interests and life admin stuff.

In other news, yesterday we dug up the potatoes in these two bowls from the garden. They came from one bed out of 5 similar beds and if the output from the remaining beds is the same, I will not be buying potatoes in a very long while. 

Currently we don't buy carrots, beetroot, onions, spinach, butternut/pumpkin and squash either, as we have a glut of that from the garden. I'm happy with that.

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Room Of My Own

A happy 2015 to you. I hope you  had a great festive season.. that you enjoyed your time with family and friends and that you are now ready to tackle 2015.

I've had a good start to 2015. I took time to rest in December (actually, I was a sloth, doing absolutely nothing for days on end) and to plan for 2015.

As I sit in my home office right now, I feel very fortunate that I have a room of my own,  and not just in the literal sense. I've finally changed one of the bedrooms into a home office cum studio, where I expect to spend my days writing, reading, planning my garden, making stuff while also listening to my favourite radio station. 

The room overlooks the back garden, where marigolds are blooming and pumpkin and squash are vining all over the beds and it's a really nice place to look over. Now if only my brain would cooperate and I could actually get a creative word or two out onto a page.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Learning To Relax

By Christelle Du Toit

In all the years that I’ve known Damaria, I know that when she gets stressed I need to chase her to the garden and/or outside for a walk. It calms her down and she’ll come back saying damn, why didn’t I think of that?

Me? I’m not so good at relaxing, even when she tries to get me to. I stress and then stress about stressing. So when I had an opportunity to go to Cape Town for an unplanned long weekend, staying in the Protea hotel Seapoint, I jumped at it!

Myself and my friend Ilva, who had been dealing with tons of stress and drama, shared a room.

Upon arrival, we were greeted warmly by hotel staff and booking was fast and efficient. The lobby is beautifully decorated, and contains a 9m long work table, fitted with iPads for the guests to use - with 500MB of free wifi daily! The lounge area, complete with wide-screen TV and bar, provides a relaxed atmosphere for guests to relax and socialise.

The room we stayed in was very tastefully and artfully decorated, mostly in black and white, with splashes of bold colour. The bathroom was modern and clean, with a big shower. A small balcony, with a view of the ocean, added to the serenity of the hotel stay.

Room rates are great value, and start at just under R1000 per day- with an early-bird discount of 20% if you book a month or more in advance.

The hotel offers dinners and breakfasts and, of course, a delightful room service menu. Guests can also choose to order from the adjoining Spur restaurant, which shares an outdoor terrace with the hotel.

Breakfasts are lavish and offer great variety - from fruit and yoghurt, to pastries, to your typical farmhouse breakfast options.

What sets this hotel apart is it’s suitability for corporate travellers and holidaying families alike. Some added facilities include a plunge pool and a fitness centre (complete with cycles, weights and treadmills).

Now Damaria might still have considered the exercise options for de-stressing. Me? Not so much. I’m just going to punch pennies and dream of my next break-away!

P.S. from Damaria: Christelle is the friend I co-wrote How to get quoted in the media with. She reads a lot of my writings in their raw form, and we rarely seem to agree on the first run on whether the writing works or not. But that's healthy, I think. It pushes me to do better.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Taking A Long-Term View Of Your Writing Career

Today I was emailing back and forth with someone and they laughed a bit, commenting that I seem to be "taking a long-term view on things," meaning my writing career.

At first I was startled because it was so natural for me to consider the fate of my work once I'm dead. I wasn't being morbid. It's just that for me, when we talk about the rights that we authors grant publishers, my mind automatically skips to 3 things:
  • Benefits now - advances if any, royalty structure, frequency of payments, additional monetisation opportunities if possible
  • Benefits over the span of the contract - the potential offered by royalty payments over time, what other rights I can sell and where
  • Long-term benefits - My heir's rights to existing royalties or opportunities for them to sell more rights
I think it's the last part that startled my friend, but having seen how some authors' works continue to be used  and produced long after their deaths, and a lot more rights sold as new platforms emerge, it seemed very natural for me to always consider long-term implications for my work.

Another factor that drives me is that  I started out writing back in the day when it took around two years for a publisher to go from accepting a manuscript to get a book into print.

Nothing seemed to be rushed then, and once your story was accepted, you didn't expect to see royalties for at least 3 years (2 years for the publication process to happen; 1 year for the publisher to sell the books and reconcile statements and then pay you your share). Of  course there were exceptions to those practices, but for a newbie like me then, I had to fit into a schedule determined well in advance. Now the publishing process happens so fast, especially when it's digital platforms that I feel like I'm telling a fairytale when I talk about publishing lead times. What in heaven's name were the publishers and editors doing all that time?

There is also the fact that, as an avid gardener,  I'm used to planning seasons ahead to ensure a good supply of certain vegetables and herbs when I want them. For example, if I plan to have an adequate supply of potatoes starting the winter of 2015, best I plant all my potato seeds by the end of November this year.

Failure to plant the seeds by now means no potatoes from the garden when winter starts. I could and would still be able to buy them from the store, but then, what would be the point of having a food garden if I'm not planting in time to work with the seasons?

One unexpected benefit for me to learning to take the long-term view on my writing career is that I'm learning to plan my life more, which means less panicking. For exampe, instead of looking for writing work I need to do this week to pay bills at the end of December, I'm looking for work to do in February/March 2015.

I'm also learning to be more patient. If I want to make something happen, I can keep pushing and working it.. and because I don't expect immediate results, I'm less likely to be discouraged by delays and dead-ends. I can also outstubborn most of the obstacles along the way.

Finally, there is a nice sense of security that comes from knowing I survived a lot of other writing fads over time (anyone remember Themestream?)

 I've learnt that if I just keep writing and publishing and taking a long-term view of things, I have a better chance to still be a working writer long after most writing/publishing sensations have enjoyed their five seconds of fame and faded back into obscurity.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sometimes Being A Writer Involves A Million Little Tasks That Add Up To Something Great

A flattering view my food garden this week
It's been a productive couple of days. I submitted a children's story I wrote to a mainstream publisher. I really really hope they like it. I'm making the distinction (in italics) because I also submitted 6 children's stories written by someone else to an indie publisher.

I hope admitting to forwarding someone else's manuscript is not going to come back to bite me on the butt sooner rather than later, because honestly, trully, sending your manuscript to another writer in the hope that they can help you to reach publishers is not a viable way to publication. You're better off doing your market research and sending your manuscript to the appropriate editor at the right publishing house.

This person sent me her stories mid-2012, wanting to publish them through my small company, and at the time, I was completely absorbed in care-giver duties and was not ( and I'm still not) accepting manuscripts by other authors.

I liked the stories, even if I couldn't do anything about them, so I didn't delete the email. Just in case. So, I was "chatting" by email with another indie publisher who does accept works by other authors, and he asked me if I know local children's writers he could solicit manuscripts from for a project. He doesn't want to do a general submission call because he doesn't have the capacity to deal with hundreds of manuscripts.

I gave him a very short list. So, if you do write for children and you know I know you do and he hasn't been in touch with you, sorry I didn't think to include you. Email me and we'll chat about it.

I also took a chance and offered to send him Whatshername's manuscripts, as I thought her stories would suit him. He loved the stories and will get in touch with her. As for me, I felt like Supergirl. Or maybe a king-maker.

I also worked with a graphic designer to develop an organisational logo for a client. We're doing the whole branding thing.

The designer, Robert Heppner, is based around 35km from Phokeng and he's very talented. More than that, he's a pleasure to work with, even as the client and I do our best to drive him nuts. Thank you Robert, for your hard work and patience.

All this means I didn't spend as much time as I would have liked in the garden. So today was also about catching up with that. There was a lot of weeding involved, which stretched my back in ways I needed after sitting on a chair for hours and days on end.

I also harvested a lot of stuff - Swiss chard, kale, spinach, squash, onions, carrots, beetroot, basil, thyme and chives. Some of it I used or will use, some I gave away to family or neighbours.

Oh, and we also found out that the fix that I paid for to get the mobile phone didn't stick [the screen keeps hanging and then I end up having to re-initialise the phone.] So SIL is giving me my money back and then I'm adding to it to buy another smartphone.

I'm not going to be difficult and insist on reverting to my old Nokia 3500 phone, even though it has worked for many years without any problem whatsoever, and it could still chug along for years, thank you very much.

Tomorrow I'm working on another children's story and that's all I want to do with regard to writing. Then I'll download two client audios and hopefully, put a big dent in the translation job.

Monday, November 17, 2014

On Editorial Guidelines, Implementation Plans, Spreadsheets & The Craft Of Writing For Children

One of the toughest things I've tried to articulate to my non-writer friends about the writing process is the craft required to ensure that a children's story meets editorial guidelines.

Or maybe they just don't get it because it doesn't sound very creative.. it sounds like a trade... maybe like laying the story out brick by brick, or panelbeating what's already there? LOL!

I think the "romantic" view we have of the writing process is that the writer creates character profiles, researches the topic, plots the story and writes. Some writers plan their characters in great detail, others fly by the seat of their pants, but that's a post for another day.

Anyhoo, I am fortunate enough to sometimes write to order... to be asked by clients/publishers to submit stories for consideration and generally, there are very specific requirements I must meet. And my work still gets rejected. Too frequently for my liking:)

The requests usually come with editorial/submission requirements which include the target group, the type of story they want, maybe even the theme (s) they'd like to cover, the number of words for the whole story, the number of pages for the book and the number of words per page.

I'm also expected to provide a detailed artwork brief (image by image), so that the illustrator can visualise the kind of artwork I was thinking of to go with the story. And oh yes, the proportion of text to images in the children's story is pre-determined by the publisher too. The publisher is generally guided by the target group's reading need, series requirements, among other criteria.

There goes our romantic image of the story flowing from the creative writer's imagination to the page, right?

Not quite. When I write a story, I do start with that free-flowing process where I research a topic/theme, develop the characters, plot the story and then just put the words down as they come. That's the inspired portion of my writing process and at this stage I'm not too worried about the pacing of the story (i.e. whether I talk too much in one page and too scanty in detail in another page). That comes later.

Once the story is written and edited until it reads coherently, I sit down with a copy of the manuscript and the editorial guidelines from my editor (s) and  panel-beat the story, with specfic focus to the page by page pacing and to fit the publisher's requirements.

THAT, to me, is one of the most challenging aspects of the craft of writing for children. It's where your skill as a writing professional shines. It takes you beyond talent, to paying attention to the finer details of your story.

And lest you be tempted to think your  story can shine on the merits of its plot, characterisation and storytelling technique only, let me point out that some editors/publishers have no patience with writers who can't/won't follow instruction and if you want this editor/publisher to give you more work AND tell other editors about you, best you present yourself as a writer who combines talent, skill and craftsmanship and respect of guidelines and the editor's time.

I also found out, on reading up on the subject, that many famous writers didn't achieve their success  through sheer talent only - some of them took planning to incredible levels. And it paid off for them. I expect the level of their planning depended on the complexity of their stories (stories for very young children require less detail than adult novels) and author preferences.

Anyhoo, today my worktable is cluttered with draft manuscripts and reams of editorial guidelines. The objective is to panelbeat one or two children's stories to meet specific guidelines, so I can send them out for consideration.

It's hard work to cut a story in one page and add more text in another page without losing the original flow of the story or padding a paragraph with meaningless words!

However, I also find the process of working with guidelines comforting. Maybe it's the old journo in me, familiar with writing to order?

The guidelines also tell me what the publisher wants and how they want the information to be presented. There is no need for guesswork on my part. It's all nice and clear.

Seeking clarity

Speaking of clarity, today I also developed a project implementation plan for a client and I also found that process comforting.

My client and I were wandering into "slippery scope territory," and writing up the plan, with its milestones, deliverables and deadlines sort of clarified things that were mine to worry about and those that were the sole province of the client.

Those activities may impact on my part of the project, even my ability to do my job, but in the final analysis, they're not part of my job. The business owner in me asked,"is this an additional assignment for me? Do you have a budget for these tasks."

Because really, I wouldn't mind getting paid for them too, as they fit very well with what I'm already doing. So yeah... implementation plans and editorial guidelines and spreadsheets? They're becoming new best friends.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Do One Main Task Each Day

That has been my mantra for the past couple of days. On Tuesday I focussed on writing a children's story (early reader). It's finished and I sent it to a writer friend to read through and comment. She likes it.

Yesterday was the day of completing a concept proposal for a possible funder for a project. We've already met and they suggested the proposal, so I had some guidance on what their Key Performance Indicators are, though that's not a guarantee they'll go for it. Done, doner and sent:)

Today I spent the morning at Leseding Community Development Project, a client based in Ledig, around 30km from Phokeng and around 7km from Sun City. My time mostly involved attending meetings and watching people talk.

Briefing 4 aspiring film-makers who'll attend intenstive wkshops to result in a short film

It was a very productive session, but I find meetings to be harder work than digging hard clay soil in my garden, or sitting for hours at my computer, transcribing a conversation or writing a story or editing. It competes right up there with marketing; work that usually leaves me drained.

I was knackered by the time I made it home at lunch and took a very long nap. But I also collected enough material to write several blog posts for them and I'm pleased about that.

The end of an era

Another big thing today is that the deed for my Johannesburg house was finally registered in the new owner's name. The sale is done. Yaaay! What a relief!

I love that little house and wouldn't have moved unless forced to, but once I was here, I needed to consolidate my life. It was exhausting dealingwith two households, and I needed to focus on just one thing at a time.

The end of an era. Bye bye, sweet little house!
They're keeping my tenant, who is also a close friend, on a minimum 12 month lease, and the house is fully furnished with most of my furniture and she's going to keep using most of it.

It's a relief for me not to have to worry about moving a houseful of furniture more than 150km to Phokeng, or to worry about what to do with it once it gets here. I have 12 months to ponder the problem :)

The new arrangement is the best of both worlds for me - someone to worry about the property maintenance, another to pay the rent and I still have a desk, bed and garden in the city for when I'm there. Nice scam if you can get away with it, yes?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Connecting To The World

For the past three years, I've been using this old Nokia 3500 to keep in touch with my family and a handful of friends. Assuming I remembered to charge it and was carrying it at the time of the call.

I know, I know. It's a disgrace for a former telecoms journo to be using this old clunker, right? Thing is, it really suited me. I could make and receive calls and texts. And most days, I wasn't even interested in doing THAT. 

I'm not a Luddite. In fact, I love tech and am constantly experimenting with software, mostly productivity hacks or games (recent game obsession is Criminal Case. Before it was Surbubia). I love having a new machines, especially laptop and tablets. And I do like being online, even belong to several online forums (I'm a moderator for one).

But, I didn't like the 24/7 connectivity that a mobile phone offers. The constant barrage of messages from friends, colleagues and family, some of whom expected an immediate response, is very overwhelming for me under normal circumstances, but more so the past couple of years. So I just checked out. If I didn't have a smartphone to receive the message, they could wait until I had time to sit at my computer and to answer emails. Sort of passive-aggressive, I suspect, but that's them breaks when you're overwhelmed.

Last week my younger SIL finally dragged me out of the dark ages. For the price of a minor repair/lunch, I could keep her Sony Xperia.

I like my Xperia more than I expected
To bypass further resistance from me, SIL loaded my SIM card, transferred data, linked the phone to my main gmail and social media accounts and downloaded all the apps I use or she reckons I should use (e.g Whatsupp, which I've been very resistant to) 

So today I spent the whole day in Johannesburg, attending a business meeting (it went well. I can't tell you more about it due to an NDA, but fiction-writing is involved) and then hung out with one of my closest friends, who turned 66 yesterday. The phone made staying connected, readings docs effortless. Who knows? I might do better with this being connected deal this time.

P.S. This is NOT a sponsored post