Q

ruckawriter asked:

I've got one for you, actually, though it's a bit pedantic, I suppose. You said you wrote GUN MACHINE (which is fucking fantastic) on your iPad. With what, howfore, and why? I find jumping between an open Pages doc and Safari a royal pain, for instance, and given the amount of research you did, I'm wondering how you negotiated it. Also: keyboard? program? And any other details you care to share. Me, I'm lost without my laptop.

A

Greg Rucka, everybody.  When you pass out from stark boredom three lines into this one, blame him.

Okay, so, yes, I did write a chunk of GUN MACHINE on the iPad.  I did it in a couple of different ways, depending on my mood.  To write material on your iPad, you need:

*  A keyboard case.  I have the Logitech Zagg Keyboard Case for iPad, which is a nice keyboard inside a padded aircraft-grade aluminium shell, that connects via Bluetooth.  It is very good.

*  Dropbox.  Dropbox Dropbox Dropbox.  Seriously.

*  I have two basic word programs on the iPad that both pretty much do the same thing.  PlainText and iA Writer.  I still can’t decide which one I like best.  Probably PlainText.  They both have their annoyances.  But what they do is create (inside your Dropbox) a plain old .txt file.  If I was writing something that I needed to check the research on later, or something that I felt was going to need a polish later, I’d just bang it down in PlainText.  Writing in .txt makes me take another look at it before it goes into the manuscript.

*  For actual finished work, I open Quickoffice HD Pro, which uses and creates Microsoft Word doc files, which is what I submit manuscripts in.  Again, it’s seamless with Dropbox.  I can write on the iPad in the main manuscript with full comfort.

*  When I’m mobile with iPad-only and I am stuck for research but want to get a thing done — well, I can simply keep Quickoffice running in the background and launch the Evernote app, which is where my book research lives, organised by folder.  Or I can launch it on my iPhone, for that matter, because where I go, the phone goes, and when I’n writing it’s usually propped next to the work machine anyway, picking up messages, playing a podcast and/or running a news stream of some kind.  (Twitter, or Reedlines, or similar.)

*  Why do I do this?  I’ve always hated lugging laptops around, and have always looked for efficient mobile solutions.  I had one of those early Asus netbooks.  I had a Treo.  Hell, in the 90s, I had a Handspring Visor.  And I figured that since the iPad was light, instant-on, built for wifi and supposedly fucking magical, I should be able to make it work as a mobile work solution without having to screw around with laptops and crappy batteries and all the rest of it.  In the mornings, I just grab the iPad and case and go out into the back garden and sit at the table and am ready to go.  I go back to the office, wake up the laptop, and thanks to Dropbox everything I’ve done is already there.  It works for me.