Everything’s Conditional

Weird weather yesterday. First it snowed for fifteen minutes to a half hour, then the sun came out and melted the snow, then the clouds came back and it snowed again. Lather, rinse, repeat all day long. It felt something like being back in MS, getting the remnants of whatever latest hurricane had just pounded the coast. What we got further inland (other than wind) were bands of cloud and rain, one after the other until the storm completely dissipated. Substitute snow for rain and you get the same effect.

Speaking of conditions—other than weather—I’m going to talk a little about writing conditions, as in conditions favorable for getting something, anything, done. It’s a bit Captain Obvious to point out that this varies. Some people can work anywhere, such as a bookstore display window, which Harlan Ellison has famously done. Or in crowded, noisy coffee shops, which is so common as to be a cliché, these days. I’ve never needed an ivory tower myself, which is a darn good thing considering the rent. My only real need, however, I have to express as a negative.

I do not need a television screen anywhere within sight of me.

See, I was a TV baby, one of the generation that grew up after the darn things were ubiquitous. My earliest exposure to f/sf was not Ray Bradbury, Andre Norton, or Robert Heinlein. Nope. It was (really dating myself even more now) The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and Fireball XL-5 (to this day I can still sing that hokey theme song). Books came later, but at least they did arrive, thank goodness, but I never did completely escape the boob tube’s clutches. To this day, if one is on within sight of me it draws my attention, no matter what crap is on. I’m not proud of it, but that’s just the way it is. When I was a kid I would often do homework watching the Adam West Batman or Dark Shadows with no problem at all. However, I’ve tried writing in front of a TV and it’s just impossible. The best I ever managed was, while living in a small apartment, writing with my back turned to it where it functioned more like a radio. In that configuration I could turn it into background noise and get on with working. Anywhere in front of me? Forget about it, and that holds true even today.

There are times when it would be more social and certainly convenient to work in front of one of those things, but it’s just impossible. Which is why I have to keep a library/study room wherever I am with no TV in sight. Computer screen? No problem, even with video streaming available, since it’s not the same thing. A TV?

That would be a “no.”

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