Today I’ve been thinking about luxuries. I recently left my boring office job without a backup, and I’ve been job hunting for three months now with no bites, so luxuries are quickly going by the wayside. What luxuries can I live without? Which ones are really impacting my quality of life and would make me significantly less happy to go without?

I think the bottom line for me is the one that most people feel this way about, and that’s internet connection. As I’ve written about here, I live in a small town without much in the way of internet access. I have my phone and I use that as a wireless hotspot, but the nearest library with a good connection is a half hour away, in a medium sized town that has cafes and other free hotspots, too. There’s literally nothing where I live, besides extremely expensive satellite options, which are also faulty and slow.

Without the internet I’m cut off from KDP, the platform on which I’ll be publishing my next few short stories (a gangbang series titled Group Effort), beta readers, research, and more.

Beyond the internet, I would feel lost without a laptop. Recently, my “old faithful” started to die a tragic death. Well, no, that’s inaccurate. Two years ago it was dropped on its head and cracked the monitor housing, damaging a hinge in the process. It’s been rough going ever since. As of this summer, though, it started giving me weird error messages that my brother (who is majoring in business and IT) told me was a sign of the end of times. I panicked. Without a laptop, how would I write? And how could I afford a laptop with my royalties checks in the low hundreds, and food to put on the table?

Luckily, I am blessed with some very incredible fellow writers as friends. These are people who I would trust my writing with no matter what genre I wrote in. Who I expect to give me an honest review, with valuable feedback, and for whom I’d do the same. These are also people whom I genuinely like and want to be around. Real friends, not just a group of writers that I meet with each month. One of them has a husband who’s in IT, and they happened to have a spare laptop lying around. She gifted me the laptop, which is currently nameless (but bright red), and I’ve been in love since the day I met it.

Another luxury – I’m coming up with a LOT of them! – is Scrivener. I could live without Scrivener, I could even write without Scrivener, but it’s almost like, “What’s the point?” Scrivener is like Microsoft Word on steroids, but better. It offers writers the opportunity to divide works into scenes, which can be easily moved around with little tabs, a corkboard with notecard images where I can write summaries of each scene and move those around with ease, and so much more. Bonus points: It can compile my work into any format I request, including PDF and Word.

And one final luxury. This one I can absolutely live without, but I love it so much, and it would replace all three of the above (well, maybe not internet). A notebook with stone paper. I don’t know how to describe stone paper except to say you have to feel it to understand. It’s different from regular paper made from pulp – it’s literally made from stones. It’s slick and cool and a little rough at the same time. It doesn’t bleed ink unless you’re extra careless. The pages are rip resistant and won’t just tear out because your hand slipped. I only have two stone notebooks now, but I love them so much that I’m afraid to write in them and waste the paper.

What little luxuries do you think you can’t live without?

Searching for a Connection

I live in a small town. Mostly, I love it. Knowing people, having our own space, our lovely neighbors. But there are drawbacks. We’re 30 minutes from downtown, 45 from family. We have only one small grocery store. Even Target is 20 minutes away.

But the worst part, the single worst part about living in the country? The internet situation. I’m not kidding when I say that we have literally no internet. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit. We do have some internet options where I live. We have dial up. That requires paying for a home phone, a landline, which is expensive. And of course dial up internet isn’t fast by any means. Another option is satellite internet. It’s not any better, because it’s also extremely slow and extremely expensive.

That leaves us with two actual option. Using our phones are only internet connection is one option (with or without a MyFi card, which is… you guessed it… slow and expensive), and the other option is the library access. Both my husband and I have day jobs that do not allow us to access the internet from our workplace. In the evenings, what I want to write or blog or look something up or send an email, anything that takes a lot of computing power, or involves both hands for typing, I  like to go somewhere that I can use my laptop. But again because of our distance we’re about a half an hour from the nearest internet cafe, I’m stuck going to the library.

Our library internet access sometimes is worse than having no access. That sounds hyperbolic, but it really isn’t. When I connect my phone to the WiFi at the library. It’s harder to connect my phone to the WiFi and send an email or check Facebook that it is to just check email or Facebook over my phone data package. Doing research for a book is nearly impossible at the library and a single email can take 20 minutes to send. The benefit to working in the library is that my “writer Google history” is left there, so nobody has to see my laptop and wonder why I’m researching floor plans and nanotechnology weapons and surviving hypothermia and wonder what I’m planning.

I am a technological hostage in a digital age. I’m not sure what the solution is, but in the meantime, I’m searching for a connection.