Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

High Praise for Low Tech

Cover of "Six-Figure Freelancing"

Cover of Six-Figure Freelancing

Last month I had the pleasure of a lunch excursion of write-minded people with at least three different local writing groups being represented. Some of those at the table I knew and others I was glad to make acquaintance.  I hope we bump into each other while attending local and regional writer to-dos.

While it’s always a delight to mingle with other writers (because that gosh-it’s-lonely-in-the-garret thing does get tiresome after a time), it’s even more of a delight when the writerly get together involves eating and gnoshing with a known writer. In our case our writer-in-the-dining was Kelly James-Enger.

Kelly owns an impressive vita. A former lawyer, she’s also served a term as a contributing editor for Writer magazine, and has racked up some amazing credits such as:

  • written and published hundreds of articles appearing in over fifty national magazines
  • authored/coauthored/ghosted 12 books.
  • speaker at national writing conferences
  • blogger focusing on making money as a freelancer
  •  being a dedicated mother of two busy kids!

As much as I learned about the business side of writing from Kelly, my biggest take away was her lo tech savvy.

She and I share this nerdy joy of NEO. Not Matrix Neo, but the odd little wants-to-be-computer someday NEO. At first glance it resembles an overgrown calculator. At second glance it makes you wonder why a person would want to use it. At all.

Take a look at its amazing features:

  • no internet
  • no printer capability
  • no word processing
  • no large screen
  • no thumb drive save

I know–it’s a list of no nos. Why bother with such a low tech device?  That’s the beauty of it–it’s so low tech that it produces high results.  You know how easy it easy to fire up the laptop, iPad, MAC, whatever and go in with great intentions. Before long it’s rabbit trail time as social media is checked, updated, and read, meaningless research extranvagas commence, and general time wasting occurs.  The WWW really stands WhattaWastedWorktime. NEO won’t allow you to go there.  It can’t.

I first learned about NEO a few years ago when I offered to teach Creative Writing one semester. However,  computer labs at the school were not that readily available at that time.  I decided to get creative (desperation does this at times) so we could really get some writing done. By means of a grant I earned the use of a classroom set of NEOs. This proved to be a better solution than I initially thought. My students would practically squeal with delight when I announced “Grab your NEO.” Everyone had a dedicated NEO and they would merrily plunk away their stories and download them into my designated school folder on my laptop and I would print them later. I miss my NEO days. My former NEO students fondly reminisce about those days of low tech.

Unlike iPads and computer labs, there are no worries of diligently watching and waiting to sneak up on students sneaking in email messages, games, shopping, and stupid stuff.  NEO is happy to be low tech enough to simply take in words, m’am, just the words. It’s too humble to try and be pretentious.

So, after lunch I waited around by the fireplace lounge while I waited for the MEPA to arrive and whisk me away for some shopping. I happened upon Kelly who had also decided to take advantage of the quiet fireside setting and was diligently working on one of her many projects. She graciously allowed me to hang out with her and we had a great chat session about writing, being moms, and being busier than we know is better for us.  That’s when I noticed her NEO.  Expecting an iPad, or MAC, or even something really nifty because Kelly is after all, a writer who has made the magic six figure income, and would naturally use the best tech in her craft. Sha-zam was I shocked when I found a NEO propped up on her lap.  Even more amazing was her confession on how she  prefers her NEO for those times of serious writing. There is a lesson in this, I know there is.

Before you rush out to purchase your own NEO, I have to deliver the sad news that they are no longer going to be produced. Perhaps this is a rumor.  Perhaps I should check out Snopes and make sure.

At any rate, I recommend finding a NEO for those times when you need to just get the words down, when you simply need to focus. High tech has its place.  DO NOT even think about taking away my iPhone at this point. iPad maybe–but that’s another blog.

For now I’m all about  giving a High Five for the Low Tech NEO. I wonder if Kenau ever tried one out.

Single Post Navigation

10 thoughts on “High Praise for Low Tech

  1. Very well explained about NEO..

  2. Great post!

    I’ve heard of NEO. I love my MAC, but spend too much time researching, surfing, reading and sending emails, blogging and read reading blogs, etc. Sometimes, I want to write without distractions.

    If the NEO is still available, it sounds like a good none distracting investment.


  3. i’d heard ally carter talk about something similar called an alphasmart that she uses to write all of her first drafts on. i went back to double-check the name, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s made by the neo company. so i’m no help. still an interesting idea and i can see the appeal. with all the chaos in my house, i’m used to blocking out distractions when i write.

  4. Luanne on said:

    What do the keys feel like, compared with the computer keyboard?

Comments, anyone?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: