My Little Recorder

I don’t know about other writers, but I get ideas at the most inopportune times. Something someone says might spark something in my head. It isn’t polite to suddenly pull a pad of paper out of my purse to make a note, but sometimes I do it anyway. My chances of remembering the idea later are about 6% unless I write it down. My scribble might be just one word or it might be a quote. I might say to the person with whom I am conversing, “That is an incredible thing to say. I want to remember it.” Then the person is not offended if I interrupt the conversation. I might even ask them to say it again so I get it right.

Thoughts that come to me while I am driving are a different problem. I often listen to talk radio as I travel which provides lots of food for thought that could later be roasted and served in my blog. I have been known to grab the pad of paper out of my purse and rest it on the center of my stearing wheel and write a word or phrase while trying steer the car and watch the other cars on the road all at the same time. So far there are no laws on the books about writing while driving. I have to say that I have brought the concept of “scribble” to a whole new level.

I do care about safe driving and I also care about the 94% of the ideas that escape me when I don’t catch and preserve them. So, about 5 months ago I bought this little tiny tape recorder. I don’t have to put a tape in it, so “tape recorder” doesn’t really fit. (I still say “record” for CD, and CD is even even becoming obsolete.) My recorder is digital, I guess, whatever that means.

Because of my busy summer, I didn’t take the recorder out of the box until about a week ago. It has four sets of the same instructions in four different languages. I only know one of the four and I am glad mine one was among them. The first instruction was how to put the batteries in. I did a great job and as soon as the batteries were in, little numbers and letters showed up on the screen. Instant gratification.

The next set of instructions was to set the clock. The purpose of setting the clock is to record the time of recording something. This seemed like an excellent feature. I could imagine myself recalling that I had this great idea while driving to St. Paul one day but not being able to remember what it was. Using this feature, if I can recall the date and approximate time of day I was traveling, I should be able to retrieve it. Following the instructions, I was able to enter the time, first the hour, then the minute. It worked perfectly. But the instructions didn’t tell me how to lock it in and when I tried to move on, I kept erasing what I’d done so far. I must have tried about ten times to finish the step until I got so frustrated, I used a four-letter word, which always lets a little steam ot of the kettle, took out the batteries and repacked the recorder. I’d saved the receipt and pictured myself trying to explain to the person at customer service why I’d waited so long to open the package. As I thought about it, I began to get weepy. I sometimes get that way when technology pulls the rug out from under me.

A couple of days later, I found myself driving south to my daughter’s house. Alone in the car, my brain started floating around and ideas started dropping in, one after another. I fish around in my purse for my little pad of paper and a pencil. Because I was trying to keep my eyes on the road and my purse was hopelessly cluttered, I couldn’t find it. Meanwhile I was losing the inspirational thoughts as new ones were coming in. As many as five writing prompts came and went and I wasn’t able to grab any of them. Finally, I surrendered.  I knew I had to master the recorder.

Back at home, I took the recorder out of the packaging, put the batteries in, and started again to work on setting the  time. Committed now, I was able to lock in the time and move on to figure out how to record and later retrieve the spoken word. Yesterday, I put it to its first test and I was able to save several pretty good ideas for later use. I haven’t gone back yet to retreive them, but I will. Before doing that I wanted to share my story. It is a victory story and I hope an inspirational one with lots of application if anyone needs to be  inspired.

I will be on the road today again, but Bernie will be driving, so I will be able to use my old-fashioned methods of recording thoughts if needed. I won’t use the recorder because I might not want to share my ideas with Benie. The just think of all the ideas that have come and gone in my lifetime and now I can capture them. I love my little recorder.

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