I recently met someone who writes on an old electric typewriter instead of her laptop so that she isn’t distracted by anything on the internet. No way, I’m thinking. I want access to everything. If there’s a little fact I need to know, or an answer I require, I want to be able to get to it as soon as. I want to keep the words flowing. Not be stumbling over some itty, bitty info-jam.
Earlier today, there I am, pounding the keyboard. The words are coming good. The chapter I was stuck on yesterday? Forget about it. Yesterday’s gone. Today I’m cooking on gas. Word after word, it just keeps on coming. I’m excited. I’m on a roll. I can feel that it’s good. And then I’m working on this scene about a woman on the outside looking in. She doesn’t fit. Doesn’t get the joke. Her friends are laughing like… … like what exactly?
It comes to me snappy style. They are screeching like a troop of oversexed monkeys. Yeah, monkeys. I know monkeys screech. I’ve heard ‘em. But what kind of monkey? Howlers, right? But then I’m thinking, really? So I click the Firefox icon at the bottom of the screen and I do a search for howler monkeys.
Pretty soon I’m watching a video on Youtube and I realise no – the women in the scene – they don’t sound like howler monkeys. Howler monkeys have got this big, croaky bellow thing going on. I’m looking for something higher-pitched. Screechier. I search up monkey info. I learn there are Old World Monkeys and New World Monkeys. I scroll through a list of monkeys until I find a candidate – the gibbon. I think gibbons make a lot of noise, but I’ve got to know for sure. Suddenly the whole scene is hanging on the accuracy of the monkey simile. So I check out gibbon videos on Youtube. Sure enough, they have exactly the ear-scarring quality I am looking for. Now I am happy. Now I can get back to writing. The simile is accurate. I tell myself I don’t need to know the type of gibbon. This is a noir thriller, not a natural history handbook. Nobody is going to lose sleep over what kind of gibbon it is.
Just as I’m congratulating myself for not being sucked into the cyber-hole that is the gibbon – monkey or ape? – controversy, I notice a video titled Gibbon taunts tiger – Complete and Best Quality. I don’t know which part of the title suckers me in more. Gibbon taunts tiger is pretty cool, but who could resist Complete and Best Quality…
So I watch, and it is good. And my gaze is drawn to the sidebar of temptation. There is a video of a tiger attacking a student in a zoo. Another one called Top Funniest Monkey Compilations 2014. It has had over four million views… At this point I catch onto myself. I close the window. I’ve got to get back to work. Gibbons, they sound like gibbons, that’s all anyone needs to know. Tomorrow, I am going onto the local free ads site to find out if anyone has an electric typewriter for sale.
Video of a gibbon taunting a tiger.
LG Thomson is working on Boiling Point, the sequel to Boyle’s Law.