Writing on Your iPhone: One Novelist’s Story
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While researching an article about iPhones, I was contacted by Cheryl Kaye Tardif, best-selling author of numerous novels such as Whale Song. Tardif has embarked on a new project: writing a complete novel on her iPhone – the first major mainstream author to do so.
I kind of stumbled onto this by accident. One night while watching TV I was inspired by an idea for a new novel; I’m a bestselling suspense author with 3 published novels.
This new novel idea hit hard and fast and I didn’t want to lose one thought, so I reached for my iPhone 3G, which at the time I’d had for a week or so. Opening the Notes application for the first time, I started typing in my ideas. This led to opening a new file in Notes and actually writing the first paragraph or two of the novel.
Then I discovered I could email my Notes to myself. I did this and later that evening after the TV show I was watching was over, I rushed upstairs and opened the email on my PC. Copy and paste brought it into an MS Word doc, and ta-da! I’d officially started a new novel.
The novel, Finding Bliss, is still in the “fermenting” stage, says Tardif – she’s wrapping up another novel to send to the publisher, and editing another that’s due to come out soon. But she’s excited about doing this.
My first question, of course, was “why”?” I mean, I’m a big techie (of course) and I’ve written quite a bit on similar devices like my trusty old Palm IIIe, but the thought of tapping out 80,000 words or so on the iPhone’s touchscreen keyboard fills me with dread!
Tardif gives several reasons for undertaking such a big project on such a small device. First, there’s the convenience. “This is huge for me,” she says, “since I am struck with ideas virtually anywhere, any time.”
Second, she finds the immediacy of the iPhone fits the topic of the novel quite well. “Finding Bliss is told in first person, from the perspective of Bliss Morgan, a damaged teenage girl who must fight to survive in a world of abuse, lies and loss. It will read almost as a diary, and writing my thoughts down when I get them is key.”
But most importantly, she says, writing a novel on an iPhone is great publicity. “To be honest, writing Finding Bliss in this way makes this novel unique, intriguing, and very pitchable to a publisher and sponsors.” Before you dismiss that as shallow, opportunistic, or overly commercial, remember that we live in an attention economy, and writers are not just expected but required to bring with their manuscripts a willingness to market their work and the savvy-ness to do it well. There is a special term for authors who aren’t willing to go the extra mile to capture the public’s attention: “unpublished”.
Tardif has found a great way to distinguish herself from the pack, and the public (and publishers) are paying attention. She’s been featured in several newspapers, and been contacted by retailers and websites looking to arrange exclusive releases of her finished book – and she’s only two chapters in!
Tardif offers this advice for authors looking to use their iPhones to write on:
Writing a novel on a small device like the iPhone 3G requires a fair amount of patience. There’s also a learning curve with the phone, so writers attempting this have to be willing to take their time. This probably won’t be a novel that’s written in 4 months.
I think that anyone attempting this should understand why they want to write this way. Are there advantages? Do the advantages outweigh the restrictions? Keep in mind, there is little room to edit, and certainly major editing would be done once converted into the Word doc.
More importantly, she sets a great example for writers looking for creative ways to promote themselves and their work. It hasn’t all been done before, but you’ve got to be willing to do whatever it takes to get yourself noticed. “Let’s face it,” she told me, “every author needs to get noticed if they want to succeed, especially fiction authors. And I plan to succeed! :)”