This is the second installment of my new writing setup series, where I ask writers of all shapes and sizes to share the tools they use to do their work. Big thank you to David Griffin for submitting his setup.
Who are you and what do you write?
My name is David Griffin. As well as a writer, I am a graphic designer and electronic music composer. I live in Kent, UK with my wife Susan and a friendly little Jack Russell dog called Bullseye. I’m the author of two novels, The Unusual Tale of Alastair Stubb and Infinite Rooms. I have also written an experimental novella called Electronic Light Eater, as well as a number of short stories.
I write fiction only, primarily within the genres of literary/magical realism/gothic. I’ve ventured into science fiction territory for some of my short stories, for instance The Extraordinary Tale of Kassara, which was shortlisted for the HG Wells Festival Story Competition 2012.
The genre of my work in progress is magical realism; I’m up to about 35,000, first draft, and itching to get back to it: I’ve been concentrating on short story writing for many months now, with the aim of getting a novel-length collection together.
Where do you write?
Primarily in a spare bedroom, which I call ‘The studio’. This name stems from the 1980s, when I had a full recording studio in a back room of a previous house. And in the 90s, this room included computers and printers, which I used for my graphic design business at the time. But now, any room that has a computer in it is automatically called the studio!
During the summer months, I’ve taken to writing on an iPad in a corner of my shed, even into the balmy evenings, with the aid and ambience of lit candles. There’s my old writing desk in there and a swivel chair, and the smell of grass from the lawnmower…
Now and then I’ll tap away on the iPad downstairs in the house, trying not to be too distracted by whatever television programme Susan is watching at the time. I’ve taken the iPad with me on our holidays too – for at least three years running – and have managed to produce a number of short stories while sipping a glass of ale or a cup of tea in the hotel’s garden.
What hardware do you use?
I wrote my first novel in the 1970s while at Medway College of Art and Design; I used a Remington mechanical typewriter, carbon paper and pots of Tippex. They were the days…
To write my second novel I used a simple word processing program on an Atari 1024ST along with a dot matrix printer. The files were subsequently transferred to an Apple Macintosh computer although when that was stolen, they were transferred onto an Apple Quadra 700. (That particular computer lasted me ten years).
My computer at the moment that I use for writing in the studio is an Apple Mac G5 (Intel core 2 Duo) which replaced a G4. The printer is a modest Epson laser printer.
My iPad is the first model, the iPad1; I might get a newer model some day but it’s just fine for what I use it for at the moment. I’ve recently purchased an iPad tray, called Woody’s iPadTray which looks perfect for typing while sitting on the settee with the iPad and keyboard on my lap.
What software do you use?
I’ve had an aversion to Microsoft Word for quite a while now, for a number of reasons, and so have used Quark Xpress extensively over the years, mainly because that has always been my software of choice for my graphic design work. I can easily export the file as a PDF if needed, or the complete text exported then imported into Word if an agent or publisher requires it.
As well as Quark Xpress, I’ve grown quite fond of Mariner software’s writing application StoryMill. I’ve used this on and off since the days when it was called Avenir. I tend to write short stories with StoryMill, and use Xpress for my novels. A good feature of the software is the full screen mode which is just the cursor, type and plain background for a distraction-free typing session.
What’s your dream writing setup?
I picture a forest at the bottom of the garden, and overlooking a small pond with streams trickling over lichen-covered boulders would be an oak tree in a clearing, with a beautiful treehouse held in its branches. One area up there would be for writing, another with comfy chairs, and lined with books… but there would definitely need to be tea-making facilities.