The Creative Writer's Setup: Sid

1. Who are you, and what do you write?
I am Sid Cocain (pronounced Koh-kahn). Yeah, I know ;) Im a freelance writer, within the visual arts and, most recently, music. I write articles for magazines in Europe and the States about art, artists, trends, music and cover related news once in a while. Ive also started a blog, and I write short stories as well but mostly, unfinished. Theres a couple I'd like to develop into books (hence the NANO) :)

2. What hardware are you using?
Hmm...well I picked up a new desktop PC from Medion (I despise Apple) pretty recently. She is, as the French would say, le bombe. She carries an Intel i7 processor and runs at 3.40GHz, and 6 gigs of RAM. I just got that from my 'settings'. Liquid lightning compared to my old (and very dear) HP dv9500 laptop, who is becoming quite the senile grandmother of the house. She has been around the block with me though, I wrote almost everything on her. I'm gonna keep her even if (when) she finally sparks her last.

For my travels, either to continents or coffee shops, I use my netbook, a little Asus EeePC with an Intel Atom 1.67GHz processor. Most of my first-drafting happens on her, before I take it to my desktop for editing and final drafts.

I also have an IBM 560E thinkpad - which is what I used to write my first NANO! Trouble is, her only accessible port is a 3.5 floppy drive and dial-up modem, so the novel (56000 words) is stuck in there, and I cant get it out!

I have one treasure - my digital recorder! How I managed without this I will never know (just got it last year). Its an Olympus WS-500M and probably the most important tool for me. I just use it more and more...I got it for interviews initially, but have recently found myself taking it almost everywhere. Sometimes when conversations get interesting I'll switch her on...even just talking into it walking down the street, like ideas that I can work into my stories.

Entertainment wise, I have an AC Ryan media centre for streaming. I love series, especially British comedies, I fell out with movies because there is just so much crap happening (why does Hollywood make bad remakes of good movies? Why dont they make good remakes of bad movies?) but thats my rant over. I dont watch a lot of TV so when I do, I like it to be good.

The only other thing is of course, my phone. Nokia N79. I need a sturdy phone because I can be a clutz, and I tried one of those HTC super-slim smartphones but all it took was a drop down a toilet to kill it. These things could be flushed, sunken in sewage then swallowed by a big fish and you could still pick up your email.

Finally - I got myself a present of a new camera, 2 days ago. A Nikon D5000. I could say I needed it because I broke my last one (too heavy on the 'experimental' photography) but really it was just a splurge :)

3. And what software?
I use Word, ranging from Office 2010 to Office 95 (on the IBM). Thats whats so nice about Word - even spanning 16 years the layout and buttons have barely changed, and I can jump from version to version (if need be) with little hassle.

I use SnagIt also, which is the best image capture tool I know. I do dabble in street art so use this to grab some pics from the internet, but mostly for the images of the photographers and artists I write about. I quickly take the ones from their websites that flow best through the piece, saving them some hassle of digging out loads and sending them. They also get to approve the final draft, so any hi-res images that are needed are finalised then. I like seeing the image im writing about in the article, so my words can incorporate them and make them a part of its flow, rather than being like a stepping stone.

I dont know if internet counts as software...but I'm pretty active on Facebook and Twitter (@sidcocain), and am a huge fan of StumbleUpon (the amount of cool art and inspiration, life and...things ive found on here is incredible). Im on Wordpress too (www.sidcocain.wordpress.com) and use that as a kind-of writespace. A lot of my articles are on there, a bit of bad poetry and some other bits and pieces of writing. I've discovered Writers Out and Goodreads recently as well...its difficult to plan the time away from the computer sometimes!

4. What would be your dream setup?
My ideal setup...to be honest, I reckon Im pretty close to it just now. I dont need anything else, and any improvement would mostly be aesthetic because things run pretty much the way I want them to. Unless we are talking about far-flung future stuff, where I could just think the words onto the page (imagine...typing at 40 words per minute, or thinking at 1000...the editing would be a chronic nightmare, though...). I know what I have is totally upgradable, but it wouldnt make much difference to my writing I think.

Im sure theres gadgets out there that I'll want to try, but just now in terms of setup (and compared to the solo IBM Notebook days) I have it pretty good.

I live in Amsterdam, so a change in climate would be a dream. Oh, and because I live in Amsterdam and its almost November, a PS3 would top the cake!

This is a special version of a popular feature in which I invite writers and fellow NaNoWriMo participants to share what technology they use to get their jobs done. These interviews are unedited. Photos are property of interviewees.

All the interviews can be found here.


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