It’s Harder to Dodge a Draft When There Isn’t a Canada

September 5, 2012

Note: I should begin with an apology to Canada. I have nothing against you. And to your credit, I’m sorry to say I’ve never been to you. For three years we lived within 96 miles of you (or, as you would say, 155km) and we never crossed the border for a visit. I wish we had, because I’ve heard great things.

But for next 412 words, oh Canada, I will metaphorically obliterate you. And for this I am sorry.

I’m a draft dodger. I will find just about any reason why it’s not a good time for me to write a first draft. Even a bad one. There are email and Twitter. There are baseball, football, and hockey1 highlights. There are even respectable reasons not to write drafts: deadlines to finish projects, deadlines to begin projects, or even deadlines to determine deadlines. Also, coffee. There is always coffee.

For the sake of my soul, and my need to have something to say, I have started shuffling all of these reasons to Canada, land of the draft dodgers. (The metaphor is about to break down, but since you’re still reading, I figure you for the forgiving type anyway.)

A few months ago, I created a new user account on my Air, a virtual nook where the only thing I can do is draft. There are no mail accounts setup, no Twitter apps to scan. There are no programmed keystrokes that activate actions and gizmos. There is an OS X dock with three apps: ByWord, DayOne, and Scrivener.2 And there is a lot of permission to neglect the rest.

Not canada
This isn’t a place for researching and outlining. It isn’t a place for editing. I don’t have access to “inspiration through the words of others” here. The only thing I can do here is draft, nudging the cursor along one ASCII value at a time. And it’s working. An outlined Scrivener project is starting to fill up. DayOne has more posts over the last few months than any other few months. ByWord has a full herd of awful drafts that a few strays may someday wander away from.

I have no interest in starting a debate about the ethics of war and bearded uncles who long ago moved to Winnipeg. But the kind of draft dodging that keeps you from saying what you have to say is bad. It’s keeping us, and probably you too, from hearing your voice.


1. I don’t watch hockey at all…consider this a peace offering to my fuming Canadian constituency.

2. For those who will wonder about such things: iCloud plus ByWord and DayOne, is perfect for this; drafts are immediately available in my main user account (or iOS devices) for later revision. For Scrivener, I have a Dropbox folder that stores all my Scrivener files. This is the only dropbox folder that syncs with this user account, so it doesn’t require too much space.

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