Cambridge author prefers paper
Allegra Goodman, who calls herself “an old-fashioned novelist,” lives in Cambridge. Her new book will be out in early 2017.
What wakes you up?
I am a morning person and I wake up without an alarm clock.
How do you get your news?
I get my news from The New York Times paper edition — but I don’t have time to read it in the morning, so I read it in the afternoon. I have not caught up to the 24-hour news cycle.
Do you use apps for reading books?
My favorite app for reading is a physical book.
What is the device you write on?
I write on Surface, which I bought purely for portability. I use it like a typewriter for drafting fiction. I print out drafts and edit by hand with purple ink.
How do you avoid digital distractions as you write a novel?
I stay connected to the Internet while working because I like looking things up. However, while writing I do not read or respond to messages. In my line of work, few messages require an immediate response.
You are married to an to an MIT computer scientist. You are the mother of four. How do you communicate with your plugged-in family?
I communicate with family via phone. I am living proof of the fact that you can get by without texting.
What keeps you organized?
I use a month-at-a-glance paper calendar where I write due dates like “SEND NEW DRAFT OF NOVEL.” I like the big picture. I also carry a small spiral notebook where I write my to do list in pen. Drop off. Revise chapter 3. Eat lunch. Pick up. Drive to ballet . . .
What is your favorite tech tool?
I have a terrible sense of direction. I can’t do without my GPS – I have a standalone device in my car. I also depend on my MP3 player, which I use in my car. I do a lot of driving with my kids, and audio books keep us going.
Is it hard to be a nontechie in one of the techiest places in the world?
Techies at MIT and elsewhere actually appreciate my choices more than most, because they understand the virtue of unplugging.
— Vijee Venkatraman