I grew up poking at BASIC, so I know X is the ultimate variable. The automatic anything. It marks the spot on every imaginable map, the treasure inconstant but always available. Sure, we’d loop around i’s, and be induced to iterate n, but back in those childish days before it was definitely horizontal, our x could be anything.

Now its function, for x ample, is to defend me from the entire internet.

The internet! The greatest research tool ever assembled and one you absolutely must not use it when writing. Use it when researching. Use it when scribbling and plotting. But when you’re writing it’s all too eager to ask you to come into its parlour, said the spider to the idiot who should be writing. It doesn’t matter what you think you need to check: that factoid is the fresh chunk of cheese in a mousetrap that will chop an entire hour off your life.

Which is when X’s variable powers save me.

X has saved me XOUSANDS of times, over XAYS, XONTHs, ever since XEAR. I don’t have to look up XAME or their XADDRESS or spoken XANGUAGE. I can’t count the XILLIONS of unwasted hours saved by blasting right through momentary fragments of fact instead of surrendering the momentum of movement for a few seconds of flicking around the internet. Eight points in Scrabble and even more valuable in other word work. Never stop writing. The facts and figures will still be there when your head is broken, your hours are aching, and you’re editing a piece instead of invoking it. Cross out the unknown and just keep going.

Thank you, X.

More ryting tekneek

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