By Tom Ehrich

When I bought an iMac last year, I didn't care much about the Mac OS or the unit's high-octane internals. I wanted that 27" screen.

I wanted to have multiple applications open on my screen: web browser, project manager, calendar, to do list, and note-taking app. All in front of me, all beeping and reminding.

I wanted those interruptions. Even though that sounds counter-intuitive for a writer, I wanted to remain in the open, buffeted by world, schedule, tasks and my own internal journey.

As one who has issues with control, I wanted to be not in control. I wanted reminders that whatever I do, I do both for myself and for others. Plowing intently into an article only makes sense to me if I am constantly aware of its context.

How else would I know, for example, that a writer who is sending me an article for Fresh Day magazine had sent me a Facebook message that began, "I have attitude my FB note," followed by a lament, "So much for voice recognition"?

That message, in turn, prompted me to reply, "I suppose we should all have more 'attitude,' and let ourselves be less 'edited' by others, so that our 'altitude' remains reasonable and our 'aptitude' adaptable."

In that lame attempt at humor, you see, I got the core of what I was thinking all along: less self-editing, less editing-by-others, more being who we are, attitude and all.

For me, self-discovery is a multi-path journey in and out of context, in and out of solitude, shaped by the siren blaring outside my Midtown Manhattan window as much as by piano music on Pandora.

Beeps of arriving email and bells announcing tasks all matter. For every minute I spend writing is a minute that I take from something else. As a writer, I usually default to the writing task, but it's important to know what I am setting aside.