Six weeks – no writing
Ask any writer what they do when they go for a month and a half without writing. They’d probably tell you it’s much like being held under water without breathing. At some point you need air. A writer must purge. We write a lot. Every day. Many words fly from our fingers, and many of those words our readers don’t see. We vent, we outline, we think on paper, even digital paper, we build thoughts, worlds, and characters from our fingertips. Many come to life later, maybe in a novel, maybe in a short essay or blog. Some characters are real, like the woman who told a stranger they’d have to tie me to the roof of the car if I got any larger while pregnant with my first baby. We write just as we breathe. We journal. We share. We live and breathe in words on paper.
I haven’t written anything in six weeks. On November 4th, right at the beginning of NaNoWriMo, my best writing buddy passed on, joining the cemetery of laptops I have in my office. I feel as if I might become the junk car guy, only with used and broken laptops. But I won’t tear them apart. They are useless to me. I’m not a tech junkie who can build a 747 Boeing airplane with spare laptop parts. I now have six of them stacked inside a cabinet in my office. I guess once I can no longer stack them, I will maybe pull the oldest from the bottom and have an Office Space baseball bat in a field party. I’ll need someone to bring the angry rap music. I don’t think my John Denver station on Pandora will help me purge emotions from failed laptops.
It took my husband and me about a week to make a decision on a new laptop. Do we run down to Best Buy and buy what they have in stock? NaNoWriMo had just started. I was eager to write a new novel. Or do we do it right, and order a custom built Dell to keep me happier for longer? Short term goals or long term goals? I just wanted to write. But I was thinking long term as well. I want to write all the time, not just in November. So my husband gave me his laptop for a few weeks so I could continue to put fingertip to keyboard and write. And we ordered a Dell. My last Dell was an Inspiron. My new Dell is an XPS. I was excited for the beautiful HD Infinity Edge screen, the new technology, the Windows 10 already on the machine since I’m certain it was the upgrade to 10 that killed my old laptop.
The week of Thanksgiving my new laptop arrived. Each day before that, my husband would check the status of it. “It’s being built now, honey,” he’d tell me. I’d taken a fall, but I’d be okay. Meanwhile, my old laptop wasn’t fully dead. It would hold a battery charge until the battery died, then it would die. But somehow it would recharge. I couldn’t back it up because the backup software we used wasn’t compatible with Windows 10. We bought a new battery. And the battery store took my old battery to recycle. Wasn’t that so nice of them? Only my old battery would recharge a bit. The new batteries, we bought two of them, are both dead, and we have no way of charging them. The computer is dead, and it’s not backed up. Not since I wrote four chapters in my latest novel. I’ve come to terms with the fact these chapters may be gone. I can rewrite them. They won’t be the same, but they may be better. My husband has agreed to take out the hard drive and try to salvage what’s on it. If he can, great, if not, then there is nothing we can do.
So I focused on my new Dell XPS with the beautiful graphics and edge to edge screen. I’m back online. I’m back with Scrivener and Word. I can write.
Only I can’t type. For some reason, the keyboard on the XPS simply sucks. That’s all there is to it. I’ve typed on it for about three weeks now, and my conclusion is it simply sucks. It’s very flat. I opted not to do the touch screen with this laptop, and I didn’t want a solid state drive. Even without a solid state drive, though it does have one, it also has a hard drive, the laptop is so thin and lightweight. Great! Right? Expect much of the weight comes from making it too tablet-like. I didn’t want touch screen because I have tablets. I wanted a laptop. But the keyboard sucks. Gone are the Page up/down and Home/End buttons. Well, they are there, but they are shared with the arrow keys. So scrolling isn’t a one key function anymore. The Enter key is about the size of 1.5 letter keys. And the space bar doesn’t space when I touch it. My husband says I need some more thumb strength. Sure, I’ll just head right to the gym for the little thumb barbells. I can’t write today, I need to get my thumb work out in. He tried the keyboard and said, “I had a few problems, but you just need to get used to it.” Our next resolution was to hook up a USB keyboard, which I am on now so I can type. I took two typing tests this morning. On the laptop keyboard, my typing score was 60 WPM with an error rate of 0 WPM. Because I have practically no spaces between words. I’m not the fastest typist, but I do require spaces. I took the test again on the USB keyboard, and my score was 56 WPM. It’s a noticeable difference. Now, I can’t sit on my bed and write. I can’t sit on the couch and write. I might be stuck at my desk using an additional keyboard. There goes writing at Starbucks. There goes sitting at the playground while my kids play. I’m frustrated and frankly, furious.
This blog is nothing but complaining. I know. But it’s also the most I’ve written in six weeks. I will be resolute. I will move forward. I will write. I’m not sure when I will move on to editing Just Jules, which has a new name at the moment, but I’d like to see if my husband can get those four chapters off my old laptop. I’m adjusting. I’ve lost laptops before, but I’ve never had a true, hard crash. This time, I lost everything. When I set up my email on Outlook, everything was gone. I have no addresses. I use Gmail and my phone for many things, but gone are the days, for now, at least, of typing the first few letters and having Outlook find everything for me. Gone are the days, for now, of knowing where everything is. I don’t have Photoshop yet. I didn’t do Christmas cards this year. I’m at a complete loss. But I am fortunate this time of year, to have the ability to replace what I’ve lost. I need to find time and patience within myself to adjust and recover.
It’s not the end of the world. But it’s been hard. I’ll get back to writing. I’ll get back to publishing. I’ll get to sharing my mistakes so you can have an easier journey…and believe me, I’ve made mistakes. And I know it. But I also know I am human, and I’m working on forgiving myself as well.
Be kind, my friends. And go back up your work now. Now. Like, right now.