Computer-less or Tools of the Trade

Blog No. 176

Once upon a time, many years ago, I was a high school student who wanted to write stories. I would tell people that I have stories, boring them with ideas, characters, and convoluted plots. Many times I decided to start writing a story, but never managed to do get very far. My first attempts were hand written (scribbled) on loose sheets of lined paper jammed into old, beat up, binders. I would come up with the title, write a few lines, and tell myself I’d get back to it later. The first story I can remember finishing was written for English class. I was ahead on our Shakespeare assignments (not sure how it worked out but I ended up being nearly a month ahead) so my teacher told me the next assignment was going to be writing short stories. He suggested that I get started (since I was likely being a nuisance in class otherwise).

With a head start, I spent my classes (and some of my other classes that I should have been paying attention to) writing my story. It was a contrived tale of a group of people heading into space, for some reason, and getting into trouble, somehow. It wasn’t very good, but I filled pages with tiny misspelled words. I don’t remember how long it was exactly. (My overestimate is somewhere between 10000 to 20000 words). It was much longer than all the other submitted stories (for good reason) but even with the head start, I managed to hand it in at the last minute. While I spent lots of time writing it, I spent no time editing or typing it out.

In a frenzy, seeking help from others, I managed to get it into a really disjointed first draft that I handed in for my assignment. I think I got a B-. Either way, it was settled in my mind. I was a writer. I could do it. I wrote a story (and it was amazing). I started several more stories (much in the same way as before the class project) but rather than writing a couple lines and putting it aside, I wrote a page or two and put it aside. Progress.

Fast forwarding to my time in University, I was a young man with a dream. It was a while longer, after spending too much time in college. I still believed I was going to be a writer, but my method was slightly different. My quest, at the times, was to get a career that would allow me to write on the side. I was a much better student, but my work ethics when it came to writing was much the same. Around that time I bought my first laptop. My friend was getting one and found a great deal. My own computer that was portable was a dream. I imagined myself carting the massive thing around, writing all the time. The reality was a leap backwards though. I was back to my single lines and bold titles, but now they were typed. If I was feeling particularly inspired, I would add a quick plot outline too.

The years passed. There were many failed attempts (a few actually lasing multiple pages) and a waning of my beliefs. I was in my 30s and would likely never really be a writer. I thought, maybe one day I would go back and try. Then something terrible happened. I was promised a job that had a chance to jumpstart my career. I started to prepare for it, doing other people’s work, getting a head start in the position. Before I started (about a week before) it was taken away. I was distraught, frustrated, and tired. In trying to get the job I spent years volunteering at numerous places. I was done.

Then, with the assistance of fellow want-to-be writer friends, I started back on the writing path. With self created stakes, I started to finish stories. Strangely, I went back to writing stories by hand, but I was finishing them. In my mind, typing them up was my second draft. Ultimately, the practice proved to be way too time consuming. With a heavy heart (and lots of practice from writing this blog) I got back into writing on the computer. Magically, I kept finishing stories too. As you know, it has lead to a book and an upcoming novella.

The problem is, my computer, my faithful companion, is in the shop. I noticed a dead spot on the screen and since it is still under warranty, I decided to bring it in and get it fixed. It’s not costing me anything other than time, but being without a computer is a strange thing. Even beyond writing, I feel like I’m missing something. Things that are easy to do on a laptop (like write this blog) are a chore on a phone (even a smart one). I expect I’ will have it back by the time I post this (I felt a need for a head start this week). In the mean time I’m floundering, promising myself that when I get it back I’ll write like a storm. It remains to be seen, but either way, I hope you liked this little re-visitation of the past (even though I’ve told much of the story before). I shall strike off again next week (as in write a new post) with my fixed computer ally.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s