Take a walk with me. We’ll go back to August 2010, late August, when I finally found out that despite my below par A-Level grades, there was a university in the country that was prepared to give me a chance. Praise be to them. Ahead of starting this journey, my generous mother bought me a laptop. A brand spanking new laptop. That my kind and patient sister, and her partner, set up for me and taught me how to use. They deliberately picked something that would suit the university life style – and they were bang on the money in that respect.
That laptop lasted I-don’t-care-to-remember how many assignments and a 10,000 word undergraduate dissertation. Let’s not forget, either, that during my first and second summers home from university, I also wrote two “novels” (I use that word in a bland and unimpressed tone, incidentally) that were typed on that same laptop.
From there, we moved to postgraduate studies. More assignments and eventually a 25,000 word dissertation. By this point I’d also had a bash at writing some short stories in my free-time. (Side note: They are, undoubtedly, utter shit and so I am in fact scared to look back over this period of my writing life, but I know that those stories are hovering at the back of my hard drive somewhere, staring at the ground and feeling utterly ashamed of themselves.)
Then! More postgraduate studies. I wrote my PhD novel (a few times over), I wrote my research paper (also a few times over), and in the background I also wrote another short story collection, redrafted one collection for publication, and drafted a poetry pamphlet.
For myself and for my laptop, it’s been a good seven years. It has been my rock in difficult times and it has constantly picked up the threads of writing that I have metaphorically torn up on the screen, helping me to find something that’s worth salvaging. But after seven years of this emotional and technological support from my Acer, something terrible happened:
“☹ Your PC ran into a problem and needs to restart.”
I know little to nothing about modern technology but even I am tech savvy enough to know that when your laptop screen displays a sad face, something is probably wrong. My sister’s partner told me that I was lucky the poor thing came back to life at all after I sent them a screen shot of the message. To which I said: ‘I must be really lucky then, because it’s the second time that’s happened.’
It turned out the issue was based in my hard drive (I’d love to let you believe that I came to that conclusion all by myself, but in reality it was my partner who took one look at the one warning screen and immediately identified the source of the problem; I just stood there and tried to not cry). The warning screen flashed up – again – and this time I had to take the battery out of my laptop just to clear the screen (ever the fighter, though, the little champ still managed to turn back on after this). Alas though, despite my reluctance and protestations, I have since bought a new laptop.
I cannot be trusted in technology stores. I never know what I’m looking for, even when I do, and I am naïve enough to believe that the people who work there actually want to help me, rather than just sell me things. And so I went, with my partner holding my hand (read: dragging me along), and looked for a new computer.
‘Oh my God, they have a rose gold one!’
It was clear from 10 seconds into this excursion that I would be little to no use in actually picking out something use-able and worth buying. It was, I think, plain dumb luck that I took a shine to a white laptop and it just so happened to be a decent enough model for me to use, too. I bought it the next day and ogled it while my partner did the ‘setting up stuff’ that I didn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t do myself, and then I left it untouched and unloved for a good 24 hours after, perhaps even longer. But I promised myself this morning that I would make the effort – we would bond. And here we are.
I have stripped my old laptop of ‘the important stuff’ (read: those novels that I will never edit nor read again but can’t bring myself to get rid of, and music) and thrown it down on my brand new desktop. The old laptop is in a drawer, because I can’t bring myself to dispose of it yet, but I also can’t stand to look at it while I’m here typing away on this younger, sleeker model. It feels like a betrayal – and yes, I’m quietly aware of how ludicrous that sounds and no, I don’t much care. I have become unexpectedly attached to that first laptop – the one that I have owned for my entire adult life, might I add – and so it does feel like a loss to be admitting defeat and trading it in for one with a battery that lasts longer than 5 minutes without being plugged in (this is the biggest novelty so far, incidentally). That being said, I am going through a transition period – that much you’ll have gathered from other blog posts recently – and so perhaps now is the perfect time to do something like this. A clean start and a clean keyboard, or something along those lines.
If you aren’t one of the people unfortunate enough to live with me, then it may have escaped your attention that I’m something of a suspicious writer. I had a deep inner conflict when writing my PhD novel some months back, when I couldn’t find the same brand of French Vanilla candle that I had had lit while working on earlier chapters, and so I somehow managed to convince myself that the chapters that followed would be different/not as good, because of this (again, I know it’s ridiculous and again I don’t much care). And so part of this laptop dilemma was that I was honestly a little bit concerned that I wouldn’t write well on a new one. I had built up writing karma, if such a thing exists, and in changing my laptop and I would lose that and have to start from scratch. Ridiculous, blah, blah – yes, I know.
But at just over 1000 words long now, and edging into my third page of writing (you’re a fine individual if you’ve bothered to read this far), it seems that writing karma might not be a thing after all. Perhaps only time will tell. Either way, though, here’s to another seven years of writing –
Rest In Peace, old Acer, I knew you well.