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Thwarting my Laptop

Thwarting my Laptop

My tiny hand-me-down laptop gave me the good ole Blue Screen of Death a few weeks ago. I loved working on the thing because, honestly, the screen was so small, it was unpleasant doing just about everything but typing on it. Web surfing was clumsy, and every window I opened was scrunched up and cramped for space. But Word was a wide, open expanse, free of excuses.

Then, the BSOD. I made a few attempts to fix it, then passed it off to my husband for repair. In the meantime, I took to writing in my composition book, the one I usually just use to jot down a bit of dialogue or a paragraph that sneaks into my head right before sleep. Now I was writing whole sections longhand, and my nearly diminished callous swelled with pride at being useful once again.

The laptop resisted all attempts to fix it. The longer I was away from it, the more I remembered why I liked writing longhand: the slowed commute from my brain to the page made me consider my words more; I jotted notes all over the margins and doodled; the feeling that I was writing in a diary for my own enjoyment gave me freedom to be more vulnerable, bold and fearless.

I wrote things I never would have typed.

My brilliantly stubborn husband and I rescued my laptop. I thought I would be desperate for it after our long separation, but that first night I turned it on to be polite, did some light browsing, made sure all documents were where they should be, then set it aside. The comp book and I spent a nice hour together writing some poetry.

That awkwardness lasted a few days. It was like I didn’t know how to create on the laptop anymore. I would spend a few minutes typing up whatever I’d written longhand the night before, for the sake of making sure it was saved and backed up safely somewhere, and then the laptop would be sent to sleep on its table.

Last night was the first time in almost a month I typed original words into the laptop. It was stilted at first, but then words began to flow naturally, with the new edginess and honesty I’ve become accustomed to.

I don’t have the time or patience to reinvent the wheel and design a new writing process every two months, but I also don’t have the time to go on hiatus because my equipment’s forgotten how to reboot. Longhand, shorthand, typehand, backhand, whatever–get the words down, and sort it all out later.

Read the Original Post on Barbara L.W. Myers’ Blog

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About Barbara L.W. Myers

Barbara L.W. Myers earned her BS from the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism. She has worked as a stay-at-home mom, a freelance journalist, a professional actor, a substitute teacher, a real estate agent, an administrative assistant, a butcher, a baker, and a candlestick maker. Her work has been published in The First Line, and she was a Finalist in the Glimmer Train June 2011 Fiction Open; her story “Ordinals” will appear in a forthcoming short story anthology published by Lonely Robot Comics. Barbara lives in central Illinois with her husband and two kids, in a home supersaturated with imagination.

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  1. I too recently returned to writing more than notes and ideas in longhand, on my trusty “yellow legal pads”, after years of being a slave to first, word processors, and then computers. As someone who wrote three manuscripts for Novels in the 70’s on said legal pads, I was surprised at how quickly ‘writer’s cramp’ set in. Despite that, I found that I really missed my “Spell-Check” feature in Word, and Online, and like you, I found myself putting more thought into what I wrote, and doodling, writing notes and questions in the margins. My incentive to do some writing in longhand wasn’t the loss of my laptop or desktop, but a sudden realization that I had grown lazy with the creative process, and also that the frustration of staring at a blank, white text box, or Word Doc. was far more daunting than holding a pen,(and maybe chewing on it a bit), and looking at a blank sheet of yellow pad. I don’t think I’ll ever return to the “Old-School” techniques full time, but I am resolved to using pen & pad to organize and refine story and commentary ideas more thoroughly before I begin typing. Thanks for sharing Your experiences, and good luck with your future endeavors. Herman G. Morgan III, Kokomo,IN

  2. This article brought back memories of when I was working in England last year and my laptop went BSOD. I was devastated, then remembered my trustworthy friend and backup — my journal. This incident was a gift for you (as you have found out). Once you get back to pen to paper, you’ll never write the same on the internet. You’ll be better; if that’s even possible. You are a superb writer! Barbara Bonardi

    • Thanks, Barbara! I still rotate through methods, depending on my mood and what’s available.

  3. I know what you mean. I’m often surprised at what I come up with when I write longhand. I think its a skill that we should try to not forget.

  4. This is a great article! I generally avoid hand-writing because I can type so much faster than I can write, but maybe I should try it, now and again… 🙂

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