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.
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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