Today, at some point, my new computer will arrive. It is a Dell laptop with a large screen. I promise to honor and cherish my new computer. To not to spill water or wine on it and to not let crumbs fall into the keyboard. In sickness and in health. Amen.
While this may not seem big news to some, to me it is momentous, a cause for celebration.
Let me back up.
When I first started seriously writing (as opposed to when I was younger and wrote stories in my journal only for myself), I was in undergrad and writing for workshop. This was a time when the personal computer was not all that personal. People didn’t have them. Well, some people had them but they had not proliferated the market at all. They were expensive and they were clunky.
In computer lab in high school, I learned how to program the rolling dice–our program was stored on a cassette tape. Anyone else remember those days? So, this is to say, that when I wrote in college, I wrote long hand and then typed up what I wrote. Writing fiction this way was valuable in that it taught me the preciousness of revision, of getting it right–because there’s not much worse than fucking up a word at the bottom of the page and finding out that you’ve got no more white out.
But then in my senior year of college, something wonderful happened. And that wonderful thing was when my Brother word processor entered my life. Oh, how my world expanded! It had a floppy disc and a tiny little screen where I could see and edit what I’d written and then when I wanted to print, all I had to do was add paper to the built in printer. I felt like a god–I typed, I revised, I printed. And if there was a mistake in the manuscript, I revised and printed again.
It was nothing short of miraculous. (And on a side note, I still have that word processor. I can’t bring myself to get rid of it).
Then there was grad school and my trusty word processor came along for the ride and remained true to me as the life and the desire to write were sucked out of me.
And then came the dark years where only very bad poetry and angst-ridden streams of consciousness were scratched, under the cover of darkness, in a half-dozen or so journals.
Until I moved in with my boyfriend of the moment and started to use his computer to write. But I felt self-conscious, sharing that way and so never really let it go. Plus, by then we were on dial up and there was much time needed to spend reading News of the Weird and to have the cookie dough recipe sent to me in email.
And there was work and always a computer.
And then there was silence.
Until, nearly six years ago when I bought my iBook. I bought her because I felt it was time. Felt myself climbing back out of the abyss and felt myself ready to write again. And she has been good to me, but lately she’s started to show her age, has slowed down a bit, and has frozen up on me.
And it is time.
And even though I’m trying to simplify my life and get rid of stuff I no longer need, I will not get rid of her. She’ll stay in my closet next to my word processor, a reminder of who I was then.