I’m Lea Wait, and during the past week my computer has given me nightmares.
Now, I’m usually a fairly calm person. Go ahead – ask my husband. Ask my children. Well – no – don’t ask my children about when they were in high school. And don’t ask my husband about when I’m under a deadline. But – other than that – I am usually very restrained. Accepting. I take deep breaths. I would have been great in WWII Britain.
And after years of writing (corporate, theoretically nonfiction,) before I’d written one word of fiction or entered the world of publishing, I’d honed the ability to smile through dozens of political rewrites, knew the joy of collating at 3 a.m., understood the rationale for squirreling away pounds of carbon and gallons of Wite-out so I would never, ever, run out. and was known as one of the few who could convince a weary secretary to retype a page one more time because a comma needed to be added.
When electric typewriters became common, I loved my Selectric. When they turned into electric typewriters with memory, I was in heaven. And my office had one of the first computers that could process words and make sense of them.
No doubt: I love my computer. I spent eight to twelve hours a day with my keyboard and mouse and screen, writing, researching, sending and receiving e-mails, blogging, Facebooking … in short, in the life of an author … living.
(I do emerge for meals and sleep and CNN .. although now that CNN is on-line …..)
Until last week, when my world came crashing down.
My computer was, I will admit, getting a little on in years. It groaned a little. It hesitated. It stopped and started. (Much as I do some mornings, I will admit.) It would no longer play videos. It wouldn’t accept updates. I started to worry. Yes, I backed up my manuscripts “in the cloud.” But clouds have looked pretty dark recently. And I have a book deadline September 1. So one morning I woke up and decided it was time. Even computers come to an end.
I ruthlessly pulled out cables and drove my old tower to Best Buy. Where, I discovered, few people use desk top computers anymore. It’s all laptops. Well, my study is set up for a desktop, and I wasn’t ready to give that up, so a very patient and polite young Geek (they are actually called that at Best Buy) explained that I could, indeed, buy another tower. But then he introduced me to All-in-Ones … and I fell hard. If any of you are as far behind the times as I was … an “all-in-one” is basically a Spanx for your computer hardware. It squishes everything except your mouse and keyboard into a flatscreen – a glorious flatscreen, which includes a camera that won’t fall off the top of the screen, speakers that won’t take up desk space – and no pedestal at all. I fell hard. It was gorgeous. And the Geek promised to personally transfer all my files — emails, mailing list, and, of course, all my manuscripts — into this wonderful new computer. (For a not-so-small fee, of course.) And he’d update my Windows. And my Mail. Everything as Up-to-Date as Kansas City before any tornadoes.
I was wooed and won. I handed him my credit card and my tower and went home to clean my desk to prepare for the coming of the new computer.
Two days later it was in my study. Six hours after that I was beginning to figure out how to find mail on it. Maybe.Then I tried to find my mailing list – an essential piece of my business. But that file was (my stomach disappeared to somewhere south of the cellar) empty. I dialed the 800 number the Geek had given me. Another nice Geek told me to attach the backup files I was given to the computer. All would be good.
An hour later? It wasn’t.
I called the local store. I took the pretty new computer back. I was assured by Geek One that he would resolve the problem. Just a matter of consolidating files. Not a problem for him! I had to go to Portland for a couple of hours? Stop on my way home.
I did. The computer was “almost ready.” Not to worry. He’d call.
He didn’t. Until the next afternoon. Seems my software for the mailing list didn’t work with the fancy new Word system. But never fear! He was trying to get through to the software company. He’d make it work!
The next afternoon he called again. He had the fix … not to worry! (At t this point I hadn’t had a computer for … but who was counting days? I was counting hours! Cut off from the world! No email! No Facebook! No new pages written!)
And, by the way, he asked … what was my password for my mailing list?
“No password,” I said. “I never gave it a password. I’m the only one who uses it.” “It needs a password to open it,” he said. “I can’t fix it without a password.” “No password,” I said.” “I’ll see,” he answered. Don’t worry.” He hung up. I worried.
Two days later, I got another call. A recording. My computer was ready!
I wasn’t sure I believed it. All night I wondered what “ready” meant. “Ready” to throw out? “Ready” without my ten years of mailing list?
When I arrived at the store, Geek One explained. He showed me how it all worked. He told me I might have some problems. He also assured me that the next time I bought a new computer I’d have the same issues with the mailing list again. He smiled. I smiled. I took the computer home.
I can now report that the Mailing List software works beautifully. I can much relieved about that.
But this afternoon a fellow writer sent me pictures and a guest blog for today’s Maine Crime Writer. You don’t see it here, because I can’t figure out how to move the pictures she sent me into files so I can upload them into this blog. I was also asked, today, to send an edited chapter of my latest book to a magazine so they could excerpt it.
I ended up retyping the whole chapter.
I haven’t quite mastered Windows 8 yet.
But, never fear. I’ve ordered a copy of Windows 8 for Dummies. It will arrive tomorrow.
My beautiful new computer is sitting on my desk. Now I just have to learn how her brain works. Because, so far, she and I aren’t on the same wavelength.