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When the World Ends: Or, I Need a New Computer

public-domain-tombstoneThe Death of My Dell

(To skip to the “best laptops for writers” information, scroll to the end.)

It was the 2015-2016 academic year.

I was finishing my MFA program (no biggie), launching a platform, winning NaNoWriMo, writing my thesis, planning and organizing a remodel/addition project in the SF Bay Area (from Maryland), dealing with having four kids grades 6-10 in school for the time in their lives (with very mixed results), endeavoring to submit work on a regular basis, AND working at a job I do not love for what was supposed to be dwindling hours but turned out to be ever-increasing hours.

I was also trying to get a handle on my daughter’s serious and chronic genetic health disorder, finding out the same daughter might also have epilepsy (no firm answer – she’s on watch), suffering from an awful and seemingly endless bout of carpal tunnel (in both wrists, of course), trying to sell a house in an area where houses can sit for years, dealing with packing and a cross-country move, volunteering as a Board member of the library, freelance editing and critiquing  …. The list is almost as long as it seemed like my bout with carpal tunnel was (and sadly is – it’s back). I’ve blocked out the rest.

You get the idea – it was a little busy.public-domain-red-wine

One afternoon, to relax, my husband and I decided to take our work to the screened-in porch. It was a Sunday, a gorgeous fall day, and after researching and making yet another decision on the new house project, we decided to enjoy a glass of red wine while browsing online at various home hardware options. I believe doorknobs were next on the list that day.

My husband brought out our favorite red, poured me a lovely glass, and passed it over to me where I lounged on our patio couch. Then, as only someone with carpal tunnel can do, I lost hold of the glassware and tipped the generous serving straight into the keyboard of my laptop. (This is where the people with carpal tunnel nod sadly in understanding and those without frown a little in confusion.)

Suffice it to say, since that day my poor computer has never been the same.

Even though we’d done our best to dry out the computer right away, it wasn’t enough. It lagged. It crashed. It flashed strange messages. The speakers quit. The mic quit. It stopped liking the internet and stopped liking its own keys. It shut down and refused to turn on, making you think it had committed some kind of cyber suicide only to come back to life a day later. But without the physical or mental time to dedicate to the issue, I ignored it other than the occasional update to my husband.

“Hey hon, my computer is crashing more and more frequently.” Or, “I’m so frustrated. I just lot another revision because of this thing.” And the most repeated, “Honey? Not right now, but soon – probably within a month, if it makes it that far – I’m pretty sure my computer will actually die instead of pulling another Lazarus. Just want to warn you.”

horse_with_blindersI admit it’s not the best technique for dealing with a problem. In fact, I usually advise against it. But this time I tied on the blinders extra tight and just kept plodding along one annoying keystroke at a time. I had too much else to worry about.

And somehow, it made it to this week. It wasn’t pretty, it often involved threats of violence. But in the end, that determined computer lasted a full year. However, it’s reached the point where I can no longer ignore the need to replace the wine-resistant beast. I need a computer that works. Reliably. Not one more file will be lost, I tell you!

So here I am. In the middle of another very busy fall (that house project? STILL GOING ON!) and not in the least bit interested in researching computers. But faced with the reality that to survive as a writer one really does need a computer, I needed to take action. And so…

I am on a mission to find the best laptop for writers.

To simplify the processpublic-domain-laptop-writer, I’ve been reading reviews of computers like tomorrow is their last day on earth. And not just regular reviews – reviews that provide thoughts on the best laptops for writers.

In the spirit of sharing found knowledge, I want to share a list of reviews out of the millions (okay dozens) of reviews for computers made in/for 2016 that have been deemed “for writers.”

I can’t vouch for these other than to say yes, I read them and they do exist. Whether or not the information is accurate/valid/reliable? I cannot say. I can say I know more now than I did before reading them, and without these articles I would be drooling in a corner overwhelmed by the options.

Without further ado, here is the whittled-down list of reviews of best laptops for writers in 2016:

Plus… I wouldn’t feel right without including a link to this forum on Writer’s Digest where writers chime in from all over to share their opinions about “the best” laptop for writers.

After all of that (and more, so much more) research, I’ve decided there is no “best laptop,” only the best laptop for you. Personally, I’m leaning toward a Lenovo. Just not sure which one. Yet more research is required, I suppose (will it never cease?!).

Tomorrow is the deadline I set for myself, and I’ll post an update about which I choose and why after I’ve gotten to know it a little.

What about you? Have you ever lost a computer? Are you in the market now for any reason, not just wine-related incidents? Please share your thoughts on the best laptops for writers!

The Writing Life: Girl, Interrupted

**Don’t forget to enter my Giveaway for your chance to win a copy of What If? Writing Exercises. Ends 11/24!**

crazy writerAny writer or artist knows that when a spurt of creativity hits, the last thing you want is to be interrupted. But life happens. Especially life with kids. And most especially life with four preteen and teen daughters. Oh, the drama. Oh, the angst. Oh, the “Moooo-oooooom!!!!!”

And of course, this “life” always seems to happen right smack-dab in the middle of one of my highly-coveted creative spurts.  I’ll have prepped the children, “Girls – I need twenty minutes. Twenty alone minutes to get this down. If you let me finish, I promise to make chocolate cookies and peanut butter balls and let you watch 3 episodes of MerlinWhat do you say?”  And they always say, “Yes, of course, Mom. Please – take twenty minutes. We’ll be fine. Silent as church mice.”  I then scurry down to The Hole and begin whatever creative task I’ve been trying to get to all day.

(Aside: My office is named The Hole because it is a hole. It is a spot in the basement that was supposed to be a storage closet. When I needed a dedicated work space, we turned it into my “office.” But I don’t sugarcoat things – it’s a hole, in the ground, under my house. Lovely.)

After I am hit with creativity and have bribed the children I scurry down to The Hole and begin to work madly, trying to use every second because I know – inevitably – it will not last.  This is precisely what happened last night.

girl interruptedI didn’t handle it well. Let’s just say that the end result was not me finding the opportunity to practice the art of Zen and demonstrate calm under pressure.

No. It was me telling my children in a rather scary tone that they all needed to go to their rooms and sit. In silence. Forever.

I don’t always become the crazy, quiet-voice-that-is-more-dangerous-than-the-loud-voice mom … but I’d had a day. And this was the proverbial straw.

Here’s a glimpse of how it went down:

Me: (Scurrying into The Hole) Ahh. Quiet. Let me slip on my headphones and start typing for NaNoWriMo. (I may not have actually said this out loud, but I’m exercising my creative license for the sake of effect.)

… One minute passes … Sounds of massive crash and yelling above.  Thump thump thump … I ignore the sound of footsteps on the stairs.

DD3 (“dear daughter”): Mooooo-ooom!!! SHE (referring to DD4) is so annoying! MOM! She took out the sugar. And she POURED IT IN THE SINK. Moooo-oooom!!!! Like, a whole bag of sugar.

DD4 (in the distance): It was an accident!

Me (yelling to DD4): How on earth can an entire bag of sugar in the sink be an accident? Why was the sugar out? What was that crash — NEVERMIND! Clean it up and I’ll be up in (consults time on computer) 15 minutes to make sure.

… DD3 huffs and puffs away mumbling under her breath … I put my headphones back on and start typing away.

… One minute passes … More screaming, more yelling and hollering. The phone rings … I ignore it.

DD2: Mooooooo-ooom!!! Dad’s on the phone!

Me: (To myself) Of course he is.  (To DD2) What does he want?

DD2: He’s on his way home!

Me: (To myself) So? (To DD2) Okay! Tell him I’ll talk to him soon then. I’m writing!

... Resume typing … Two minutes pass … Screaming and hollering resume … Thump thump thump … someone is on the stairs but I turn up the volume on Pandora and try to ignore it until I feel a tapping on my shoulder … I jump.

Me: What?! What on earth? What is it?

DD1: Mom. Did you know that The Littlest Pest (nickname for DD4) poured SUGAR all over the floor? It’s like, a total mess. It’s like, so slippery that I seriously almost just fell and KILLED myself. Mom! She is AWFUL!! I’m seriously going to die if I have to look at her ever again!

Me: Did you say the sugar is on the floor? I thought she poured it in the sink.

DD1: Moo-oom! She did but of course she sp-illed it on the floor, too. OMG like hashtag-I-Hate-Little-Sisters.

Me (consulting clock): Okay, well, can you clean that up for me?

DD1: WHAT?! That is so not fair! Mooo-oom!!!  (insert typical teenager eye roll and arm crossing)

Me: I’ll pay you five bucks.

DD1: Fine. But I need that cash tonight. Hashtag Moms-are-so-mean. (stomps away and commences yelling at DD4)

… I slip on headphones and face the screen, determined to type but forgetting what I had been writing … I just start typing when – 

DD3: Mooo-oooom!!!!!! (Thump thump thump – scream – holler – scream – thump thump – she enters The Hole) MOM! That little PEST, I can’t – I just – I’m so – ARGH!!!!!

Me: (slowly taking off headphones and sighing) What? What happened now?

DD3: She (referring to DD4), she, do you know what she did?!

Me: Uh, does it involve sugar?

DD3: Ugh! Mom! No! I was making tea because my throat hurt and I don’t really know why b-

Me: Probably from screaming at your sister.

DD3: Whatever. Anyway I was making tea and the water dripped the counter so I picked up the sponge to wipe it up and DO YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENED?

Me: (Cringing) No, but it sounds like your throat recovered.

DD3: Mom! Seriously! I picked up the sponge and IT WAS FULL OF SOAP. I mean full. Then I looked in the sink. And SHE had dumped the entire bottle of dish soap IN THE SINK and the sponge was FULL!

… I sigh. I push away from the computer and trudge upstairs …

only to slip on the sugar that is still on the floor …

And that was when I went all Girl, Interrupted. And in the middle of my crazy-eyes talk, my husband walked in, promptly turned around, and went back out.

I can’t blame him.

Needless to say — not a whole lot of writing accomplished yesterday. And THAT is the story of my writing life for the week. Thanks for letting me vent.

Is your writing life ever interrupted? What or who disrupts your creative time? And have you ever gone a little mad because of it? I’ve love to know I’m not alone!