Alphabet Challenge Day 3

The third day of my blogging challenge

The Letter is C

and the topic is COMPUTERS

I was debating a number of possibilities for today’s post, but my mind has narrowed towards computers because mine has gone on strike. Actually, I think it’s more terminal than that – I’m already planning the wake!

It’s been temperamental all summer, but it’s chosen today of all days to throw in the towel, go belly up, shuffle off this mortal coil.

I’ve got two short stories I desperately need to work on (deadlines) and the Worcestershire Lit Fest flash fiction anthology to finish. I’ve got a laptop, so I can do internet stuff, but all my work is on the main computer – and I can’t get at it!

Okay, rant over. I suppose the frustrations when something goes wrong with the computer are only so significant because it is such a wonderful tool. When I give talks or meet book groups, a common question is – do you write by hand or on the computer? And it’s definitely on the computer. Word processing has transformed the process of writing. (At least for prose – it’s might be different for poetry.)

I find it hard to believe that in the dim and distant past, I wrote four novels by hand. Yes, by hand! Perhaps the fact that they’re all stuck in a drawer somewhere highlights the difficulties – or more likely, they just weren’t very good! – but I didn’t think anything of it at the time. In fact, I used to love the feel of the pen in my fingers, my hand moving across the page. I couldn’t imagine writing – certainly not creatively –  in any other way, but now …

When I was on holiday recently and without a computer, I tried to write the first draft of a story by hand. The poolside location and the high 30s temperature might not have helped, but by the time I’d crossed out, moved things round, inserted arrows and asterisks, it was impossible to make any sense of it.

When I was writing my four novels (in ten years!), I didn’t know many people who were also writers, certainly not writing novels. Now, writers and writing courses are everywhere, and I wonder what the impact of the computer has been on the number of people who want to write.

So, computer, I might swear at you sometimes when you won’t do what I want you to do; when you decide to do things differently or reformat or ‘hide’ documents, but I do love you really. Please come back!


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  1. Hope your pooter is behaving itself again …

    I used to write everything longhand, but now write mostly onto the PC, even poems 🙂

    Don’t know where I’d be without it, especially since most of my work is done ‘remotely’. The best thing I ever discovered, apart from the fabulous Apple Mac, is the external hard drive which I use to back up my work regularly ~ it’s got me out of the mire on many occasions.

    Interesting post ~ thanks Lindsay

  2. Lindsay says:

    No, I’m afraid it’s not. Boo! In theory, everything is backed up remotely (they do say – it’s not if the computer goes wrong, but when), so I hope it’s all safe. I’ll have to wait until someone with more techno knowledge than me appears on the scene!

  3. Christine says:

    Good post and a warning to us all to make sure we back up everything. I favour Google docs myself. But isn’t this a bit dire given the deadlines you have looming?

  4. Lindsay says:

    I’m hoping everything is backed up! I’ve got hard copies of drafts of the two stories I’m supposed to be working on, so if the worse comes to the worst, I can retype them on the laptop, but haven’t got copies of my outlines for my characters in the new novel – and I’ve spent ages on those. Also haven’t got copies of various other stories, so I’m desperately hoping it is all saved somewhere. Otherwise, it’s not only dire, it’s DIRE, dire cubed, dire-I-think-I-might-scream!

  5. Robin Heaney says:

    Here comes the boring stuff, from a nobody – Polly, did you know that a pooter is a tube that entomologists us for collecting insects?
    Computers. For all their perceived complexity they are only capable of making binary decisions: they can only answer yes or no; true or false; one or zero. Ask George Boole (who’s name was mentioned in last week’s episode of New Tricks).
    But they can answer yes or no so astonishingly quickly that they give the impression of intelligence, or at least, competence.
    Remind you of …………………

  6. Maureen Hall says:

    I always work straight on to a USB memory stick, which never goes out of the house. That way, if the computer goes wrong, I still have everthing and can just plug in to another computer. It also saves space on the computer! I also back up on to a portable hard disk, just in case …

    Hope you sort it out soon. That’s the trouble with technology: it’s wonderful all the time it’s working!

  7. Lindsay says:

    I thought Pooter was the main character in ‘Diary of a Nobody’, and I’m guessing you know that, Robin, with your sneakily-inserted mention of a ‘nobody’!

  8. Lindsay says:

    All resolved, thank goodness! It is all backed up remotely, but a memory stick is probably a good idea as well. I heard Howard Jacobson on Front Row yesterday evening and he said he used to have various people carrying copies of his work round in their bags in case anything happened. Now he just emails everything to himself. That way, he reckons, it’s always somewhere in the ether!

  9. heh-heh … loving the ‘pooter’ comments … every small child I know seems to call them ‘pooters’ … hmmmm 😀

  10. Great to see it’s fixed, Lindsay, what a relief!

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