I recently found out how well a laptop computer holds its liquor: not very well at all. Mine survived a gin-and-orange-juice in 2008 with only a forever-disabled "forward" key, but the vodka-Sprite on Saturday did in in. Kaput.
Considering that my livelihood (such as it is) depends on this thing, I took it remarkably well. Tom bought me a new one, and as I looked up data recovery services for the old one I thought about what was in there that I really needed.
It turns out I'm enough of a Luddite to have lost very little. All my publishing contracts are printed out and filed in real folders. Even if I didn't keep copies of my short stories in a flash drive, I generally do revisions on printouts and keep them around for a while. I have my resume, Aloe House documents and other personal info on paper.
If for some reason the hard drive fails to reveal its secrets, I would have only a few things to re-create: half a chapter of the new novel, my business card, my list of e-mail contacts. (And many of those are written in my physical address book.)
So am I a smart cookie, or just hopelessly un-tech? Makes you wonder.
I've always marveled at fellow writers who don't have a favorite pen, a preference between yellow and white legal pads or even a tiny bottle of rapidly solidifying Wite-Out in the drawer. How can they write? Sure,I do a lot of writing directly onto the screen, but when it comes to getting started, working out a character description or interrupting myself to plan ahead, there's nothing like the old-fashioned tools of the trade. You can't doodle in the corner of a Word document or curl its edges while you think, and a computer mouse won't twirl between the fingers.
I suppose there's a certain amount of habit involved here. Once, my friend Naqqi arrived at Aloe House while I was at the kitchen table with my pen and pad. When I told him I was working on a story, he looked astonished. "How can you write like that?" he asked. His was the generation that started matching "A" and "apple" on the computer screen and never looked back. I suppose he's developed some sort of equivalent to doodling in margins.
So I'm not going to say that analog writing is superior to digital (even if it is). Instead, I'll just point out a few things:
*Ink, graphite and typewriter ribbons all have an aroma. I never sniff my keyboard, unless I suspect there's a dead critter in it.
*When a cat sits on a piece of paper, lines of gibberish don't appear on it and nothing gets erased.
*When I doodle, at least I'm creating something, even if it's just a palm tree and ocean waves.
*If you spill a drink on paper, you can pick up the sheet, shake it off and hang it up to dry. And more paper is a lot cheaper than data recovery and a new laptop.
Note: Yes, all my blogs are written on paper before I transfer them to my site. The process gives me one last chance for revision. This one is in black ink on yellow lined paper with two springs and a palm tree by paragraph 2 and "cats, doodles, drinks" in the margin beside where my list started.
The computer has been drinking,