where the writers are
You might be a writer if...

It's  been a while since I've done one of these posts. Not that I haven't thought about what it means to be a writer every second of every minute of every day. It's an occupational hazard. However, this most recent revelation is just too defining to writerdom not to share.

You might be a writer if...you still carry a security blanket.

Don't get me wrong. We're not that obvious about it. We're writers. We've given them much better names, such as Mac, Notebook Pro, Laptop, or the classic, best disguise, Computer.

As if, you sneer. It's my computer. That's all.

I see. Let's run a little checklist, shall we?

1) Is "your computer" one of the last things you look at before you go to bed? And one of the first when you get up?
2) Do you lovingly clean its parts?
3) Do you start to feel nervous when you haven't spent time with "your computer"?
4) So do you take it with you everywhere you go?
5) Take it out of the car when it's cold or hot, just like a child?
6) Is it your ONE carry on, regardless?
7) Does your heart skip a beat when, say, your husband/child/insert name of person who clearly does not get how IMPORTANT this "computer" is accidentally unplugs your "computer" and the battery runs down and it won't fire up right away?
8) Do you plot revenge? 
9) When there's a tornado, earthquake (we've had our share here in Oklahoma this fine fall) or other possible natural disaster, do you have an exit strategy that includes all essentials, i.e. your children, your husband, the pets, and your "computer"?
10) Most importantly, does it feel like an organic extension of you, one you just might bite somebody for touching?

If you've answered yes to three or more of these questions, you may want to sit down. I have news. Your computer isn't just "a" computer. It's a security blanket.

That's not a bag thing. I mean, our livelihoods depend on these computers, don't they? We find creative expression - and, if we're really lucky, a paycheck - through its magical electrical circuits (Is that a good story idea?) It's no wonder we carry them with us wherever we go.

What was telling for me is that I didn't always feel this way about my computer. The joined-at-the-hip feeling started somewhere in the middle of my dissertation, i.e. my first official written creation. When I was six months pregnant with my first child (actual, human child), I was knee deep in dissertation mania. I had six of eight chapters almost complete. One fine April morning, I got up, went through my usual morning routine, then sat down at my computer to pound out the end of chapter 6.
I opened the dissertation file, which I had backed up on two different external drives, and in individual chapters just to make sure I didn't lose anything. Stories of other grads who'd lost whole dissertations due to lazy back up methods were more than urban myths in grad schools. They were nightmares.

My nightmare, it turns out. None of the files would open.

Panic. Major, major panic. The kind that was so intense my daughter didn't move for six hours.

To make a long, painful story somewhat less painful for those of you who can imagine what it's like to lose 40,000 well-crafted words, complete with illustrations, I ended up at the computer lab at UVA. Many techs later, I landed at the IT guru's desk, the last resort, the nuclear option for technical difficulties. He tried everything, but even he struck out. So he made a call, one of those IT super secret calls. A friend of a friend had an experimental version of the latest Word program. There were no promises but...

In that moment, I understood Faust only too well.

Fortunately, I didn't have to sell my soul...or promise my firstborn to the IT guru. And my computer was way too last month for him.

The new program worked. The files magically opened. My life was saved. I have never been so relieved.

I've had a very close relationship with my computers ever since. One that has only deepened since I began writing fiction. I have all kinds of back up programs - disks, other computers, time machines, clouds, you name it. That computer is an electronic version of my imagination, a much much more organized one. I can't lose it. I can't even give up old versions of it. I may have a computer hoarding problem, I admit. But how do you get rid of a security blanket? Kevin Henkes has a few ideas on that, but in the end, his Owen is a braver soul than I. My heart races just thinking about disassembling a computer. What if it hurts?  
Feel the same way? You're not alone. You're a writer.

Comments
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Well then, yes, I'm a writer....

Thanks to you, and reading your list....

I might be a writer, after all!

Stacey, it's so nice to see you again. I've missed reading your blogs. They're always so clever and filled with joy! 

In addition, to be brilliant, fantastic, and over the top. I loved this!

Truly,

Catherine

 

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I Too Am A Writer

My name is Vicki and I am a writer.  I'll admit the hours in the closet with my computer - just me and my baby - all alone.  An extension of my very soul.  I have an addiction - and it is writing.

Writing where nobody else could bother me.  Where you can shoot the words onto a screen, saving every sacred one.  Hitting each key to the rhythm of your pounding heart, driven by adrenaline.  Excitement courses through you as the words come to you automatically - it's almost done!  The blog, paper or even the book you have imagined is at completion levels.  Just a couple more sentences!  It's taken so long -

Suddenly, the screen goes dark.  What is this?  You find someone outside of your sacred hiding spot has tripped over the cord and life is over as you know it.  No saved words.  No beautifully told story.  Your heart sinks.  You pull yourself out of the closet and place your beautiful soulmate - the laptop - on your desk.  It's horrible.  It's all gone, all dead.  Slouching to your room, you're done - you will never go through that again...never.  

But the light shines as you look at your BFF sitting on the desktop - suddenly, an idea comes to mind!  That's even better than before!  You sit and type your heart out for another three days, threatening anything or anyone that comes anywhere near your baby.  Yes, as you say, you are a writer.  A story teller.  A carrier of the mighty pen.  You deliver words to the minds of many a reader and carry it proudly!

I've had moments, as I'm sure we all have, just as you described in your beautifully written story - times of despair.  The creators of a world through words, such as yourself, never give up, as you have shown us.  Fun story!  Thank you for becoming a writer and never giving it up due to a few setbacks!