Posted in Writing Life

*Computer Woes

This morning I was on the phone with a Microsoft Dude for about 3 hours. I don’t fault the dude. He is some guy in India being paid a pittance by western standards, cooped up in a call centre all night pretending to live somewhere in North America while fiddling with the computers of irate customers. He is a level 1 tech. He doesn’t actually know much about computers, but he has a Microsoft Manual. That in itself is enough to feel sorry for him.

The reason I was on the phone in the first place was that I’d gotten a warning through my writers’ list-serve that some horrible worm was on the loose and I’d better make sure I had the latest windows update.

Well I don’t. Windows update does not work on my laptop. The dude couldn’t make it work even though by a miracle of internet technology he could manipulate my computer. I sat and watched the cursor move around by magic (or rather by the dude in India). He added files. He deleted files. He commanded. He said, Update. But update it did not. The computer was restarted numerous times. One of those times the screen just stayed black and I had to press the power button to turn it off and on again. That was a scary moment. Although my computer still can’t update, the dude did get me to uninstall all my antivirus and firewall software and re-set the computer to some earlier time when there was all kinds of crap on it I did not want and things I did want had vanished.

Female Glow Worm, UK, by Timo Newton-Syms, Wikipedia Commons
Female Glow Worm, UK, by Timo Newton-Syms, Wikipedia Commons

However there is a silver lining. I did not have to face my new draft today. I have been in the sometimes terrified and sometimes blissful state of Between Drafts for two months. My last draft was resting while the old wiring in my house was replaced by new wiring. Fortunately, unlike the dude, our electricians did leave us with lights and outlets that work.

I started Draft 7 a couple of days ago. I had nightmares. I wrote about faith. And then today the dude saved me from Chapter Seven. I spent the whole afternoon undoing his bad fixes. Thank you Microsoft Dude. There was no need to wrestle with doubt and anxiety today, which is a much more fearsome worm than Conficker or Gimmiv. But you know, I actually do like writing. In fact I love it. A day writing is a lot better than a day with the Microsoft Dude. Maybe there is a lesson here about worms. Perhaps I should just back up my book and write.

And the next time I’m between drafts, I think I’ll install Linux.



Lilian is the author of Web of Angels, a novel about a mom with DID (multiple personalities). She's also the author of the historical novels, The River Midnight and The Singing Fire, about secrets, friendship and motherhood in 19th century Poland and London.

22 thoughts on “*Computer Woes

  1. Backup your drafts regularly onto a USB flash drive.

    Things are only going to get worse with M$oft. Ergo, I strongly recommend you not wait ’til you’re between drafts. Install Linux immediately. Until you get used to it, you can run Linux off the CD or install it to a partition on your hard disk.

    When my old PC finally bleeped its last blip two summers ago, I replaced it with a Mac mini. Although I installed Linux, it turned out that by that time, Windoze had already done major, major damage.

  2. Yes, good advice re the backup (and Linux). Best of luck with the draft. When I have a little more time I’m going to have a good look at your books. Maybe they’ll even be available down here in South Africa 😉

    1. Cool! I’m sure you can get anything on Amazon. And I also know that the British publishers of The River Midnight had the English language rights for Australia and South Africa, too. So that one at least should be kicking around somewhere.

  3. Emily, I once met a writer whose house burned down while she was on vacation. She lost four years of work. Ever since then I back up religiously! (I back up far more often than I go to shul!)

    Tide Waters, thanks for the advice, I’ll certainly check it out.

  4. I am not a writer but an artist so can relate to the starts, stops and in betweens of creating. Good luck on your draft and yes, life would be so much simplier if we could just do what we are destined to do! Write, paint, dance, sing or whatever….like Nike says… just do it! 🙂

  5. This is one of those silver lining posts, no? I’m glad if the hassles with your computer reminded you that writing hassles are preferable. And I do back up, ever since (way back in the days when I wrote fiction) I sorted 43 pages of a narrative by alphabetical order, the paragraphs with words beginning with ‘a’ came first, then ones that began with a ‘b’ word and so on…. and then saved it by mistake. It only takes one such occasion to prompt a routine.

  6. Sue–yes. Showing up is a huge part of getting there.

    Litlove: silver lining, totally. That is funny about your narrative (though it probably wasn’t then). How did it read in alphabetical order?

  7. I dearly love my computer as long as it works exactly as it’s supposed to do ~ however, when things go awry, I become a quivering mass of fear. Thankfully, my son is somewhat of a microsoft guru, so I’m spared the dudes in foreign countries who speak odd versions of English. Come to think of it though, my son is in a foreign country right now – I hope his English pronunciation isn’t going funny on me.

    Backups are definitely key…

  8. Just be thankful we’re not using typewriters, Lilian! I kind of have a fantasy about writing with a typewriter, but in reality, I think it would be the last word in horror. How oh how did all our literary heroes redraft?! And backing up? No such thing. Was it Ernest Hemingway whose work was left on a railway station platform? Or Joyce? Either way it makes me feel faint. I’ve been having computer problems recently too, which I SORELY RESENT because this is a new computer, but by and large, I think I’ll continue taking my chances… Good luck with the redraft!!!

  9. I used a typewriter in university. I’d walk around a lot before writing a paper. Then I’d sit down and start typing and, if I’d done enough thinking, I could just keep going until the end. But I do remember on occasion re-typing a half page and stapling it over the original! And then think when people wrote by hand. I think that’s why Victorian novels have sentences that are so long. The writer was thinking while writing and just adding as the thoughts came: “that woman, who had been born in a shed, at a time when sheds were better constructed then they are now, in these profligate days of poor workmanship and lack of national pride, that woman was now twenty-five years old and unwed, though her four sisters all had husbands, of note and wealth, though the husband of the youngest was known to drink, for this woman was not considered beautiful though she was handsome in the way of women who are strong-willed, as evidenced by her square chin and her full nose and her eyes that pierced.” I just made that up as I was going along. That kind of thing probably had to do with writing by hand. You didn’t write seven drafts in those days! It was one go and hope for the best. There is something to be said for that. (As I go back and re-read and revise and hope for the best).

  10. You’re backing up offsite too, to avoid problems with fires, floods, and theft then?

    I’ve never phoned Microsoft more than once for support, there are many free forums out there with free online information and willing people to help with just about any problem. And the same exists for Ubuntu linux too.

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