One Dead Computer and One Open Journal

I had every writer’s nightmare come true yesterday morning: my computer wouldn’t start. At 5 am I hit the power button and noting happened. I held it in. Still nothing. I cursed, got on my hands and knees and unplugged everything. After waiting the obligatory ten seconds I tried again. Nothing. Happy Monday.

I struggle with technology as is, but without a cup of coffee I knew I was useless and any additional attempts were to be futile. I pulled the plug on the computer (only three years old) and sat down in front of my black screen. What to do?

I still keep a journal and use it to prime my thoughts before typing, to take notes in during revision, to outline new stories, to create character sketches and any to jot down intriguing overheard dialogue. So I snagged my notebook and figured I’d get a solid 15-20 minutes of rambling and call it a day.

An hour later, I looked up and didn’t know where the time had gone. Apparently I had a lot to get off my chest, and the unconscious practice of just moving my hand across the page was extremely cathartic. I’ve read and taught Writing Down the Bones countless times, but haven’t used Goldberg’s methods in quite a while. It was refreshing.

I haven’t gone back and read what is there, but I’m sure it’s not the seed bed for my next novel. It’s me venting about my two sick daughters, my injured elbows, decisions I need to make about editing my current manuscript, what to do with my previous novel–to Kindle Direct Select or no. Essentially, there’s a lot of me just trying to figure out my life.

It is a worthwhile practice, and for me, how I began writing. I never said, “I will write stories.” Rather, I decided to write what came to mind and to see where it took me, no agenda. I have all my old journals, stacks and stacks that take up a large section of my office closet and another spot in the attic. From them, came my way into narrative, taking my own musings and giving them voice via fictional people. They are the stepping stones, and I won’t part with them. Nor should I.

I’m not saying I’ll journal more, now. But possibly I’ll allow myself the time to sit and let my mind wander and to allow my hand to sketch out the problems and possible solutions. Because that’s what happens. Light bulbs went on for me. I had clarity about issues I needed to decipher, but hadn’t taken the time, nor figured out a way.

My computer did that for me. It forced me back to my old school methods. And the best part? There’s nothing wrong with the machine. The tech guy told me to change the outlet I use and didn’t charge me for the service. He was right. I’m writing this entry on my trusty Dell. But that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten the pen and paper, always available at my side. In fact, they are more evident than ever before.

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