18 Days without My Laptop: What I Learned

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This was supposed to be my National Novel Writing Month victory post. Instead, as I watch friends share their victories on Facebook and Instagram (I’ve avoided Twitter) with only a small bite of jealousy, I’ve instead typed up a bit of a tirade mixed with some life lessons. The title of my post can’t be properly understood unless I tell you the saga of why I did not have my laptop for 18 days and the disappointing results that came out of those nearly three weeks.

Warning, when I say saga, I mean saga.

On the evening of Thursday October 27th, I sat in my living room after eating dinner and checked my email, as I do every evening while watching TV, when suddenly my computer started acting up. I performed a few things that normally fix it and then decided on a restart since it was being a jerk. Unfortunately, it decided it was not going to come back on.

Tired, frustrated, and needing to get my evening routine in gear so I could go to bed in order to be functional at work the next day, I pulled the battery and left it overnight.

Fast forward to Friday, about 6 p.m., after over an hour of fighting with the machine, when I knew my case was hopeless. Yes, there were tears, a lot of swearing and looks to my ceiling asking, “Why now?” as NaNo loomed.

I checked out a few flyers and websites for something in my price range, then decided it could wait till Saturday because I was fed up. I unearthed my dad’s tablet and used it to check my email, which I hate leaving and dislike checking on my phone.

We’ll fast forward to Saturday, after my workout and online hunting, where I decided to rush to my nearest Staples before they closed at 6 (it’s a small city). I arrived at 5, and after 45 minutes of being ignored and then “helped” by a salesperson who could not answer any of my questions, I bought the machine I had decided on beforehand and crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t regret my decision.

I paid for setup and data migration since I did not have a backup of my machine –please let this be a lesson to you that backing up is so important, I don’t want you to have to go through the extra stress I did. I brought my new computer home Thursday November 3rd (after receiving a call Tuesday to let me know I could come pick it up, only to be called back Wednesday and told that the migration was “taking longer than expected” so it would not be ready until the next day. Don’t worry, I raised heck.)

I arrived home pretty late on Thursday so I only had a bit of time to check my email and scope out my documents. After work on Friday I had my book club meeting, which went quite late since we were having a good time and had lots to catch up on. I did manage to do a couple of things on the machine and then set it to update and restart. It completely shut down when I left the room, but I thought perhaps I’d hit the shutdown and update button (which I never do) given I was so bloody tired.

I had a work event in Red Deer Saturday evening so I didn’t get on my computer until midnight. “On” not being quite the right word since I only managed to bring up the blue screen of death for over an hour.

The next day, after confirming my suspicions that something really wrong had happened to the operating system, I hopped in my jeep and took the machine back to Staples. Yeah, the new guy was beyond repair. They’d never seen a crash like the one that happened to my bum machine. Figures.

I’ll spare you the details of my fourth and fifth trips to Staples since I had to take the box and everything back and be there for the exchange, then go pick up my second new machine. Finally, I brought a functional laptop back home on Monday November 14th.

This was my very first experience purchasing a computer on my own and going by myself. Previously I’ve asked for them for Christmas or gone with my dad. This was a horrible experience. At least I let the store know that, and now I’m pretty sure I’m a pariah there, but what can you do?

As this saga continued, all I could think was, “Why couldn’t this happen in October or December?” The event happening in either month wouldn’t have lessened the overall stress, but at least my NaNo plans wouldn’t have been annihilated!

And yes, they were annihilated. That last weekend in October I realized that the story I planned to work on had more holes than an afghan. I panicked for a while, then decided I’d wrap up my WIP as planned and then start on a romantic suspense I’d been sitting on.

As this computer saga dawned I told myself not to worry, a couple days late wouldn’t hurt me too bad because I had planned for catch-up days. When the new machine went AWOL, I planned to use my mom’s computer; one day in her office with a million interruptions and none of my writing necessities within easy reach, I knew I had to face the ugly truth: National Novel Writing Month 2016 likely wasn’t happening for me.

I did bring my computer home 2 days earlier than expected, but by Monday evening I had zero motivation.

Perhaps I could have caught up during my week of vacation, perhaps not. I’m disappointed that I didn’t try, but I was exhausted. I realized during my week off that I was in desperate need of rest and space. My batteries required serious recharging.

As I type up this post, it’s the last weekend in November, the weekend I had planned to validate my win on the NaNo website. I’m disappointed and a little saddened; I had so much riding on this November psychologically, but I’m also relieved.

I’m relieved that I got a break from everything. I’m relieved that I got some rest. I’m relieved that I’ve learned I need a much better action plan in the future should this ever happen again. And I’m relieved that I started my romantic thriller because I couldn’t quell the itch to write –it’s been a long time since that itch has been strong enough to keep me awake and sitting at my computer.

I did not learn or accomplish what I set out to do this November, but I did not walk away empty handed. I find some solace in that. And this has spurred me to do better in 2017 over all 12 months; I’m glad I haven’t lost that motivation.

How did your November go?

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