The first time I used a laptop computer was back in 1994. I had to take six weeks off my day job for major surgery, but I also had a looming deadline, so I borrowed a laptop from a friend, put pillows over my incision, and wrote while laying on my couch in front of my Christmas tree. It was that experience that convinced me I could survive quite happily living and working as a full-time writer.
The next time I used one was for a week in Monterey, California while I was there for Bouchercon (a world-wide mystery conference). I still didn’t have one of my own, so I rented one from a local computer shop and took it with me. I liked being able to write before panels and workshops so much, I bought a laptop of my own the very minute I could afford to.
For the next seven years, in spite of the fact that I had a nice desktop computer with lots of bells and whistles, I wrote on the laptop almost exclusively–usually curled up in a comfortable chair where I could put my feet up, curl up with a blanket or an iced drink, depending on the weather, and tell myself a story.
This really wasn’t unusual for me. As a kid, I needed background noise to concentrate. My sister insisted on absolute quiet while she did her homework. I did mine in the family room while watching old reruns of “Perry Mason.”
I give credit to my mother for realizing that Perry Mason worked as well for me as all that quiet worked for my sister (though the difference in our report cards might not make it seem like it did.) Perry had nothing to do with my lack of academic excellence. My mother knew that, and so did I. My lackluster grades were merely a reflection of my lack of enthusiasm for “official” types of learning.
Even now, I need background noise before I can really lose myself in a story. Music sometimes works, but the background noise that works best for me is still the television. Go figure. Stick me in a quiet room and tell me to write, and you’ll witness a case of writer’s block so severe it will make your head spin. Let me sit in the family room with the Food Network or “Trading Spaces” on the television, and I’m in gear.
My laptop worked like a charm for the first few years, but eventually the poor thing began to get sick. Even sick, it limped along for a year or so before finally giving out completely last year. I tried to replace it with an AlphaSmart (which is wonderful for some situations, but all wrong for curling up in my favorite chair) but writing just hasn’t been the same since that old laptop gave up the ghost. Without it, I’ve been limping along like a laptop with a bad power supply, a battery that won’t hold a charge, and a broken disk drive.
I’m happy to report, however, that at this very moment, I’m writing this blog entry, curled up in my chair with “Iron Chef America” playing in the background, using the brand new laptop which was delivered by the UPS guy last night.
Oh yeah . . . life is good!