Lucky me. Now that I have a lovely laptop, I can go anywhere to write - porch, bed, living room rug... I had a particularly productive 4-hour session in the 800 section of the library on Friday, torturing my poor darlings on the planet Telove. However, once again I am faced with the dilemma of what exactly it means to be a writer - do I continue to polish the little paragraphs and character sketches that I have saved on my old computer, or do I start fresh and new? After all, writers write, right? So I should just be able to conjure new ideas out of thin air.
We-hell. Let me for a moment recount my computer escapades, starting with, oh, let’s say Arthur: my first computer. I don't even remember where I got him. But he was called Arthur because my friend Christy had a computer dubbed Zaphod. One of the greatest names (and greatest characters) ever created - Zaphod Beeblebrox was (is) the two-headed, three- (or more) armed invention of Douglas Adams and, depending on who you're talking to, was at one time or another president of the galaxy, the most important being in the universe and a guy named Phil. Anyway, Christy's computer was fantastic for its time (around 1990 or so.) Sound blaster equipped, we sat in Zaphod's glow playing Sierra games until 4 in the morning. The best I could get out of Arthur (who, if I remember correctly, didn't have a hard drive and had to work off of floppy start-up disks) was a slow game of Crazy 8s.
Christy grew up to be a computer scientist and sold me Zaphod for $200. I took him, and all of my floppies of saved files to college. Zaphod, no longer top of the line, limped along until a lightning strike fried the motherboard. Not easy to give up my files, which had since been saved to the hard drive (the magnetic fields of the floppies had long since rotted beyond use,) and also, because I was a poor, starving college student, I took him to the computer lab geeks who retrofitted him with another motherboard so that I could at least grab the stuff off of my hard drive.
Thus Zaphod gained yet another mother and became Trilian. Trilian stuck with me through most of college. But eventually I hungered for something faster. With Tril, I could barely check my email. I was ready to surf the net, somewhere outside the computer lab. I was at the time working as a part time lighting consultant and the company was replacing all of their computers with generic, hand built jobs from a local small business supplier. I hopped onboard and got an extra computer for home use. It was a $799 deal that followed me through school and out to Cleveland.
I don’t think that computer ever had a name, unless it was Aurora, the name of the place I bought it. It did its job and is in fact still doing its job, albeit not in my office but down the ways a bit in the dining room. So this laptop (name? None yet. Maybe Belle… or Ford Prefect, keeping with the Hitchhikers theme) is about the 4th or so computer that I have had – not counting my parent’s computer Roger (Wilco,) on which I did write a few stories. What it all boils down to is the fact that I have written on each of them: stories, bits and pieces of ideas, papers from high school through two colleges and so on. Each time, I made some hard copies but more times I saved my precious gems on the computers themselves, or rotty disks. And as I moved from state to state, computer to computer, I am sure I left a trail of evaporated ideas, loosing characters, chapters, poems and the like as I went. Like the trail of breadcrumbs eaten by birds, my creations were absorbed into the atmosphere.
But futilely, perhaps, I continue to drag some of the old things along. I am about 75% of the way through emailing the files from Aurora to the laptop. And while opening the files into fresh new folders, I came across a diary I kept way back when I still had Arthur. Why am I saving this? Why does it continue to travel from site to site with me? Well, maybe it’s because I still have the first diary I kept, writing on each page from start to finish. The experience of trying to find out how much to say, how much is too much? Is there such a thing as saying too much? And I would never think of throwing out the written word, not because of any delusions of grandeur, but because of the simple fact sometimes I get nostalgic for such things.
I'll post my old “Arthur” diary here.