Elwen, Thank You and Goodbye

I’m having an indulgent moment, Bloggos. Bear with me.

My laptop was purchased new in 2008, one of the limited and much coveted Black MacBooks. It was a graduation present from my mother, and I don’t think she realizes just how much I appreciate it, even to this day.

IMG_20180514_214405

It has been nearly ten years since this computer first came home with me. I remember the wonder and awe as I unboxed it, reveling in its sleek lines and the novelty of the Photobooth function. I remember the frustration as I learned the hard way that Windows PCs and Apple MacBooks were not friends, and I struggled to move my entire virtual life (up to that point) into the smaller, svelter, immeasurably cooler device.

Elwen. That’s what I named her. I now have a habit of naming my electronics after my original characters from video games, a habit that started with this computer. With Elwen; my first ‘named’ device, christened with the first RPG name I ever created. Elwen is Tolkien’s Elvish, meaning “Star-maiden”.

IMG_20180514_214358

Yeah, yeah. I was in seventh grade and had just read the trilogy for the first time. Come at me.

This laptop has served me diligently for a decade. It followed me through college, twice! I wrote my first stumbling short stories, my first fumbles with fanfic. My ill-fated attempts at screenwriting and poetry. I wrote my first novel on these worn and comfortable keys. And then my second. And the beginnings of a third.

I started this blog from the precipice of this very screen. Elwen carried me across that blinking, blank barrier of WordPress and then to Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. I carefully, and sometimes not all that carefully, crafted my online persona from the safety of declarative stickers and headphones I thought screamed “this is who I am” when what it really said was, “this is who I want to be”.

IMG_20180514_214219

There are thousands and thousands of words on this computer. Enough thousands that the prospect of actually counting them all up is beyond daunting. More than six years of academic papers, eight years of short stories and novels. Ten years of life spread out on virtual pages as I grew into the writer and person that I am now.

This computer has seen so much growth. Grief and joy and how I cope with both. Angry tears and happy ones, furious writing sessions and more meals and spills than I care to confess.

Through all of that the battery was replaced once and the operating system reinstalled once. Otherwise, Elwen never stopped on me. Not when I spilled Cabernet Sauvignon on the keyboard while I wrote that six page analysis of a three page short story (Axolotl by Julio Cortazar, I highly recommend it). Not when I abandoned her in the back seat of my car that first winter in Oregon and I learned how damaging freezing temperatures could be to technology. Not when I threatened to replace her with anything I thought might be better.

IMG_20180514_214344I’ve spent this last year using two computers because the Windows laptop was terrible. I tried. I tried so hard to convince myself that it was the smart move, the right choice since Elwen could no longer run the best version of Scrivener, or any version if I wanted to browse the web and listen to Spotify at the same time.

It should have been a simple thing, logical. Nine years is a damn good run for any piece of technology. And yet I couldn’t bring myself to say goodbye. When I bought Dragon Age stickers as a bonus gift for myself at Christmas, I could not bear the idea of putting them on the HP. Instead they found their place on either side of Elwen’s trackpad.

And when it came time to really buckle down and hash out the edits and rewrites on The Steel Armada (my first novel), there was no way I could do that strenuous and important work on some unnamed, convenient laptop that we just happened to have. I didn’t care how well it could run multiple programs!

But, ten years is a long time, by almost any measure. For a laptop it might as well be millennia. I knew the time was near. Elwen cannot be upgraded further. No matter what I do, she will never run an operating software that will allow her to open Scrivener 3. No matter how much I upgrade her RAM or her processor, she simply doesn’t have the energy to accompany me on this next step of my journey.

And so I’ve recruited a new companion: Artemis.

 

Artemis, bought new in 2018, is a gift from my father. I’m not sure my verbal thanks were adequate to express how grateful I am for that. I suspect, in ten years’ time, I’ll write another goodbye, and have many more kind words to share. More gratitude and accomplishments too.

As of yet, I am undecided about whether or not to put stickers on Artemis. It took about five years for me to put the first one on Elwen, so I’m willing to take my time before considering anything lasting.

There are a lot of differences between these two MacBooks. Ten years’ worth of differences. There are new lessons to be learned with Artemis, and lots of experience to share from Elwen. New adventures to be had, and always more stories to tell.

IMG_20180514_214418

 

From these worn and comfortable keys, for the last time,

 

BZ

 

 

 

Advertisements

Recap and Stats

Hi Blogland,

I had some things I wanted to talk about, but tomorrow’s book review just isn’t the place.

First, I wanted to share some stats with everyone, mainly because I’m proud of them, and by talking about them I hope to keep the momentum going.

February was a record month for the blog. Over 300 views in one month is unheard of here, and I am blown away by it. So thank you, everyone who stopped in to read what I had to say. You’re awesome! Also, the blog has surpassed 400 followers, which is unfathomable to me. I hope you all enjoy what I write here, and I promise I’ll keep coming back, sharing my life story by story with you all as I take my own steps on the “writing journey”.

In January I started my writing journey anew. Now, if you haven’t been following me since the beginning, let me throw some history at you. I started this blog in September of 2011 after a professional writer visited my Planning and Structuring the Novel class at Chandler-Gilbert Community College. Per his advice, I started my social media presence with a blog, followed by a dedicated Facebook page and twitter account.

I didn’t know the first thing about blogging. I probably still don’t, since my views don’t typically number in the thousands. But, I knew it needed to focus on writing and my experiences working toward fiction as a career. That’s all this has really ever been: a place for me to get the buzzing thoughts out in a constructive way, and to share these thoughts with like-minded folk.

Here we are in 2017 and the blog has become an inseparable part of me. I list everything I read, review books, as well as track my personal writing goals and learning experiences as I go through the steps of writing, editing, rewriting, and polishing manuscripts, as well as the editing and submission process for short fiction.

So, thanks again for following this page and hearing me out. It’s been amazing.

Another thing I wanted to mention was that I’m keeping much closer tabs on my word count accomplishments. I was tracking them weekly, and then including them in my weekly Goal Summary post, and I’m still going to do that, but now I will be tracking it monthly and setting monthly word counts.

So, how’ve I done so far?

January was my first month back in full writing mode. I used to write almost 9k words a week, back when I wrote five days a week.Before school and the the second job. Back when it was just me and Starbucks in a new town. I really want to get back to that, and I set a lofty goal for January because of it. I wanted to write 12k words, but came in at 5,134 instead.

For the first month back on a (somewhat) dedicated schedule, that’s not too bad. In fact, I feel pretty damn good about it. 5k words is more than I wrote in the six months prior to that, so I’m calling it a win.

Now, for February the plan was to start editing The Steel Armada, plus it’s a short month, so I knocked my goal down to 8k words. Honestly, still pretty intense seeing as I’m still working this writing muscle into shape.

But, I just tallied it all up, and I finished February with a total word count of 8,700!

That is insane to me. I can’t really believe it. I wrote 2.5 chapters this month, and outlined the manuscript through to the end. And I’m well on my way through the read through/initial edits of The Steel Armada. February was just a really great month for me, all around.

I’m hoping to keep the momentum going through March, but have dropped my word count goal again. Mass Effect Andromeda releases in less than three weeks, and once it’s in my hands I am at its mercy until who knows when. So, I’m shooting for 6k words this month and continuing edits. Also, if I can get the next book club title finished before the game releases, that’d be great.

So, that’s where I am here on March 1st. Things are going really well, and I’m making use of all this unwanted free time while I work part-time.

Also, if anyone is wondering, I’m getting used to this new laptop. I got a small wireless mouse, and disabled the touchpad, which helps tremendously. I no longer accidentally scroll the wrong way, or magnify or shrink things for no apparent reason. Plus, I wrote this blog, listened to music, opened multiple webpages, Scrivener, and  OneNote (and drew a stupid whale scene like the ones I did back in grade school) without the computer freezing and panicking and generally being a twit. Plus, being able to move windows with my fingers is pretty cool. Makes me feel like Iron Man.

I’m keeping it.

Anyway, that’s what I wanted to chat about. And I wanted to spend more time typing on this computer in preparation for tomorrow. Thursdays are always my big writing days, what with book reviews, fiction, and edits. I didn’t want to sit down tomorrow and feel intimidated or uncomfortable, so any excuse to get typing is a good one.

Thanks for getting this far, Blogland. I’ll see you all tomorrow when I finally get to talk about The Paper Magician!

 

BZ

Goals Summary wk 8

Well, Blogland… I did it. I finally did it. Well, sort of.

For about 2 years now I’ve talked about my ailing Macbook. I’ve tried all kinds of tricks to prolong its life, a new battery pack, deleting caches, empty my trash consistently and thoroughly. But, even then it was struggling.

Typically I use my computer with at least three programs running at once. Scrivener, iTunes, and Firefox. Occasionally it bumps up to four with Word. But, lately my computer has struggled to even run two programs at once, and if I open a second tab in my web browser, forget about it!

After a particularly frustrating session on Thursday, my husband convinced me to try out “our” Windows laptop. It was a Black Friday purchase a couple years ago, and though we bought it with the intent of it being a mutual device, neither of us use it.

Until now.

Sunday night I upgraded to Windows 10, and have spent the entirety of my morning getting programs downloaded and trouble-shooting my external hard drive. Turns out that, when I bought the thing four years ago, I formatted it for my Mac. At the time that wasn’t unreasonable, seeing as I had zero intentions of ever going back to PC.

But, here I am. So, I had to erase the entire drive, reformat it, and am now reloading all my writing, music and photos. Only then will I be able to put the files on the “new” computer. Hopefully. It’s given me a lot of issues already. And by issues I mean that I have had a mac for far too long and am PC illiterate.

But, this computer is nice. Just, weird. The keys are slightly farther apart, but they’re lighter. I don’t have to press as hard, and they’re quieter. There’s 10-key, which I love/hate. I love it because 10-key is awesome and convenient. I hate it because it makes the computer that much bigger.

Also, I am not a fan of the touch-pad on this laptop, so I’ll be getting a wireless mouse this afternoon. And, the backspace key is shorter than I’m used to, so I have to get used to that.

A bunch of tiny things that I won’t even notice, given some time. But, right now, they’re glaring.

But, It’s Monday, so let’s talk about goals!

Last week I wanted to:

  • write chapter 13 of From the Quorum
    • Didn’t happen. I wrote 346 words, but did outline the rest of the novel. 17 chapters to go!
  • read The Paper Magician
    • Done! And moved on to The Six-Gun Tarot.
  • publish 2 blog posts
    • Done!
  • continue The Steel Armada edits
    • Done! I’m on chapter 15 of my read-through, which has become much more active editing than anticipated. I’ve done a lot of world building already, and have set about answering some of the Betas’ questions. I also created a new Scrivener project for The Steel Armada, in which I will do my further edits, instead of relying on printed copies from Word. So, once I’m through with the read through and any handwritten notes, I’ll head back into Scrivener and get to work.

Al in all, not a bad week. That brings us to this week. What do I want to accomplish?

  • write chapter 13 of From the Quorum
  • read The Six-Gun Tarot
  • publish two blog posts
  • Continue The Steel Armada edits

Hopefully by the next Goals post I’ll be fully moved in to my new laptop, and less gripe-y than I feel now.

You should hear from me on Thursday, when I post the book review for The Paper Magician. Until then, Blogland.

 

BZ

Technology, or My Lack Thereof

So, I was considering getting a new computer.

Trevor’s building his own gaming desktop, and it got me thinking about how old my laptop is, and how much work it needs.

I’m currently doing all my writing from a 2008 Black MacBook. It was a gift from my mom when I graduated high school. I’ve really never had a problem with it. I mean, there was that one time when the Operating System stopped recognizing external devices, and I had to install an entirely new OS, but since then it’s been a trooper.

But, it’s six years old, and it shows. The battery is toast. It does not charge, and so the computer only works when it’s plugged in. That kind of ruins the mobile aspect of working from a laptop. I’m limited by outlet space, all the time.

But, ok, say there is an outlet available. Well, my charger is broken too! It’s an apple charger, so it’s stupid shaped, and one day Trevor tripped over the cord and pulled it from the wall. Except the prongs stayed in the wall, while the rest of the charger didn’t.

So now, when I am plugged-in in public, I have to worry about sharing an outlet. The charger will drop from the wall with the slightest provocation. And if it falls from the wall the computer dies.

Luckily Scrivener autosaves pretty frequently, and I’ve yet to lose any work this way. But it’s still shocking, and abrupt to be completely absorbed in a project only to have the screen go black.

So, I spent this morning perusing laptops online.

Yeah…

I’ve discovered that I’m cheap. And quite honestly, I’m a little hesitant to go back to Windows. Though I no longer have an iPhone, and I do love my Android, I’m not sure I’d want to work on a non-Mac.

I’ve been trying to talk myself out of apple for a while now. I keep telling myself that the computers and the software are restrictive. There’s so much you can’t do on a Mac.

But, what is it I really want to do?

I want a simple, straightforward computer that allows me to compile all my music, photos, and writing. And I need to access the internet. Duh.

I don’t need anything mind blowing. In fact, I’d prefer if it wasn’t mind blowing. I don’t have time to learn all the bells and whistles, and I don’t want to get distracted by features I really don’t need.

But, I don’t want to spend $400 on something like that.

And so, after a small search I realized what I’ve always known. I should just spend the $150 to get a new battery and charger for my Mac.

Why mess with a good thing?

With that put to rest I can get back to work. Yesterday I wrote about 400 words between laundry runs, finishing chapter 17 and getting a few words into chapter 18.

I don’t think I’ll finish 18 before heading to work, but I’ve got a good solid three hours ahead of me. If I can keep focused, we’ll see how it comes along.

Wish me luck!