My computer is a godsend for writing, especially for editing. My old IBM Selectric III sits on its rolling table in the corner, forlorn and abandoned, and not working anymore. I haven’t called to order its repair. I do need it, however, because my printer will only print out envelopes upside down, although not backwards. I prefer to type envelopes on my electric typewriter. It’s faster on the old machine. I can’t count on my printer to work with envelopes every time, and I’ve spent up to half an hour a couple of times trying to print out one envelope.
And then there are the tantrums my computer tends to throw when I need it the most. I’ve been tuning it up recently, so it’s been sneezing and coughing and stamping its metaphorical foot because I’m making changes: cleaning the hard drive, defragging the hard drive, uninstalling software I don’t use, updating other software and adding memory. I recently also read tips online for helping one’s computer operate faster which I sorely needed to happen. So, thinking step 1 was really simple, i.e. simply stopping unneeded programs from running at start-up, I dove in. But I got a little carried away, and ended up stopping a program — didn’t find out which specifically until last week — that I needed to connect to my internet provider. Every time I tried, the server ignored my knock on its door. So, I went back and undid what I had done that morning and then I could once again connect with the internet.
Every writer has horror stories about dealing with technology. When technology works, the saying goes, it’s magnificent. When it doesn’t….well, we all know about the frustration and lost time that causes. Wasn’t it Bill Gates who said that technology or computers would save people time? Really, what was he thinking?
My computer has created tasks for me that my typewriter never did. Like figuring out why it has frozen up. Or why it won’t follow my commands. Or why MSWord has detected a problem and must close, and I spend additional time finding the document and re-saving it.
The internet, however, devours time. That is, if I can connect to my internet provider. Today, for some unknown reason, it kept telling me my password was invalid so I had to close everything and restart the computer. After that, my internet provider accepted the password it had always accepted before. Trying to outwit internet explorer so it’ll go to a website it’s decided doesn’t exist (but it does) and failing, frustrated because I’ve wasted at least two afternoons and gotten nowhere. On the other hand, a friend has agreed to e-mail a copy of the document I wanted for Perceval research from the site IE told me didn’t exist.
Technology has just created more work for me that takes me away from my writing and my reading. On the days that I need to work on the internet, I rarely get any reading done. On the other hand, the internet makes all sorts of research easier — market research, location research, etc. And connections with experts who can answer my questions.
To say I’m conflicted about technology is an understatement. I want to love it, but I love it only on the days it’s working well for me. I tend to resent all the time it takes away from my writing and reading. And yet, here I am, writing this blog post….