“It’s not that everyone with a laptop thinks they can write a book. The problem is that everyone with a laptop does write a book.”

- Robert Fisk

Recently I had computer troubles involving a series of bizarre and confounding symptoms that sent me running to my neighbourhood computer doctor. So frazzled was I, my breath came in little short pants. Even the Resident Canine was concerned.

What, I demanded to know, was I to make of a hard drive that would, completely unprovoked, burst into song?

Yes, that’s right, song! In fact, D-octaves, up-and-down, over and over again like a French ambulance, drowning out my cries of alarm until I’d be forced to shut down the computer. The hard drive must have been revolting against the workout I’d given it earlier in the summer, during the weeks of my Big Edit. I’d spent long and happy hours hammering away at the keyboard, then saving my edits in not one, not two, but three places (thanks to suggestions from readers concerning this writerlyanxiety dream). That was a lot of hammering, a lot of saving. I might, too, revolt.

So when the hard drive abruptly told me, no, I may not check my email under any circumstances, I was sure it was about to indulge in some spontaneous combustion. Or maybe I was.

Doctor Computer spoke to me in calm and reassuring tones, and I left the shop certain my machine was in good hands. The next few days I managed my writing on a laptop.

Oh dear.


When people learn I’m a writer, one of the first things they ask is, “What kind of laptop do you use?”

(When people learn I’m a musician, one of the first things they ask is, “What do you do for a living?” But that’s another story…)

It shocks them to learn that I don’t use one, and don’t particularly want to use one.

(And it shocks them to learn that I play the viola in an orchestra for a living. But that’s another story, too…)

I’ve yet to find a laptop I like typing on. The keys are too far away, and I feel as though I’m poking, not typing. It slows me down. The typos I produce are copious* and laughable. I’ve never found the appeal in sprawling on the couch to write. With my creaky bones, I don’t think it would be wise; besides, I’d likely fall asleep and never get anything written.

But for a few days I managed, with minimal-but-effective grizzling.

Finally, Doctor Computer rang to tell me all was well, I could come and pick up my computer. The main thing wrong with the hard drive was a matter of cleanliness – he’d vacuumed approximately a Shih-tsu’s worth of dog hair from within.

I heaved a sigh of relief and the Resident Canine quietly got up and left the room.


(*Believe it or not, I just typed ‘dopious.’ Which tells you something, only I’m not sure what.)

Categories: General.