Friday, June 12, 2009
Introducing my new computer!
Is this best sentence I’ve ever written?
Does it shimmer before your eyes? Is it grammatically flawless? Does it possess a stylistic elegance that makes you want to read on and on and on?
Because, by God and Steve Jobs, it had better. I just dinged my Discover card for $1700.79 for a computer that I’ll use mostly the way my dear mother used an old Royal typewriter when she worked nearly 40 years ago as a receptionist for a local coal company.
I don’t use my computer for games, to edit or view movies or even for indulging in the American pastime of downloading cheap porn while the boss is sexually harassing his shapely secretary.
No, all I want is the computer equivalent of a mule. I want a working class animal that’ll allow me to hammer out story after story and zip them onto the internet where they’ll either soar or sink.
Yet yesterday I cheerfully agreed to purchase a computer that in the proper hands could probably be used to safely land a Space Shuttle. It can let be a rock star, movie director, financial wizard and inhabit a host of other roles I’d fail at all on my own.
I wish I was immune to the euphoric jolt we get from spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need, but it cannot be denied. As the friendly salesman was showing me the touchpad tricks and the hidden camera functions I found myself being drawn to the fabulous MacBook Pro when I’m sure I could probably get by with one of the $400 netbook’s that are sweeping the tech world.
And all the while as I’m being distracted by the unnecessary ornaments they’ve dangled off my sturdy little tree, somebody’s grandmother is sipping coffee on her porch and scratching out a story on a dog-eared yellow legal pad
She laughs when her grandchildren urge her to get a computer. She doesn’t need a computer, she says, to tell her stories.
Who are you rooting for in this David vs. Goliath match? Me and my MacBook or the old babe and her trusty little pencil?
Of course, you’re rooting for her. Who wouldn’t?
I always tell students who pay thousands of dollars to learn from me about how to be a writer (talk about your misspent fortunes) that the writing profession is the only one where rank amateurs can outperform reliable veterans.
You could study diligently at the best schools, glean insights from accomplished writers and that little old grandmother could wake up one morning and be struck with an inspiration to write a great book.
And she could do it.
There are mountains of practical obstacles that prevent her from even considering being a doctor, a lawyer or, really, a school crossing guard. But if she wants to become the world’s greatest writer, all she needs is a compelling idea, a lively voice and a sharp pencil.
One of the first e-mails I received on my new computer was from a prestigious agent who’d previously asked to review the full manuscript of my novel. This was the kind of news that had me doing a mental jigs all day as I imagined him sitting there laughing and weeping at all the right parts.
But he did not. His rejection was cushioned with much flattery, but it is a rejection none-the-less. He believes a key element of the book is unnecessary and distracts from the main premise.
He is wrong.
Still, today I’m going to load that manuscript into its cushy new home and give that son of a bitch a vigorous work out till its muscles shine with sweat. I’ll give it a massage, a shower, put a nice shirt on it -- I’m telling you this computer can do it all -- and send it out to another dozen agents.
And somewhere a little old grandmother will stick a stamp on an envelope addressed to that same prestigious agent who may one day give her the good news that for now continues to elude me.
Well, cinch up your bloomers granny because here I come.
I’m taking my manuscript and my stories and am going to run you down with 2 gigs of 1066 MegaHerz DDR3 SDRAM, a 160 gig hard drive, a 13.3-inch LED backlit display with 1280 x 800 pixels all driven by a sassy 2.26 Intel Core Duo processor.
Together we’re going to grind you and your stubby little pencil into sawdust.
Don’t feel bad for the old girl.
I’m sure my spiffy new MacBook has a feature that can mend the bones of broken grannies.
I think I’ll stop writing for now and spend the rest of the day toying with how to use it.