Saturday, January 23, 2010

Tech problems inflict Biblical torments

I always tell prospective authors that being a freelance writer is like being adrift in a rubber raft far out at sea. And that being a freelance writer with technical problems is like being in that rubber raft and hearing an urgent hiss.

My rickety little raft began to hiss on Wednesday and I’ve been sinking ever since.

It occurred to me while on one of the numerous multi-hour tech talks to Apple that I ask more concerned and pointed questions about how these self-proclaimed “geniuses” were going fix my computer than I did to the docs who were going to deliver our children.

It makes sense, really. One earns money. The other spends it.

Of course, it hasn’t been earning me much lately. But I still look at my $1,700 MacBook Pro like it is a magic genie. If I rub it just the right way it’ll make my fondest dreams come true.

Inside its cool chrome exterior are four non-fiction book proposals, a completed novel and the stark rejections from -- who knows? – maybe 1,000 agents and publishers who think I suck.

It’s no stretch to say that my relationship to my computer is like my marriage. I love it wholeheartedly and try and nurture it. If it’s sick, I fret about its well-being and have trouble sleeping.

I wonder what will happen to me if we part ways and I have to start all over.

This is being written on my wife’s shiny and pretty Toshiba and it feels like I’m committing an infidelity. I’m doing the same things with it that I do with my own computer, but it feels different to my fingers. It gives me strange warnings and nags me in ways I’m not used to being nagged. I touch some things expecting one reaction and I get another unsettling one.

My own computer has already suffered the technological equivalent of castration. I with a stroke of my own hand wiped out its hard drive. This, I was told, would fix the problems and allow me to re-install with a backup hard drive that I faithfully apply.

I’d only lose about two days of work and, I swear, I’ve convinced myself that during those two days I’d composed some of the greatest thoughts ever conjured. Those words are now gone.

So is my faith in backups. One genius darkly hinted that the problem could actually stem from the backup.

Now I’m contemplating getting an entire harem of illicit backups. My trust’s been shattered.

I’m ashamed to admit this, but as all the fixes were failing me I thought of turning to the omnipotent deity to whom we all look to for hope and fulfillment.

And I’m not talking about Steve Jobs.

Nope, I’m talking about the guy who Biblically bystands when another of his faithful sons, Job v.1.0 (no relation) endures a torment that had nothing to do with corrupt hard drives and invalid node structures.

In the book of Job, the Lord’s most faithful servant is bedeviled by Satan -- and bedevilment doesn’t get any more pure than that.

And the Lord lets it all happen as Job wonders wounded why.

During a dark time yesterday, I felt a kinship with Job. I wondered if prayer might help.

Then I thought that there was, for sure, some dying father trapped in the rubble down in Haiti saying prayers that needed hearing more than mine. I’d feel small if my prayer took priority.

So I’ll soldier on through my moral mess on my own. Today I’ll endure another marathon of ear-squashing tech advice, dashed hopes and, perhaps, a resolution that’ll allow me to come home to my computer.

And when it’s over, I’ll return to my little rubber raft and the currents will sweep me far, far out to sea.

Maybe someday my tech torments will end and I'll board a ship with a smart crew that'll free me from concerns that have nothing to do with the act of writing.

But that won’t happen until I can look myself in the mirror and make a career sea change.

I'll have to quit freelancing. I'll have to take this Job and shove it.


Tom Maynor said...

CR are you using Time Machine? It has saved me numerous times.

Chris Rodell said...

Hi Tom. Yeah, I am. But the tech guy made the dark supposition that it could have been my backup. That seems unlikely because my Iomega showed up when I was going through the reinstall. I'll lose about one day so I was diligent about back ups. If that backup doesn't take I'm going to chuck it all and head to plumbing school. Thanks for checking in! I'll keep you posted.

shrink on the couch said...

Take this Job and shove it - excellent : ) My condolences re the computer failure. Big stroke producing hypertensive, that blue screened box.