Thursday, November 05, 2015

Requiem for a Thing I Beat to Death

Writing is a flow state in which information proceeds unimpeded from brain to fingers to keyboard to pixelated page. That’s a lot of moving parts, every one a potential point of failure.

Even with two books on the shelf, it’s still a mighty effort of will to establish flow. When the keyboard refuses to print a letter, then prints 120 of the same after a hard (but not that hard) smack, production is slowed all the more.

The mouse was malfunctioning so that I couldn’t use the drop-down menu in Word 2010 to Save the file. Instead, the mouse somehow got the Paste command under that and would royally screw up my document, depending on what was on the Clipboard. It makes more sense to Ctrl + S from the keyboard and save on the fly, so I did just that for two or three months.

Of course, that would work only for as long as the keyboard wasn’t as screwed up as the mouse. The time was coming when the workarounds would no longer work. I was already replacing the batteries every two weeks, after years of replacing them annually.

By appearances alone, this old rig was on its way out. I had completely worn off the “L” printed on that key, and  M, N, and O weren’t long for the world.

A night’s drunken horseplay resulted in the obliteration of the left strut bracing the keyboard, so I folded in the remaining strut and used the rock at upper left in the photo below to prop up my keyboard. I was getting along fine like this for maybe six months, I don’t know. 

Hell, I can’t remember when I got this thing. I completed my first, albeit unpublishable prototype novel on this rig in May 2012. I’m sure I had it for some years before that. I started this blog with it in March 2011.

I’d hoped to keep it going long enough to finish writing my third published novel. Irrational, I know, but I’m not the most rational spork in the shed. Bleeding Kansas and Grace Among the Dead flowed through this keyboard to my laptop. These were the keys I clicked to send my fever dreams to an IP address in Tasmania, which in turn sent them out to Kindle apps in Canada and the UK.

As it is, I was already (and still am) way the hell behind on delivering The Wrong Kind of Dead, and I was done playing. Time to order a new rig, and send Old Paint to the glue factory. Or, more precisely, and less gruesomely, stuff it into a bag of document shredder confetti, salute it in the blog, and haul it off. I didn’t have the heart to put it with the vegetable peelings and sink trap contents.

The new keyboard is the same basic make and model, with major improvements, namely a softer feel to the keys (which I expect to wear out over time), an on-off switch to prevent editorializing by the cats while I’m away from my desk, and a stub off a USB receiver instead of the easily broken (yeah, I broke it) big-ass USB plug-in for the old rig. Much love and respect to the manufacturer for these improvements, and making the whole mess affordable to poor basement dwellers such as myself.

That point-of-failure in my flow thus repaired, I set about to see how many novels I can squeeze out of this before I send it out of its digital mind for the constant pounding. It’s all on me, now.