Saturday, August 19, 2006

Susie talks about her previous life

I don't think it's any surprise that a lot of writers skew towards the new-age end of the spectrum. I have friends who swear they were queens, witches, warriors, and all sorts of other cool things in a previous life.

I always figured that, if I had a previous life, I was probably the milkmaid. But now I'm convinced: I was the person who ran that big crushing machine at the junkyard that obliterates electric appliances of all kinds.

Because, in this life, they hate me. I destroy televisions (though it's better now that I have a remote control and don't actually TOUCH) them, washing machines, curling irons, brand-new car batteries. Garbage disposals . . . I'm really bad on garbage disposals.

This problem, of course, is exacerbated when it comes to the most important tool in my life . . . my computers.

They come into my life and immediately start looking for ways to commit suicide. I don't think I've had one (and I've tried nearly every brand there is) survive in my care more than eighteen months. All I use them for is writing and email. My sons, who are far harder on their machines, playing massive games and downloading things and IMing day and night, have computers that have functioned properly for five years.

Even more of a problem - I'm SURE they do this on purpose - the computers (and associated devices) wait until I'm on a deadline to blow up. I have never had a deadline without a problem. For my first deadline, my brand-new, $1200 printer stopped functioning the day I started printing. I was so panicked I took my floppy, marched back into the store where I'd bought it, and demanded they let me print it out right there. Every now and then frightened geek-boys would peer out of the back room, whisper "are you the writer-lady?" and, at my scowl, scuttle back to safety.

It's only gotten worse since then. The Geek Qquad, bless 'em, are my heroes, but it's gotten so that, when I call them, they bring a whole crew along, because they know it's going to be something wierd, and supposedly impossible, and so they want the newbies to see it. Yes, I am a Training Opportunity.

I'm on deadline right now. Seriously on deadline. The book is going well, and the computers (I have two; a backup seems wise in my case) are functioning reasonably well - though we had five shop visits in May/June. (Coincidence that the original deadline was June 1?)

Maybe this time, I thought. It'll be a first. I certainly don't have time for a problem.

So what happens? You guessed it. The laptop went into the shop on Friday. And my beloved flash drive, which I wear around my neck so that the book doesn't disappear if my house burns down, is corrupted, which my husband assures me is simply not possible.

But apparently it is.

Said husband commented yesterday: "you're really awfully calm about this."

Of course I am. Because I have come to the conclusion that, if I ever finish a book WITHOUT computer disaster, it is a sure sign that the End is Nigh.

Do you all have a big frustration in your life? The thing that always goes wrong when you can least afford it?

Susie, on the backup computer


Kathleen Eagle said...

I hear you, sister! Electronics are the bain of my writing life, too. My editor at Avon was fine with e-mailed chapters. The assistant would print them out. I had to do some of that this last time with Mira, and I had the feeling it really isn't done there. But I made friends with the assistant. I was really under the gun to get the book in so the ARCs could get done. For about 3 months I hardly came up for air, and e-mail was fast and fairly dependable. But different publishers take different attitudes toward it. Anyone else ever e-mail rather than send hard copy?

Candace said...

Oh, my God, Susie! You wear your flash drive around your neck, too, so it will be safe just in case the house burns down?! I thought I was the only one who did that!

Betina Krahn said...

Susie-- my heart goes out to you! I've just had one or two "deadline breakdowns," but they were enough to leave me ready for serious therapy. And even your flash drive is kaput? Wow, it takes some heavy-duty mojo to wreck one of those things! Have you had your magnetic poles checked recently?

Me-- I used to have terrible trouble with watches. I treated them with kid gloves, but they still quit on me after a year. Then I found Citizen watches, these Eco-drive things. . . and I've had the same watch for 3+ years now! I love it!

Kathy-- I actually e-mailed a whole book once. It was so cool and so easy. Ziiiiip and it was gone. They printed it out and read and edited. . . and I think I was probably on somebody's naughty list as a result. But they were gracious about it since the deadline was way past. I doubt I'd ever get away with that again.

Michele said...

Ah, emailing manuscripts. I had an editor who spoiled me because EVERYTHING was done by email. All proposals, full manuscripts, edits and whathaveyou was done by email. If something was due on the 1st? I could email it on the 1st, instead of mailing it four or five days early to get it in on time.
Now, I'm with a different editor who LOATHES email. Sigh... But I have befriended her assistant. I have called him many a time and whispered conspiratorially "I'm emailing you some changes. Print them up and slip them into the mss on [Editor's] desk. He's my buddy.

Why don't the publishers just bite the bullet and go email for everything? It saves so much time!


Helen Brenna said...

God, Susie, I hate to even ask, but how much of your new ms/revisions did you lose in this mess?

Me, I'm hard on garbage disposals too, but thank goodness my dh has gotten good at installing them. This last one was the biggest hp Home Depot carries!!

Congrats on the new Mini Cooper, Michele! Fun way to deal with Bombshell situation!

anne frasier said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
anne frasier said...

susie, you must be supercharged.

i would recommend from this day forward that any clothing you buy come equipped with anti-static drag chains. these chains will remain in constant contant with the ground, and you won't run the risk of building up even small amounts of static. i do believe victoria' s secret is working on a line of bras and panties (called too hot to handle) that will have a more delicate silver chain. we can only hope.

as far as emails: my publisher prefers everything by email. i'm the one who's a little sluggish on that. i don't like to number my chapters until i'm sure it's the final draft - because i've lost chapters by numbering them. so it's impossible to email a manuscript that isn't numbered. they also like to be able to put it on a Ereader rather than having to carry around 400 pages.

4:45 PM

Melissa said...

Hugs, Susie. I'm a former engineer who's completely non-technical. i just want stuff to work. I don't care the hows or the ways, just turn on when I need it on and print when I need it printed. And yes, I have purchased a brand new printer in the night before a deadline because my old one died while printing the manuscript. Not fun.

That flashdrive around your neck is actually a good idea. I'm on a mac and so really bad about backing things up. At about page 100 I send it to myself at gmail so a copy is there. And I love that my editor is in London so we do everything through email.

What always go wrong when I can least afford (ie on deadline) someone in the family gets sick or hurt and sometimes both. Twice I've gone into labor, but I'm not sure if that really counts;)

Kathleen Eagle said...

Labor counts, Melissa. For anything and everything.

But......what's a flashdrive? What am I missing? I have nothing around my neck.

Helen Brenna said...

Going into labor around deadline counts, Melissa!

anne frasier said...

i don't use flashdrive either, kathy. but i spent the afternoon trying to figure out which ones work best with a mac!

while reading reviews of different drives, i did see people complaining about being unable to access the info in the drives, so i guess they should just be considered another form of backup to use in addition to an external hard drive or cd-r or whatever.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you already did this, but it's a warning for anyone that has a flash drive.

Just make sure (and this is from an engineering-IT type who just hates to see good work wasted), make SURE you eject the key through software means, and don't just remove the device. Macs are doubly finicky about it, but all flash drives will become corrupt if you don't eject them properly each and every time.

Ah, technology.

anne frasier said...

ah, that's good to know!!! thanks for the tip.