In the Life of One Laptop

The bad crash that befell my Macbook while I was away in Wyoming was a cruel little monster. Or else it is just my Macbook’s time: It’s more than five years old, has had many of its inside bits replaced multiple times, and is obsolete enough that the Genius Bar refuses to look at it anymore. The slow lag issue comes back every hour or two, so I need to restart multiple times a day. I can’t listen to iTunes on it. And I can’t do freelance work because if I run Microsoft Word, it flips out. I checked online for my Macbook’s market value, and being honest about its condition inside and out, I discovered it is worth $88.

So I’m moving on. I will have to get a new laptop.

But when I looked at the purchase date and realized I’ve had this laptop since February of 2007, I realized how much this MacBook has seen me do.

I wrote 10 books on this laptop. Ten!

Sure, seven of those were work-for-hire books under names that were not my own, and some of those books were really quite short, but still. Ten books is a lot of books.

Most significantly, I wrote my first three published novels—by that I mean my real books; my books that were my own ideas and were published under my own name—on this laptop: Dani Noir (aka Fade Out), Imaginary Girls, and 17 & Gone, which is coming in March. All written and revised on this laptop.

I also wrote many more things you don’t know about, because they weren’t published.

Before I bought this laptop, I was still writing literary fiction for adults, or thinking I was. I was querying agents with a novel called An Irresistible Pull of Gravity and writing short stories and trying to make it in a field that wasn’t having me. It hadn’t even occurred to me to write a YA novel yet.

Want the truth of how I was feeling back then—my state of mind?—this post lets you in. I also discovered this old post that I’d had hidden as “private,” probably because I was embarrassed, but it’s just how things were back then, so why hide it?

Because I’m amazed at how much I’ve grown, and how much has changed.

It was soon after buying this new laptop and writing that whiny whimper of a post that my entire writing life changed. I was just starting a new job, and there I discovered Laura Kasischke, and I went to the Tin House Workshop, where my adult short story “Mythical Creatures” would eventually transform itself into the YA novel Imaginary Girls.

My first real book deal would come to me while I had this laptop.

I signed with my first agent when I had this laptop.

I stopped working full-time as a senior production editor while I had this laptop.

I applied and got into colonies with this laptop, and took it with me to Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, MacDowell in New Hampshire, and Djerassi in the California mountains.

I am a published author now, thanks to work I did on this laptop.

About five and a half years or so, and look how much my life has changed.

It will be very hard to retire this laptop. It’s been so wildly good to me. Can you be grateful to a piece of inanimate machinery? Well, I am. I’ll miss it when it’s time to let go.

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