Defeated by Technology Once Again

I had this grand plan, once I finished the first draft of my novel. I planned to print the whole thing out, place it next to the stacks of notes and research from the past two years, take a picture, and post said picture here, with “the end” as the title of the blog. It seemed like such a reward – to be able to share with all of you an actual picture of the completed project. I did not, however, realize I would finish it during the time S. is up at our cabin – he has our digital camera.

No problem, I thought to myself. I’ll just snap a picture with my blackberry.

But here is the problem, and here is why I have to find a way to become more self-sufficient: before S. left he changed the printer over to the fax function and no matter what I do I cannot figure out how to switch it back. I have tried everything – everything – except look a the manual, which I can’t find. I also realized that anyone who tries to call our home phone is receiving that obnoxious fax beep instead of reaching me. I have a cell phone so it’s no big deal but I really had high hopes for printing the novel and quite frankly I can’t believe I am so incompetent without my husband that I can’t figure out how to use the damn printer. I mean, I suppose if I had been the one to hook it up in the first place maybe I would know but seriously, this reminds me of the time back at my old job in Detroit when my boss, three co-workers and I all stood around the printer willing it to work with the strengh of our spirit because nothing else seemed to work when our administrative assistant came over, turned it off and then on again, looked at us and said “How many college degrees to you have between the five of you?” and then walked away in well-earned disgust.

Ever since we bought the house S. has been very worried about the potential things that could go wrong during his absences. He currently travels nearly every week for work and though we’ve had long discussions about whether he should leave his current job or not because of this travel, we have agreed he should keep it because (a.) he loves it and (b.) he’s being groomed for significant advancement in higher education and (c.) again, he loves it and changing jobs in this economy seems rather fool-hardy. But he worries because we purchased an old house and the old house, sensing perhaps this weakness of his, tends to show off whenever he happens to be home by springing roof leaks and flooding the basement. Nothing has happened (touch wood) while he’s been  gone thus far but I keep telling him I am a strong, independent woman perfectly capable of managing whatever may crop up in his absence but given the fact I can’t even figure out how to switch the printer into goddamn print mode perhaps his worry deserves more validation.

Anyway.

Instead of my grand plan I simply backed up the draft and updated my status on facebook and went to the salon to have my eyebrows waxed, which was satisfying in its own way.

So, I am done.  And it is just the weirdest feeling, to know that a draft of my novel sits on this very computer, awaiting revision.  No matter what happens – and I am well aware of all the obstacles against its success – I am absurdly proud of myself. I woke up almost every day for two years between five and six a.m. to work on this thing. I wrote the first half of it in Michigan and resumed the second half in Pittsburgh. Parts of it were written on business trips, in Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, San Diego, New York, Philadelphia. I never stopped, even when other writing ideas beckoned to me. No matter how terrible I think it is when I reread it, it’s a little part of me that I’ve left behind, and that is supremely cool. I also proved to mysef that I can finish something outside the confines of school – technically, this is my second book written as an adult (I wrote a couple novels in high school but, meh, they were terrible) but the first was my MFA thesis.

Now I need a plan for the next several weeks. My plan is to ignore it until around the 18th of July, when the revision process will begin. There is plenty to do in the meantime. I’ve been torn as to whether I should turn my attention to other writing projects – perhaps revise an essay for submission or start a new piece, but I think at heart I’m a novelist at this point – all of the ideas that inspire me come in the form of fiction, and I don’t feel the need to force myself into another venue right now. So, the May 18th – July 18th plan:

(hey – I just realized – it’s S.’s birthday today! It may seem shoddy to say I only realized it now but he is up at the cabin and we will be celebrating when he returns and thus, it just didnt’ cross my mind until now. Happy 32, babe!)

1. Create make-shift yet proper writing space for revision. Currently both S. and I have been working at our island in the kitchen. In the current home-renovation plan, I doubt we will get to the office space by July (although we might!) but if we don’t I need to create a space to work propery on revision.

2. Conduct necessary research to properly enhance book, historically. This includes research into the Vietnam War (what precisely took place between 1967-70?), Black Hawk Down, post-traumatic stress syndrome and what events precisely took place during the summer after 9/11.

3. Read voraciously. Re-read favorite books critically, in an attempt to understand why they worked for me. Read bestsellers, to understand why they sell. Read classics for counter-effect of bestsellers.

4. Return to free-writing – this can be anything – new novel ideas, scenes for current novel – whatever strikes my fancy. I used to write all my first drafts by hand – that became impossible if I actually wanted to finish the novel. Reconnect with pen to paper – one page a day.

5. Organize and read old stuff from high school – journals, yearbooks, stories, etc – having the material organized for revision will feel great, but it will also help with the scenes from the book that take place in high school since the book partly about the strenght of first-love memories.

Okay. I think that’s a good list – a doable list, as well, actually. Time to get started, then.

this feels so weird!

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9 Responses to Defeated by Technology Once Again

  1. Cam says:

    I know I already said so on FB, but, again: Congratulations on finishing the novel!

    And don’t be so harsh about the printer. I haven’t a clue which of the 6 remotes on the coffee table need to be used (in a particular sequence, no less) to listen to some music or play a movie. I totally understand your frustration with the printer, but don’t worry about it — you’ve written a novel!

  2. Hooray! Congratulations, Courtney, and I’m sure the satisfaction of completion is just as great as if you’d been able to upload a pic of your manuscript.

    I’m taking time off from writing for the next couple of weeks and my goal is also to read favourite novels critically. I’m looking at how writers tackle voice and perspective.

    So glad we are on this parallel journey together!

  3. shoreacres says:

    I love reading about others’ writing successes and joys. Your pleasure just shines through, and even though I can’t imagine myself writing a novel, I’m glad you did and are ready to take it to the next stage.

    I can’t imagine myself writing a novel – it astonishes me that people do. On the other hand, there’s a woman who’s taken up residence in my head. I know her name, the name of her town, where she lives , who she encounters and why…. If I were to put all that down on paper, I suppose it would be a story!

    As for the printer, you surely have thought of this, but when I can’t figure techie things out I go straight to google. You’d be surprised what you can find if you type in a query like “Canon pixma switch mode fax print”. I’ve fixed my washer and cured a mysterious plant infestation via google, too. I’m a great fan.

    Again, congratulations!

  4. Kelly says:

    Whoo Hoo! Hi Courtney. Just wanted to say hi and congrats. As a fellow 4th street writer, your news makes me feel proud. 🙂

    Also, just wanted an interesting documentary on Vietnam called, Letters home from Vietnam. It’s real footage interspersed with actors reading real soliders letters.

    I too, find the subject so interesting having had my own dad in the war.

    Miss you. Hope all is well.

  5. Courtney says:

    Cam – good news (sort of) on the printer front – I talked with S. and it turns out it’s BROKEN and he forgot to tell me before he left. It makes me feel ever so slightly less of an idiot!
    Charlotte – I am loving our parallel writing lives! Do you have a timeline in your head to send yours out?
    Shoreacres – welcome! I love your blog, it’s lovely to see you here. As to your question, google actually hadn’t occurred to me. How stupid is that?!? Turns out the printer is currently broken BUT next time (and there will definitely be a next time) I have a similar situation, to google I will go!
    Kelly, hi! I miss you too! thanks so much for the support and don’t forget, in september or october this beast is going to becoming your way (and kim’s and audrey’s and stephanie’s and laura’s…)
    xooxoxo
    C

  6. bluebluesoup says:

    Congratulations!!

  7. musingsfromthesofa says:

    Hurrah for finishing the book. That means it’s one step nearer to when I get to read it, right?

    And as far as technology goes: when we had not long owned our DVD player and I had not long been in the US, I wanted to watch a film one night. My husband was out at a baseball game. I simply could not figure out how to get the TV to show the right channel so that I could watch a DVD. I had to phone my husband (except that at the time, he never used his cellphone, so in fact I had to phone the friend he was with at the ball game and ask to speak to Mike). Sigh. Domestic technology baffles me entirely, and I depend on interns and assistants at work to be able to manage faxes, photocopiers and printers.

  8. Smithereens says:

    Catching up late, but woow! You must be proud of yourself, that’s a great achievement! (coming from the woman who never ever finishes stories, even short ones…)

  9. Bluestalking says:

    You know how far I’ve gotten into my novel? A couple half chapters, and thinking once a week or so, “I should really work on that …”

    So your accomplishment astounds me!!

    Congrats!

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