How Not to Finish a Manuscript

Me in Zamar Beach, Mexico in the ruins at Tulum Posted by Picasa

SATURDAY, July 2nd: I checked into a hotel with the intent of not leaving without a completed manuscript. After taking the time to go see War of the Worlds (liked everything until the end) I ordered some General Tso’s Chicken. I set up my laptop, notebooks and pens, and the Diet Coke I.V., and then press the power button.


The laptop was dead. Long live the laptop.

Like any good author doped up on caffeine, I hyperventilated. Neurotics R Us, after all. I called my friend Lynne and started channeling Chrissy from Three’s Company when she’s really upset: high-pitched whines that disrupted the Dish Network reception for a few minutes.

Luckily for me, Lynne knows how to give me a verbal and electronic bitch slap. She’s revived my laptop before; she’d do it again. She and her husband drove to Perimeter Mall from Douglasville, tools at the ready, like Jedi Knights kicking Storm Trooper butt.

The laptop powers on. Long live the laptop! However, now it won’t boot Windows.

As any writer will tell you, this is known as The Black Moment, when everything has gone to hell in a handbasket. On rollerskates. Downhill. What will our heroine do? Will she fall to pieces? Will she chuck said laptop out the third story window? Or will she declare that tomorrow is another day?

“I’ll choose, ‘which one DIDN’T she do,’ Alex.” Right you are! I bemoaned the cosmic unfairness that wouldn’t let me get this VERY OVERDUE book done. I shook the laptop, but I didn’t chuck it. Hey, I was emotional, not stupid. And I decided to besiege the Geek Squad the very next morning, and if that failed, I would buy another computer. I just happened to lose a day I couldn’t afford to lose on my mythic journey.

Lynne and her DH left, and I curled into a ball on the bed. Adult Swim was on, and I fell asleep to InuYahsa crying. You had to be there. Or not.

SUNDAY: woke up at sunrise, don’t know why. Dressed, headed downstairs for the free continental breakfast. Everything looks better with caffeine. Returned to the ivory tower, stared balefully at my personal Judas. “Please, whatever god or goddess is over computers, please let this thing work.” And I hit the power button.

It powered up, like it always does. Then it proceeded to ask me if I’d like to load Windows in safe mode. You bet your ass I would!

Daring, I went for normal mode. Windows loaded, Word loaded. I vowed not to power off the laptop for the next 48 hours. And I didn’t. I sent email to Lynne “IT’S ALIVE!” and threatened to name my first born puppy after her. Then I got down to business, writing, sleeping, and drinking espresso shots from Starbucks.

I hit the zone at 10 am Monday morning, working on the computer, stretching out on the bed to write longhand, eating cherries and Reisens and drinking Diet Coke. A “Monk” marathon kept me company. Didn’t realize how good the show was before now. Did realize that it was midnight and I had to work Tuesday, July 5th, but the book wasn’t quite done. 2 am, 3 am eternal, 4. By 5:30 realized I need shower. Bad. Didn’t feel tired and realized I couldn’t lie down anyway, as I wouldn’t wake up in time to check out, or make it to work.

TUESDAY, 7:30: Checked out. Made it to my car, euphoric. 404 pages. Good pages. At lunchtime, I treated myself to some Priority Mail USPS. Package gone, phone calls made, emails sent–I accomplished the biggest goal, and IT FELT DAMN GOOD.

Now, to await the revision letter.