the day my computer screen went black

It had happened before. My MacBook Air screen goes black and it takes many rounds of on and off button pushing to get it to wake up.

But it had never happened in conjunction with spilled water.

I didn’t panic at first. There wasn’t that much water. The blank screen was more annoying than anything. I had been struck by the inspiration bug, finally ready to revise the opening chapter of my work in progress after undergoing a workshop critique. I was itching to get my thoughts on paper, and my computer’s lack of cooperation was stymying that effort.

“Fine. I’ll show you. I’ll take you to Apple,” I said to my computer, convinced by the time I drove to Georgetown, found parking, and got to the Genius Bar, the screen would defiantly light back up at me with nothing worse than a crash version of my word doc. Doesn’t all technology behave in front of the experts? “Really, it wouldn’t turn on,” I heard myself explaining to the tech.

But that was not the situation at all. The computer wouldn’t cooperate with my 23-year old wiz kid helper either. He took it in the back so they could check out the guts. His report was grim.

“We found severe water damage.” I groaned and put my head into hands. He quoted the price to fix it, a figure high enough that I considered buying a new computer instead. Then Wiz Kid told me the real bad news. “Unless you pay for data retrieval, the chances are we won’t be able to save anything.”

Those words echoed through my head as tears sprang forth and the contents of my stomach threatened to make an appearance all over the shiny clean lines of the Apple store. It would cost at least $1000 on top of the repairs to potentially retrieve my word files.

I continued to cry. Okay, sob. I shook. I could feel the customers around me both trying to ignore me and to figure out what happened. I had recently started saving documents to Google Drive but I couldn’t remember what I had saved there. My novel? My agent queries? My entire work in progress or just the few chapters I had sent out for critique?

In a moment of clarity, I asked Wiz Kid to let me sign in to Google on one of their computers to check what documents I had access to. I could barely see through my tears though and was unable to focus on the file names.

“I don’t see what I need. I don’t see what I need,” I chanted, desperation spilling off me.

“I get it,” Wiz Kid sympathized. “If I, like, lost a paper for school or something I’d be really upset too.”

“I’m an aspiring novelist,” I snapped back. “I wrote an entire book and am three-quarters of the way through writing the second one.” He didn’t respond. Then my eyes honed in on the two file names I needed. Both books were safe in the Google Drive.
Everything else? Expendable.

But I cried all day nonetheless. I tried to find peace. Hey, I had the two most important documents. I didn’t lose my only hard copy of my novel to fire, wind or theft. But I couldn’t ground myself, and the more I thought about my first world loss, the more despondent I grew.

Today is better. A few people have commented “not having your computer is like not having a limb” but I refuse to buy into that sentiment. I have hands and pens and paper. I still have my imagination and the means to express it. Maybe these five to seven business days while Apple repairs my computer will be good for creativity. Maybe it will be good for me to not be constantly tethered to and reliant on a piece of technology.

So on this cold rainy day, I’m curled up on the couch instead of sitting at my desk. I have a blanket, cup of tea and two cats. I have four printed out chapters of my work in progress. And today, I will write like so many did before a power source and the right software were required to get the job done.

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4 thoughts on “the day my computer screen went black”

  1. I’m so sorry Chelsea! Had we known I would have stayed with you for moral support. Most wonderfully though, you have two very important things to be thankful for! And who knows, maybe pen and paper will produce something a keyboard never could. Enjoy the experience! Sending you love!!

  2. Way to put things into perspective Chelsea and make a paradigm shift to the positive! I hope getting back to the old fashion way of writing only inspires you more!!!!

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