Writing in my backyard during the nicest week of the year in Houston, two laptops ago, on Lil Red.

Sometimes my fingers fly and still can’t keep up with the words pouring out of my head across the screen. Literally, the characters dance ahead of me across the lines, turning, stopping, taunting, tongue out and thumbs in ears with fingers waggling, the little scoundrels.

Other times, my fingers hover uneasily, waiting for divine inspiration, guilty with inactivity, searching for something to deliver if not to the screen then to my stomach in compensation. Maybe if we feed the muse, she will deliver unto us again?

She doesn’t, but my butt grows bigger in my cushy black office chair, the one I bought at a yard sale for $25, and the most comfortable chair I’ve ever owned. But I digress. AΒ  bigger butt? Not the desired outcome.

In May, I wrote 70,000 words. In mid-July, I submitted a completed novel based on those words to my editor. It is now finished, it is beautiful, it is the best thing I’ve ever written.

“Holy crap,” I thought. “I’ve figured this writing thing out. I can DO this.”

I sat down again in mid-July. I flexed my fingers. I wiggled them, waggled them. I placed them on the keys.


I adjusted my position in my seat. A few pages of wooden, colorless gibberish spurt out like literary baby poo.

I ate some slutty brownies. I repositioned my tush in its throne, the seat a bit tighter now, but for a good cause. I ground through 20,000 words of garbage over three weeks. I cried. I cried some more. I bought new running shoes. I went out to run and came back inside. I was too fat to run in 100 degrees.


It’s August 15th as I type this post. My rough manuscript is due September 1st. At least, it was. I begged for an extension. Now I have until September 10th. Meanwhile, real life caught up with me, ate up my window of writing opportunity. A visit from the MIL for a few weeks. Kids home for the summer. The day job rearing its ugly head after a blessed break.

All of this overtook me and left me high and dry, until I thought I left my laptop cord at my parents’ house. Now, it turns out I didn’t actually leave it there. Hold that thought. But the belief that it was missing was critical. Because I bought a new laptop six weeks ago. A different laptop then the piece-o-crap that I typed my last 6.5 books on. That laptop got fried by an aftermarket power cord early in its life, and even the greatness that is MicroCenter could not restore that laptop to its original awesomeness. It also has a piece of duct tape where a key I have learned to live without used to be. It looks pretty classy. Cheapass that I am (thanks, Dad, I got all my best qualities from you), I refused to give in. I soldiered on through problems interminable for another year with that thing. Then I wrote “the end” on Saving Grace, sent it to Meghan, and bought a shiny new machine.

Oh, it’s beautiful. It is sooooo much easier to use than the old one. It has a name: the Zenbook. Peace flows like a river from its keys. So happy was I about the new possibilities of the Zenbook that I rented an office, to create further peace in my world. The office is quiet. Cool. Dark, like I crave, vampire that I am. The Zenbook and I should have been HEROIC under those conditions.


Should have been.

Alas, we did not live up to expectations.

And then…then…then, I thought I lost my Zenbook power cord. For three angst-ridden hours, I was forced back on to the machine that so tortured me, I didn’t bother naming him. I had gone in 2010 from my adorable Lil Red to the “nameless horror” to the peace of my Zenbook in 2012. I booted up the slug. I suffered through a morning of forced updates, check disks, troubleshooting flaky internet connections, and locked screens. It felt oh-so-familiar. I thought again about the files I needed to sift through and backup.

A thought snuck through my gloom (traitorous brain) reminding meΒ of all we –this piece of junk and I — had done together, despite its many and obvious shortcomings.

I rebooted yet again, after uninstalling a program that is a recurring bug on the infernal machine. It pops up every three months, and by pop up I mean literally while I have a PowerPoint slide deck projected onto a screen in front of a room full of paying customers, a “please choose your language” box pops up. Whereupon inevitably one person in the class is an IT guy and he says, “Looks like you have a virus. I can fix that for you.” And on break I let him think he does so, knowing full well I’ll see my little friend again next quarter.

And that’s when it hit me. That’s when I just knew. I couldn’t finish my WIP novel on the Zenbook. The fickle muse wanted me back on whatever-the-hell this machine’s name was. I would have to put the 2.7-pound, sleek, fast, unbuggy Zenbook away for now, and beat my head against the ten-pound, clunky, slow, infected monstrosity that … that … that…had yielded the best thing I had ever written only two months ago.


I am vanquished. I admit defeat. “Katie #2” (as the WIP pupa aka Leaving Annalise” is called with confusion and affection amongst my editorial team {Meghan, Eric, Heidi, Allie, and me}) shall emerge from her chrysalis on my battered silver monster.

“Let the words begin again,” she said. And it was good.



p.s. Oh, and lest you are worried about the missing power cord, you can put your mind at ease: Allie found it for me this afternoon. In my laptop bag.


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