On writing · Technology

Anthony Trollope never had this trouble

Wednesday is usually my busiest day for drafting and finalizing Blog Posts. I aim to post a certain amount of words each week and if I haven’t managed them by Wednesday I will often get up early enough, and stay up late enough, to do so. I was up just after 5.30am this morning to continue drafting two or three posts while the house was quiet, hoping to finalize them before midnight tonight. As I noted here the publication date displayed in a piece is not always the date that it was finalized. WordPress, the means by which these words reach the outside world, allows you to set any publication date you like.

Since Christmas week I have been doing most things related to the web on a Windows 10 computer. My Mac Book Pro, my preferred computer for such tasks, and heading up towards its fifth birthday, has decided to display a grey flashing folder with a question mark, on a light grey background, instead of booting up normally. It has done this before, twice (hard drive issues), and both times a local computer shop has fixed it for me. (You can read about it here.) I spent a whole afternoon just before New Year trying to restore it before giving up for the time being, and have reverted to Windows 10.

This morning, in preparation for two hours of drafting and finalizing on the Windows 10 machine, and having been nagged by both the operating system and Firefox (my browser of choice) to run updates, I decided to back up all my recent files and restart the computer. That was shortly after 6am. The laptop was still updating itself at 8am.  I returned home after 6pm tonight to find that it’s still updating. The five white dots, rotating in a clockwise direction on a black screen, are still whirring round. The keyboard is active (I can turn Caps Lock and Num Lock on and off) and I assume that it’s still installing updates. The last message that I read on the screen, at around 8am, was “Working on updates 1% / Don’t turn off your PC. This will take a while / Your PC will restart several times.” Maybe it did, maybe it will again. We’ll wait and see.

So, instead of using any of my more powerful, more up-to-date (and more expensive) hardware I am using my Windows 7 netbook to draft and publish these words. The latter process takes longer. Everything web-based takes longer, but that was one of my considerations when buying it. This netbook sacrifices speed for portability, and it only cost around £250 back in 2010. I wanted a machine that would allow me to access the web if needed but would not tempt me to spend too much of my time on it.

None of these issues ever beset Anthony Trollope, the prolific 19th century novelist. He would write between 5am and 8am every day before heading off to his day-job at the Post Office, where he is credited with introducing the post box. I wrote about his writing habits here, and think of him whenever I’m typing away in the hours either side of 6am. He didn’t spend any of his time backing up his words onto USB sticks or waiting several hours for software updates, but his words (hand-written, at 250 words every 15 minutes apparently) took several months to get from his hand to any kind of audience. Even with today’s technological hiccoughs my words are available within minutes of being finalized. As you can see.

[There is a follow-up to this piece, here: “Let’s cross this one off your list”.]



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