Part Three of a three-part series.
23 August 2010. 11.45 PM (or something to that effect).
I pulled my chair up to the computer, woke it up, and plugged in the flash drive containing my nearly complete novel.
I am practically giddy. I have already passed the 45 000 word mark, that being the goal for the 28th day. If my pacing keeps up I will easily finish by the 25th. My previous record is 29 days.
I am so excited I can hardly sit still.
I navigate to the folder containing my precious novel, double-click the file, and wait for Microcrap Word to spring to life.
After several (uncharacteristic) minutes of waiting, a dialog box appears, saying that Word is updating. This puzzles me, as this computer hasn't been on anything resembling an Internet connection for nearly a month. Where is it getting this 'update' from?
I hit 'Cancel,' assuming that will circumvent the 'updating' process and start Word so I can work on my novel.
'The updating process has failed.' Hmm, I wonder why...
I click 'Close' -- the only button available -- and wait for Word to open.
So I go to the Start menu and attempt to open Word from there.
The dialog box reappears, and again I hit 'Cancel' and give it a few minutes to open Word.
You know what happens next -- absolutely nothing.
However, the computer is evidently doing some strenuous task -- I can hear the hard drive churning and gurgling, but the only program currently running is iTunes. It is by now at least 12 AM.
Once again I attempt to open Word. This time when the dialog appears I leave it and allow it to do its 'updating.'
After nearly fifteen minutes the progress bar disappears and another dialog box takes its place.
'The updating process has failed.'
I wait for Word to open, but it does not.
Rather disappointed, I abandon the novel for the present and open Notepad -- my writing warm-up tool of choice.
It takes a full five minutes for the most streamlined program on the computer -- perhaps in existence -- to load. This brings me to a conclusion.
This is ridiculous.
And that means a reboot is almost certainly in order.
I close Notepad (a process which takes another two minutes) and iTunes (three minutes). Then I select 'Restart' and sit back.
Because I have the attention span of a goldfish, I pick up a piece of paper or something (I don't even remember what) and read it while I wait for the computer to finish the reboot.
After a while I realise that it appears to be taking a rather long time for the blue login screen to appear. I look up.
The monitor is displaying an odd screen of text that I've never seen before. However, I don't get to read any of it before it disappears and the POST takes its place.
The POST text finishes and the Windows XP splash screen comes up for an instant before the screen goes black and white text appears.
My heart sinks before I even begin to read.
'We apologise for the inconvenience, but Windows did not start successfully.'
It goes on to give a thoroughly uninformative 'possible explanation' for said failure and then lists several options -- start Windows normally, in Safe Mode, in Safe Mode with command prompt, Safe Mode with networking, and Last Known Good Configuration. A countdown clock is at the bottom of the screen -- 'Windows will start in 20 seconds.'
Odd. However, my previous computer would frequently go into a similar sort of boot loop, often fixed by a simple tug of the power cord for a minute or so. So I unplug the computer, wait thirty seconds or so, and plug it back in.
The POST runs, then the error screen appears again.
At this point I begin to panic.
I select Last Known Good Configuration. The Windows splash screen appears for a split second before reverting again to the POST, which then gives way to the error message.
This time I select Safe Mode. Same result.
I yank the flash drive out of the USB port, hoping it hasn't somehow been reformatted, unplug the computer again, and sit back. Tears pool in my eyes.
Then, after a few seconds, I reach into my book bag.
Lila, my faithful little Neo 2, had at that point been with me for a year and a half, the equivalent of one and a half novels, one script, and copious amounts of plot hashing and note taking. Never once has she failed me, even with the amount of salt water that's dripped into her keyboard.
I pull her out of the book bag and hug her.
It's just her and me now. Us against the world of Windows.
And that, dear reader, is why I have no money for writing music this November. MacBooks don't come cheap, and due to my utter lack of a computer that will at least start up, I need one as soon as possible. I was saving for one before, but not with the ruthless intensity that is now required.
I only hope that my lack of decent music and the inability to write during my best hours won't put me in a madhouse next month...