Simple you say, buy a new screen. The only problem is that the computer dates back to 2001 and, even if I can find a screen that’s compatible with a venerable old warhorse, my Scottish ancestry is kicking in saying that spending a minimum of 90 euros on an accessory for a machine that is worth about 5 is madness. So my daughter has been put on asking her geek friends to find Mum a secondhand screen duty and in the meantime progress on the book will be…zero.
The problem is I cannot write on a computer that’s connected to the internet. I’m probably the most distractable person in the world, if I have access to the internet I’ll be stopping in mid flow and thinking, ‘Must just check that point’ instead of scribbling in a notebook for later, and while that’s reasonably legitimate even if not necessary, I’ll also be checking my emails, thinking I might just play a game of Spider Solitaire while I wait for inspiration to strike, visiting interesting blogs and no doubt, now this blog is up and running, obsessively checking how many visitors I’ve had.
My contact with the web is on the laptop downstairs in the kitchen and when I’m going to write, I have to go through a couple of rooms, up stairs, down a passage and into my office, which also doubles as a library. It makes the house sound huge which it isn’t but what it does mean is that even if I’m tempted to do a quick Wikipedia search it’s too much of a fag to go all the way downstairs again. Is there such a such a thing as a brief visit to Wikipedia, by the way?
The writing computer was spayed a long time ago, its modem transferred to another, now dead, machine, the games wiped off and all non-writing related files deleted. A few photographs remain, I can’t bear to get rid of pictures of my previous dog who died three years ago or kitten photos of our now stately cat when she was still small enough to sit on only half the laptop keyboard. There’s no telephone, only a CD player with various CD’s chosen for their ability to provide calming background music – this involved a certain amount of trial and error, everything written to Coldplay had to be deleted as my work in progress is supposed to be amusing not a long suicide note – so in theory I don’t have any distractions.
But the office is full of books and you’d be amazed at how many times you think you’d just like to familiarise yourself again with a piece of particularly good writing, half an hour later you realise you’ve read 50 pages. Or there’s the thesaurus, I love it, I cross-reference words or sometimes just read a page for the sake of it. And the dog, my writing companion, will turn around on her cushion and I’ll stop to talk to her for a moment. The only thing I don’t let disturb me, so I’ve been told, is the sound of my husband’s voice when he wants me to answer a question. But then I wouldn’t know about that as of course I never hear him.
So for the meantime I’m free to muck around on the internet, play Spider Solitaire and generally do “research for background material ” aka reading anything, no matter how trashy it is, that fits in loosely with the subject of my book and of course I’m not enjoying it. I’m prevented from writing so naturally I can’t wait to get back to my keyboard. If this goes on for much longer frustration may well drive me to ignore my parsimony and buy a flipping new screen after all.