Tuesday, 8 December 2015

The New Laptop by Keren David

I have -  oh, joy! -  a new laptop. 
Not before time, the old one's case was broken, and in order to start it I had to apply huge pressure to the power button then pull the power cable in and out and start it again.
The day my son wore a suit and tie to kindergarten
The battery was completely fried, and so I could only use it if I had access to a power point. Sometimes I would sit in cafes forlornly waiting to be able to start work when the inconsiderate person hogging the only electricity supply had finished their cappuccino. 
But I  persisted in using it. I did not rush to buy a new one.
Maybe it was because I had written two whole books on it, and two unfinished ones, plus an unfinished musical. Maybe I felt that those unfinished projects would never be finished if I moved them to a new arena. Maybe it's because I am permanently wishing that my writing career would generate enough money to be able to buy laptops and other things without wincing.
When I wrote my first book -  just seven years ago -  we only had one laptop. My husband and I were both unemployed. We shared the computer. I used to book in time every day -  usually between two and four when he'd go for a walk on Hampstead Heath. I spent the morning thinking about what I would write, then wrote like crazy for every minute of my allotted two hours. If he dared to walk into the room before time, I'd snap at him. 
I wrote a first draft in four months. 
That was before I joined Facebook.
Now my husband has his own consultancy. His laptop broke last week, and he needed one to work on while it was mended. So he bought a new one and now it is mine. And it is quick and light, its battery works for six hours at least, and it has Windows Ten which I am sure will be a wondrous thing once I work out how to use it.
I spent all Sunday afternoon loading it with data. Music. Photographs. Documents. I sorted them, as though I was tidying my house. Here were those photographs of my son's first football team. Here was my daughter, dressed as Red Riding Hood for World Book Day. Events I'd forgotten - why did J wear a suit and tie to kindergarten? Did P's class really cycle all the way to the forest? 
 Let's make a file of mugshots of me, and all my book covers. And another for books finished and published,. And yet another labelled, excitingly, Active Projects.  I'll feel so much more organised. I'll work so efficiently once I can find everything I need.
I found my diary in one folder, written at a time when I was much less happy than I am today. I found my CV from before I started out on this new career. Setting up my laptop felt a little like editing a book or creating an exhibition, a curator's job, sifting what is needed and necessary from the past and making it useful for the future. 
I found photographs of my great-grandfather's naturalisation papers, containing the names of his parents, Lewis and Jessie Socolsky from Chernigow, which is now in the Ukraine.  My great-grandfather describes himself in the papers as a metal-worker. I have a pair of candlesticks from the metalworks which he ran. This summer my 15-year-old son visited the Ukraine, working on a children's summer camp. In no way was it his home, and yet here was our  connection.
Recently, my parents gave me  my great-grandfather's desk -  carved, dark wood, red tooled leather. I wonder if he wrote out his naturalisation papers on its top.
My new laptop has a clean, uncluttered desktop. Its memory is  empty. I wonder what I will write on it. I wonder what I will create. 


Penny Dolan said...

You'll create something wonderful, I'm sure, Karen.
Such a song of praise to the lap-top and all the life can contain! Your post completely explains why a battered laptop is such a precious belonging.
All good wishes to you in your clear new space.

Eve Ainsworth said...

How wonderful. I loved reading this. I have a feeling you will create something quite amazing.

Lynne Benton said...

Good for you, girl! All power to your elbow (and your new laptop!)