Honest, It Really WAS Funny

I am quite sure that I have mentioned more than once previously that I have spent the majority of the last 12+ years working in the Information Technology (IT) field in one capacity or another. I have spent 4 of those years working in technical support but much of my experience prior to that was in software and hardware testing. Such work involves testing a current (or prototype) product to be sure that it functions as it was designed. If you do this and it works, you report said outcome. If you do that and it stops working, you have a potential defect in the product. This is what is known in the industry as a bug. According to legend, it is called a bug because, back in the days when a computer took up the space of a small gymnasium and ran on a bunch of vacuum tubes and whatnot (also an IT term), a moth flew into the back of one such computer. The moth gave his life in the process but also brought the computer to a halt. I can’t help but wonder if this legendary event also led to the ultimate invention of the bug zapper.
Anyway, I digress (I know, what else is new). The reason why I started off sharing that piece of my job history, as well as IT history, is that there are certain habits that have come up as a result of my work experience. For example, when I document things, I tend to give a lot of step by step details. This is a very important habit when you work in IT and well as in healthcare (which I did prior to my IT work). It is, so I am told, rather annoying when I am having a conversation with my family. Another habit I have acquired is frequent saving when I am writing something. Even as I type this, I will frequently hit a keyboard shortcut to save what I have typed so far (Ctrl + S for PC users). I have also come to rely heavily on a feature called AutoSave. This basically means that, at certain intervals, the software I am using will automatically save my work. This is apparently because IT developers thought hitting Ctrl + S or clicking on that little floppy disc icon was just too hard.
Recently, I was typing up a new essay. I was REALLY getting into a groove with it. I was listening to some music and the words were flowing from my fingers to the virtual page like a Vegas fountain. I could even see a light show in my head. I love it when moments like this happen in my writing. When everything just flows and weaves almost like the song I am listening to when I type. It is truly a blissful moment when I get really lost in my writing process. I had even come up with what I thought was a funny ending line to my piece. All I had left to write was the title and the piece would be ready for my Lovely Young Editor (LYE) to review.
I sat back for a moment lost in my moment of bliss as I pondered on a title and even giggled at my ending line. This moment of bliss would be short lived as suddenly and inexplicably, my computer froze. Moving my finger furious on the glide pad did nothing. Hitting random keystrokes was equally fruitless. Even deliberate keystrokes (such as Ctrl + Alt + Delete) did nothing.
As I sat and pondered, the computer remained in its frozen state. It almost seemed to mock me and my years of experience. Finally, I relented to the only choice I had at the time. I did a hard shutdown of my computer. I sat and waited a moment or two before started it back up so that I could retain some composure over this very inconvenient event. I even pondered for a moment about the title for the piece that I wrote while my system was coming back up.
I opened up my blog writing software. I was eager to look over the piece once more and give it a title. It was at this moment that I found out a harsh reality about this writing software. The software has an AutoSave feature BUT it is not turned on by default. That’s right, people. All that wonderful, flowing, blissful writing was GONE. There was not one iota of indication that I had typed even a single character…ZILCH…ZIP..NADA..GOOSE EGG. I sat there with a completely deflated ego. I couldn’t believe that I had not once done a single keystroke or mouse click to save my work at any point. All that work and I had no results; just excuses. What made is worse is that the deflation of my ego also apparently let out my recall of what I had type. I tried to remember what I had typed…ZILCH…ZIP..NADA..GOOSE EGG. All I could remember was that ending line that made me giggled before my computer froze: “This is my quest…to follow my car..no matter how hopeless…no matter how far (then again maybe I am just being a bit quixotic)”. I promise you that in the context of what I was writing before my computer froze, that line was a real knee slapper. So lesson learned: change the settings to AutoSave my work, hit Ctrl + S anyway and click the floppy mouse icon just to be sure. Otherwise, you wind up like an umpire at a Braves Wild Card playoff game trying to explain the infield fly rule that costs the Braves a run (or two). You wind up with years of experience, inexcusable results, and a pocketful of excuses (I know it was last season but I am still not happy about it).


To The Finish, Please (And Through The Park)

Often during my writing, I approach my laptop with a preset topic in mind. I keep a list topics that I update several times a week. I usually review the list of topics and make a decision on which topic to cover during that particular sitting. I then strikethrough the topic once I have written about it. After some editing, I decide whether to post the essay straight to my blog or save it for another time. I then go and resume my normal daily routine which includes finding things to write about and adding them to my previously mentioned list of topics. It’s not exactly a vicious circle but it does sometimes glare its teeth.
It’s pretty cool to actually look at the list and see that I have several topics from which to choose. These topics usually come from my warped mind doing what it does. More than one person I know has heard me say “I should write about that”. I have sent many emails to myself just so that I don’t forget to add it to my list of topics. Once I sit down and choose a topic and start writing, it truly becomes like taking a ride. I sit down and start typing away. I feel myself begin to pick up speed and momentum. I feel like I could climb any mountain and sail across the stormy sea (Please don’t sue me, Mick Jones. The Foreigner concert at Darien Lake is still stuck in my head). In addition to this wild ride, there is the fact that I am going in a much different direction than I planned when I first started. This is usually the point when I realize that I am not the One doing the driving. It is often after the writing is all done and I am reviewing the piece that I realize that I am not just in the passenger seat of the vehicle.  I am not being carried in some rough rickshaw ride. I am being chauffeured to my destination. It is truly a great ride. Just when I think I know the route like the back of my hand, I am shown a new way to get to from point A to point B. I even sometimes find out that neither of these points were quite where I thought they were. All of this happens while never experiencing a feeling of being lost. Even as I write this piece, I realize that I initially approached this with a different topic in mind. Trust me, please. I am not turning senile at 45. I am just along for the literary ride.
I am not sure why, other than foolish pride, that I feel that my writing comes entirely from me. I am so reminded that it is quite to the contrary. These reminders come either when I am searching for a topic or when I find myself on one of the above mentioned wild rides. I have a friend, Kevin Cummings, whose writing I have admired. Kevin has proven to be a great mentor since I began writing. I asked Kevin once how he handles dry spells in writing where the ideas and inspiration don’t seem to be coming. Kevin advised me to use a list of topics like the one I mentioned earlier in this writing. He also said something to me that really struck home: “You are the conduit of the talent. You are NOT the Source of the talent”. It was a sorely needed dose of perspective. Now, I can make another strikethrough in my topic list. Thanks, Kevin.