Unlike every laptop I’ve ever owned, my new laptop (which I have given the network identifier SWEET-LORRAINE in homage to the Uriah Heep tune) has very little internal hard drive space. Because she was designed to work with the cloud. Which is fine, except the thing is I like to listen to music while I’m working, and there’s not enough room in her caboose to house the vast collection of tunage I’ve been amassing since at least a decade before Spotify existed. Which I’ve never bothered syncing with the cloud, because it’s seventy megashitloads of tunage that would take too long to sync. The entire soundtrack of my life, and then some. Like Peter Quill’s Walkman. Something I just can’t part with. So I willfully splurged an extra hundred to expand SWEET-LORRAINE’s warehouse by a quarter of a terabyte. Her new appendage has been christened LADYINBLACK, after yet another Uriah Heep tune.
The stated goal of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is to compose a novel of fifty thousand words or more in the thirty days that comprise the month of November. I only managed about a tenth of that word count, and it’s more like a lone chapter than a complete novel. If I was unemployed and it wasn’t winter, this would be a lot easier. The majority of my writing is done in the morning, and ’tis the season when I necessarily must give up about twenty minutes of precious writing time to scrape off that small glacier on the windshield that formed the night before. Considerably more words were committed to the sheet on those days when I didn’t have to worry about putting on pants or leaving the house, but I only get two such days a week.
On precisely one of those thirty mornings, Black Betty’s keyboard mysteriously stopped working. Found myself having to spend a good chunk of what should’ve been a semi-productive writing session reinstalling the driver (a process which requires at least one reboot), logging in using her hitherto-never-used onscreen keyboard. Managed to fix the problem in the end, but somewhere along the way I learned I’d never want to write a whole novel using that onscreen keyboard. At least not on a device that has no touchscreen. Even with one of those newfangled touchpads that recognizes all the usual tablet gestures, you’re still pretty much forced to hunt and peck.
So I didn’t get anywhere near the prescribed fifty thousand words. No big whoop. They don’t hand out prizes for this thing; it’s not like I would have won a billion dollars had I surpassed the threshold. I certainly don’t consider this NaNoWriMo experience a failure, for what I did produce that month is something I can continue to plod away at for months to come. It’s the beginnings of something like a parallel story to my previous work in progress, set in the same universe. With several characters and plot devices tweaked. A different narrative point of view as well. Which I’ll elaborate on later.
This month would mark the silver anniversary of the day I first started learning what is now referred to as the Adobe Creative Cloud suite. These days, most kids have mastered Photoshop by the time they enter high school. But there used to be a quainter period of world history when one typically acquired such skills in a formal educational setting. Back when Illustrator’s startup screen (and overall branding) famously depicted The Birth of Venus…
That period of history was so quaint that you could actually plunk down a one-time fixed sum for a program like Photoshop or Illustrator, which once paid would grant you unlimited use of the desired software ad infinitum until the day your computer retired to the great network in the sky. Good times, those were. Alas, those days are gone. Somewhere along the way, Adobe figured out that they could fleece even more money out of their loyal customers by renting their software as opposed to selling it. Now you can only download what amounts to a trial version (albeit a fully functional one with all the bells and whistles) that expires after a certain length of time. In order to continue using the software when that time runs out, those guys in San Jose demand you pay them for more time. Which also eventually runs out.
One of these days, we’ll figure out a way to freeze time. But until then, I decided to rent Illustrator for a month or two to work on some new visual concepts…