Do you use a computer for your work?

Dave Working WinterI’ve been composing on a computer since 1986, when IBM came out with its first laptop. From 1981 I was using a dedicated word-processor for second and third drafts, but I was composing with a pencil on legal pad. (Many legal pads.) As soon as there was a computer I could take out in the yard and work as I had with pencil and paper, I switched to computer first drafts.

I’m obviously not a technophobe, let alone a Luddite; but neither do I find anything magical to technology. Some of the stories that I wrote longhand and typed on a portable I bought in Nam (electric but with a manual carriage return; very cheap) are still in print after thirty years.

Since 1987 I’ve used Word for DOS on increasingly old computers. That changed in March of 2001, when my last DOS machine died in mid-project and I converted to Word for Windows (which, for a professional writer as opposed to a desktop publisher, is significantly less useful than the old system). I’m now working on sub-notebooks with Pentium 90 CPUs. I’ve killed one of them and will doubtless kill the rest, as I’ve killed literally dozens of computers in the past; and will replace with something else obsolete but more than adequate for my purposes.

Dave Working SummerAfter a stretch of working with small Pentium90 Toshibas (I basically wore three of them out), I’ve been buying new, basic Compaq/HPs. They’d don’t have bells and whistles–I do word processing, period–and while they’re not quite as small as the Toshibas they replaced, they’re easy to carry. (I don’t care about weight, but size is a problem while travelling.) By being careful and using an external fan when the temperature is over 80o F, I’ve gotten good service till they wear out (as opposed to breaking in startling fashions).

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