Being Unable To Write In The Dark

A Blackout City

A spate of rainstorms interrupted the autumn heat in Silicon Valley this week, bringing gray clouds and cool rain. Perfect writing weather—and then the power went off. Back in the snail mail submission days, I would have lit a candle, grabbed the latest work-in-progress manuscript and picked up pen to continue writing. Not anymore. My MacBook didn’t have enough juice for an extended blackout.

With email submissions over the last three years, and writing 500 word or less blog posts for nearly every day for the last six months, I have finally embraced the mythical paperless office (more or less). I have gotten so comfortable with creating and editing everything on the computer screen that I haven’t printed out any manuscripts in a long time.

When the lights went out in Silicon Valley—okay, just my little neighborhood in the San Jose City College area—I had nothing to work on under candlelight. I have folders of unfinished manuscripts waiting for my undivided attention, but nothing I wanted to pick up in the dark. As for a blank page and a pen, my mind drew a blank as to what to write. For the first time in years, I wasn’t prepared to write anything.

A disconcerting feeling, being unable to write.

Power goes out, can’t work anymore. Light a candle, still can’t write. Nothing to do but to wait, read an ebook on the iPad, and watch the battery meter tick down from 49% to nothing.

And then the power comes back on. The computer and the Internet return. Everything goes back to normal again. The writing that I was doing before the power went out resumes as if nothing had happened. Weird.

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