Last Friday night, in the midst of a severe thunderstorm that caused massive damage to my neighborhood and slight damage to my house, my power went off. It didn’t come back on until Wednesday. Today was spent in a flurry of clean up — pushing giant broken tree limbs off the roof, surveying the damage to my garage, tossing everything in my refrigerator and cleaning it out to get rid of the smell, and finally, buying food and staples to replace the ones we lost.
We’ve lived a bit like gypsies for the past week, grabbing charges on our cell phones and computers where we can find them, whether that means a friend’s house, the local (or not-so-local) coffee shop, or even a spare outlet at the food court at the mall. Since both my husband and I work from home, it’s been a challenge, in a house with no power, no air-conditioning, and a toddler who needs company, entertainment, and approximately seventeen square meals a day, to fit in work around our schedule. I owe a lot to my friend, historical romance author Lavinia Kent and her family for letting me camp out on her couch for a few days and work on my revisions, and also to my husband, who did the museum tour with the kid.
(Speaking of the kid, she’s really taken to the transient life. This morning, she was quite insistent that we go “vroom vroom bye bye” and very disappointed that we didn’t in fact pack up the car and vanish for the day. Neither did we camp out on the floor of the basement to keep cool.)
But despite my best efforts, the outage has really cut into my productivity. My schedule’s off, we needed to spend several hours a day trying to plan for day-to-day life stuff like eating, charging batteries, and finding a place for our daughter to nap. My brain space was not on my work. And of course, today, there was the clean up effort. But more than that, just not having regular access to technology made it hard. It was difficult to work at home, even at night. It was ridiculously hot, and sitting around in the pitch darkness watching the battery on my laptop tick down didn’t work so well either.
Perhaps it’s because I’m doing revisions, rather than writing. After all, eight years ago I managed to write a whole book on a mix of spiral bound notebooks and a AA-battery powered AlphaSmart in a tent in the Australian outback. But revisions require me to dig into the text that’s already there.
Though I suppose I could have always gone to Kinkos and gotten a print out.
Maybe I’ve gotten lazy and overly dependent on technology over the years. Time was, all I needed to work on my books was a notebook and a pen. Hey, Jane Austen managed with nothing more. She didn’t need Scrivener to get stuff done. Was not having power (and all the inconveniences that come with it) an easy excuse?