A Week Without My Laptop


Last week my laptop went down. A major hardware problem made it malfunction. I still had Apple Care protection so I called in and then sent my laptop off to the Apple Engineers.

It completely derailed my week. Because despite having backups to Time Machine and a flash drive full of pertinent files and an email with my top ten files, I no longer had a computer to work on them.

After I talked to Apple Support and got the worst case scenario–2 weeks without my laptop, ย I cried like my boyfriend of five years just broke up with me. A violent emotional reaction over a computer. A tiny part of my mind knew I was overreacting, but the hysterical sobbing and frustration had to run its course.

This was such bad timing. I am on tight schedule with TGWIG and Six Train’s sequel. And I could potentially be without a computer for 2 weeks. Panic. Sheer panic. And loss. Such loss. I can’t lose two work weeks.

Next began a series of trouble shooting techniques. Most of which only led to more trouble.

I tried firing up the old Mac from 2007. It still worked, but the battery had swelled up and was unusable. So I was left solely with a/c power and a fickle cord that easily slipped out.

For email and social media, I relied on my iPad. It’s nowhere near as easy to navigate as my laptop, but it was a decent filler.

My entire work week ground to a halt. I was supposed to be creating the series bible for The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts. But I didn’t have Scrivener on my old laptop and it’s OS wasn’t compatible with Scrivener.

And then the worst thing happened. I couldn’t figure out which draft of Six Train’s sequel was the most recent one. I had a printed version that was 451 pages and an electronic one that was 378 pages. I felt like I was going to lose my mind.

I spent hours trying to figure it out. And I couldn’t. That was weeks of work potentially gone. My mind was at its breaking point.

I never realized that my Mac wasn’t just a computer. It was my ally. My business partner. And my daily companion at work. Without it, I was lost. Fumbling through the day. Barely productive.

Luckily, Apple was able to turn around the laptop in a flash. I called in on Monday, got the Fed Ex box on Wednesday, shipped it back Wednesday afternoon, they got it Thursday morning and shipped it back Thursday before midnight. I woke up Friday to an email that my laptop was coming home around 10:30 am.

I spent most of Friday moving Time Machine to the laptop and getting everything back up and running again. I’m so happy to have my old friend back.

And I’m thinking about getting some repairs done to my old Mac. A new battery. Some memory upgrades. So that it can be a backup if this ever happens again.

Have you ever had a complete tech meltdown? What did you do?

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31 Responses to A Week Without My Laptop

  1. What a nightmare. I’m sorry to hear this, Kourtney. Yes, I’ve had my share of technical meltdowns over the years, but nothing too major.

  2. Elle Knowles says:

    Of course I have Kourtney! Don’t we all? I dropped my cell phone in the toilet and was without for ten days! http://wp.me/p36w0d-ft Then I did it again two months later! It was a nightmare! Glad you are back in the land of technology. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ~Elle (waiting patiently for your sequel)

    • I’ve had laptops erase their hard drives back when I used PCs, but somehow that was a tenth of this pain. I think this was the worst because this machine was so vital to my work life and without it my entire writing world ground to a halt. Wow that’s awful about the cell phone. I can live without my cell or my iPad but my laptop is just really really hard to lose. The sequel is something I plan to work on a lot this year so it can come out in the fall of 2016. I also plan to be starting TGWIG’s sequel this summer while betas are critiquing Six Train’s sequel. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Ally Bean says:

    Yes, I’ve had tech meltdowns where all the devices in our home didn’t work at all. Or one sort of worked, like your old Mac. Or, even worse, the wifi went down in our house because the whole phone system in the neighborhood went down because of a new construction mishap that took about a week to repair.

    As for what I did, I gave up on tech. I read books, went for walks and made hand-written lists of everything I wanted/needed to do when I could get back to my computers. I wasn’t happy, but decided that the change of plans would, in the end, help me clarify my priorities. Which it did.

  4. Kourtney. sounds horrible, but with a happy ending. I have a 2006 MacBook Pro and I hope that it will work for a while, but figure next year I have to get a new computer. No I never have had a computer crash on me. Not as dependent on it as you are, HOWEVER I think computers have become necessities not luxuries. To everyone. Kind of like the fridge and the microwave. Who would have thought?

    • One of the most stressful weeks ever. I’ve got marketing stuff I’m lining up, emails and blog proposals that have to go out. Events that are being planned. Manuscripts that need revisions. Finalizing proofs. Conference calls where I need access to my documents. So many things that have to stay in motion or else deadlines won’t be met and my publisher and my readers will be furious.

      I love my MacBook Pro. It’s the most stable machine ever. My last one was 4 years old and just slowing down a lot due to not enough memory. This one has been going great for nearly 2.7 years. My entire work world runs off my laptop. And as I realized last week my life is all about my work. So when there’s a work problem, there’s a life problem.

      Most people have a company they work for and a work computer is provided. This is my work computer. I never realized how essential my computer is. I need it more than a phone. If I had to choose between a microwave or a fridge of my laptop, I’d pick my laptop and eat canned foods for a while. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Whew! (Here I thought you had lost power from storms.) Talk about feeling misery and helpless. Glad you are back up and running. (and you had a little warm fuzzy company…sometimes I wonder if the pups aren’t beginning to take things into their own paws…Molly decided to chew on a TV remote when she was left alone recently…in protest. And possibly to keep us from turning that irritating box on and depriving her of more walks?) Hope this week is better for you!

    • I wish. That would have been an annoyance, but my peace of mind would have been intact. I was seriously freaked that I lost access to essential stuff and would lose several weeks of work. Me too! My entire personality shifted when I could access my files again. I kept taking to my bed for an hour to nap with my dog because my asthma kept flaring up from all the stress. His warm loving body soothed me and helped calm things back down.

      Emerson is sleeping in my lap right now as I type. He gets my need to work and works with me. So sorry to hear about the remote! That’s frustrating to replace. Though walking more is a good thing. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Carrie Rubin says:

    Oh you poor thing. I feel your pain. We really are dependent on our computers. So much of everything we do revolves around them, both in our professional and personal lives. I will do somersaults when they get Scrivener compatible with an iPad. It’s not the easiest to type on, but with an attachable keyboard, one could make do in a pinch. Hopefully that will be in the works soon.

    • Carrie it was like a painful break up. I went through an emotional roller coaster. Every time I tried to come up with a work around I hit another problem. I was so annoyed when I realized I didn’t have enough memory to upgrade my old laptops OS to then download Scrivener. Scrivener on the iPad would be great. The problem is getting files onto the iPad when a laptop is down. It was a logistical nightmare. I had them on Time Machine. I had them on a flash drive but emailing them to the iPad is excruciatingly annoying. And my Google drive hadn’t been updated this month so my files there weren’t of much use.

      I have Pages and Numbers on my iPad so it can be a poor substitute for my laptop but it doesn’t recognize track changes and that’s really hard to deal with. When I’m traveling I make due with my iPad, but it’s so far from what a laptop can do. It was fine for social media but that’s about it.

      • Carrie Rubin says:

        I use Dropbox so it’s nice in the sense I can pull files up from there onto my iPad. My Scrivener saves to Dropbox, but of course, I can’t yet access that on an iPad.

        • That’s cool! I was working on revisions with track changes notes so that’s why iPad’s lack of functionality got me. If I were drafting or working in a doc w/o track changes, Dropbox or Google Docs would have been great. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m going to make sure I’m regularly backing up to Google Docs in the future though. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. EllaDee says:

    I’m so sad that you lost a few precious days, and were terriby stressed but so pleased that you didn’t lose any of your work. I had a encounter with a wave while I was on a yacht, and the salt water fried my phone which had not just the usual snaps but photos of the G.O.’s grandmother’s farm & house… I went through all the stages of grief and just could not would not believe the phone repair people even after their best attempts that the photos weren’t recoverable. I still have the phone and live in hope!
    I’ve always backed up to CDs and USBs but I hadn’t had a chance. Now I have auto backup to OneDrive… I was using Google Photos auto back up but it went wrong and because that program deletes files from the device during the process… the photos from November last year are gone… details details…

    • I’m grateful that in the end it all worked out. But man getting to the end was rough. I’m really sorry to hear you lost those precious photos. I had that happen with a laptop and I still have it in the hopes that one day I can recover the lost photos too. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Me too! I back up all photos to the iCloud on my phone and iPad and my laptop to Time Machine. It stinks when you are cautious and careful and then life throws you a tech curveball. Oh no! Sorry you back up messed up like that. It’s awful when we try so hard to keep things safe and glitches like this happen.

  8. That is just miserable. I’ve been fortunate to never have experienced complete computer meltdown (knock wood!), so I can’t imagine. My Scrivener files back up automatically to Dropbox, but if my computer ever went down, I wouldn’t be able to access the files since my laptop is the only device with Scrivener on it! Fortunately I’m in a position where my career doesn’t depend on it, but still. Great lesson here for your readers, to make sure your bases are covered, important documents, photos, etc., are saved in multiple places! Glad to hear things are back on course.

    • Gwen,I think the hardest part was despite having backups, I didn’t have a machine to work on my files with. And every time I tried to create a work around I hit another wall. It was just really bad timing that I needed to be in Scrivener that week. Eight days later and I would be on paper edits of Six Train’s sequel and not need my laptop nearly as much. My disaster recovery plan when a laptop fails is to buy a new one–it arrives in 1-2 days. I just didn’t have a plan for a laptop repair. But i will going forward. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Lori D says:

    OMG, Kourtney, I feel the frustration, worry and despair. I’ve also lost sight of which was my most recent novel update, and that was without a computer break down. My mind got lost in a cloud when that happened. I feel your pain. I’m so glad that they got the computer fixed quickly for you. Sometimes I feel like a slave to technology. Sigh. Good to know you are back on track.

    • I’m sorry you are going through that. It’s awful when weeks of work can be lost. I spent days trying to figure out which was the most recent version. Agonizing over what to do if I was wrong. It was an intensely stressful week last week. I’m going to get that old MacBook Pro up and running again. I need the security of a backup computer. Unfortunately when you are an independent author and you don’t have a big company behind you, a computer breakdown or a file misplacement is a major disaster. Hugs!

  10. jmmcdowell says:

    I haven’t had that major meltdown yet, and I’m glad to hear that yours was successfully resolved so much soon than expected. In a pinch, I could install Scrivener on my husband’s computer, but that would still require me to have backed up my most recent files on a flash stick or external drive. I need to be better about backing up my files every day….

    • I’m glad to hear that. It’s really awful when they happen. I was really lucky. But I’m also taking it as a warning to have a backup computer and to back up more regularly to google drives so I always have current files accessible to other computers. I have an external drive I back up to hourly. But I could read only the files with my other laptop. It was so annoying to have done everything right and still be stymied at ever turn.

  11. I’ve lost entire manuscripts because I failed to back them up properly. After making the mistake for, like, the 10th time (you’d think I’d have learned sooner than that), I try to back up all my writing on both a thumb drive and an external back up, and then I store it all on the cloud (which of course could be a bad thing to do, I hear).

    I now protect my writing like it’s the royal jewels or something, because I know how painful it is to lose work like that.

    I’m sorry you had to go through such a nightmare. But, sounds like you’re on the upswing now!

    • oh no that’s awful! External drives are smart to use. I was hesitant to put early work on the cloud but I think it’s an important third option to have access when a computer goes down. I had a hard copy of one manuscript back in 2002 when my hard drive erased itself and I had to retype the entire thing. I keep hard copies in the basement now. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      It was awful. At the time, I really didn’t think I was getting out of the black hole. But things are back in the flow this week. Thank goodness!

  12. Adam Gaylord says:

    I dropped my laptop a few weeks ago and had to have the screen repaired. The worst part (besides the fee): couldn’t write!

  13. Ouch!! this sounded a painful experience Kourtney.. I hope now you are back on track and all working and correct.. ๐Ÿ™‚ x

    • It was. And very traumatic. Which is a weird emotion to feel over technology. I am back up and running now. And I set up my syncing to the google drive so I have access to critical file if this happens again. ๐Ÿ™‚

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