Writers use a lot of equipment. Pens, papers, pencils, highlighters, notebooks, scanners, laptops, books…but there is one piece of equipment that is vital, and yet consistently lets us down. I’m talking about that bane of a writer’s (and all office staff) life. I’m talking about – computer printers.
The damn things never work. I write the first draft in a notebook. The second draft goes on computer. The third draft is made on a printed copy of the second draft. It works best that way. So I need a printout of the book, about 250 pages at this stage. And this is where everything goes wrong.
Trying to get my laptop to even talk to my printer is a struggle. It may be a fault unique to mine, but it is constantly asking me to scan a sheet of paper to align it. I do this, and it remains stubbornly unaligned. It won’t take a huge chunk of paper, but if you give it too little paper, it throws a hissy fit and refuses to acknowledge existence of paper anywhere in the entire universe.
It will print for a while, then decide take ten sheets all at once, which gets stuck. Or it just twists one up inside. As for ink – it runs out of ink at one moment only. This is when I have asked it to print 200 sheets. It runs out at page 3. I try to cancel print. It hums and hahs about this, convinced I don’t really mean it, until 190 pages have gone through the printer, and come out completely blank. Then, once it has stopped, it will never accept that paper again. I change the ink – and it has to have a long conversation with the laptop as to whether there is new ink, does this effect its relationship with the laptop, and is it the right kind of ink anyway?
I used to think it was just me that had a struggle with a computer printer – then I found a tweet from J.K.Rowling crying out about her fight too. As for the printer in my day job – it breaks down once a day. Every day. For years.
It is clear my printer is a diva. It is needy. If I walk away whilst the printer is printing, it is guaranteed to break down in angry tears. I must kneel by it, alternately begging and coaxing it, feeding it paper at exactly the right moment, never letting it get to empty, nor too full, only sending it 43 pages to print at a time, so it doesn’t get too stressed.
Writers used to have nervous breakdowns over the stress of writing. Nowadays, it’s the computer printers. Those damned diva printers.