She was decent and hard-working. She seldom complained, even when she got herself into a jam.
She witnessed my awakening as a writer, from tentative, cliché-prone beginner to confident, stripped-down wordsmith capable of earning money and book deals.
She saw me through three novels – so long ago now that it seems like a dream, the sort you have when you’re delirious. All of that creativity and frenetic energy, not quite possible to rekindle these past ten years amidst the splinters of reality continually interposed: work, home, child, the weight of too many other passions and obligations. Energy I still hope I might one day be able to reclaim, glassy fragments gathered back into a glowing core.
I bought her in Amsterdam, lugged her home to my airy flat in de Pijp and installed her in the spare room along with the patriotic orange iMac. I was still employed then, and just starting out as a novelist on the evenings and weekends. Back then, I found it easier to proof drafts in printed form, so each day I’d run off a chapter or two to read on the daily train commute to Leiden, clean crisp sheets gradually defaced with tough-love marker pen. Later, my agent needed me to post numerous double-spaced copies of the manuscript back to London, and during those sessions, the printer would grow hot and bothered with the effort, the pages curling and spilling off the tray in disorderly piles.
I used to stagger home with reams of paper from Vroom & Dreesman or HEMA. How many thousands did she burn through? I know that I replaced the drum once, and the toner innumerable times. She finally gasped her last a few weeks ago, almost eighteen years after I first bought her.
A moment of silence them, for a loyal workhorse, before I drag her dusty carcass away. Her replacement, a sleek, networked model with superfluous functionalities, won’t get the same treatment even if I do ever get back into my novelist stride. These days, I’ve learned to prefer editing on screen – at one time, as unlikely as learning to prefer the keyboard instead of the pen.
If the new printer lasts as long as the old one did, it will see me into retirement – a compelling but strange notion. Whether I will have more time to write then, or less, is anyone’s guess.