The abuse of the last couple days of NaNo — hours banging away on the computer to get those last 12,000 words — was a little too much for my laptop’s keyboard. The 8 key had already been sticking, but the i key and the n key stopped working regularly. Argh. Trying to write and having every sentence turn into “tryng to wrte” is disconcerting.

I’m hard on my keyboards, I’ve discovered. Back in the day when I used Apple machines most of the time for work I didn’t have problems, but when I quit my job and switched to cheap Windows PCs, I started needing a new keyboard every year or so. And not because I spilled stuff on them, just because steady typing takes its toll.

This one, though, left me with a dilemma. I’d promised myself that when it bit the dust, I would go back to a Mac, figuring that the quality was worth the investment. A computer that didn’t need a new keyboard every year and that had some operating system stability (don’t get me started on Windows — I hated 8 but my problems with 10 never ended) would be a bargain in the long run. Not to mention the time I’d save by not fighting with it all the time. But I’d hoped to at least finish a book on it first. Maybe two! In other words, I needed it to last long enough for me to earn some money on it before I could make that decision and yet, there it was — it’s tough to earn money from writing when your I and your N are only optional.

Enter… drum roll…. a Chromebook. It’s the other anti-Windows option. I have no idea (yet) whether it will suit me long-term, but when I started looking, I managed to find a deal on Amazon that basically cost me $122 with free same-day delivery. It’s a working keyboard, software that I can use to write on, and for the investment, all I need is for it to last for a few months. And it is so, so, so cute.

Unfortunately, it does have typical Google interface problems. They are so remarkably bad at design. The people there may be incredible coders, but even reading the instructions doesn’t help me figure out how to do things that ought to be obvious. Example: opening up a hangout so I can chat with a friend. It took me probably ten minutes to figure out that I needed to go to the Chrome Web store and download an extension. The things that looked like links on the search results page just didn’t work at all. And figuring out how to use the trackpad is going to take me forever. I may need to put a cheat sheet next to me while I work to remind myself to use three fingers for… well, something or other. I remember reading in the instructions that I could do something by swiping with three fingers but I no longer remember what the something was (proof of the need for a cheat sheet.)

But every time I get impatient, I will remind myself: working keyboard, ability to keep writing without going insane, I key and N key and 8 key… and for basically the price of a single CostCo grocery run. I have to admit, too, it really makes me want to head off to Starbucks and write at a coffee shop, just because it’s so usably light. I could seriously tuck this machine into my purse and not even notice that I was carrying it around, but it still has a usable keyboard. I can also put my iPad in my purse, of course, but writing on that keyboard doesn’t work at all for me.

Anyway, enough rambling about my new device. I’m going to have to experiment with google docs and see if I can set it up to be functional for me without a huge learning curve, and I don’t think this is going to be a complete replacement for a computer — for one thing, I don’t know how I’d create an ebook using only Chrome-capatible software — but first things first. Until I finish writing Grace, I really don’t have to worry about creating an ebook, so time to get started with the writing! Thanks for the good wishes on my last post — I didn’t answer comments because I’ve been very computer frustrated with everything taking longer than usual, but I appreciate them!