Earlier this week, I mentioned that my printer died while printing the first draft of the latest novel.
Here’s the rest of the story…
Twenty-One Years Ago
Twenty-one years ago, a laser printer in the home was a big deal. I can’t remember if the printer ran $700 or $800 at the time, but with not wanting to print manuscripts on a dot matrix printer anymore, it was time to invest in what I was doing. It didn’t hurt that my wife and I could also print things for comic books we were working on. We needed something fast (at least for the time) that could handle black and white comic book art. (And all the writing and papers for school I was doing at the time.)
So…a Hewlett Packard LaserJet 4L it was!
A Thing of Beauty
Watching the printer in action today, it’s almost laughable that someone would pay so much for something so slow. At the time, though, this was something to behold!
Sure, it make clicky noises and wheezed a bit, even from the start, but it beat the incessant racket of a dot matrix printer:
What It Printed
I printed so many things on that printer. College papers, 100s of pieces of short fiction, poetry, and articles. Query letters, four screenplays, and three full novels.
It was my fourth novel — which I printed last Saturday — that finally did it in.
The printer chugged along as it had for decades, but then…it made a loud screeching sound — followed by thumping and grinding — and finally…the whole thing jolted. Like a car that threw a rod, it was done.
I noticed the top lid askew and opened it. This is what I found:
I tried lining things back up to keep printing, but it wasn’t just that broken piece — there was damage inside.
After more than two decades, the printer that saw almost all writing I wrote since the day I decided to take writing seriously, had finally died.
If I had a house, I would bury the printer in a backyard garden, like a family pet. Above it, a marker with the last words it printed carved in stone:
“Above him, a sign reads HALL OF CURIOSITIES. June works her way around the side–“
HP LaserJet 4L
1993 – 2015
Fortunately, my wife has a printer for printing her artwork. I was able to finish printing the first draft of A Magic Life, even though that printer ran out of ink and we had to make a run to get more. (Some would say, “That manuscript is cursed”; I like to think the printers were so impressed that they just couldn’t handle it!)
Obviously, I need a new printer, and it will be another Hewlett Packard laser printer of some sort.
While it’s clear a new printer is in order, I have not given up on the LaserJet 4L. Before taking it to the electronics dump, I need to at least look inside…
I need to see if the broken bit on the lid can be glued back together…
I need to see if the printer can be resurrected, at least enough to be stored away for a deserved rest, but dragged out to print drafts of novels. As hokey as it sounds, if this printer could last the rest of my life, it would be my dedicated printer for manuscripts.
It’s funny how attached one can get to an inanimate object…