Last week, our main vehicle–the eight-seater–wouldn’t start. My wife turned the key in the ignition and heard click-click-click-click. Dead battery? Or something worse? I am not a car mechanic by any stretch of even the most elastic imagination, and yet she turned to me to investigate. So I turned to the internet. Googled a couple of sites. Yes, could be the battery. Worse, it could be the alternator. What’s an alternator? What’s a battery? Kidding. I know what a battery is. The alternator is the piece of magic that charges the battery when the car runs. If battery’s dead, then you should be able to jump-start the car, leave it running for a while, and all should be well. If your alternator’s bitten the dust, then jump-starting the car might help for as long as the jumper cables are connected. As soon as you disconnect, the battery will drain and you’re back to square one. Batteries are relatively cheap and easy to install. Alternators are not.
Armed with this vital intel, I checked out the battery. I noticed white residue around the connectors. “What’s this?” I asked Google. Thankfully, I didn’t do the classic detective show move of tasting the stuff, otherwise I might not be typing this now. It seems this stuff is lead sulphate. I am no chemist, but that doesn’t sound healthy. Not like sodium chloride. it seems lead sulphate is highly corrosive, and toxic to inhale, let alone eat. Taking the advice of the online mechanics, I put on gloves and a mask, and attacked that white stuff with a wire brush and a mixture of hot water and baking soda. Seemed to do the trick.
At last I was ready to try jumping the car. I hooked up our secondary vehicle using newly-acquired jumper cables (if anyone needs a jump-start, we’re ready for you!), attaching the clips in the prescribed sequence (red to dead, red to live, black to live, black to ground–i.e, some other metallic part of the car with the dead battery, away from the battery). The car started. Yay! I removed the cables, and the car continued to run. Double-yay! Probably not the alternator. I let the car run for about half an hour. Then cut it off, and tried re-starting. Click-click-click-click. *sigh*
It was evening, so I didn’t do anything else with the car, then in the morning we called our local mechanic. He said it was probably the battery, and to jump-start the car and bring it in so they can check for sure. I was able to jump-start the car again, and we got it to our wizards of all things vehicular. They confirmed the battery diagnosis, and assured us it’s only the battery. We put a new battery in, the car started, and all is well.
So, what’s the point of the story? Amazingly, there is one–aside from bragging about my new-found mechanical prowess fighting lead sulphate and wielding jumper cables. And it’s to do with writing.
You see, at the moment I’m feeling pretty uninspired. I started on a short story the other week, and it’s… boring. Dull. I like the idea behind it, but I’m not doing it justice. And I’m not sure I have the energy to right now. Work’s been really busy of late, and I’m sure having a head full of code and being tired play a large part in my current writing malaise. I’m like a dead battery. Occasionally I’ll jump-start myself and write a few lines, or something like this blog article. But then I’m drained. I probably just need the right kind of inspiration, something like being hooked to a healthy battery for ten minutes, where I can then run on my own for a while to get me going. I need to give my writing alternator a chance to power up my creative battery.
I’m just not sure what that inspiration is at the moment.
Anyway. In the event anyone else out there is feeling like a dead battery… here’s some empathy. Got some inspiration? 🙂