Rant: One Writer’s Nightmare with Modern Technology

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I’m a writer. There’s no doubt about that.  I can sit at my laptop and churn out 1000’s of words.  Or I can sit with pen and paper and do the same. I sat on the beach today and wrote a letter to someone who doesn’t have email – 9 pages later I went for a swim.  Now I just have to post the damn thing!

Before I went to the beach, I spent over an hour sorting files on my computer.  Stuff I wrote three computers ago, stored in files moved from computer to computer to computer.  Some were stashed in folders that hadn’t been touched in almost ten years. Some were written 15 years ago. When I emptied the trash there were over 3000 files – duplicates of duplicates.  They somehow replicated themselves. Backups of backups of backups and multiple versions with minor edits. (all of this sorting made possible by the enormous amount of memory packed into a tiny little pen drive!)

The words sit there, digitalized. Some are on files this computer won’t read. I don’t even remember the name of the software I was using then – Word something, but not Microsoft.  I do remember using that software and loved it.  It was a great desk top publisher.  Much much better than Word. But when I bought my Toshiba back in 2002, it came loaded with XP.   Thinking it would simplify things, I switched over to using Word.   Word doesn’t do half of what that other software did.  Where is that software now? I don’t know – I think I sold it with the old desktop.  Though it may well be on the Toshiba hard drive.  If it is, I can’t use it.

The  Toshiba read the files written in the other software but for some reason the Word on this Mac won’t read the files.  I still have the hard drive from the Toshiba, with all the PC compatible software.  When I bought the Mac, I had them take the hard drive out of the Toshiba and put it into an external case, thinking I’d use it as an external, partition the hard drive in the Mac and run both OS.

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But once it was out of the Toshiba, none of the software would work – because the XP was licensed to Toshiba and not me, the owner – the person who bought the laptop, complete with software. The person who used the software.  I refuse to buy another Windows OS out of principal.  Why should I pay again for something I’ve already bought and paid for?  Shouldn’t I still be able to use that XP and all the software on the other hard drive?  Lord knows Microsoft has made enough money on it and are how many versions of Windows removed from it?  Yes, I have the discs – no they won’t work because they are Toshiba start-up discs! But maybe there is a way….scratch my head…

I can open the files stored on the Toshiba hard drive with the Mac and save them on the Mac, but I can’t write the files to the old hard drive, nor can I remove them.  The hard drive needs to be reformatted, but I don’t want to reformat it because I want the software that’s on it – some of which I have on disc and some of which I haven’t.  I can of course move all the software off – put it somewhere else, reformat the hard drive, find someway to get the XP to work then I’d be set…maybe.

But a lot of my music is on there as well. Most of that I haven’t got CDs for because to lighten my load when moving I gave away the CDs. I tried to take the music off and switch the files from WMA to MP3, and some transferred while others didn’t.  When I did that for some reason iTunes took over my computer and reloaded all my music into the iTunes library, and in the process garbled at least 50% of it – including most of what was already there! Now  I’ll be listening to music in iTunes, a song will come on, the first 30-40 seconds will play then another song will come on and do the same thing.  When I look at the track it’s over 4 minutes long, yet all it is is a series of 30-40 second clips.  Makes for interesting mixes to say the least!

So what does all this have to do with writing?

I’ve got all these files, 1000’s of them. Bits and pieces I’ve written over the years and done nothing with. Some is rubbish, some is half decent, some is very good.

Computers are supposed to make our lives easier.  As a writer I was thrilled with the possibilities of editing on a computer before I printed it out – gone were the days of Tippex (White Out we called it in Canada).  Now I wish I had it all printed out so I could sit with it in my grubby little hands and read it and throw away the junk and work on the promising stuff.   But I’ve already got a box of stuff I wrote – before computers – sitting in a friend’s kitchen cupboard in Canada – or maybe she put it in the attic of the hen-house – not sure which.  Maybe one day it’ll hatch!

I feel buried in my words.  I once wrote a story about a man who’s led to a huge pool of words. He finds himself swimming in words. Where is it? I don’t know – somewhere in this maze of files, or maybe in the hen-house!

I gave up writing for about 4 years – after buying the Mac and being so frustrated by the situation with the Toshiba hard drive.  I’m finally sorting through those files (a fringe benefit of being unemployed) and making headway – but to what end?  Will I ever do anything with all of it? Will any of it ever be published? Will I ever find an editor willing and crazy enough to wade through it and tell me which pieces I should work on, which should be junked, which could be published – now?

Blogging is a great self-publishing platform – but it doesn’t pay, at least not the way I’m doing it at the moment.

This is a jumbled rant. But it’s a post.

10 thoughts on “Rant: One Writer’s Nightmare with Modern Technology

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  1. I don’t have a mac but I do have the problem of many of my old writings not opening in Word – it was done in the old Word ‘Works’ wordpresser BUT if you right click on the document and instead of pressing ‘open’, press ‘open with’ and THEN choose WORD, it comes up with unnoticable formatting changes. It then allows you to change it to Word doc once you save.
    I change files using media-convert.com … some they do, some they don’t but it’s free so worth a try 🙂

    1. Hey Narnie, thanks for the tips! I remembered that software was WordPerfect. What a great desk top publishing software! It did really cool stuff that Word won’t do. A

  2. LOL!!!!!!! As a writer (with ADHD!) I definitely identify with your rant about bits and pieces of writings, stored in various places on my computer. So aggravating. The reproduction thing happened with my iTunes files, so now I have multiple copies of the same songs. I got fed up one day and deleted the duplicate copies, only to find out that I left the bad files. To get my good files back, I had to “restore” everything out of the recycle bin and now I’m back to multiple copies. Is it wrong to want the simpler days back? CD’s. Spiral notebooks. Index cards, even. I must admit I keep a secret stash of paper. There’s something so reassuring about it. 🙂

  3. Hi Anna, Ha ha! You had the opposite experience I had with iTunes – though it did make duplicate copies – oh maybe that’s what happened? I deleted the good files? Hmmmmmm. I secure empty trash so there’s nothing coming out of my recycle!
    Index cards! Wow – I’d forgotten about those little gems. I do have notebooks though….:-) and yes, paper too – for the printer that is always out of ink. But at least it scans! Thanks for your comment! A

  4. Oh honey, you are not alone! I bought a Mac 3 years ago and still have no idea how to use the thing. I just save everything on the desk top so at least I know where it is, and now it runs slow! Calgon take me away! Do you remember that commercial? 🙂
    The trouble of being a writer. You could write on this alone!!

    1. Oh I know how to use the Mac! and I don’t recommend you keep everything on your desktop! It’s the changeover from PC to Mac that didn’t go quite as smoothly as the salesman promised that has irked me!

      1. I have no idea how to use my computer. I have no patience. I swear I wish I was born in the 1800’s. Sorry to hear it wasn’t an easy switch. I’m considering going back to the other side…..I’m sure it won’t be any easier. Maybe once you get switched over, you’ll have an easier time of it. 🙂

      2. I’ve been switched for 5 years! If you read the article again you’ll see it was capitalist greed in action that messed me up, not my ability to use the equipment! Jenn, you may not know how to use your computer, but you KNOW how to use a slow cooker, how to recycle and how to get a short story published! And I’ve just had an idea…meet me in private email!

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