Tag Archives: malign effect of technology on creative writing

Patience, Gimme Patience!

So…one reason such slow progress is being made in cranking out Ella’s Story is elucidated by the task of posting 18 sections of Fire-Rider here at P&S Press and scheduling them to go online once a week. It’s this: I have no patience with ditz.

I am a writer. I am not a page designer. I am not a graphic artist. I am not a computer programmer.

What I want to do is write, dammit. Not design pages, not come up with and manipulate images, and (believe me!) not fiddle with code.

But for today’s writer — especially the DIY variety, but in fact (because of the need for every author to market, market, market) for everyone who writes books and publishes through any venue — page design, graphics, and (barf!) computer design are part of the game. You have no choice but to engage in these activities. And they are complicated, ditzy, annoying, and time-consuming.

Case in point: the deceptively simple-looking task of copying and pasting the several chapters of any given section into a post in the series that will go up weekly.

Seems like all you ought to have to do is highlight the chapters, copy, and paste, no?

Well. No.

The Word file I’m copying from was formatted for print publication. That means, among other things, that first lines of chapters and major subsections begin with drop caps. For example, the T in “The two armies” here is a drop cap.

WordPress can’t do a drop cap. Nothing you try to do will insert or ape a credible drop cap in a WordPress page. Well: if there is any such thing I don’t know what it is and haven’t the patience to spend an hour or two trying to figure out what a computer programmer would call a drop cap, finding instructions for how to do it, learning such instructions (if they exist), and applying them.

When I paste copy that contains a drop cap into a WordPress post or page, what you see in “Visual” view is this:

See that box with the dashed line around it? You can’t delete it. You have to go into the text view and delete all the code. Turns out it’s some kind of table. This is what you see in “text” view:

Now you have to figure out what part of this is doing what behind the scenes, delete all the junk down to the first line of the paragraph, and then go back to the “visual” view. If you’ve done it right, then “all you have to do” is pull up a passel of blank line spaces And type a capital letter in the first word.

Like…I have nothing else to do with my time?

Anything that you put into a WordPress post, no matter how plain-vanilla you think it ought to be, is fraught with this kind of crap. Endlessly time-consuming ditzy crap.

This is not what I think of as creative work.

And it is not at all how I want to spend the creative time I have left in my life. It wastes my time and sucks my creative energy. By the time I’m finished putting up a post, I’m clenching my teeth with annoyance and frustration, I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing very constructive, and…what energy I had for the writing projects has been consumed.

Hence, the writing that I want to do doesn’t get done. How, exactly, is this an improvement over the typewriter? Or over the manuscript sent off to a printer to set in hot type?

Really?