Gotta Love Electronics


Outtakes 78

Gotta Love Electronics

By Cait Collins

Have you ever had one of those days when it seemed as if every piece of electronic equipment you touched hated you? The computer was slow. The fax machine chewed your master. Only half of your documents printed. The copy machine jammed. And last but definitely not least, one of your primary computer programs crashed. Okay only half of that happened today, but this war has been ongoing for the last week and a half.

I love the convenience of computers. The ability to type a document, save it, and edit later is wonderful. I remember the good old-days when I’d spend hours typing a research paper on my trusty manual typewriter. I tried to check every page for errors before ripping the sheet out of the typewriter. I always missed something, and I never mastered the art of inserting the page and realigning the paper to make corrections. I lost count of the number of times I had to retype every page from the point of the error forward because the correction forced the text onto the next page. I recall author/screenwriter Larry McMurtry bragging about writing all of his manuscripts and screenplays on a typewriter. I cannot imagine doing that. A 20-page research paper was intimidating enough.

While computers provide convenience, they do have a drawback. Programs crash. I had such an experience today at work. I had my proof file built for a letter I was preparing for a client. When I tried to save it, the program flashed an error message and my file disappeared into cyberspace. None of my quick fixes restored the program. And so I sat waiting for IT to come fix the problem. My hands were tied. I could not prepare correspondence, I could not research. I did not have very nice things to say about my computer at this point. Most of my muttering involved rather sexist remarks about the origin and nature of computers. Sorry, gentlemen, but you are to blame for the problem.

While electronics frustrate me at times, I admit I could not function without them. I still prefer grabbing a book to research a subject, but when in a bind, the internet is a life saver. I no longer rush to the library to look up missing information. Locating a book title, author, or event is a simple matter of typing key words. Working on multiple projects is easy. I have folders and files set up for each project on my systems. Paper files are no longer required. My external hard drive automatically backs up my files. Flash drives allow me to copy pages of a work in progress from my main system to my Netbook. The Netbook is light weight and easy to carry; therefore, I can spend my lunch hour working on my novel or short story. When I need multiple copies, I print them. No messy carbon paper or time wasted standing at the copy machine is necessary.

I will never be as computer savvy as my younger associates. They had the advantage of growing up with word processing, spreadsheets, and electronic media. I continue to learn more about the capabilities of my laptop and Netbook as I truly appreciate their advantages. That doesn’t mean I will refrain from referring to my misbehaving electronics in sexist terms.

Gotta Love Electronics


Outtakes 78

Gotta Love Electronics

By Cait Collins

 

Have you ever had one of those days when it seemed as if every piece of electronic equipment you touched hated you? The computer was slow. The fax machine chewed your master. Only half of your documents printed. The copy machine jammed. And last but definitely not least, one of your primary computer programs crashed. Okay only half of that happened today, but this war has been ongoing for the last week and a half.

I love the convenience of computers. The ability to type a document, save it, and edit later is wonderful. I remember the good old-days when I’d spend hours typing a research paper on my trusty manual typewriter. I tried to check every page for errors before ripping the sheet out of the typewriter. I always missed something, and I never mastered the art of inserting the page and realigning the paper to make corrections. I lost count of the number of times I had to retype every page from the point of the error forward because the correction forced the text onto the next page. I recall author/screenwriter Larry McMurtry bragging about writing all of his manuscripts and screenplays on a typewriter. I cannot imagine doing that. A 20-page research paper was intimidating enough.

While computers provide convenience, they do have a drawback. Programs crash. I had such an experience today at work. I had my proof file built for a letter I was preparing for a client. When I tried to save it, the program flashed an error message and my file disappeared into cyberspace. None of my quick fixes restored the program. And so I sat waiting for IT to come fix the problem. My hands were tied. I could not prepare correspondence, I could not research. I did not have very nice things to say about my computer at this point. Most of my muttering involved rather sexist remarks about the origin and nature of computers. Sorry, gentlemen, but you are to blame for the problem.

While electronics frustrate me at times, I admit I could not function without them. I still prefer grabbing a book to research a subject, but when in a bind, the internet is a life saver. I no longer rush to the library to look up missing information. Locating a book title, author, or event is a simple matter of typing key words. Working on multiple projects is easy. I have folders and files set up for each project on my systems. Paper files are no longer required. My external hard drive automatically backs up my files. Flash drives allow me to copy pages of a work in progress from my main system to my Netbook. The Netbook is light weight and easy to carry; therefore, I can spend my lunch hour working on my novel or short story. When I need multiple copies, I print them. No messy carbon paper or time wasted standing at the copy machine is necessary.

I will never be as computer savvy as my younger associates. They had the advantage of growing up with word processing, spreadsheets, and electronic media. I continue to learn more about the capabilities of my laptop and Netbook as I truly appreciate their advantages. That doesn’t mean I will refrain from referring to my misbehaving electronics in sexist terms.

When the Muse Strikes


Outtakes 53

When the Muse Strikes

Don’t you just love those days when you power up the computer, open your current document, and start typing? They are few and far between, but when they come along, the pages fill as if by magic. There have been days I started work at eight in the morning and looked up ten hours later with more than one completed chapter. There are rules for such days. At least these are my rules.

  1. Send an email to family and friends to let them you are in the zone, and please do not call unless it’s an emergency. Those that love you will respect your need to work.
  2. Do not answer the door or the phone. It does no good to ask for writing time and then give in to a ringing phone. Turn down the ringer volume, and work.
  3. Do not read email, Facebook, Twitter, blogs (unless it’s mine), or play games. Once you start one of these activities, it’s hard to get back to your writing.
  4. Do not research. If you come to a point where you need additional facts, mark the spot with a brief note as to what is needed, highlight it and go on. Research may kill the Muse, so hold off on the mundane.
  5. Stop only when you need a quick break to run to the bathroom, grab a cup of coffee, and get a snack. Keep the break short so that you don’t get distracted by the laundry that needs to be done, or the living room that needs dusting. This is one time when you are allowed to procrastinate.
  6. Turn off your internal editor. Forget about the red and green squiggly lines on the page. You can edit tomorrow. Keep the writing flow going until the inspiration runs out. Believe me, the Muse will depart, but what a day you’ve had.
  7. When you have exhausted the Muse, be sure you save and back up your work. I often neglect the last step, but one computer crash will convince you the necessity of the back-up. Save the pages on a flash drive, on Carbonite, or on an external hard drive. I also print a copy of the new pages. If the house floods and all the electronics are in the water’s path, a print out stored in a water-tight box on high closet shelf will preserve your efforts.

Enjoy those rare days when everything just seems to work. The visits from the Muse or infusions of inspiration make up for the days you struggle.

Cait Collins