Authors who are "Differently Expertised"...

Authors who are "Differently Expertised"...

08 June 2012

The Revising in Word Blues by Ashleen O'Gaea

    I have pulled up the ms. of a book that’s out of print, with a mind to revising it and getting it published again, and the only thing stopping me is … Word. I was quite pleased with myself for going on line and finding advice about how to make everything that was underlined in the original be Italicised in the update, ’cause that’s the way we do emphasis these days. I followed the directions carefully and double-checked I had the “find” and “replace” lines right. Only to discover when I went back to start looking at the actual content of the book that what I’d managed was to replace every Italicised phrase with a single-space underline.
    Before I got into this version of Word, I knew nothing of Find and Replace, and looked upon it as a great boon, right up there with not having to literally cut and paste. And for the most part it is a good thing. Now that we only put one space between periods and the initial letter of following sentences, it’s been a great help in revising old documents. In this particular case, though, having a copy of the original book so I can see what word has been transformed to _ is more a boon than the mischievous Find and Replace.
    Ordinarily, I’d be happy to cop to “operator error,” but this time I think it really was a glitch. Given, however, that this book is about death, perhaps it’s appropriate to have to deal with a certain amount of loss of manuscript. As I check the original to find those lost words, I am reminded how many notes I made for this revision, which is a good thing, a sort of one door closing-one door opening thing that’s fitting for the subject.
    How much longer it’ll take me to finish revising and expanding this book now that this restoration bother is on the agenda I don’t know; I didn’t know how long it would take without the extra work, either. Sometimes, what’s disappeared is the title of another book, which is quickly retyped. But sometimes, the missing word is an adjective, or even a phrase, and then I have to — have the opportunity to — give it some thought, and that’s legitimate revision rather than annoying restoration.
    In the beginning was the Sholes and Glidden, but at my desk right now, it’s Word that giveth and taketh away. Having kvetched (thank you for listening sympathetically) about what’s been taken away, now (well, right after lunch) I shall employ my writerly concentration and determination to finding what replace has given me. May you find such opportunities in your work, too.


BJ Kurtz said...

It's funny...well maybe often technology can prohibit us. It is such a necessity to my writing life, and yet I argue with it on numerous occasions, asking “why me?” as the hours tick away.

Mary Ann Hutchison said...

While reading a friend's book on Kindle, I saw certain words underlined and wondered why the author chose to call my attention to a particular word in that way. Then I remembered that that's the way we "used" to do ask a publisher to italicize a word. As that seems passé, we must now either fogeddabout it and just hit the "i" button and hope a word becomes and stays slanted to the right (not a political statement).