Thursday, September 01, 2011

Success through Sitting and Staring

“If you want to write and can’t figure out how to do it, try this: Pick an amount of time to sit at your desk every day. Start with twenty minutes, say, and work up as quickly as possible to as much time as you can spare. Do you really want to write? Sit for two hours a day.” ~ Ann Patchett


That whooping and hollering you heard Sunday, August 28th? It was me. It was my 50th birthday, but that's not what I was celebrating.

As I mentioned in a previous newsletter, I've been suffering from the dread "two documents with the same name" disease. For several months, I had unknowingly been alternately editing two documents in two different software programs thinking they were the same. Since that newsletter essay, I discovered a third document with the same name. One was an RTF file I had saved to email to a friend, another was a Word document, and a third was in Open Office. All three documents were titled, "Memorial 11.3." All three had various chapters recently edited. All three were different.

Last weekend a few other writing friends and I rented a space where we could write without family, friend, Facebook or other f-word interruptions. The facility was none of our homes. We shut off our phones. And, we did not have Wi-Fi. This was crucial. These conditions forced me to stare at those expletive deleted documents for 12 hours on Saturday and 12 hours on Sunday until I figured it out. That was the celebrating you heard. I FIGURED IT OUT!!! I went through all three documents chapter by chapter using Word's document compare function (don't even get me started on how much I miss WordPerfect) and cobbled together a new, clean document, "Memorial 11.4," containing the correct bits and pieces from all prior versions.

I'm telling you this tale because this problem seemed insurmountable. I was ready to give up. I had sort of given up in August when I went on sabbatical to celebrate my birthday for the entire month, but I knew I'd get back to it. And I did! So I wanted to share my success.

I bet I'm not the only one who's overcome a seemingly impossible writing problem. I'd love to hear your biggest battle and how you worked it through.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Now--quickly, now!--remove all the old versions from your laptop and put them on a DVD where you cannot write, edit, or otherwise tamper with them! --S.

Nita said...

Excellent point!

Pen said...

I will be 50 soon as well. As I type this I am already hesitant to commit this to words publicly...but I do hope to have something completed by my half century mark. I have random bits here and there and keep getting "too busy" to gather them into a document. I could use the excuse that a lot of my essays were "lost" in one of the many PC spa cleansing moments. (Crashes.) But now that I have my blessed Mac full of new ones I have no excuse except procrastination. Having an upcoming benchmark birthday does help to push me. I am very happy for you and I just know that the problem was created for some unknown purpose. Maybe God just knew you and your writing buddies would need that focused get away and the only way you would do it was if you had a big editing web to untangle. Congratulations on being persistent. I look forward to hearing about your journey as it continues. Thank you for honestly sharing with us the ups and downs. Pen

Nita said...

Thanks, Pen! Happy early birthday to you!