Monday, April 17, 2017

A Scene From Writing Life: Day Gone Awry

Greetings, WYMOP readers!
The following is a note—mostly to myself—I banged out Thursday afternoon, after a slightly frustrating morning. Lacking a really great blog to throw your way—and realizing it’s Monday night, and far too late to try to summon something from scratch—here are my notes on a writing day that wasn’t going to plan:
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So this is my day so far.
I wanted to work on the collaboration I’m part of—it’s my turn to write a chapter, and I’m taking too long to do it—but my partner had left a note at the end of her last chapter saying she was unsure if it should stay the way it was or undergo some kind of major rewrite.
I messaged her at just after 10:00 to say I was fine with what she had, and I could very well run with it, but wanted to make sure she didn't want to change it before I got to work on it. I hadn’t even thought of the direction she’d taken the story in, but I liked it. It would have sucked to write a whole chapter based on what she’d done only to find out afterward that she’d been working on a rewrite the whole time. That would be a time of great weeping, the rending of garments, and the gnashing of teeth.
While waiting for a response (that’s the problem with texting: you have no idea if the other person is sitting right there paying attention or out walking the cat, re-roofing the house, or even killing a transient and hiding the body, there’s really no way of knowing), I decided to try and re-submit a story I received a rejection on yesterday. I got to work looking for a suitable place. The problem was that most publications that might be looking for a story like the one I have also have word caps too low for me to submit it. They’re looking for stories that are a maximum of four or five thousand—maybe even six—but my story’s almost seven thousand.
My partner got back to me in about 40 minutes, but I was on the hunt by then, and kept looking for places to submit. I looked for two hours before finding a magazine taking stories up to ten thousand words . . . but it might not be exactly what they’re looking for. What the hell, I thought, I’ll give it a try. At least it won’t be rejected out of hand for length.
They have an automated submission system, so I got to work filling in the boxes and rewriting my cover letter to fit the new market. Everything was great until I tried to attach the file. This particular magazine was asking for the story file to be in a specific Word format, and not the newest one at that. Up until this point I’d done all my work in Google Docs, using OpenOffice (a free Word knock-off) whenever I needed to convert a file to something Google Docs couldn’t handle, but this format appeared to be beyond OpenOffice’s capabilities: it would save it in the correct format, but would also insert random blank pages, lines written in gibberish, and stripped out the letters T, F, and all vowels from the text, rendering my carefully-written story into something cut-and-pasted together, ransom note style, by a spastic three-year-old with a substance abuse problem.
I’m exaggerating. A little.
I finally broke down and decided to join the 21st century writing world and buy Word. The problem now was figuring out which to get—there are so many versions of Word and Microsoft Office out there—so I texted my partner. I should have gotten Word months ago just for doing S&L Editing work, but I’d been being kind of a dick and sort of forcing her to do the final formatting on everything before sending it to the clients. Whatever I got should (hopefully) mesh well with what she has.
Once she finished burying the transient on her neighbor’s property (or, you know, whatever) she got right back to me. She has Word 2013.
I could not get Word 2013.
Oh, I could get it, but as a CDROM sent to me in the mail rather than as a direct download. I’d come this far, squandered my morning searching and shopping, and I wanted something to show for it. A story submission would have to do. I settled on Student Office 2016, bought and downloaded it (it's tax deductible!) and submitted my story . . . and I’d only started searching three and a half hours earlier.
I'm giving up on writing for now. It’s 1:30 in the afternoon, and I’d planned to be done writing by 2:00 anyway, as I have errands to run and chores to do that require a little daylight. I’ve barely done anything I meant to do, writing-wise, and I took almost six hours not doing it. I haven’t eaten anything yet today, and I suspect that funny aroma I’m smelling is me. Maybe raking the yard or cleaning off the back deck will give me a sense of accomplishment. Or even just going to the bank.
But first, I need a shower. And maybe some pants.

Talk to you later.

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