Somewhere around 1989 I bought my first computer. I was amazed because it was so fast and it did incredible things. You could correct mistakes when you typed and you didn’t even need any White Out. You could print copies and you didn’t need carbon paper. And the speed was unbelievable. I could only type about 75 words a minute on my electric typewriter. On this baby, I was pushing 90.
But it was so dang frustrating! Sometimes I would get so upset because I couldn’t make that beautiful machine do what I wanted it to do. There was so much to learn and it was like a foreign language. And I was always so afraid I might hit the wrong button and lose everything. So, what to do? How to learn? I thought about calling a friend, but most of them didn’t have computers and the ones who did didn’t know any more than I did.
So, out came the big, old manuals. Anyone remember those? They were huge. There was no Google back then. I would start to look something up, but most of the time I couldn’t understand the explanation. I would spend hours looking up the sections that described the section I needed to learn about.
Finally, I learned to just try stuff and see what happened. And back-up! Always had to back up everything so I didn’t accidently hit the wrong button. Even backing stuff up wasn’t easy. I had to get out the big book to see how to do that.
I’m glad I wasn’t trying to write novels back then, because although it was way better than a manual typewriter, it was still challenging.
Fast forward twenty-four years…
After many wonderful years on one PC after another (each one better and faster than the one before it), I get the crazy idea to buy a MAC. I already have several Apple products that I really like. My iPhone and iPad are great. So, how hard can it be to learn how to use the Big Daddy Apple?
Well, I’m finding out. When this last PC starting to go out on me. (It kept shutting down right in the middle of my writing.) I went to the store to replace it with just another PC a little faster and better than the last. But I kept hearing my editor’s words in my head, “Get an Apple! Get an Apple!”
The next thing I knew I was sitting up a beautiful iMac on my desk. Now what to do…I felt like I was right back where I started nearly twenty-five years ago. However, now we have Google, and I signed up for classes. Of course, as soon as I get home from the class I’ve forgotten about half of what I learned there.
The problem was the timing. I was finishing up the formatting on my fifth book, The Advocate’s Ex Parte. I couldn’t get it done because my PC kept crashing. So, I decided to finish on my new iMac. I saved my novel into my Dropbox and opened it up in Pages (Apple’s answer to Word). Oops…lots of formatting problems. So, I bought Microsoft’s Word program. Now it should all work. You’d think, right? And it did until I went to save it as a PDF.
I had my book all set up in a Createspace template on a 5.25 x 8 page, but when I uploaded it to Createspace it was suddenly back in a standard page size, 8.5 by 11. I discovered that when you save to PDF from Word in a Mac, it automatically shifts to 8.5 by 11. Google time! I finally figured that one out and solved that problem.
By this time, I’m days into this project and nearing my release date. I keep at it. I managed to get everything into the right page size but then I discover that when you save to a PDF, you get a separate file for every section break in your template. Dang! That won’t work.
I finally got it worked out and I’m not even going to go into the “Drop Cap” problems.
The past few weeks have been one sense of déjà vu after another. It brought back those memories of trying to conquer that first PC, and to learn yet another foreign language.
By the way, I love my new iMac, in spite of all the frustration I’ve felt the past few weeks, and I can’t wait to start my next novel on it. And just like that first PC, I’m once again amazed that it is so fast and does all those incredible things.
We've come a long way, Baby!
Are you a PC or Apple person? Would you write a book if you had to do it without a machine, just paper and pen?