Kill It!!!

I so want to do this. My palms are itching to to grab the hammer and demolish my new computer.

What a horrid little fiend it is!

Okay, in all fairness, it isn’t the computer, it’s my word processing program. I use WordPerfect, which, as anyone who follows my blog knows, I’ve used for roughly thirty years. I never could get used to MS Word, so I was tickled to discover that the new WP translates from Word to WP and back again.

Or so it says.

First thing to happen, I translated The Cat Lady’s Secret from wpd to doc and sent it to my agent, who reformatted it. He tells me to make my corrections in the new version, which I did, using the MS Word portion of the WP program. Silly of me to think that meant the codes would remain the same as when my agent sent the manuscript back to me.

When I returned it, he politely told me he had to reformat it again. “This takes an incredible amount of time,” he tactfully informed me. Yikes.

Cat Lady needs an extensive edit on the first half, so I’ve dedicated every afternoon this week to making the corrections–tickled pink to notice that my word count increased as I went. Believe it or not, I have a problem of not having enough words in my novels. Me. Miss Talkative. So watching the number climb was my joy of the day.

Until yesterday.

Ten thousand words disappeared from the manuscript for no apparent reason. Ten thousand!!!

At first, I thought it was because of the scenes I’d lifted out of the manuscript to replace later in my attempt to restructure the first half, but I’d replaced them all. Nothing was missing.

I scrolled through again to figure out what had happened, and the first couple of times, I couldn’t find anything. The third time, several pages of prose and dialogue had been replaced with meaningless symbols.

Panic began to creep up my spine.

I got out of the manuscript without saving it and brought it up again. Same thing, only different pages were “symbolized.” And the word count was even lower.

Panic swept through my shoulders and up my neck.

Got out of it, opened it again. Things seemed okay, until all of a sudden the screen blinked, and the word count plunged to zero.

Yeah, full-fledged, all-out panic surged through my body leaving me with barely enough control to not throw this cursed computer across the room against the brick fireplace. Oh, that shattering sound would’ve been satisfying. Totally soul-satisfying.

Instead, I opened the novel in OpenOffice, and it came up just fine, sans symbols, but the word count was still 10K low, and I didn’t know where it went.

Okay, I thought. I have an older version of the manuscript. I’ll just compare the two and see what’s missing.

Before long, the time-consuming task of switching screens to flip through each version wore on my already-frazzled nerves, and I gave up.

About three this morning, I came up with a plan: Take the corrected pages from the revised version, which appeared to be okay (all the symbols appeared in the second half of the book), and tack them into the unrevised, older version, then recode the resulting manuscript for WordPerfect compatibility.

That worked. Three hours later, I had my wordcount back.

Then I took a peek at the disappearing-word version. Somehow or another, the word processing gremlin had taken ten thousand words-worth of pages from the back of the book, chewed ’em up, and swallowed ’em. Something I should’ve been able to find yesterday, but the gremlin hid the facts behind a series of symbols.

Here’s where we stand now: I have a revised copy of the manuscript in my WordPerfect program, using WP codes only, that still needs some polishing, and I’m scared to touch it. I have to, of course, if I’m going to send it back to my agent–we have a contract, after all. He’s waiting for this. And when I’m done, he’ll have to reformat it, ’cause I ain’t gonna.

(Can you hear it? The turtle’s hissing . . . .)

About Linda W. Yezak

Author/Freelance Editor/Speaker (writing and editing topics).
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18 Responses to Kill It!!!

  1. Joanne Sher says:

    Oooh, Linda. So very, VERY sorry! Save an extra copy of it and only mess with ONE of the copies. What a hassle hassle hassle! (and see if you can buy a REALLY OLD computer for barely any money – and clobber IT instead!) Praying.


  2. lynnmosher says:

    Oh…my…gosh! My stomach is in knots! On my old desktop computer, it would crash every once in a while. That is s-o-o-o scary. Is there any way you could put your MS (a copy) on a thumbdrive and reformat on another computer to send it to your agent? Word has a side-by-side view to compare to documents. Does WP have that? I’m so glad you’re pretty much on track.


  3. KatC says:

    Okay Dear Linda,

    Here’s what my hubby and I thought the whole time you described this nightmare. Time to learn MS Word. It would only take you about a week and there would be no more tears. I know… I know… giving in to the Monopoly and all. It kinda grates. But it would save you so much time! And heartache. And would keep the path of your relationship with your editor free of debris!

    Another thought we had is it’s time for a backup cloud. Backblaze 2.0 is a “hassle free backup for as little as $3.96 a month.” Once you set it up, you don’t do anything. Your machine waits until the middle of the night and then does the work. And it’s very secure. It’s what we’re going to get on our computers and it’s what we recommend to our clients that need backups.

    Here’s the link:

    Written with all the love in my heart,
    Your computer geek friend – Kat & hubby

    P.S. Any old dog can learn new tricks, and so can middle aged cats.
    P.P.S. I switched from WP to Word. Withdrawal symptoms were minimal. No lasting damage. 🙂


  4. Linda Yezak says:

    Thanks for the advice and the link, Kat. It’s not that I don’t back up my work, though. It’s on auto back up, and I manually back it up too. It’s that the damage had been done without my knowledge while I was working on the manuscript and got saved every time either the computer or I backed up the file. I didn’t even bother to put it on a thumb drive after I discovered it was messed up.

    You’re right, I’ll have to learn MS Word. It doesn’t really have to do with the fact they’re a monopoly as it does having to learn a new program while in the middle of a project. My motions are automatic for WP, and nothing is more frustrating than having your key strokes do something entirely different from what you intended when you’re in deep concentration.

    But, yes, I’ll have to change. Hate it, but it’s better than this mess.


  5. Sighing (and hissing) on your behalf, Linda.

    I’m with you, girlfriend. I only tiptoe into the 21st century when I have to, hissing loudly like one of your ferocious turtles.

    That said, you can do it. You’re a smart cookie. It’s no longer a matter of preference. Writing is your profession; your career; your business. And the business standard demands that the tool you use is Word. You wouldn’t join the fire department and insist that you stick with using your handy bucket instead of the sleek fire hose, would you? Alas.

    Me thinks, the sympathy you were hoping for will result in many hissing turtle posts, encouragingly nagging you to join the high tech world of Microsoft Word. Whether you want to or not.


    • Linda Yezak says:

      Believe me, for the next project, I will use MS Word. Doesn’t help with this project though.

      But I guess the thing is, I’ve used some version of WordPerfect for over thirty years. I’ve never had it swallow my work before, never had it replace several pages of words with several pages of symbols. And I’ve *never* had trouble sending edits to my MS Word-using clients. Their “new and improved” version verges on useless.


  6. Lynne says:

    I can see your problem at a glance, Linda. The hammer you’re using is much too small. A sledge does a much better job. (If you can’t put your hands on a jack hammer!)

    My sympathies. Almost been there . . . never that bad. But I do know the sinking feeling when you think you’ve lost a bunch of words. So far, I’ve only lost a chapter at a time. My editor told me not to worry, it’s usually better the second time around. BUT 10,000 pages. I don’t think so.



    • Linda Yezak says:

      Thanks for understanding, Lynn! But it wasn’t 10,000 pages–just 10,000 words, around 25 pages. If I’d lost 10K pages, this computer really would’ve landed against the fireplace bricks. 😀


  7. stargazer12 says:

    What a nightmare! Daymare too. Don’t know enuf about ‘puters and the programs to make an intelligent suggestion. Keep the hammer handy.


  8. *Nothing* is worse than losing hard-fought words. I’m so glad you were able to get them back. Aside from backing up my hard drive to an external drive once a week, I always email myself my WIP at the end of every day. That practice has come in handy on more than one occasion.


  9. My heart sank with yours, Linda. I’ve seen months of work disappear within seconds. Not my WIP, but work relataed projects. IT techs walk on water. I hope this will be the last of your computer nightmares, but sadly they seem to come with every new upgrade. Sigh.


  10. Lynne says:

    Oops. Didn’t mean to type 10,000 pages. Let me see, how many complete books would that be? That would call for more than the destruction of the computer, I’m afraid. 10,000 words is scary enough.



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