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.
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 . . . .)