I am a big fan of technology and I’m generally very excited about the possibilities of what our ever-growing technology can bring us or do for us. Yes, even though I still don’t own a cellphone, I’m a fan of them (except for when the bozos who use them while driving—I can’t count on my fingers and toes the number of times I’ve had a near collision only to find the opposite driver busy talking on the phone—or texting. But, this is not the phone’s fault, but the idiot user—just the same way it isn’t a gun that kills people, but the idiot users). I don’t own a cellphone because I don’t want one, not because I don’t think they’re cool because I do! Heck, I remember the first ones that came out and looked like Captain Kirk’s communicator. That was cool! No, I don’t want one because I don’t generally want to feel attached to the feed at all times…I like to disconnect some.
But the ever increasing digital age brings with it some growing pains. For instance, my family in general has always tried to recycle as best we can. No, we’re not trailblazers nor are we leading the way, but we try to participate. Recycling digital, however, isn’t quite as easy. I don’t know if this is true or not, but I’ve heard someone say that the old monitors have to be taken “in” and not simply discarded. I know that’s not gonna happen—mine find their way to the trash can.
But I don’t mean this to be about being green. I wanted to talk about what it means for me as a writer. I always kept copies of my work printed. If I write a new draft of something, the old one gets recycled—either as the backside for something new in the printer or into the paper recycling. I mean, I have a copy of all my written work printed out, but I don’t have all the multiple drafts. I have a “first” draft, and then a “last” draft (which, of course, is the one that gets recycled whenever I revise).
The problem with composing digitally the way I do now is there is no progression. I click “save” and the new version replaces the old. I don’t have an old draft to refer to if I’ve accidently deleted a scene (this is why I started keeping a “first” draft of my work). Something that came up with my mentor Rachel Harper during my MFA was she wanted to see a copy of my plot. The problem I had was that I’d written out a rough plot for each chapter (like I’ve always done with comics)…HOWEVER, I composed on that digital file and as the chapters were completed, the “plot outline” part of it was deleted. So the file was essentially the complete text (or first draft) up to my current spot…followed by a plot outline. Because of this, I couldn’t supply her with a plot outline for the chapters already composed.
I blame this on the digital revolution, of course.
Thanks to Rachel’s encouragement, I’ve now shifted to creating different computer files for the different tasks; meaning I have now a file that reads “plot” or “outline” or some such and another file that reads “title” of the project.
Like all changes, some of them hurt…we just have to adapt and go with it.