Tag Archives: technology

Going paperless hurt

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.

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Technology ever changing (us)

Sometimes it’s tough to make the switchover to technology. When I first started writing, I handwrote everyone on looseleaf notebook paper. In junior high, I even drew my comics on lined notebook paper, some of the pages ripped right out of a spiral binder. In senior high, I learned to use the typewriter, but we didn’t have an electric one at home like the school had—we had an old manual typewriter and those things were hard to use!

As a senior, however, I got a Commodore 64 and learned the ways of word processing. Actually, I got it because I thought I’d need it in college (I did) and it was either that or an electric typewriter. Back then, the hot thing was electric typewriters with “memory.” Ha

I used a dot matrix printer with my C-64 and printed everything out. I had files and files and files of stuff.


See that’s part of the problem with ever increasing technology, it becomes incompatible with the old technology. So I’ve got stacks of short stories and some comic scripts on paper only. I mean, it’d take time to RETYPE them JUST to have them on my computer. (Once after an upgrade, my Mom graciously typed several of my stories in for me. I’m her favorite son!)

Dad always laughs at how his parents used to struggle with the VCR. Now, he laughs at himself as he watches Angie and I rearrange his computer settings and watches Brittany teach my Mom things about the cellphone…a phone which Brittany has only had since Christmas!

But I often wonder what I should do with the stacks and stacks of paper I have. It would sure save me some filing cabinet space if I could find a way to get rid of it. Admittedly, much of it I hold on to for sentimental reasons. Some of it I hold on to it pack-rat-style thinking “Oh! I’ll use this idea some day in a story. I’d better keep it!”

I organize my computer files in much the same way I organize my paper files, though. I have one “big” writing folder…then in that folder are several sub-folders of the different kinds of writing I do. I even have one labeled “ideas and such.” I’ve tried to go through my hand-written “idea” folder and put them all in my computer folder, but for some reason it just isn’t the same opening all the idea files as it is flipping through a folder full of post-its, ripped pages, and napkins with ideas written on them.

Makes me wonder what sort of technology my kids will be laughing at me and BJ about?


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