Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Word Processors

Last week a reader mentioned word processors. I consider them a blessing and a nuisance, moreso the blessing. Okay, I have a love/hate relationship with my word processor.

Why? Simple.

A word processor allows me to type in cyberspace rather than on a sheet of paper. Remember -- for those old enough -- back to the days of a typewriter and the silly typing eraser with the mini whiskbroom? You made a typo and then you needed to fix it. The damage caused by the stupid ink eraser scratching away the paper... and then the broom to brush away the itty-bitty wads of paper... yuck!

IF the paper was still in the typewriter, it was somewhat easier. IF you'd removed it THEN found the mistake, well, it was more difficult. It was especially true if you had to squeeze two letters into the space of one. But, thanks to my typing instructor back in high school, I was able to do that. Learning the skill made my job much easier when I was in the Navy. {Short digress follows}

I was lucky enough to be part of a crew for a new ship -- yes, I commissioned a ship. Anyway, as the Engineering Yeoman, my duty during our cruise from Boston, MA to Long Beach, CA was to type up all the pages of the 6-10 manuals, duplicate and compilate. I had a case of those blue mimeograph sheets, bottles of blue fix-it for typos, one IBM Selectric typewriter and hours of fun. The manuals were completed on time.

Thinking back of how much easier it would have been to create all of them in cyberspace. [sigh]

Anyway, I have used manual typewriters, electric typewriters, Atari computers, Epson CP/M computers, IBM computers and a large selection of generic PCs over the years to create my stories and novels. Each year and each computer was just a wee bit smarter than the last and the word processors improved also.

Then came SpellCheck. I was in heaven. I was a Spelling Bee competitor and did very well so it was never really an issue for me. But, wow, a spell checker. How cool!

I love a word processor on the computer. Speed... Ease... Yes, it is LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.

Remember last week's entry? Their isn't an our goes buy eye don't think the spell chequer can't help me with my spelling.

The above sentence is correct according to almost every spell checker. All the words are spelled correctly.

Hence, my hate position with a word processor. And that isn't the only reason. Ever try to get it to spell the word correctly?

I mean, if you don't know how to spell it? Just like the dictionary -- the touchy-feely book version -- you can open it up and look up and down the pages. If you don't know how to spell the word, at least you have some idea of how it starts to get you on the correct page. Flipping pages of a book dictionary and you can find the correct spelling. With a word processor, you might as well beat your head on the desk until the correct spelling comes to mind. psychosis. Start spelling it incorrectly and you will be lost forever in the spell check work processing game.

So, what am I saying here today? Word processors are a great thing. They are marvelous, wonderful, and like everything else in this world -- they carry a danger load. Be very careful of misspelled words as decided by your word processor. Especially if the spell checker lets you add words. If you don't have the strange, new word spelled correctly, well, it isn't going to help. My character -- D'Lernia-Ha -- kept showing as incorrect, and well it should have. I decided to add it and other characters to 'my' dictionary. Unfortunately I didn't look closely at the selection when I added it and the name still kept appearing as incorrect. In anger, I highlighted and entered it again. Suddenly, all of the misspells disappeared. What I didn't see -- until I sent it out to an editor -- was all the secondary spellings I had. Seems the first entry was D'Lenria-Ha, not good. Her twin brother's name was D'Lonria-Ha ... so for the editor it was 'did he misspell D'Lonria or D'Lernia' ... a good question, indeed.

Yes, I definitely have a love/hate relationship with my word processor.

Do you like your word processor? Which one do you use? I use WordPerfect 99% of the time.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, you brought back so many memories. I was a champ at reinserting a typed document, making the correction and squeezing in the letters. I had totally forgotten that! Word processor--Apple iWorks. For composing my drafts, I like Scriveners.