Oh, something shiny!

I had a very interesting weekend, thanks for asking. There is a person in my life, let’s just call her my older sister, who has a tendency to be outrageously generous for no apparent reason. And I never know what might set her off. For instance, last weekend I casually mentioned how nice it was that my son had left his laptop at home when he went out of town for the weekend. And how nice it was to be able to use that to write on for change, sitting comfortably on the couch, rather than at my desk using my PC. Seemed like a perfectly innocent comment at the time. I had no idea I had just revealed an unacceptable deficit in my arsenal of writing tools she then felt compelled to correct.

So I was mightily surprised on Friday to receive a box from FedEx that contained a shiny new MacBook. Especially since I’ve never used a Mac. Once I had sufficiently recovered from my shock, I called to thank her and asked, “Why a Mac?”

She said, “Well, I have one and really like it, so I thought you would too. Consider it an early birthday present.”

And I said, quite reasonably, “But my birthday is still several weeks away. And we stopped giving each other birthday presents YEARS ago.” Seriously, we always call each other, but that’s the extent of it.

To which she replied, “Whatever.” Sometimes she acts like she’s still twelve. Regardless, she’s still older. Then she said, “You really needed a laptop. Besides, Macs never crash.”

Okay, just for the record: I have never crashed a computer.

So I spent the weekend trying to figure out how to use the darn thing. After ten minutes trying to find the power switch, and realizing that waving my hand commandingly over the keyboard wasn’t having the desired effect, I decided to read the manual. Things got easier. Lucky for me, there were also online tutorials. So I proceeded to conquer internet connections and email and MS Office 2008 for Mac. And Bubbleshooter. Yes, it works on a Mac. Damn it.

Then I remembered I had heard a bunch of writers talk about a fantastic writing program (compatible only with a Mac) called Scrivener. It had been touted as being a really good way to organize all the bits and pieces of a large ms. I figured I could use some help in that area. So after some research, and more tutorials, and because two shiny things are always better than just one, I decided to try the free 30-day trial version.

Oh. My. God.

I’m not even sure how to describe it. Except maybe to say that Scrivener might well be worth all the considerable aggravation of re-learning how to do EVERYTHING on a computer. I might even forgive the Mac’s pitiful substitution of a “backspace” key for a real “delete” key. WTH, Mac users never make mistakes worth deleting?

I digress. My ms is now broken down into not only chapters, but scenes within each chapter. And each scene has a notecard thingy with a brief synopsis of the scene (a synopsis I had to write, but let’s not quibble). And I can now view a corkboard with all these notecards on it or switch all that info into an outline. I haven’t even figured out yet how to input all the info this thing can assimilate. It can even do pictures. And if I want to move a scene, I just grab it and move it. And the notecard automatically moves with it.

It’s amazing. It’s also amazingly easy to see, looking at these notecards, when a scene works and is doing everything it’s supposed to do. And when it’s not. [sigh]

Yes, this all took a lot of time. Especially since my old version of Word is so old it’s not even compatible with Office 2008. I swear I saw the new program roll its eyes and heave a sigh of disgust before pronouncing my ms to be incomprehensible. I’m pretty sure that was a technical opinion, not an editorial one. So I had to improvise just a wee bit. But I entered all of the old pages, even the ending, and the updated page count thing over there reflects that and not any new pages. So, great progress, just no new pages.

Of course, this means I’m going to have to come up with a new reward for when I finish. Whatever it is, I’ll be sure not to mention it to my older sister.


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4 responses to “Oh, something shiny!

  1. Merry

    Hmmmn… methinks I should kinda sorta casually forward a link to this post to someone else… let’s call her my eldest sister. Yeah, that sounds like a plan 🙂

    yacreate — ya create anything interesting on this toy yet?

    (Mr. Word Verification is my friend. He likes me. He sends me easy ones.)


  2. McB

    Oh my. I don’t suppose you’d want to trade sisters? No? Probably wouldn’t help since I AM the eldest and I didn’t buy her a laptop either.

    Congratulations and have lots and lots of fun playing with your new toy. And working on the book too, don’t forget that.

    I’ve never used a Mac, so I’d be interested to hear what your thoughts are once you’ve had a chance to get used to it. Mac people always gush, of course, but that’s not the same as hearing from a convert.

    seciti – a very tiny secretary, which you now won’t be needing. You know, I don’t think Mr. Word Verification is even trying anymore.


  3. rssasrb

    What a great surprise. Scrivener does sound like a fantastic program. But I’m having enough trouble learning my way through Vista without trying a totally different computer system. I have to admit, Vista has had me yearning for a Mac because everyone I know who has one loves it.
    ackedmis-what covers an academic


  4. Merry

    Stumbles in, peers up at the page count. Frowns, takes off her glasses, wipes them, checks again. Sniffs disapprovingly.
    Then sniffs again, most approvingly, and follows the delicious smells coming from the directon of BCB’s kitchen…

    Redle – I done redle the good books I could find… need someone to write some more…