I had to stop scrolling for a minute.

By Anita Garner

I spend hours at a keyboard every day and I now have so many versions of my new novel in progress, I lost track of a character I really like.  What happened to Sofia, that little girl I wrote?  I stumbled through multiple files with confusing names, looking for her.  I should never revise when I’m tired.  Or distracted. Or out of coffee. Cutting and pasting and moving paragraphs onscreen offer freedom but they’re risky for a person like me.  My keyboard needs a warning device. Ding, ding ding.  Are you sure you want to change that again?  Ding ding ding.  Maybe wait til you’re fully awake to create another file.

I started as a writer with hard copies, pen in hand, scribbling in margins. I’m glad to have other choices today, but I had to stop scrolling through this project for a while to sort it out.  Drastic measures were needed. I moved all the files to a flash drive and handed it over to someone else to print. I dropped it off one day, picked it up the next, and in between took a little breather.

All the versions are waiting for me on my work table now and those hard copies recognize me. They tell me we’ve done this before, we’ll work our way out of this.

Now that I’m back to editing this the old way, my characters’ thoughts and dreams and misdeeds will be spread all around the room, on the green carpet and on the tall table and on the redwood plank desk under the window.  One strong breeze can scatter pages and change lives.

This morning I found my missing Sofia.  She was right there when I turned over one more printed page, which led me to find the file where she’d been living on the computer. It turns out she isn’t in the story very long but now that I’ve located her, I’m so happy to see her, I’ll give her more to do.A scrolling digression:  Did you see the video of the one year old girl in France trying to make magazines behave like an iPad?  Scrolling was obviously what she learned first so it was second nature.  I wonder if there’ll be hard copies in her future.


6 thoughts on “I had to stop scrolling for a minute.”

  1. As the young uns of today say, I feel ya.

    I used to take my printer on my writing sabbaticals because I needed to hold my creation in my hands and make editing notes with a pen. Then I could go back and use the far more efficient computer to whip those words into shape.

    I often wonder how much classic prose never got out of the writer’s head in the old days because he was too tired to put a new sheet of paper into the typewriter and start a page over. I think almost all of us fall victim to the “that’s good enough” demon.

    I don’t take a printer with me anymore but I always wish I had.

  2. Yes – sheer exhaustion may have cost us many fine words from writers past. Good that you’ve worked out a combination, taking your printer along sometimes and still using the computer. I don’t have the courage to buy enough cartridges of ink to fuel my major revisions. Notice how I’m blaming the printer. But dang it’s expensive. Someone said if you know a writer, you don’t have to guess what’s a good gift for them. Ink cartridges! I’ve never invested in a laser printer – just keep visiting copy stores.

  3. OK maybe I’m showing my age but as the kids would say I am Old Skool……….still print out hard copies of everything and make notes in the margin with a red pen! And I always love a trip to Kinko’s (it’s still called that, isn’t it?)

  4. I’m always going to love the feel of hard copies. Makes the story seem so close. But it’s also joy to be able to change my mind and move pages around onscreen, which happens lots more quickly. It’s power that I have to use wisely, else I’ll lose another character. I think there are still Kinko’s – but I generally stop at the nearby do-everything office store or a Staples print center.

  5. Glad you found your missing child! I’m with Karin, I need a hard copy to read. Like that time I asked to read the latest copy of your book and three days later you handed me a ten pound box of papers!

  6. I pictured the people at the copy center patting me on the back, saying things about how noble it was of me to make you a hard copy, but they didn’t. They just handed me an invoice for $500.00.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *