Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Kicks and Cyberscares

I am re-reading Satantango for style in order to prepare the final draft, and there are pages at a time when it's a thrill, but also passages where it feels knotted and obscure, where I simply haven't understood what LK was getting at but had to move on. Now is the time to sort out those passages and to peer back into the dark

The thrills are quite intoxicating. I suppose a translator shouldn't say this, but there are times I feel the prose is on a high - that is to say my own prose - and that that is quite as exciting as writing my own poems when I am writing well. The language seems to be surfing, wave on wave, brewing and breeding. I don't flatter myself by imagining I have written the book but I do feel I am bringing something into being. When people ask - as they do - why do this, there is the answer.

The truth is I have hardly ever done anything literary just for the money in itself. That is the advantage of having a foot in regular work - I am not dependent on freelance exploitation. If I don't like it, I don't have to take it.

The only problem is that I like a great deal, both books and people, and my mouth finds it very difficult to form the word No.


Having said that I got a scare yesterday when, during the editing, the Word programme suddenly quit. I tried again, two or three times, with the same result. So I copied the whole text and pasted it into a new Word document. No change. Next I tried pasting it into the AppleWorks 6 format. It wouldn't load. I couldn't work on the text because every time I moved the cursor the programme quit. For safety's sake - not knowing what the problem was, whether it was on the computer or in the document - I sent my university address a copy of the unfinished redraft and another to New Directions. Maybe they could do something with it at their end.

Finally, I copied and pasted the whole text into a simple Text document. I thought it would be too big but Text accepted it and now I could work again, though without any sophisticated text devices. But then I copied the Text version into AppleWorks and that was fine, and while Works is not as handy as Word, it is better than nothing. A great sigh of relief.

The question now is whether I should paste it all back into Word, because all my other Word documents are working perfectly well - so the bug was in the specific document, not in the programme, or so it seems - and the text having been twice through the laundry (it is, I reflected, rather like money laundering) it might be clean enough. I haven't done that so far.

I am back on LK's waves and wavelength, caressing and unknotting in Works, saving after every change. The thought of losing years of work to a bug!


dana said...

Gadzooks, what a fright. Are you using separate documents per chapter, or one big long one? Those big long ones are scary.

Apparently there was a computer programming contest in heaven between Jesus, Mohammed, and the Buddha. Feverish typing ensued. At the end, there was an explosion and sparks. When the smoke cleared, Jesus was declared the winner.

Because Jesus Saves.

Mark Granier said...

George, it sounds like you had a lucky escape, a brush with the evil-tempered cyber-gods; at least you were able to copy and paste. Best to back up everything as you go, preferably to an external hard drive, and possibly ALSO somewhere online, even if it's only a case of emailing your work to a gmail account, (where it will be more secure against power outages, etc.). I know people who've lost a LOT of work through bugs, glitches, etc.

George S said...

I have an external drive which has stopped functioning, so need to get another one now. I did have one computer die on me before that, and lost a good deal.

I do regularly email work in hand, which is a way of keeping it out of the hands of bugs into whose hands it hasn't already fallen.

All on one big document, Dana. I look down to the ground and it's an awful long way...

George S said...

Oh, and Dana - :) for the story.

dana said...

Silly jokes aside, I highly recommend using separate documents and then pasting together at the end if need be. Also saving drafts, numbered or dated somehow. And also backing up and/or sending to oneself on gmail, as Mark suggests.

Too many grant proposals and reports at 150 pages plus -- and no deadline extensions -- have taught me the hard way!

George S said...

I should have learned really Dana. I think I'll take your advice in future.

And get another external hard drive.

Phillips said...

I suggest you go and see Adam or Richard in the Computer Shop. They will help.

George S said...

Thank you, but do you mean with the bug in the document or the external drive?

I'll just ask.

dana said...

I feel something similar working on a proposal where lots of people have contributed and I've sat in meetings and read articles and tried to connect dots between ideas and funding guidelines and it distills or communes somehow. Maybe this translating/merging/describing is like being a midwife, helping something get born. Or bringing an experience to people who wouldn't otherwise have it. When it works, it's fantastic.

George S said...

What is it you do, Dana? Are you working for an arts organisation?

Angela France said...

large capacity flashdrives/usb sticks are so cheap now - I use a couple of those to back up work regularly. I have poem & essay files in three different places - I have had sudden and irretrievable death of a computer a couple of times over the years, and it made me obsessive about backing up.

George S said...

I do in fact use memory sticks, Angela (the only potential problem is that they are easily lost). But if the bug is in the document, saving it in that state might not help. Unless someone can de-bug it.

James said...

(Shudder) that must have been hair-whitening.

Pasting the document into a plain text editor and then pasting it out again is exactly what I would have done. Glad it came off here.

Seconding the use of e.g. Gmail as a backup tool - Dropbox is also superb, and you don't have to think about using it if you set things up properly.

Also do your usb and external drive thing. I've never had the big computer failure - must be due an absolute humdinger after 6 years of daily use.

dana said...

I do fundraising and communications for a K-12 teacher and student education program at a university. We're mainly science and math, but we're dipping our toes into literacy and arts, as well.