Finding the right format

Open Office/MS WordPhil: There have been many obstacles in the path of our writing efforts in the last year. Work, moving house, more work, babies – in other words, life. If you want to publish a novel, you just have to suck those up and get on with it. That’s what differentiates novelists from those who like the idea of writing a book but will never get around to it. Well, until you get a top publishing deal and can give up real work for a life of lounging around in front of a computer thinking up stories anyway.

Another problem, but one of our own making occurred at the same time. This time it wasn’t so much a speed hump on our road to literary greatness, more a brick wall.

Back in August, we’d rewritten the first 3 chapters of the book and sent them over to Libroediting for proof reading. Liz had done the biz and sent a file back complete with suggested changes. Candice being otherwise occupied, I volunteered to take a look.

Being a good boy, I quickly opened up the file and hit a problem. On my computer, because I don’t want to be beholden to The Man and also a cheapskate, I use OpenOffice for word processing. Candice and Liz use Word. For some reason, the document as I saw it was sprayed across a huge number of pages with Liz’s comments dotted around seemingly randomly. This isn’t a problem I’ve had before, but as my past life on an IT helpdesk tells me, you only have problems with important files.

“Oh dear”, I thought. Something like that anyway.

Which all helps to explain why it has taken 4 months for anything to happen. I was too busy with what I laughingly call real work to chase things up. Even if I had, other matters were slightly higher up the priority list of she who I’d be chasing it up with.

Never mind. All is now sorted. The file has been re-saved into RTF format. I was able to open this, read the comments, make changes to the text and send it back for bedtime reading. We now have 12 pages of book opening that seems pretty tight. All sorts of stuff that used to be gradually introduced is now pelted at the reader like crystalline water in a snowball fight. By the end, you know a lot more about Kate and the situations she finds herself in – the basis of the story you will hopefully now be desperate to read.

Next – the query letter and then to the Post Office. I have “Writers and Artists Yearbook” out of the library in preparation.

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