Open Office (DOG EAR)

Open Office (DOG EAR)

ll writers face impediments. Nothing kills a writing career like a wife (and, eventually, children). It’s hard to hold the edge when someone’s dumping a load into their diapers. Not that I’m blaming them – there are plenty of other distractions. In older days, there was absinthe in Parisian cafes, whisky in run-down gin joints. And now (sadly) the world is now full of very petty distractions. Computer games, streaming TV, Iphones; you name it, it’s out there. Even I have too many things – cycling, astronomy, model railroading, game design – to write my passions. The world is more demanding and distracting.

And then there are the thermonuclear disruptions.

I’ve lost a lot of writing time (lunch time, specifically) to jogging. There will be more on a followup piece about this but in a nutshell I hurt my leg in that ridiculous pursuit and suddenly got some lunch hours back. I had so much to catch up on, some little commissions to write. Checked my schedule and I had time between a staff meeting that ended at noon and a scrum-of-scrum (yes, as dirty as it sounds) at 1pm. An hour of me-time.

Except that staff ran an extra 15 minutes due to gasbagging and windbragging. Honestly, people should be forced to write their dialog – maybe then they’d realize how wandering and repetitive most of what they say is.

Went down to the break room, found my favorite seat, booted up my tinytop. Haven’t run this thing since for the last two weeks (when I left it running in Word and the battery died). So, double clicked on my document and Word came up. Or tried to. It kinda hung, letting me know that it was reconfiguring office and it would take a few minutes. Grind grind grind. Twenty minutes later, the reinstall failed. I told it to try again and it ground away.

Now, the point is, why did Micro$oft feel the need to change anything? My computer was happy. My product was happy. The only time I go online is to unload stories. It’s a fixed and steady state. Or should have been. But now something was wrong with the tool and I was burning juice and minutes fussing around, trying to get it to run.

In the end I had to ditch the whole writing session, frustrated that I’d wasted one of my only chances to be creative in the day for administrative nonsense. Worse, now I wasn’t sure if I could get this to ever run again. I’d loaded Micro$oft office as part of a long-ago work offer and didn’t have the download anymore.

Came back to the desk, slumped into my chair, and listened to Scrummy nonsense. And while stewing over my lost storytelling, I realized I did have a backup plan. Open Office. I’d installed it ages ago (before letting Micro$oft onto my machine). I’d gone to Office only because Open Office’s Excel clone uses a completely different form of VBA and all my GridSims games wouldn’t work on it. Still, I booted it up with OO and it fired right up. There was my work. There was my story, all clean and ready for writing.

I’m writing more now. Going to write today at lunch. And the good news is OO is there to provide a simple (and non-grinding) solution to the simple task of writing. Eventually I suppose it will be Word that finds its way into the unused folder. For now, I’m productive again. And that’s good enough.