I can’t imagine writing without a computer. In fact, I’m not sure I’d be a writer if some genius hadn’t invented the word processor. Being able to cut and paste and move things around is essential to the way I work. For better or for worse, I live and die by Microsoft Word.
But the program has one feature I could live without: track changes.
My editor wants me to use it, and I can understand why. It makes it easy to see what I’ve changed since she last saw the manuscript.
But boy, is she gonna be surprised when she sees what a mess I’ve made with it.
Writing, to me, is about rewriting. I go over the manuscript again and again, tweaking a word here, a phrase there. When you track the process and mark the changes as I go, the manuscript becomes a bramble bush of balloons, bristling with red ink.
It’s an ingenious and practical tool, but I’m not sure I like it. It feels invasive, knowing someone can look at the manuscript and see exactly how I think. Worse yet, they can see all the mistakes and misstatements I make along the way. I much prefer to leave the illusion that perfect phrases spill directly from my soul to the keyboard.
But then again, maybe it’s a good thing for others to see that it’s not all that easy. Writing is a joy, but i’t’s also, in the immortal words of George Bush, hard, hard work.