Hello, Failure

Of all the enemies of literature, success is the most insidious

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Failure of the Day: Day of Crap

Crap. Crap. Crap.

First, the laptop I use as my test machine for work is totally hosed. After installing the Beta 2 Refresh, the whole thing is just dead. Takes two hours just to boot, and after that, you still can't do anything with it. So I have to lose 2 whole days of work while my job sends me all new software to re-install. Which of course will wipe it clean and I'll have to re-do the entire Quick Course in Microsoft Excel 2003 book

And then, that sweet $100 focus group got cancelled. Damnit!

And then there's the monthly writing group. A couple new people are coming next time, and one new person is creating some trouble because she boycotts all Microsoft products and so can't open any documents that aren't created in her software program. (We post writing to a web site and print everyone's submission out before each meeting.) We tried to accommodate her by submitting everything as plain text files but all the formatting and everything gets lost so it's not a good solution.

One member posted an email that said that since Word is essentially the industry standard, for better or for worse, it's the responsibility of the person making that choice (to boycott) to make sure she can still read those files and that her files are still accessible to those who have not made that choice. I thought that was reasonable, especially given that we've never even met this person.

But she wrote back: "Microsoft is a privately held company whose sole reason for existence is their own profit. That its product should be considered an industry standard that we must all adhere to is something I have to fight."

Now perhaps I am a big sell out yuppie, and we'll not even get into the fact that I work for Microsoft, but I wonder where this person will buy her software if companies who exist to make a profit are off limits.

And then there's my weekly writing group, from which I have just returned full of their dead-on advice about the ways in which my novel is abject failure. That might be putting too fine a point on it, but the general jist is that it cannot work as a story if all the action happens solely in the main characters head. It's too claustrophobic, and if I want to tell a story about the survival of a person's personality, I have to show more than just the attacks on the personality. I need to add external, non-medical events to contrast the attacks against. Which is an idea I've been fighting for lo these many months because I thought I could pull it off without needing to do that. I can't. I clearly just can't.

And that rounds out this truly craptacular day.


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