Posted On October 5, 2013 by Print This Post

Handsome Hansel – I Blame Computers

OH Computers! Where would we be without you? Handsome Hansel from Dance of Romance tells us….and it ain’t purty. =) (yes, that did rate me a red underline!)

     I’m a pretty intelligent guy. Or at least I think I am. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Rhodes Scholar or savant of any kind. Of course I haven’t tried to be either of those so maybe I could be.

I’ve taken two tests over the years, one online and the other through an organization and they both placed me at the lower end of genius. Then my 12 year old daughter asked me what the square root of a number was and all I could manage was to stare at her and blink. My mind an empty shell. I had spent numerous hours answering questions, esoterically designed to confuse the hell out of me. And I did pretty damn well. My daughter lobs a mathematical volley at me and I’m an idiot.

What the hell is going on?

I blame the computer. Over the years of use I’ve demanded of it, it has returned only two favors to me. It has made me look smarter than I am, and at the same time, it has made me feel dumber than I really am. Let me explain…

I’ve been hammering away at my keyboard for well over two weeks, attempting to finalize my manuscript. As writers, there is a certain groove you hit when you’re in your zone. It doesn’t come immediately. Most times we are a little reluctant to begin writing. Even make excuses for stalling. Then, when we do sit down and start to write, we slowly fall under its spell and get drawn in. We find our pace quickening and get to a point where we don’t want to be bothered, interrupted, or drawn away from what we have pouring out of us. Otherwise, our focus is lost and our story suffers.

It’s like when you have great sex. You might not be in the mood but you know you could be. After a little flirting, the foreplay starts and, if it’s going well, you commit. The anticipation sends your heart racing and your focus is only on what is in front of you.

Then the doorbell rings.

Where is your focus now? (Kudos to the person who answered, “It depends on if the windows are open or not.” :)

I’ve learned there are a number of words which make up my “writing doorbells”. Why are they “writing doorbells” for me? Let me give you an example.

I had written an additional three chapters in my book with nary a mistake. The communication between brain and fingers was at an all time high. For at least an hour and a half I had NO peripheral vision. Then I attempted to use the word Rhythm in a sentence. Since I initially spelled it wrong, spell-check kicked in. Completely aware that I can right-click on a word and be offered the correct spelling, I am intent on getting it right on my own and here’s how the aftermath went down: Rythem…Rythym…Rithym…Rhythim…Rithym. Screw it!  I hit the right mouse button and the correct spelling is revealed: Rhythm

When I click on the correct spelling and watch it change within the sentence, I couldn’t help but think back to my elementary school years and finally have that “vowel rule” make sense. You know the one. What are the vowels? A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y. I was trying to shove a vowel into a word riddled with consonants and it wasn’t working. I knew Rhythm had a Y in it so I was inadvertently double dipping into the vowel pool when I didn’t have to.

By the time I got back to my actual writing I was out of sync with it. The “Rhythm Doorbell” had rung and I was no longer in the mood. That didn’t mean of course I couldn’t be later.

I jump onto my keyboard the next day eager to make up for lost time. Half a chapter in and I attempt typing the word becoming. Becomming, Beccoming, Beccomming… S**t!

Spell check assures me that no matter how many times I sound it out in my head, there is only one M in Becoming. A similar occurrence happens later that afternoon where I verbally arm-wrestle my iMac over the word, Occasions.

Why? Why? Why, is there only one S and two Cs in Occasions?

I won my sixth grade spelling bee. You wouldn’t know it by the number of words with red underlines on my computer screen. My computer (bated by spell-check) has me second guessing a lot of what I write. It may seem ridiculous to some but when you’re in that zone and that spell-check doorbell rings, it’s not long before creativity goes flaccid.

Besides spell-check, there is the grammar correction. Those pesky green lines under a sentence that scream, “Hey! You screwed up here! We’re not sure how to fix it either but something’s wrong because our programming tells us so.”

It happened to me recently as well. I was writing in a flurry and typed out the word Payed.  My computer’s grammar police told me I was wrong and should use Paid instead. I realized my error immediately and agreed with my iMac, yet was curious as to the definitions of both spellings.

I right clicked on Payed and here is what I was given:

 

pay 2 |pā| verb Nautical

seal (the deck or hull seams of a wooden ship) with pitch or tar to prevent leakage.

 

Paid? I was given this:

paid |pād|

past and past participle of pay1.

adjective

(of work or leave) for or during which one receives pay:

Fair enough. I wanted the second Paid in my story anyhow,  yet, when I looked at the Thesaurus suggestions on my computer, they were EXACTLY the same! How on earth could that be? It made me doubt myself even though I now had the right spelling.

My computer is making me a worser writer than I really is. (Bad grammar and awful word intended. Ironically, it didn’t correct it.)

Which is precisely my point. We have grasped onto computers to save us from ourselves. Whether it be researching for our stories, spelling/grammar checking, or simple social ineptness; computers have made us feel clumsy.

At one point in my life I knew how to spell Rhythm. I knew how to spell Occasion. I’m pretty sure my eighth grade english teacher explained the difference between: paid and payed. It has gotten to the point that, as I am spelling a word I’ll wonder if I get right, when no red line appears below it…I may as well have won a personal lottery.

We have come to rely too much on technology. We have come to rely on so-called norms being taught to us by people who can’t do what we do. (Maybe that’s a future post.)  :)

Write what is in your heart, and computer be damned. There are settings you can switch off so that spell-check and grammar-check won’t ring your authorial door-bell while you are puppeteering the characters in your story.

When we have the greatest desire to write, we sequester ourselves. We need to sequester ourselves from the tool we use to write with while keeping our story flowing strictly by our intuitions as an author.

HH

***

RU Writers, are you able to turn off your internal editor?

Join us on Monday for the fabulous Oliver Rhodes!

***

Bio: Like most of us, I’ve been around the block a time or two (or three) in the relationship world. I like to think of myself as having a pretty thick skin, however, that skin doesn’t surround the heart.

I’ve been in love; I’ve been in lust. I’ve been hurt and got up to do it all again, each time having learned more of myself as well as “wants” and “don’t wants” for my next relationship. Amazingly enough, I never gave up on that one true love wrapped in Romance. You can visit me here, at http://thedanceofromanceonline.com

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Handsome Hansel

Discussion

4 Responses to “Handsome Hansel – I Blame Computers”

  1. Hi HH,

    I ignore all the red, green, and blue lines on my WIP until I’m done. Then I let the computer gremlins have at it.

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | October 5, 2013, 10:42 am
  2. Morning HH!

    I’m half and half….grammar mistakes? No problem. I waltz right past those and then come back to them later. A misspelled word? Nope, gotta fix it. And yes, I do try it by myself instead of right clicking it – I want to make sure I know how to spell it the next time!

    I used to use a program that would go through and highlight all the grammar mistakes for me…I hated that thing. =)

    Thanks for another great post HH!

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | October 5, 2013, 11:10 am
  3. I hate all the red, blue, and green lines. They distract me from my actual writing. So I turn them off until I’m done. LOL.

    Posted by Mande' | October 6, 2013, 10:00 pm
  4. ”It’s like when you have great sex. You might not be in the mood but you know you could be. After a little flirting, the foreplay starts and, if it’s going well, you commit. The anticipation sends your heart racing and your focus is only on what is in front of you.

    Then the doorbell rings.

    Where is your focus now?”

    Clearly I hear the doorbell, but the focus is most deff on the person I’m with.

    Rhythm is a difficult word to type. I don’t blame you. ;) But becoming? That’s an easy one, no? Occasion, yeah, that’s a difficult one too.

    In my writing days, I always used actual pen and paper and or notepad on the computer. Never have I written anything in Word. (Except for homework assignments.)

    Posted by Soraya | December 9, 2013, 3:47 pm

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