Honestly, sometimes I think the longer I live, the less I learn! Especially in the editorial bidness. Wouldn’t you think by now I would know that whatever Word can do wrong, it will do wrong?
That’s why we call it Wyrd, the Old English cognate for weird.
So I’m about halfway through an abstruse academic paper. It’s actually a pretty interesting abstruse academic paper, reporting on a study of how multinational corporations revive their besmirched reputations after one hijink or another. In China, for example, Walmart got into the…uhm…dog house after it was found to be selling donkey meat as “pork.” Make that donkey meat enriched with fox meat.
Heeeeee! Well, of course all Hell broke loose when that gem of information got out. The flap that ensued was decidedly not good for business. The authors’ research agenda has to do with identifying and assessing the effectiveness of the strategies vast corporations use to cope with fiascos like this.
About the time I reach page 20 — out of 35 — in comes an email from the lead author. Stop the presses! We have a new version!
Mercifully, there weren’t a lot of changes. But there were enough to require me to go through the entire document and manually enter the desired changes. This was time consuming, but one helluva lot less time-consuming than starting all over from the beginning. An academic paper written in Chinglish generates and unholy number of edits, comments, and queries. I’d already spent a day and a half on the thing.
A typical margin of a typical edited page looks like this…except of course the actual time stamps appear, rather than the time of day that this morning’s fiasco occurred. → → →
Yes. The fiasco of the day:
Normally I enter changes in a clean file, just as though I were rewriting a piece of my own — in plain old Wyrd, not using Wyrd’s squirrely “track changes” function, a tool that will render your Word file wyrd faster than you can say CRASH! Then to make the edits appear, I use Track Changes > Compare Documents, which takes the one I’m working in, compares it with the original, and creates a third document showing all the changes. This I save to disk as “Edits,” and then I save the one I’ve worked on, which contains marginal comments and queries but does not highlight insertions & deletions, as “Clean” copy. Both clean and edited files then go to the client, who can see the mess in one file and the cleaned-up copy with questions and suggestions in the other.
But, with this new development — go back in and make changes in copy that is already changed and does not show edits — I can’t easily do that. So I take the authors’ edited file — fortunately they’ve highlighted their new changes — and manually enter the new stuff into my edited copy. But because in the file I’m working on I can’t see the changes I’ve already made and therefore have no idea WTF, I do this in a file that shows all my edits. In other words, I’m now using Track Changes > Highlight Changes; Show > insertions & deletions; Show > comments; Show > formatting.
The plan, then, is to complete the project in Track Changes, then save a second file, and “Accept All” edits so as to create the “clean” file.
This works, as it always worked before the day it dawned on me that the “Compare Documents” function is far superior to the “Track Changes” function. I create a clean file, review it, make a couple more changes, and save to disk. Then I go back to the edited version to enter those changes and discover…
goddamnit! ALL THE EDITS ARE DISAPPEARED. It’s as though I’ve hit “accept all changes” in this file, which I decidedly have not. Show > insertions & deletions, Show > comments, and Show > formatting are all turned on.
NOTHING that I do will recover the visible edits I’ve entered!!!!!!!!!
Holy sh!t. This is three days’ worth of work that God DAMNED Wyrd has disappeared for me!!!!!!!
After much thrashing around does nothing to rescue the hours and hours of work, I move to Plan B: Take the file with changes accepted and do a Compare Documents with the authors’ original original file.
Ultimately it worked. But not without a moment or three of utter despair.
Thank God for Wyrd’s “Compare Documents” function. Without it, I’d’ve been sh!t outta luck.
So now I have two more academic papers and a novel in house. The work has been pouring in the door. At least two and possibly three indexes are in the wings, so I’ve got to move forward at a fast clip to get through the stuff that’s already on my desk.
And naturally, every time I turn around here’s another interruption.
This afternoon I’m meeting with my financial manager to discuss what we can do to help crash-proof my savings. That will kill the entire damn afternoon.
He is, IMHO, altogether too blithe about the possibility — IMHO again, the near-certainty — of another major economic crash.
I believe we are going to see the Return of the Bush Recession on steroids, in the not-too-distant future. He feels his firm’s investment strategy will stand strong against another recession. I point out that the last crash resulted in my losing my job at a time when I was too old to get another job, in the loss of almost half my investments, and that if my house hadn’t been paid off, I would have lost my home, too.
And if I was too old to get a job then, nine years later I’m ALTOGETHER too effing old.
So we’re meeting this afternoon, so he can try to persuade me that all will be well while I try to persuade him that Armageddon is right around the corner.
Actually, Armageddon is here. We just haven’t seen what it will do when it comes through the front door. But we will.