The End Of An Era?

For a few horrifying moments, I thought it would be. You see, I’ve been using WordPerfect word processing software since … well, let’s say it’s been a long time and leave it at that. Yesterday, in an effort to open up some hard drive space on my now ancient laptop, I uninstalled an old version of WordPerfect 8 and managed to screw up my current version of WordPerfect 10.

As I am in the process of finishing Meter Maids Eat Their Young, obsessing over a couple of other ideas, getting ready to reissue my Golden Gate Bridge book and working on several short stories not to mention this blog, losing my WordPerfect was a disaster.

I have Microsoft Word on my laptop but I’d rather wash my hands with battery acid and lick my fingers afterward then use that. It’s only on the laptop so I can convert my WordPerfect documents to Word to send to my agent and for when I’m working with the agent on those final edits.

I don’t like Word. It’s cranky, for one thing, and obnoxious, and it doesn’t seem to like writers very well. I’m convinced it has its own Draconian editor built in. It deletes documents for its own perverse reasons, changes the format whenever it gets the notion to, and is constantly trying rewrite my sentences to its own preconceived idea of how a sentence should read, despite having Grammar Check turned off.

Granted, WordPerfect has had it’s fair share of disastrous versions. The first Windows version was a nightmare. Version 6, when Novell briefly owned the software, made the nightmare of version 5 look like a pleasant dream. Version 7 wasn’t much better. Version 8 was stable enough. So stable, in fact, that I didn’t even bother with version 9. Version 10, though, that was heaven. I loved version 10. Stable, well mannered, easy to use. So what if it was ancient software technology? It was a great piece of software.

So, here I was in the middle of all these writing projects and no software to write them with and no WordPerfect disk from which to reload the software. My hair-pulling panic suddenly subsided when I remembered an article about free, downloadable word processing software I’d read on Backspace.

Anyway, Ian Barker, one of the regulars there, wrote an article titled: Why Writers Shouldn’t Pay for Software. Since we all know that real writers are basically poverty stricken, not having to pay for something is a good thing. Especially when the something is word processing software. He mentions three in his article: OpenOffice, AbiWord,/a> and RoughDraft. So, I downloaded all three and gave them a spin around the old block.

I’m not going to go into detail about the three programs. If you want further information about them, read Ian’s article. Though none of the programs, IMHO, lived up to my beloved WordPerfect 10, I did rather like RoughDraft and used it throughout the day. My problem is, I’m a creature of habit. In some things I absolutely loath change. Everything has its quirks and I just couldn’t get used to the new quirks of a new software program. I wanted the old quirks of my old WordPerfect 10 back!

This morning, fresh with those roses in my cheeks (and a full French Press of Peet’s coffee), I did some searching and, lo and behold, Corel is still around. I had thought they’d been bought and buried awhile back but it appears they are still pushing a word processing program that, for the vast majority of computer users, is ancient history. I went to their site and, to my joy, found that you could download a thirty day trial of WordPerfect X3. Which of course, I did.

So far, so good. It looks like my beloved 10, acts like it, even feels like it. We’ll have to see if it has the same quirks and/or has developed a few of its own over time. But I can live with it. Now all I have to do is figure out where to get the money to pay for it.

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