Friday, January 19, 2007

Blast from the past

This is an interesting bit of trivia: apparently George R. R. Martin, author of the wildly popular "Song of Ice and Fire" fantasy series, had a terrible computer crash on his main computer, losing thousands of emails and hundreds of bookmarks.

Yet, this didn't affect his writing at all. Why? Well...

Lest anyone have a heart attack, let me hasten to add that this has NOT affected A DANCE WITH DRAGONS or any of my other work-in-progress. I do my writing on a completely different computer than the one I use for email and the internet, in part to guard against viruses, worms, and nightmares like this. My work machine does not even use Windows (which I loathe). I write with WordStar 4.0 on a pure DOS-based machine. Mock if you must... but WordStar and DOS are both stable as rocks, and never give me the sort of headaches I get from Windows. (I won't even talk about Microsoft Word, about which I have nothing printable to say).
The entire 3000 page series (at least so far)... is written with Wordstar. On a DOS machine.

Not even the old DOS standby, Wordperfect. WORDSTAR. There's not one in a thousand people on this planet who even remember what Wordstar IS. This is a word processor whose heyday was on CP/M machines. What you see on the screen using this program looks absolutely nothing like what will appear on the page, but is simply chunks of blocky DOS font text. It doesn't even use the arrow keys.


Then again... if you want something that will keep you from distractions, a DOS computer running an ancient word processor is definitely up to the task. No alt-tabbing, no internet, no windows... just you and the text.


Maybe he has a point?

Edit: Holy crap, apparently this is utterly common for writers! Check out this piece by Robert Sawyer. IT says just how many writers use WordStar, and why it's the "writer's Word Processor".

Neat stuff, actually, especially about the usefulness of control key combinations for navigation, kind of the ultimate expression of the common writer's love of keyboard shortcuts and loathing of the mouse.

(One that I share, actually. Mice are for artists, not typists.)

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