Q: Ed, I talked with a blockbuster writer about first drafts and revision. What tools can you offer her?
Ed: Being "older than Moses" as they say, I've see it all -- essays, drafts, poems, the Great American Novel. One thing they all have in common: WORDS!
Q: Can you elaborate?
Ed: Well, our forefathers wrote on plant fiber and animal skins with charcoal, dark minerals, whatever. We have evolved to digital and the era of the "word processor" -- don't get me started...
Q: Go ahead.
Ed: A writer doesn't "process" words -- that's something a typesetter does when preparing a book for press. Writing is about forming ideas in words and putting it to paper.
Q: But you are of the early digital era.
Ed: And I know my place and function. You want a tool to blast out a first draft? That's a specialty of mine. A writer wants to capture the moment of inspiration, but in the era of word processors that inspiration gets processed by instant revision.
Q: This is sounding like a pet peeve of yours.
Ed: You said it, brother. I'm bored. Here I am, always ready to work on a project (and my cousin Edlin feels the same way), available to users of any computer and who gets the job? The word processors!
Q: Most people think Line Editors are about as current as typewriters. ;-)
Ed: Now you're starting to upset me. Some of the best writers used typewriters, and pencils before that. Thoreau's Dad owned a pencil factory. Line Editors might seem primitive by today's standards, but we founded the digital world everyone takes for granted. All the early code was written using Line Editors. In this digital era a writer can still do very well with a typewriter or pencil, but the text must be retyped into a digital format for publication. Use a Line Editor and save that extra step.
Q: O.K., so how do you propose modern writers use Line Editors even if they're not neo-Luddites like us?
Ed: In Unix everyone should be able to find me simply by typing ed on the command line. On a PC you have to find where Microsoft hid the DOS window (Start button/All Programs/Accessories/Command Prompt) and type edlin on the command line. The new Macs have Unix as the underlying OS, so I'm there as well. If a PC user wants to use me instead of Edlin, I'm downloadable to Windows.
Q: And then what?
Ed: Find your inspiration and start writing. Use one of us Line Editors to capture the fast first draft (either one file or a file per chapter). Then take a break. Later on, get ahold of a Screen Editor like my grandson Vi and go back and revise to your heart's delight!
Q: Thanks, Ed!
Ed: You're welcome!
Mon Apr 16 22:30:34 MDT 2012