Saturday, February 26, 2011

Writing is Like Software Development - Test Environment

Here's a crazy problem to have....

I have two manuscripts - one is 75 pages.  The other is 74 pages so far but will likely end up being 90 or 100 by the end of next week.  I need to bind each one together so I can read it through and mark edits.  Right now I am using giant binder clips.  I plan on going to the coffee shop to work on one of these monsters this afternoon.  I walk with a cane.  So I have one arm available (my awkward one as it turns out) to carry my purse, the manuscript of the day, and my laptop.

My husband offered to go to Staples to get me report covers to bind them.  The best he could find holds only 50 pages and requires holes to be punched in the paper.  He was sweet and bought me a ream of paper with holes already punched - that's love, don't you think?  But my stories are already printed, and I really wanted to put each one in one binder.  He's off to Kinkos to see if they have something better that doesn't cost a fortune.  If not, he is going to ask how much it would cost and how long it would take for them to bind it for me right quick.

As a writer, I think it's good that I have two manuscripts that are too big to physically handle.  But the thought of editing each of them is very overwhelming, same as if I were in the position of needing to test a massively complicated software application. I think a part of me feels I will have some immediate control over the editing process if I can bind them up all tidy and perfect.

Maybe that's stupid, but I really can't imagine attacking the editing process with loose pages.  I know I will miss things if I just read it through on the computer screen - my old eyes seem to read on the screen what I want to be there rather than seeing little flaws. 

I plan to take more than one pass at the edits, using a different color pen for each pass and immediately make the changes in my computer.  That's how I would attack any pre-implementation changes if I were writing software.  I would test for specific things, correct any errors that come up in that round of testing, and then test for another issue and correct those problems. 

That's my plan for correcting issues with my manuscripts.  But to do this I need them to be bound.  To test software or web sites, I would need all the parts to be on one server or one set of servers, all together so I can see how they work together.  I would need a clean test environment.  Same is true for me for edits.  I need a clean version that I can have complete control over.  Even the potential to lose pages or the feeling I am disorganized will make any attempts futile.

[In case you are wondering, my Kinkos charges $5.49 for binding large documents, and they have covers that only handle 25 pages.  Time to check to see what Amazon has.  Luckily, they are open 24 hours, so I can get my stories bound at 3:00 a.m. if I feel the urge.]

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