Saturday, January 26, 2008

My Last Nerve is a Fighter

Hello again--but this time from the critical unit of Systemic Software Necrosis! In other words, I'd like to kill my Microsoft Word program. At least bit-slap it silly. So I apologize for not posting earlier, but nearly all my attention has been focused on a current writing project with an ominous deadline--next month! GAH! Every time I look at the calendar, my eyeballs pop out on stalks and my hair looks like something inspired by an experiment on MythBusters. So if I seem a bit hard to get a hold of these next few weeks, it's because this little Shetland is scrambling in the salt mines to get this project published on time.

Published? What published? Well, starting January 1, I became the new editor for the RESS newsletter, The Boat, which is now a biannual ezine published as a full color PDF for members. I'm rather passionate about this organization that has helped so many of my fellow equine artists grow, and I've poured that level of enthusiasm into this new version of the publication. For months I worked on it. 200+ pages. Totally formatted. In Word. I was so puffed up, thinking how efficient and competent I had been by starting so early!

But like most little conceits, it all blew up in my face like Acme Dynamite.

About three months ago, Word decided it simply didn't want to open it anymore. Harumphf! It even had the audacity to decide to crash every time I tried to coax-beg-cajole-shriek at it to please open the file! What gall! Now usually I have "Techno Joy" (in the words of Eddie Izzard) when it comes to writing, word processing and publication lay-out, but this euphoria turned to "Techno Fear" in one heart beat.

After a barrage of trouble-shooting, I was at wit's end. Ultimately, I figured I'd just have to pay a professional to rip it open and salvage what I could. But on a whim, I tried one last ditch effort on my part--my little iPages word processing program that came with my new iMac.

Open-Winter08-*click*-"Here ya go!"

Wham!--there it was! That funny little program ripped it right open, images and all, though all the formatting was lost. Small price, though, since I was ecstatic to have salvaged everything, even in raw form. Now since I thought I didn't have time to learn a new program and play eight months worth of catch-up, I re-started The Boat in Word again, thinking the document had developed a corruption that I would just avoid (somehow) in the future.

I desperately need to develop the skill of slapping myself at strategic moments in life.

Word crashed again!--After six weeks of work of feverishly reconstructing the publication. And with no indication as to the bee in its bonnet! I had it with Word. A program I had depended on for 10+ years was now simply unreliable for this publication, so I promptly bought AppleWorks. I would just have to bite the bullet and learn a brand new program on the fly as I re-did The Boat for a third time, while also wrapping things up to meet the publication deadline. But you know, it's ironic how things pan out to work for the best--here I thought my forced leave from the studio was a disaster, but if it wasn't for that, The Boat would be months late, or perhaps not published at all as a Winter issue! So hooray!--I guess?

And so far, so good, but keep your fingers and footsies crossed that AppleWorks doesn't develop a neurosis, too. But I gotta say--this little program is a lot better for my goals with this ezine, so in that sense things worked out for the best, too. Crazy. You just never know which disasters will actually turn out to be blessings!

Now one might wonder--"Why the heck would a self-employed artist spend all this time writing for and working on this publication?", and that's a good question. But the truth is that it comes back to me, in very positive ways that improve my work and advance my artistic goals. Really, it's not a selfless endeavor! I don't know about you, but I've never believed that "those who can't do--teach". BAH! What nonsense! Obviously someone with a goodly bit of insecurity and bitterness coined that phrase. In contrast, I believe "those who do well, teach" because teaching is one of the best ways to learn! I also believe teaching helps to elevate the art form by helping more artists achieve goals they never thought possible, creating a more cohesive and energized community for all of us. Accomplishment is a good and potent drug. So that's why my last nerve is doggedly fighting to get this puppy published, and on time! And as a teaser, I've included a small peek at a couple of illustrations in the Winter 08 issue.

So, until next time: "Who dares to teach must never cease to learn." --John Cotton Dana

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