I wanted to love Scrivener

This morning I had the second of two software meltdowns. Meltdown is harsh, but they happened in my allotted writing time, so I guess the meltdowns were had by me. Twice, when opening Scrivener, I received a notice for an update. Without me selecting an option, the application closed and deleted its own .exe file. Yesterday I reinstalled the previous version and was able to work. This morning I had to uninstall and reinstall, twice, the new version. That was it for me.

Scrivener is something I use mostly for my fiction writing and I think it’s a wonderful program…if you have a Mac. I think historically more attention has been paid to the Mac version over Windows. It took a long time to pull a Windows version out of beta and I was excited to work with version 3 when it came out, even paying to update my license (I’ve had Scrivener for a long time). But the problems the last two mornings reminded me of the worry I’d been carrying in the back of my mind. The Windows version just doesn’t feel like a priority, or, more precisely, it’s feels like an afterthought.

When I finally got the latest version to load (and stay loaded) I set to work exporting everything out. I could have scoured the .scriv folders for the text if necessary, but I was already frustrated. Boom. Everything into Google Docs, where I can work on it in relative safety from my PC and my Chromebook and my phone.

It’s probably no lie that I wanted to make this shift anyway, but needed the right push. It was also a good way to procrastinate doing anything else productive.

At once time I considered adding my comp exam notes into a Scrivener file, but opted for a wiki instead. The ease at which I can make connections and interwiki links works well with the thought flow I need for that type of work. Also, this is a good reminder that I’ve got to get back to that work soon.

I would still recommend Scrivener to my Mac friends. It’s can be very powerful if used to its fullest. However, I would suggest to my PC friends to find or build a system out of what already works for you. If possible, something that allows you to never worry about what type of computer you can afford.

Composition and Contagion and Decomposition

Photo by Joe Kritz from Pexels

What do I even say? As Costco sends me the nine-millionth email featuring products I either don’t need or they don’t have and the sheer volume of “How We Are Dealing with the BLAH BLAH BLAH” emails would be overwhelming if complaining about didn’t focus on the unimaginable privilege I have at my own situation and how fortunate I am to be safe.

It’s been hard to write. That’s why this daily blog is on episode three after a month. I wanted to chart what I did, how I changed teaching, how I adjusted my lessons, but that would assume I had an idea in the first place. After only two years of teaching I realize that I’m not a very good planner or syllabus maker and that since I teach a discussion-based composition course, I have been largely relying on the charisma and charm.

And I ain’t all that charming.

I am thankful that I’ve decided my major field for my comprehensive exams will focus on composition and rhetoric as there is so much I have to learn. So much I have to understand about teaching and lesson design. In fact, I was excited to drop $250 on the Digital Pedagogy Lab this summer, but when I realized that was per course, I had to say no. There’s no way I’m going to ask for funding when some of my peers have just lost their summer funding. I’ll follow the speakers, take a look at the free events, and get to know some of the recent journals on the subject. I may need that money.

The struggle with writing though has infused every project. Sometimes I can fall back on research, reading over journal articles and chapters, or, as is more likely, hoarding more texts that I’ll never get a chance to read or skim but will languish in my citation manager among the 2,300+ sources that I have and haven’t used over the years. Forcing myself to writing this post is an exercise in breaking through that anxious block we’ve all been dealing with. Having a writing group helps, work/writing sprints gets some words on the page. Cutting myself off with research also helps me shift gears.

Look how happy she is. I bet she gets her stuff in on time.
(Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels)

The biggest burden is feeling as if I can’t completely immerse myself in my work while at home. I haven’t shaken the need to keep an ear out for trouble. My noise-canceling headphones sit charging, unused. There are things I’m listening for, but rarely hear. Things I hear but rarely need to intervene. It’s only been within the last two weeks that I’ve felt comfortable just shutting the door to my office when not in a Zoom session.

This is progress.

For now, I think I’ll just keep plugging, checking off little things on my to-do list (the big projects broken down in order to gain momentum) and worry less about productivity and more about process. As a composition teacher I want to be about the processes: the process of reading and thinking and writing and discussing. This time requires us to renegotiate our process on a daily (if not hourly) basis and that flexibility, I think, will surely be helpful in the long run. The product is just the record of work done.

The process is the reward.