Monday, April 25, 2011

The Trail to Under A Texas Star - Part 2

Chicken Blood and Orphan Computers


The first home computer I ever used was my roommate's Commodore Plus 4. That is the computer onto which I transcribed my longhand draft of El Paso Trail - now known as Under A Texas Star.

The memory on the computer was so small, I had to save files every two or three pages. I needed a box of floppy disks to hold that second draft. Worse, it was about to become an orphan. When the computer died, my ability to access those files died with it.

That was later. At the time, I was glad to have flexibility of a computer to edit my manuscript without retyping pages - and it needed a lot of editing.

My roommate Amanda was my first editor. An English Lit major, she pounced on my manuscript with kind words but gallons of red ink as she found spelling and grammatical errors, logical problems and places where more exposition was required. There was so much red ink on the pages, it looked like blood spatter.

We joked about it being chicken blood. If we hadn't joked, It might have been Amanda's blood because I wasn't as good at accepting criticism back then.

I look at it as a life lesson. Not long after that, I started my career as a freelance writer. I had to accept criticism and multiple changes from clients cheerfully and professionally. Establishing myself  - and the death of the Commodore Plus 4 - put my book on the back burner, but the book and Amanda's red ink prepared me for my new career.

Continued in Part 3

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