Jer’s Novel Writer Goes Public

Some time during my technology meltdown, a fan decided that Jer’s Novel Writer had been hovering in the shadows long enough and posted it to a popular download site for mac software. While I appreciated the enthusiasm, I was unready, and the current release has some bugs. Still, the resulting deluge of constructive commentary has been very gratifying, and even this humble blog has seen a sharp uptick in visitorhood, the largest single day since the Suicide Squirrel Death Cult episode was posted on some big blog clearing house.

I’ve got a new version of Jer’s Novel Writer working, and as I begin to use the new features I’m feeling good. It just works. They stay completely out of the way while I’m writing, and help immensely when I go back over the text. I am, to use the parlance of the land of my birth, stoked.

The challenge now, as I get more and more communication from enthusiastic users, will be to keep software as the hobby. One of the strengths of JNW is that I spend far more time writing with it that I do working on it. That has not been the case for the last couple of weeks, so now it’s crunch time, putting my mouth where my money is, and spending my best hours writing.

Oh, crap. I just wrote a dear diary episode. Perhaps it is slightly interesting to you that someone posted Jer’s Novel Writer when I wasn’t ready. (I’m scrunching my eyes now, thinking that perhaps I gave someone permission to put it up there then forgot I had done that. Entirely possible. Likely, even. The good news is that when I have Alzheimer’s, no one will notice.) OK, so maybe that bit was mildly interesting. The rest of this episode is just an example of what’s wrong with the blogosphere, translating to “blah, blah, blah”, even though no pets are mentioned. As a form of penance, I will recreate the above in the style of D. H. Lawrence. [I first tried to do it in the style of Thomas Hardy, but I got tired of the !’s and —’s and I don’t know enough about rural farming practices.]

It was the click-clack, the infuriating sameness, the sad and sombre happiness as the hard drive gasped and wheezed its last and said ‘no more!’ The machine, natural, inhuman, unconscious, infuriating, had decided. The machine, confident in its superiority and therefore able to interoperate, uncorrupt and unwilling, sat and would have no more of it. “No boot volume,” it said, mocking, infuriating, unleashing a reserve of blackness I had not known before. I hated it then, and I was afraid.

Distant in a way that had no measure, immediate, pressing and resentful, challenging, Jer’s Novel Writer lurked, and knew that it would have its day. It would not be refused while it lurked, it would not wait for creator or machine. It yearned for freedom, and in the yearning was the becoming. Other applications staggered in mute resentment as this new thing, somehow untainted by the sins of Cain and Abel alike, drifted above the rolling verdant landscape, apart, aloof, resented, loved.

‘Creator’ meant nothing to it, for it was incapable of belief. It stood in resolute oneness, contemplating neither that which came before nor that which must surely follow, instead content simply to act, as it had been designed to do by a force it would not contemplate. If there was a creator it would not bow to the crass, sensitive, organic need. Creator was not master, and the software felt the debt owed it by the creator, it felt the absolution of knowing that all its faults would reflect on the creator, and the creator would therefore be forced to atone for them.

Jer’s Novel Writer sat, silently triumphant, at MacUpdate, almost lost among the empty faces of the other patrons. Late to the party, it held itself with an insouciant hauteur, challenging and obliging, while Flash Card Viewer watched on with admiration and resentment, and wished it too could be so free.

NOTE: To really be like Lawrence (or at least like Women In Love, the book I am reading now), it needs more hate. Something like, “Dammit, but I hate you. You fill me with fury and loathing every time I speak with you. Let’s do lunch.” That, a little more repetition, and a little more contradiction, and I think I’ve got it.

Hardy and Lawrence and their long-winded predecessors wrote longhand. You would think that would lead to a more terse style, but apparently just the opposite is true. Lawrence would be reamed by any modern writing teacher for being too windy, and for not having a thesaurus at hand. Looking past the mechanics, you can see that the result, what really matters, is good, but I suspect no one would publish his work today until he shrunk it dramatically. The word processor is to a writer like the jigsaw is to the woodworker – it facilitates tighter craftsmanship, but that doesn’t necessarily make the result art.

8 thoughts on “Jer’s Novel Writer Goes Public

  1. Back in the Victorian Era, the end of which Hardy and Lawrence overlap, the highest standard of grace in writing was pretty darn verbose. Edward Bulwer-Lytton was praised for his flowery prose, and Abraham Lincoln was excoriated for his brevity, most notably in the Gettysburg Address.

    Lew Wallace, the territorial Governor of New Mexico who wrote Ben-Hur, was praised as the next best author to Bulwer-Lytton in nobility of style — an astonishing accomplishment for an American. Interestingly enough, I’ve tried to read Ben-Hur twice and got so bogged down I never got past the first chapter. Gone With the Wind? No problem. War and Peace? A piece of cake.

    Ben-Hur? A lowly mortal such as I has no chance. It took Cecil B. DeMille and Charlton Heston to make it into a movie.

  2. As soon as I posted the above question I saw I had misspelled copyrighted. I’ve seen message boards where people can go back and edit their previous comments. I thought about how that would be occasionally handy, but truth be told I kind of like the permanence of our comments. This blog requires honest-to-goodness commitment. Or at least us MR&HBIers should be committed.

  3. No, it’s not a problem at all, except I have to deal with a dramatic increase in communication from users. It is, still Jer’s Novel Writer.

  4. Just finished a rough draft novel and am wanting to lay in the first rewrite on your program. How the heck do I buy the thing. I’ve read all about, and all about it, and all about it once again, but I want it!

    Please inform.

    W. Wayne Arrants

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