The software I’m using to write my new book is…

I’ve been making good progress on my new book, especially considering the hodgepodge of software I’ve been using.

I wrote my first book in Microsoft Word and it was a harrowing and creativity-sapping process. Word is like a huge Swiss Army knife of a word processor. A knife with a shit-ton of tools can be impressive. You look at it wondering how many tools there are and whether you’re likely to use most (or any) of them.

Then you realize the damn thing’s heavy. Then you realize that using any of the tools except the main blade is a fiddly and frustrating experience.

In the end, you leave the knife at home more than you use it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful that Word exists. The choices made by the folks who created it result in a benchmark product. I would never refer to Word as a bad piece of software. It’s simply a bit of software that’s unsuited to the creative flow of my writing.

A while back, I was prattling on about Ulysses and iA Writer. Later, I discovered and used Bear for a while. I deemed each of them as interesting but not quite useful enough. Each design is good at pretty much keeping out of the writer’s way.

It’s the issue of sync that settled the matter, and not in favor of iA Writer, Ulysses or even Bear.

Each of those platforms rely on iCloud for sync. That’s OK if the writer uses the same Apple ID across all devices and the iTunes Store. There’s the problem for me. Also, I think the software companies should use their own system and servers for sync rather than relying on iCloud.

I think WorkFlowy does sync right. Their ingeniously simple software is truly web-based, syncing by username, seamlessly.

I encourage those folks to develop WorkFlowy for Writers and let me know when it gets to beta. If they can build on the way WorkFlowy works and apply it to the work of long-form writing it would be a real game changer.

The software I’ve chosen to write my book in is Apple’s very own Notes. File organization is simple and straightforward. You can choose your own font and basic formatting is a snap. I will continue to use Word as the destination software (and archived backup) for the eventual manuscript. Importantly, documents created in Notes paste cleanly into Word without any weird or unexpected formatting problems. Notes also syncs both immediately and perfectly across all devices, as one would expect of one of Apple’s own creations operating in their own ecosystem. The UI is clean and uncluttered and this helps me to focus on what I’m working on. 

I’m glad to be watching that hodgepodge of software vanish into my rearview mirror. I’m also glad there are software folks out there who are trying to make the challenge of writing easier and I’m really happy Apple did such a marvelous job with Notes.

The software I’m using to write my new book is…

Listen to my interview on the GolfSmarter podcast

GolfSmarter #676

Exciting News: Now you can listen to my interview on the GolfSmarter podcast here:

My interview on GolfSmarter

It was really generous of GolfSmarter’s head-honcho, Fred Greene, to invite me onto the show. He does an amazing job on the podcast and makes the entire process so enjoyable for the guest. The experience made me want to do it all again, but to do a little better job.

I did the interview cold; I didn’t know what questions Fred would be asking in advance. That ramped up my anxiety factor a little at the outset but once we got rolling the interview took on a nice flow. Fred’s a real pro and a great friend to golf.

I was very pleased to have the opportunity to talk about the release of the second edition of Tony Manzoni’s classic golf instructional book, The Lost Fundamental as well as the availability of my new book, John J. McDermott & the 1971 U.S. Open.

Thanks, Fred, for providing the forum for me to share two of my favorite subjects with you and the entire GolfSmarter audience.

Listen to my interview on the GolfSmarter podcast

My Novel is Available at Amazon…For Now!

A friend of mine, Fred Greene, does the GolfSmarter podcast. He was kind enough to interview me for his show and I’ve decided to make my novel available at Amazon for the next few months.

Sometime around April or May, I will be taking the book down while I submit it to a handful of publishers.

So, get it while it’s available…

John J. McDermott & the 1971 U.S. Open

Also, I’ll post again when the podcast episode is live.

Thanks for reading.

front cover alone with sansserif

My Novel is Available at Amazon…For Now!

Do apps like iA Writer and Ulysses really help you write?

I promised myself six months respite between finishing my first novel and starting on my second. The idea was to take some time to research and test drive various writing apps.

Having a mechanism that facilitated the organization of my writing was of primary importance.

Having a writing environment that facilitated the writing process was a plus.

I mean, who doesn’t hate Microsoft Word?

On the other hand, who doesn’t use Microsoft Word?

When it comes to writing, it’s easy to come to see Word as the devil you know which is nearly always preferable to the devil you don’t. Word is not anathema to the creative process. If it was, no one would get anything done with it and there are plenty of writers who do the majority of their work within its environment.

I’m one of them.

But, Word is distracting. Word is inscrutable. Word is ugly.

I narrowed down the initial candidates to iA Writer and Ulysses.

I’m prone to breaking promises I make to myself so rather than a six month respite I’m already working on my next novel. The fun part is that I’m alternating its among Word, iA Writer and Ulysses. You’re right…fun’s not the right word.

I compose for a while and then I cut and paste the copy into Word as a back-up. I also email the copy and dump another copy into A Google Doc but now I’m giving you a bit too much insight into how much I hate the idea of losing my work.

So far, I’m not sure if iA Writer or Ulysses will be of much help to me, anyway. I do like the stripped down nature of the interface but, at least so far, I’m not seeing it as transformational of either my writing process or of my ability to maintain organization of elements of plot, characters, scenes and timeframe.

Initial nit picks about Ulysses include the use of jargon like sheets rather than text or copy. I mean, I know about a sheet of paper and about rain falling in sheets but why use the word to describe something that a sheet isn’t? But, I’m not giving up on it yet.

iA Writer takes the stripped down feel a step further. This can lead to wondering about what, exactly, the app is supposed to be doing for the writer?

I’m going to give both apps more time and copy before I decide which of them (if either) to use.

Today, I am unconvinced about iA Writer and Ulysses but I’m still open to using something other than Word. If any of you use either of them (or any other writing app) I would love to hear your views and experiences.

Do apps like iA Writer and Ulysses really help you write?

A slow recovery: The Woolsey Fire

IMG_0942

The Woolsey Fire’s destruction is widespread and sobering. But, the slow recovery has already begun as evidenced by the wisps of grass that have sprouted throughout the burn area.

There is our time.

There is geologic time.

Then there is the time the Earth takes to heal after a fire. It falls somewhere between the two extremes but it surely comes more slowly than we would like.

It will be interesting to be a witness to the recovery…to see what species come back the most quickly and in greatest number and density.

Nature is stubborn and clever and I look forward to seeing her work in these areas I know so well.

A slow recovery: The Woolsey Fire

Untitled 29 is in Flickr Explore

I missed this one somehow and now that it’s managed to catch my eye, I actually rather like it. It has a certain geometry of composition that fits with the way I doodle. It would seem that what my brain envisions as a doodle sometimes works its way into my photos.

No idea if that’s good or bad.

Interestingly, it was shot with my beloved if humble Nikkor Micro 60 f/2.8. This is a somewhat underrated lens that I find to be wonderfully balanced. It’s lightweight, sharp and the front element is set so far back from the end of the barrel that it’s never even crossed my mind to put a filter on it.

Flickr’s Explore algorithm snatched it up yesterday and for once I concur with its inscrutable judgment.

Untitled 29

 

 

 

Untitled 29 is in Flickr Explore

Testimonials

Even more so than my other photos, these three are presented not for their photographic competence but rather as testimonials to what beauty remains after the Woolsey Fire.

I have not yet had the courage to head into the burn zones, to see what can be seen beyond the 101 freeway but I know the destruction is both awesome and terrible.

A good friend of mine spends much of his day riding (or is that racing?) on the canyon roads between the valley and PCH. The other day he told me he was depressed and without thinking I asked him why.

He said, “Because it’s all burned.”

I wanted to hit him with a philosophical way of looking at it but I stopped myself. In my heart I knew that I and many others felt exactly the same kind of deep loss that he did.

Others, of course, have lost more than can be imagined.

It all got me thinking once again about what we still have here in our corner of Los Angeles County. The answer is that we have a lot. The best of it now feels even more fragile and under threat than it did just a few weeks ago.

Anyway, I present these three images as small and humble testimonials to the beautiful hills and grasses and trees that are still here for us to enjoy.

Healing takes a long time.

Testimonial 1Testimonial 2Testimonial 3

Testimonials