Saturday, April 11, 2015

Too much TV

If only there was a Goodreads for watching TV. If so, I would be a top viewer.

I watched a lot of television in the 11 months I went through cancer treatments. Not just a wimpy sitcom here and there, but dramas that required a certain type of allegiance to plow through them. Every episode of every season, sometimes one, two, even three a day.

Go ahead and call it "binge watching." But I crave a more refined phrase that would signify something important, at least given how much of my day was devoted to it.

In those months, I was catching up on shows I somehow missed or never took the time to get into—"Mad Men," "The Good Wife," "Foyles War." There wasn't much else I could do. The steroids and chemo gave me fuzzy eyesight and ocular migraines, making it nearly impossible to read. I also found that if I didn't sit down and get engaged with a TV show I would be up, trying to get things done, quickly reaching exhaustion. Doing one load of laundry downstairs or cooking dinner was sometimes all I could manage for the day.

So 45 minutes with Don Draper was restive. Wondering how Alicia Florrick was going to fare sans hubby helped me forget about my troubles for an hour or two.

Absent of Goodreads (and because a few friends have asked what I watched), here's a list of the TV series I watched in their entirety: [O] = ongoing series

- Wives and Daughters
- Forsyth Saga
- Call the Midwife [0]
- The Bletchley Circle
- Mad Men [0]
- Cranford
- The Duchess of Duke Street
- Enlightened
- Foyles War
- Freaks and Geeks
- The Good Wife [0] *

* Fun fact: the first 5 seasons of The Good Wife = 112 episodes @ 44 min. ea = 82 hours (gulp!)

I became a little obsessed with WWII and post-WWII Britain during this time. Hence, Foyles War, Bletchley Circle and Call the Midwife (in addition to The Imitation Game in the theatre). I found it particularly charming that no matter how dire things were, or how poor they were, the characters always made time for tea.

I also watched a lot of movies (how did I ever find the time?). Maybe I'll list those maybe another day.

I made the collage above using Union, a smartphone photography app--my first, clumsy attempt, but I wanted something at the top of the page that wouldn't be copyright restricted...

Friday, April 3, 2015

Using the watermark feature in MS Word to distinguish your drafts

Maybe most writers already know this, but I stumbled upon something accidentally tonight that is going to help me more easily distinguish which draft of a manuscript I am looking at.

While trying to insert page numbers in a document, I saw that one of the options under the "Insert" pull-down menu is "Watermark..." I realized I might be able to use a watermark to show which draft I am printing or looking at.

Watermark gives you a "Text" option, which is where you can put the date of the draft. It shows up underneath each page and looks like this (I am printing this without the text underneath so you can better see the watermark/date):

The date of the draft shows up as a faint gray color under the text--or if you want to spring for color printing, you could, I suppose, make it a different color.

One of my problems in going back and editing my stuff is that I will find four different versions of something and can't always tell which is the latest, especially after it has been printed. The filename can include the date of the last update of the draft, but that gets lost in the print-out. Another option, of course, is to add the draft date to the header or footer where the page number is.

The key thing is to use the date of the draft vs. calling something "Version 3" or "Draft 4"--especially if you are working on a longer work in pieces (i.e., and some of those things are actually version 3 and some are version 4), or if you are switching between computers.

For advice on how to find where the latest edits go to, and how to name your drafts, revisit Mary Amato's advice in a 2010 Writing Home post: 56 drafts and three little kisses.