After a year or so of complaining to myself (and a few other unfortunates) that many of the grammatical marks in my documents look funny, I finally figured out how to change them to what I want without manually scanning and spotting them all myself. I’d already tried that for the apostrophes and quotation marks – apparently, I didn’t do a great job.
When my new laptop was bought just prior to my departure for Japan in 2010, I didn’t install Microsoft Office. Rather, I downloaded OpenOffice, a free software that does most of the things Microsoft Office does. Only for free …
I was, all in all, rather pleased with my download. It worked perfectly well. I could do all my typing as well as I could in Microsoft Office, and the program’s compatible with many file types, so I could access everything I’d written on my desktop in Word. But when I started getting nearer and nearer to completing my book – or perhaps far sooner than that, and it just didn’t seem overly important at the time – I began to notice that the single quotation marks and apostrophes (of course, given they’re the closing single quotation mark as well … ) that I typed in OpenOffice didn’t match those I’d written in Word. At first it didn’t bother me too much. I don’t remember exactly, but perhaps I thought it didn’t look too bad, or that an editor would be able to handle it, or that it wouldn’t be much of a problem to fix when I eventually got around to it. But then I started thinking, wondering how I’d feel if I were an editor with a manuscript full of differing punctuation marks dumped before me. Then I thought, it’s punctuation. There’s a lot of it. Particularly in an 800 + page novel. It was probably around that time that I grew to hate the sight of OpenOffice apostrophes.
Truly, I have nothing against OpenOffice. It’s served me very well. But I wanted the Word apostrophes – the majority of the book was written on Word, so they were the dominant style. Just. So I began trying to change those that didn’t match, only to find that though I entered them into the search window, they could not be searched. I tried this several times during the last year, each time failing resoundingly. It was during my last major edit that I decided to face the (then seemingly) inevitable task of changing the punctuation, copying and pasting the Word versions throughout the entire book.
After that edit, I kept on finding marks I’d missed everywhere, and they were really irritating me – had no clue how I’d catch them all. More, that was when I noticed that the ellipses between the two programs were different, too. At least, the way I’d typed them … which was wrong. But this afternoon, I finally figured out how to have them searched – I just had to un-check the box that says whole words only … yeah, I can be pretty dense. But for dense little me, it was a great puzzle solved, a Gordian knot slashed through, a fine achievement.
Didn’t feel that way so much after spending the entire afternoon (after my furniture check, lovely boss Haruka from city hall checking out my very tidy and almost empty apartment), evening, and most of the night mindlessly hitting search and changing every rouge quotation mark and apostrophe, and then doing the same for ellipses. I really hope there aren’t any other differences in punctuation marks that I haven’t noticed yet … I feel so numb right now. Didn’t have much to keep me going either, only pausing to read a few of my favourite parts – if I’d gotten to into it I wouldn’t have finished the search and change effort, and it had to be done. I did listen to some good music though, including this Skrillex Symphony, one of several, I believe. But this is the one I heard first. And I like it best, probably more than the original dubstep, too. It’s welcome in small doses, but I’m really not much of a dubstep girl.
So, hopefully all the punctuation marks are now in good order. Now I need a half-decent spelling and grammar checker.