Thursday, November 03, 2005

At war with MS Word Gremlins

I'm using MS Word 2003, and it's started a war. The initial strikes were silent and secretive, leading me to believe I was making typographical errors. I have a character named Barth. (Tip of the hat to John Barth? If so it's subconscious because I saw an avant-garde reader's theater production of one of his stories 20 years ago and its haunted me to this day.)

Left rebels and doesn't tell right what he's up to
Anyway, I was editing some copy and I noticed his name appeared as Berth in one instance.

Thought I'd just hit the wrong vowel even though the E's at a pretty good diagonal stretch from the A. So I changed it back and went on with mulling over Barth's inner conflicts and my desire to make them rich and meaningful.

Then I discovered another occurrence of "Berth," and another. Either my pinkie was starting to take on a mind of its own like that Clive Barker story "The Body Politic", or something strange was going on.

I started wondering if imps or gremlins had invaded my keyboard. And of course they had. Not mysterious spirits but techno gremlins out to drive me slowly over the dark edge of madness.

I've tried several ways to cast out the minions of Bill Gates, but so far nothing has worked. I have to go back and change the e to an a again.

I've had to do that at various times in the past with letters Word has insisted on capitalizing, but this is the first war over a proper name.

I think Word is winning. Barth is short for Bartholmew, but lately I've been thinking maybe my protagonist could be named Bertha. A boy named Bertha? It would certainly stand out in contemporary fiction.

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