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Our Last 50 Referrers

« According to Alan Rich ... | Main | A New Class of Writing Tools for the Mac »

April 19, 2007

Computer-Writing Bliss

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Here's a great deal on some first-class writing tools: For the rest of today, Mariner Software is selling Avenir and MacJournal together for just $49.95. That's a fabulous price for two programs that I can recommend enthusiastically. MacJournal is a convenient way to maintain diaries and logs: I keep track of exercise in one journal, and of day-to-day activities, such as they are, in another. ("Monday: Blogged some. Tuesday: Blogged some more ...") But MacJournal will support many, many different journals. If you picture it as enabling you to create a bookshelf full of notebooks, you're in the ballpark.

Avenir (brilliantly designed and constructed by Todd Ransom) is far more ambitious -- a suite of writing tools sleekly bundled together into one consistent and easy-to-understand environment. It's for determined writers undertaking larger-scaled writing projects: stories, articles, screenplays, books. Stash your research in it, develop your characters in it, fiddle with your outlines, keep heaps of notes, and do the actual writing in it too. (At the end of the process, you'll probably want to export the results to a word processor or page-layout program for final visual styling.) Given the rich array of functions it offers, Avenir is amazingly usable -- I was up and running in about 20 minutes. It's quite a treat to be able to manage an entire writing project in one program, and in one file. Compare that to the way writers usually get by: jumping between multiple programs, clicking between files-within-folders-within-folders ... In any case, writers with sizable projects may find, as I have, that Avenir represents as big a step forward over word processors as word processors did over typewriters.

I'll be returning to the topic of writing suites in a bit; there are a number of other good ones out there in addition to Avenir. But I didn't want to let this opportunity at a bargain slip by without letting other people know about it.



posted by Michael at April 19, 2007


John Varley wrote a story titled "The Unproccesed Word", featuring an author that starts using science-fictional versions of Writing Software: MacConflict, MacDialogue, MacMystery,
MacWestern, Adverb-Away. VisiTheme, MacDeal-With-The-Devil...

As the computer handles more and more of the writing, he begins to feel useless. He finally decides to kill himself, writing his suicide note with a program called MacHara-Kiri.

Science fiction has its good share of luddites, as Thomas Phynchon once noted.

Posted by: TimRMortiss on April 20, 2007 8:53 AM

Tim -- That sounds like a hilarous story, tks. When I get too in the blogging groove myself I sometimes feel like the blogging software has taken over ...

FvB -- I know what you mean about Alan Rich. But I find most talk about classical music even more inside-baseball than his, so I take him to be more outgoing than most.

As far as criticism goes ...You have higher standards than I do! But, hmm, what an interesting question: What is the role of a critic, what is it to do "criticism," etc.

I guess I tend to be happiest making do with a patchwork mixture of 1) informed and helpful fandom (which, as you say, includes most good reviewers), 2) yak with artists themselves, and 3) history. That way I get a dose of "what's here to enjoy" (the fans), "how do they do it and what do they think they're up to"" (from the artists), and "where does it come from and what's the long-term story here" (historians).

I don't know that my interests extend much farther beyond that. Do yours? Or if mine do extend farther, I'm happy to take care of them myself, or with friends ...

This is probably just a sign of approaching senility, but I've kinda lost track of what it is serious critics (in the high-intellectual sense) really add to the discussion. Or even pretend to add to the discussion. I mean, I'm happy to grant that it's sometimes fun reading them and that criticism is its own branch of literature. And why not enjoy what's there to be enjoyed, at least if you're in the mood? But are they really telling us anything of any significance? They certainly don't hold the key to creativity. Historians are more helpful where putting things in long-term context go. And they often don't have the enthusiasm and appreciativeness of knowledgeable fans. So what are they really telling us about?

But I dunno, maybe I lost one of my brain-lobes recently. What do you look for from critics?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on April 20, 2007 11:03 AM

Oops. I just reposted my comment under the correct post, which is the FOLLOWING this one and DELETED the one here, before I noticed your reply. I'll try to respond to your points on the thread on your Alan Rich posting, so someone who wanders by can figure what we're talking about.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on April 20, 2007 4:29 PM

I promptly bought the package, thanks, it was irrestistible. All I need is to spend MORE time on the computer. I used to keep a journal and completely abandoned it once I started blogging. I'd like to journal again. Also, I meant to respond to your yoga post. I do at least one yoga class a week, which I adore; it's a necessity to keep the body from spazzing out, but you inspired me to try to do more.

Posted by: Anne Thompson on April 20, 2007 7:10 PM

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