I had one of my nightmares come true on Tuesday night. Google turned on me.
I’ve been transcribing a novel for several weeks. It’s slow going because I have to fit in time in the evenings, and I’m burdened by horrible (horrible (horrible!)) handwriting. Still, I manage a little bit every day, sometimes during lunch, mostly at night. To make my access to the typed work easier I’ve been using Google Documents. I’ve been able to type on any computer within reach and not worry about where the file is saved because it’s saved online. I’ve used Google Docs for several projects, mostly short stories, letters, and rough outlines. This was my first time working on a novel with it.
One of my favorite Google Docs features is “insert note.” It places a highlighted note into the body of the text, almost like putting a sticky-note onto a piece of paper, allowing me to add comments on my work, suggestions for changes or underscoring things I need to remember. In the document it looks like text with highlighting and a different format. Last night, after typing for about forty minutes, I became curious about how these comments would appear, if at all, in the exported document. Google Docs allows for export to several formats including WORD and OPEN OFFICE, which is where I planned to export to after all the typing was done. To see how it would look in Open Office I did a quick export. Within seconds I saw there was a problem.
In Open Office, the document ended several thousand words shy of where I was in the story. There were fifteen pages, but there should have been more. The text ended abruptly, in the middle of a word. It ended like this:
“… How high his son had gone he could not te”
That was it. The rest – kaput.
I tried exporting as a Word .doc. Same result. Maybe I could ‘copy’ the end and ‘paste’ it into the Open Office document? Yeah, I’ll do that and just work in OO from now on. Only one problem: the Open Office document won’t allow me to add anything beyond “te”. Huh? I try to paste again. No go. I try TYPING beyond the “te”. Nope. Nope? The Open Office document is somehow “locked” and won’t allow me to type past a specific spot. That spot is the ‘te’. Apparently, when your document has reached “te” there’s nothing else to say.
At this point I’m in full angry panic mode. I’ve got over eighteen thousand words typed into the Google Docs file and I can’t get past “te”. I have to get past “te”. I can’t send my agent “te”. I know! I’ll copy the ENTIRE document from Google Docs, and then I’ll paste it in a whole new Open Office document. That will do it.
Are you f()@%ing kidding me?
I send the document to myself from Google Docs as an e-mail (nice feature by the way). I copy and past from THAT.
Words like ‘d*()@&bag’ and ‘c*@%$()@%er’ fill the air over my head. My wife saunters in to see if I want to watch something on TV. TV? Is she crazy? She’s lost her f()@%ing mind. I’d call Bellvue if I wasn’t trying to break my computer by staring at it really, really hard.
One last shot. It will never work, but I have to do something, anything, before I end up driving over my computer with my car. I export the document from Google Docs as a Text file. Text file. Simple. Basic. Easy.
(Please God Please God Please God Please God Please God Please God Please God Please God)
It worked. The text file goes past ‘te’. ‘te’ doesn’t appear anywhere in it. I’m free of ‘te’. I open Open Office, start a new document, and paste the text file in. It works. I have a new file, with everything I’ve typed. Thank God.
(Side note to self: don’t use Google Docs. As my brother pointed out, you get what you pay for.)