Life’s too short

For the last several days I’ve been turning the idea over and over in my head about buying a copy of Scrivener. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a word processor expressly designed for long-form writing – and has become somewhat famous over the last decade or so among the writing community. Countless published authors have used it to craft articles and novels.

I’m still sitting on the fence.

I used to own a copy of Scrivener – back when I fancied myself as a bit of a writer. The last time I used it was for a tilt at NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) about four years ago. It’s still installed on the museum-piece Apple Mac that’s found it’s way up to the attic.

Do I really need it, and would I really use it?

I guess much of my reservation is couched in a story from my own past. Back in college I did art – and spent a couple of years drawing and painting people. A couple of years after leaving college I signed up for an art night class, and joined a group of elderly art enthusiasts. I rapidly discovered a hierarchy of sorts within the class – much like the class system of generations past. It had nothing to do with ability – but everything to do with materials and tools. Several of the most revered members of the class arrived each week with materials I could only dream of – and yet the work they turned out was terrible. Of course nobody told them as much – everybody lied, or decorated their thoughts with flowery adjectives about boldness, and use of space. If you’ve ever seen the Tony Hancock movie “The Artist”, you’ll know where I’m coming from.

The reason I’m so reluctant to spend any money on Scrivener is the same reason I never understood the art class royalty. It’s not about the tools – it’s about your ability. How many times have you heard somebody ask what camera you have when they see a nice photo?

And yet I remember Scrivener – how it works, and what it can do. It makes writing a pleasure rather than a chore – especially for long-form writing. I’m almost talking myself back into it while writing this – and also shaking my head at my own indecision.

I don’t need it.

It doesn’t help that I mentioned it to a writer friend this evening, and she immediately responded with “Buy it”. A few moments later she followed up with “Life’s too short”.

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