Stephen Leigh & S.L. Farrell

Roaming at the intersection of fiction and reality

A Love Affair

(I wrote this one back in 2008, when I first started using Scrivener as my novel-writing program...)

Oh, I'd had 'relationships' beforehand: with black pens, almost exclusively, sometimes plain Bics and the occasional fling with a fountain pen. Then there were typewriters with whom I shacked up for a short time: the Smith-Corona 2001, the IBM Selectric -- but I knew all along that I wouldn't stay faithful to them because I never really enjoyed our intercourse. I did it because I had to do it...

Then I threw them all over for the world of computers, and I realized that there were better ways to fling words onto paper. My first affair there was with MacWrite, but I abandoned her quickly for the allure of the powerful: Microsoft Word. Her, I married... because I was certain that I had found the love of my life.

The two of us were married for a long time. A couple decades. I think there was genuine love between us back in those early years—a joy in producing work together: of weaving words, of cutting and pasting, of spellchecking. But Ms. Word... well, like many of us, as time went on, she lost her figure. She became... bloated. She started taking interest in things that had nothing to do with me. She started lecturing me, she started offering to help me when I didn't need or want help. She wanted to be more than my word processor. I tolerated it for a long time—all her expensive 'updates' and makeovers, all of her changes.

But I was slowly falling out of love with her, and by the end—in the late 90s—I was only tolerating her, afraid to leave but not enjoying my time with her and thinking about how nice it might be to leave her behind to seek our own ways. I confess that I started seeing other word processors behind her back: Mellel, Mariner Write, Appleworks, Pages, TextEdit, AbiWord, Nisus Writer Pro...

Ah, Nisus... She was—and still is—a beauty. She felt good. She was young and lithe, she seemed to know just what I wanted in a word processor. She was affordable. I took the plunge: I left Ms. Word and went on bended knee to Nisus, and she took me in. And we were happy—things were like I remembered them, long ago. Novels came, and short stories. We talked of marriage and commitment.

But... I had been hearing about this other program for a time. Whispers in conversations about something very different. A few friends were using her, this stranger: Scrivener. And I listened to them raving about her, and I wondered. I even downloaded her once and played with her furtively on my computer while Nisus wasn't running. I found her intriguing, but I never really went beyond a few quick kisses and fondlings. We never quite became intimate, and after a few days, I deleted her, thinking "No, I shouldn't do this. Nisus is good to me..."

But I kept hearing her name, now and again. And when another person I know mentioned her and sang her praises, I was intrigued again, and downloaded her once more and loaded in the current work-in-progress and really tried her. And all through the process I was saying "Wow!" and "This is neat" and "Yes!"

I realized that I had gone to Nisus because she was familiar: she reminded me of when Ms. Word had been young and vital. But Scrivener.... Scrivener was something else entirely. She would be whatever I wanted her to be. She was interested in what I was doing; she thought the way I did.

Right now, in 2008, I'm in that wonderful honeymoon of a new relationship. We're still discovering things about each other—wonderful things, for the most part—and learning how we each fit together. I haven't yet come across those flaws that at first seem endearing but later turn into skin-flaying irritations. But...

I'm thinking right now that perhaps she's The One. And it's a good feeling.

Edited To Add: It's now 2021, more than a decade later, and Scrivener is still my "love" as a writing tool...