It’s quite a bit of work to convert old files on now-obsolete formats into Word. First you have to put the discs into an external disc drive, since Macs no longer come with internal disc drives. Then you have to open the MacWriteII and ClarisWorks files through TextEdit, which produces a lot of garbage, jibberish text (mostly at the beginning and ending of the document). At first I was copying and pasting the whole thing into a Word file and then deleting the garbage, but eventually I felt it would be easier to cut and paste, and then additionally copy and paste the middle text, without the garbage, into the real Word file. There’s some other garbage throughout the files, but not as much as in the initial conversion. And for some reason, the Claris files were a lot easier to fix up, whereas MacWriteII files have weird misplaced text blocks. I have to copy and paste these orphan lines back into the places they came from. At least with some of these manuscripts, I have the original handwritten drafts to check against if I’m unsure where an orphan line or passage goes.

And then of course I have to auto-hyphenate, make it double-spaced, and change the font from the generic Times New Roman into my belovèd Palatino. Any other formatting from the original is also lost, like italics, bolding, bold italics, underlining, and centering. At least you don’t lose accent marks when you translate; that would’ve been a nightmare for the 42 chapters of my Russian novel plus the short Epilogue, since I used accent marks wherever I was aware of for personal names and Russian words and lines. I know accent marks aren’t normally written in actual Russian publications or regular writing, but I decided to use them for the same reason they’re used in dictionaries and textbooks—as a pronunciation guide for the non-Russian or non-Russophile reader who isn’t familiar with all the rules of Russian pronunciation. For example, I know a lot of Westerners erroneously mispronounce Boris as BORE-iss instead of Bah-REECE, and Ivan as EYE-vin instead of Ee-VAHN. (And in my opinion, both of those Anglo mispronunciations totally throw those names away. They sound so elegant, refined, and romantic in Russian, but they sound so common and ordinary in English. And don’t even get me started on how my favoritest female name, Anastasiya, is often mangled into Ann-a-STAY-zha. The true pronunciation, Ah-nah-STAH-zee-yah, is so much more beautiful.)

Those are a LOT of hoops to jump through just to finally have access to my older manuscripts again and to start fixing them up for eventual publication. I know many writers might write them off and not want to bother with going to so much trouble to access and revise older manuscripts, but my writing is the most important thing in the world to me. I’d do anything for it, the same way Aleksandr Isayevich was prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for his writing (but thank God he lived to the ripe old age of 89 and saw all of his writing published in his homeland after the Soviet Union fell!). It’s also like how a mother would do anything for her children, since I do consider my manuscripts, all of them, to be my babies, in the absence of any blood (or adopted, for that matter) children. Yes, it does take a lot of time to reformat and fix these translated manuscripts, but it’s worth it in the long run. I also love going down memory lane and having a whole new chance to edit and revise these manuscripts.

I spent too much time, effort, and love writing them in the first place (and in the case of some of them, transcribing them from handwritten originals and then adding in more text where necessary) to just let them sit forever on old discs, in obsolete, inaccessible formats. They mean too much to me to abandon to the ravages of time. I’m going to have to go to even more effort to get some of the files off of one disc that isn’t being read by my external disc drive. I really only want two files on that, the beginning of the original Part II of the book I’ve been querying, for comparison’s sake, and the long-hiatused second book of the second of my four Atlantic City serials. That file was partially printed out, but it caught the same type of error that Part I of the currently-querying manuscript did, and I figured that if that massive file was able to be miraculously resurrected 17 years later, why not try it on that one as well? I never went back to try rewriting that other book or to just pick up where I’d left off, but maybe now I have a chance to work with the original as I edit and revise it.

There are also some files on the hard drive of my old computer, which will require just as many additional hoops. I’m pretty sure that’s the only other place left to look for the first two (I think) chapters of the long-hiatused sequel to my Russian novel. Sure, I could start again from scratch, esp. since I was only about two chapters in, and the entire thing is outlined on paper and in my head backwards and forwards for years, but it would at least be nice to pick up where I left off. There are also a couple of other files I’d like to look for on that hard drive.

I believe Hashem created me to be a writer, and I recognize that our talents, passions, and gifts are ultimately on loan from Hashem. Yes, we can always do things to improve things we already have a talent or passion for, like taking writing workshops, voice lessons, and art classes, but I believe the base talent was implanted there from birth. It’s up to us to use these talents and gifts wisely. It’s like one of the messages of the song “Pure Smokey,” recognizing talents and gifts come from Hashem, and thus ultimately thanking him/her for those gifts, and those people whose gifts we admire. And I also don’t want to end up like Mrs. Turkina, a character in one of Chekhov’s stories, a woman who wrote many books but who was content to just read them to friends and family, never pursuing having them published so everyone could enjoy them.

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