Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Where Have All The Paragraphs Gone?

I could have been a great writer, you know. Written one of the great books of the twentieth century. What stopped me, you ask? I'll tell you what stopped me. I was too bloody neat. On endless occasions I would sit down at the typewriter (for those of a more recent vintage, click here to find out what a typewriter is), write a brilliant couple of paragraphs, then tear it up because the end of the lines were uneven, or the middle bit of the letter "0" was inked in. No doubt what I suffer from is a sub-form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but it doesn't neatly fit into any precise category and that is oxymoronic to us sufferers.
You might think that things improved once computers swept typewriters away. And in many ways they did. At least you didn't have to start at the beginning again if you made a mistake. At least you could get justified paragraphs without having to meticulously plan out the number of additional spaces to leave on each line. But us nf's (neatness freaks) can easily find fault with the surface order of the computer-generated page. I used to keep a database of press cuttings which I would cut and paste from on-line newspapers and news agencies. However, the short paragraphs which are commonly used in newspapers - and which look fairly natural when used with narrow columns - looked odd when pasted onto a full-size text page. They didn't look neat. I would therefore go through each article and re-format them. It took ages. It took so long that you never had time to read the resulting article. That's what its like being an nf.
The reason behind all this is that I am getting annoyed with Blogger. When I type the stuff in it is laid out beautifully with nice even double-row gaps between the paragraphs. You would expect nothing less from an nf. But then when it appears in its published form the paragraph breaks have vanished and what remains looks untidy. Un-neat. You can try re-editing it and adding multiple "return" strokes. On the preview screen the paragraphs seem as far apart as Hitler and Ghandi : when you view the published page they are as close together as Blair and Cameron. Such un-neatness being circulated around the globe under my name is anathema to me. It disturbs my thought process, interferes with my creativity.
Yes, I could have been a great blogger. I could have written one of the great blogs of the twenty-first century. If it hadn't been for the bloody neatness.

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