Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Writing middles, Clippit, and increasing eccentricity

I use Word 2000. It's what I'm used to; I've written five novels on it. I actually uninstalled Word 2007 from my laptop to stick with what I know. (Unadventurous? Moi?) 

And one benefit you don't get on modern versions of Word or fancy programs like Scrivener is the Office Assistant. I like Clippit. There, I've said it. I know he has enemies, but it's a lonely business, writing a novel, and you do tend to go a bit mad. (Okay, maybe it's just me. You're probably as sane as when you started.) But I am soothed by Clippit's friendly, helpful presence. Even when I've been staring so long at a blank screen that he curls up and goes to sleep, a silent comment on my lack of productivity, I know at the tap of a key he will spring to attention, ready to make suggestions, my little virtual friend.

In Muriel Spark's novel,  A Far Cry From Kensington, it is suggested by the protagonist who works in publishing that a cat is an aid to writing - though she does add, a cat won't actually write the book for you, or guarantee it will be any good. Clippit serves the same function, but you don't have to feed him and take him to the vet, and if you find you are arguing with him more than seems reasonable, you can always switch him off for a while.


  1. I use to have Clippit on my first ever laptop. I'd forgotten about him and you're so right - he does become a companion! Haven't had him around in the new update and the new laptop...

  2. Aha, another pro-Clippiter! You'd think Microsoft could have kept him as an option, but Wikipedia says:

    "The feature drew a strongly negative response from many users. Microsoft turned off the feature by default and removed the Genius assistant in Office XP, acknowledging its unpopularity in an ad campaign spoofing Clippy. The feature was removed altogether in Office 2007 and Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac, as it drew criticism from customers and even Microsoft employees."

  3. I loved Clippit as a cat, too. I'd forgotten about him from earlier versions of Word. Microsoft should have held on to Clippit and ditched all the other whiz-bang gadgets they installed to try and keep up or wow clients. Thanks for the nostalgic moment. I miss that cat!

  4. I remember Clippit - though not particularly fondly. I was one of those users whose response to him was negative. Feel a bit sorry about that now.

  5. Katherine, I think my daughter when young liked the cat, or maybe the dog. I was such a computer novice back then she had to show me you could change the assistant.

    Mary, so it's all your fault! Clippit on my home laptop is on an irritating bright pink background for some reason, so I don't use him there. Must ask my IT consultant (aka daughter) how to fix it.

  6. Because my pc keeps saying I've run out of memory (and this is after I've bought more) I've reluctantly bought a laptop with Windows 8 which I'm refusing to use for wip because I shall have to think about the mechanics of writing instead of the plot. I know I shall conquer this sooooon.

    I do wish technology would slow down. I treated myself about 7 years ago to a £200+ camera, the idea being that it would last a long time because it was at the cutting edge... huh!

    With my holiday a few weeks away, I tried to buy another memory disk for it but couldn't. It would take up to 2gb only and shops were selling 4gb upwards. Maybe there'll be some at the airport. Nope. Italy, maybe some little village... nope. So no holiday snaps for me. When we got back, dear hubby got one for me from Amazon which now merits the prefix of 'dear' too.

    I'll just have to go to Italy again :)

    Poor Clippit, discarded like a bent paper clip.

  7. You discard bent paper clips? I bend them back into shape...

  8. I wouldn't say I love Clippit but I do get the bit about going a little bit mad and I have to say that if he offered me options like the ones in the picture I'd be very happy with him.



  9. I fear the illustrated Clippit is somewhat idealized, MTM, more of a fantasy Clippit. The real one aims to please, and what more can one ask?

  10. I rather like old technology. I hung on to my blackboard and chalk at work for as long as I could.

    On holiday I seek out steam engines that give rides .... the smell of smoke and steam and the raw power of those pumping pistons .... who needs hotties!

    But clippit never turned me on. I Thank God for Word 2007 and it's ribbon layout and the way it supports my text to speech engine.But I do admire your love of the old technology Lexi.

    Can you still buy Word with Clippit? Usually as technology moves on the old stuff is left unsupported to die unmourned.

    It's great to find another 'old technology' lover! LOL

  11. I've looked and Word 2000 isn't for sale anywhere! You've worried me now. One day I will have to move on...

    But I like some new technology. Depends what it is. I wouldn't want to write a book on a typewriter, for instance, or bike to work on a penny farthing, or mangle clothes. I like colour printers and the internet and entry phones with cameras. Windows 7 is way better than XP, but I don't fancy Windows 8. A lot of it's just personal taste.

    (You had a blackboard and chalk at work? You were lucky. I had sand and a stick.)

  12. Oh, I really miss Clippit! I didn't even know he had a name - most of the time I called mine "eff off" but I would rather have him than the ultra-bland question mark which does nothing for the soul.