Paralysis by Analysis: Deer Flies and Microsoft 365

As I ran this morning, some ne’er-do-wells accosted me. An incessant buzzing circled my hatless head and evolved into the loss of multiple specks of flesh. I’m beyond the half-way point in a writer’s retreat week at the cabin in NW Wisconsin, and I’ve taken several enjoyable morning runs while I’ve been here.  Last night, the cabin hosted a spectacular thunderstorm, and as far as I can tell, it rained all night. So in ninety-five percent humidity, I ran. Swam may be more apt a word for the way I felt as I headed down the road and into the sunrise. But at any rate, the deer flies apparently love this kind of weather. Didn’t meet one mosquito out there this morning, but the deer flies…they were out for blood in full force.  

My run quickly turned into a ridiculous dance of sorts as I waved my hands around my head to keep the deer flies out of my kinda short curls. Long enough to lose a deer fly in, but too short to look like anything other than a callipygian fence post in my yellow running cap. I had given myself a home-haircut a few days prior to leaving Minneapolis for the retreat. Always a good idea. And even though I’m here alone, I tried to even it out with a pair of scissors a couple days ago because it upset me when I passed the mirror. I went from neck-length to chin-length (Should have left well enough alone!) to ear-length with spots of head-length hair. Hence, to avoid looking like a post without a bit of hair sticking out from under the cap, I was hatless. Again, deer flies love these conditions! Picture Phoebe (from Friends) as she runs through the park, only with a questionable haircut. 

I finally started slapping the deer flies to my head and letting their little carcasses serve as warnings to the flies who still circled. The corpses were not the deterrent I hoped for. 

You’re wondering what this has to do with writing and editing, hey? Right, so as I ran, I realized the parallel with my writing experience yesterday. All I wanted this morning was another peaceful run. All I wanted yesterday was another great day of writing, but my Microsoft Word kept crashing. This started last month, which is why I’m writing to you now on a sparkling new MacBook Pro. My old 2010 MacBook had been acting funny and freezing up, resulting in a dozen hard shutdowns, before I finally caved in and got this new one. Problem solved until yesterday. It’s not my computer, it’s Word. 

I’m behind the curve on this, I know, but I’d looked into Microsoft Office 365 versus the 2019 version and couldn’t make up my mind on which way to go. Plus, I didn’t want clients to have to download and install a compatibility pack to be able to use my editing. Working off of Word for Mac 2008 had been going smoothly. If clients had newer versions, fine; they could still open what I sent them. But if I edited and wrote for them on the newest version, would they be able to open the document so that everything worked well and looked right if they didn’t have the latest version? Argh! Paralysis by analysis. (Speaking of which, you should have seen the two minutes I wasted this morning deciding on hat or no hat. I mean, what the heck? It’s a country road not a cat walk. Only one car passed me during my entire run. And one runner, but he’s already seen me at my worst, so…? I’ll never get those two minutes back, and I still made the wrong decision.)

To make a long story less long, I knew over a month ago that I’d be getting Microsoft Office 365. I knew it. I also knew my Mac was a wise old elder who shook her fist at the average Apple shelf life but couldn’t keep shaking that fist for much longer. The time I’d wasted trying to work around these two facts is time I could have been one hundred percent more effective. 

Am I the only writer and editor who plays this waiting game? In my defense, when my computer started crashing during Microsoft Word adventures, I was right in the middle of two sizable projects, and I worried about the conversion. I didn’t want either project to suffer from me having to learn new systems or from moving the projects from one version to another. Apparently that’s not going to be a problem, and I’m working on shorter projects currently, so I guess now is the time. I’ll let you know how it goes. 

The moral of the story for me is to keep the very few tools that I do have in my writing/editing tool box sharp. Replace them when they need it. Maybe even before they need it. Bring them along if they still work well (tomorrow– a hat). There are so few material possessions that are needed to do this job well, so I have no excuse. 

But seriously, am I the only one to suffer paralysis by analysis? Has this happened to you? What have your excuses been?