WordRecoveryMessageAs if writing weren’t difficult enough. Each time I copy or cut my prose, Word balks. Actually, it more than balks. It shuts down.

If you’re a parent of a teen, you are probably familiar with this routine. A sulky/defiant/recalcitrant/stubborn teen is facing you with an I’m-only-putting-up-with-your-lecture-because-I-don’t-want-to-get-grounded (or grounded longer) look. You, the responsible parent, emotionally pontificate about why your formerly perfect child’s recent behavior will: a) result in rejection from the college of his or her choice; b) cause deep regret later in life; c) deeply disappoint loving grandparents; c) lead to ruination; d) all of the above. Sometimes, a parent just pulls out all the stops, hoping either pleas or threats get through the firewall of adolescence. Generally, they don’t. At least, not immediately.

Begging and threatening don’t work well with Word either. The program is deaf to entreaties that I am on deadline or that it has just zapped the best part of the last 500 words over which I agonized for hours. It also doesn’t respond to cursing. In fact, slightly offended, it just shuts down longer.

Like living with a teen, I’ve become accustomed to Word’s moody, predictably unpredictable backtalk. I brace myself for its multiple stopped-working and trying-to-recover outbursts. I save work more frequently to prepare for its ultimate shutdowns. Over time, young Word’s performance seems to recover. The longer I work with it, the less frequently it crashes.

At some point, a new version of Word might improve its behavior. Or I might swap out my aging computer. But for now, I’m working across the generational divide, and we’re learning to live with each other.

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