Categories
Productivity Writing

When Older is Better – An Apology to the Creator of Vim

I first encountered the text editor Vim back in the late 1990s. I needed to edit some configuration settings in my first Linux install ever and the tutorials I found all told me to use Vim.

I cussed that program until the ears of the guy who created it had to burn. I hated that text editing program with a purple passion so I abandoned it with glee as soon as I completed my task.

A few years later I found myself with an ancient Windows 95 laptop that was far too old to even think about using Windows so I installed Damn Small Linux (DSL Linux for the polite) on the machine to restore functionality. My goal was to do a bit of surfing and to write my journal entries on that old beast. I was far too broke and entirely too stubborn to discard a laptop that was perfectly functional, if old and slow.

I hated the graphical text editor that came with DSL. I can’t remember why I didn’t like it, only that I did. When I eventually discovered that the battery on that ancient laptop lasted a lot longer when I used a shell (think really old school – no pictures), I cringed and tried to use Vim once again.

It wasn’t pleasant but I figured out how to operate the program enough to do what I needed. I used Vim on that laptop daily until that old computer died.

I forgot about Vim after that but after spending this last decade trying to find a blessed program that was comfortable to write in, a program that didn’t randomly delete chunks of my file or whatever, and didn’t cost a small fortune I became so annoyed that I decided to try again. I installed Vim on my writing computer and told myself that I would learn that program or die trying.

I spent the first few days searching up how-to pages but managed to knock out a few paragraphs. There was a bit of cursing involved but with this hillbilly, that’s par for the course.

But when I decided to move a chunk of text around, things changed. I looked up a tutorial and discovered that two teeny-tiny commands would allow me to rip a chunk of whatever size from one place and either delete it, create another file with it, or move it wherever in the document I desired.

Oh. My. God.

Anyone who has used a standard word processor like Word or even a basic graphical text editor knows what a nightmare that can be. You’ve got to fight with the mouse to highlight the chunk (the bigger the chunk the greater the pain), then scroll to where you want to stick it, and pray that it pastes it properly. It took what used to be an event I dreaded and made it amazingly simple.

Then I discovered that when you add another command to the process called folding, the task gets infinitely easier. You can fold up chunks of a document so that you only see the headings so that you can actually SEE the spot where you want to go. You can arrange those folds however you like in a way that is only seen in a Wordsmith’s wet dream.

I wasted 20 years of my life and thousands of dollars searching for a program that would allow me to write and edit my words easily. And I am more than embarrassed at the fact that I possessed the perfect program the whole time. Even more embarrassing, that program is FREE.

Bram Moolenaar, I owe you an apology. I have cussed you and your program for more years than I care to admit. But I am mature enough to admit when I’m wrong so that is what I am going to do.

I was wrong to dismiss the ancient text editing program Vim. You have created the best damn program for writing books, blogs, journal entries, and anything else a writer wants to write. I’ve just sent you a small donation and I intend to send more as money allows.

Thank you, Bram Moolenaar. Thank you from the bottom of this old woman’s heart.

If you happen to be a writer, you need to use Vim. You will curse that program until you’re hoarse the first few days because the way it works and the commands you use will be utterly unfamiliar to you. Keep a browser tab open and search for whatever it is you want to do. Make some notes as you go along, and don’t hesitate to look for tutorials to learn how to do stuff you think is completely impossible. Chances are there’s a command in Vim that will let you do whatever it is by punching a couple of letters.

I won’t go into the details about basic Vim commands here. There are pages enough about that subject so there’s no point. I am just going to tell you that Vim has changed my entire writing life for the better.

I cannot thank Bram enough.

We have all been programmed to believe that newer is better. Newer models, newer features must always be better than the old and tried and true. For writers, that means that we spend small fortunes on programs or subscriptions to programs that are supposed to make writing easier. Yet I have discovered that a 30-year old program, a 30-year old FREE program trumps them all.

Don’t dismiss the old stuff, folks. You may find yourself eating your hat like I have with Vim.

Do you have something old in your life that you’ve found more useful than the modern stuff? Please share your stories in the comments below.


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Personal Writing

Journaling is a Waste of Time if You Don’t Keep Your Journals

Last night as I sorted through my files to prepare them for long-term archival, I stumbled upon some journal entries I had written between 10 and 20 years ago. I had tossed them into a random folder at some point when trying to recover data from a dying system and had forgotten about them.

Unable to resist, I took a walk down Memory Lane as I perused those old files. Some of them were from the very first Windows computer I had ever owned, stored in plain text because I didn’t own a word processing program at the time.

I realized something important as I read those ancient entries. While I have been journaling from the moment I learned how to write as a child, those are the oldest journals I still possess. All of the other notebooks and other formats I have used over the course of my life have long been lost or discarded.

What is the point in keeping a journal if you don’t hold onto the entries? How can you discover the changes you have made if you can’t hold on to the records?

Absolutely none.

I realized that I wasted countless hours of my life creating journal entries that were eventually discarded. The only exception to this sad reality are the scattered text files I used to create quick journal entries over the years as I sat at the computer.

Computer journaling may not be perfect but for me it seems to be the only method that survives the test of time. I don’t like to keep physical things long-term if I don’t use them and sometimes paranoia has inspired me to burn my old paper journals. I store my deepest, darkest secrets in my journal entries so I have always been more than a bit paranoid about someone discovering them. No one touches my personal computer files, however, and a zipped archive protected with a password has worked wonders for my comfort level.

This discovery has made me realize that the best way for me to preserve my journal entries is to save them on the computer. As much as I love the feel of placing pen to paper, that method is far too transient for my needs.

I intend to take advantage of that discovery with the upcoming decade. From that point forward, all of my journaling endeavors will be written in plain text and filed away. In the event that I feel the urge to use paper and pencil I will scan those documents, convert them to PDF files, and destroy the originals.

Do you journal? If you prefer to hand-write your journal entries, how do you store them? Are you ever worried that someone will discover them? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Categories
Personal

What Were You Doing Eight Years Ago?

Time has a way of flying by when you get older. Ev Bogue reminded me of this in his latest post, as he reminisced about what he was doing eight years ago.

Just for fun, I’m going to look at the old me from eight years ago, in January 2009.

In January 2009 I was living in the projects in Western Kentucky. We had a nice home but I didn’t enjoy the person in charge of the place. It was a beautiful apartment, however–the most beautiful home I have lived in before or since.

I started writing online on Christmas of 2007 so I had been writing professionally for a year. My first submissions didn’t go online until after the new year had arrived. I wasn’t making much, just a couple of dollars a month, but I was proud of that income.

I was working at home in the Internet troubleshooting department of a major cable company. I would wake up on weekdays, log into the system, and help customers troubleshoot their internet connectivity problems. I enjoyed that job.

I had yet to start my first blog. Several of my friends were encouraging me to give it a try. I would do that shortly before I was laid off from my job in May of 2009.

I had never written a book. I didn’t even believe I had a book inside of me at that point, though it had been a dream to write books for most of my life. I could see myself with a whole bookshelf filled with the books I had written.

I had discovered minimalism so I had thinned out my possessions to what I believed was a manageable size. I wouldn’t get drastic until early 2011 when I moved back to Central Kentucky. I still owned a vehicle back then, though I rode my bike to work when the weather allowed.

Thinking back

Thinking back, I am amazed at how far I’ve come since then. I’ve published 30 books and am well on the way to writing my 31st. I’m finally working out the best way for me to write longer fiction as well.

I’ve seen great times and awful times; throughout all of them I have just kept writing. I still remember the thrill when the first person purchased the very first book I published. I remember the delight when I said farewell to my day job and spent several years living on my royalties.

I recall my disappointment when I went back to a public job when my royalties dropped and the fear I’ve had about paying my bills since I got hurt there.

And now, with my pain levels dropped, I am writing again. I believe that this is going to be a very eventful year.

What about you?

What were you doing eight years ago? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Personal

Old Posts

Thanks to the efforts of reader JG, I am now able to go through the old posts that I sacrificed to defend this website.

I am slowly going through them and plan to put the best of the stand-alone posts up one by one, Throwback Thursday style.

As for the rest, since they are a bit like a journal, I am going to put them all together and release them as a journal of sorts. This way those who are interested can start at the beginning and read all the way through to where we are today. Please be warned that it is going to take a bit for me to do this; I want to finish up my current book project before I start.

Thanks to everyone for sticking with me!

AND…

Thank you my friend for rescuing the posts. You are wonderful!

~Annie

P.S. How do you like the new website design? Katie is the one that designed not only the header image but the little icon that shows up on your tab. That girl has some serious talent!