Today someone on Reddit asked about free writing software.
I replied that SmartEdit was the way to go big-time. (By the way, I much prefer the old and nicely retro Atomic Scribbler name)
But in recommending it, I realized that I had not in fact used SmartEdit for many months and I started to wonder why because I have always been impressed by it. At which point I discovered that the expansion of cloud services and the interconnection of all things from novels to nuclear power stations to lightbulbs and fridges has had a profound effect on my writing lifestyle and environment that has more or less crowded SmartEdit out.
About the time that I first discovered Atomic Scribbler my business world as a communications consultant and fiction writer was defined by a MS Windows machine connected to a Windows laptop that I also used when I travelled internationally. There was no Cloud as we know it and I don’t even think that Android had been born yet. As for MacOS; well that was devil’s work and best left alone.
Atomic Scribbler worked wonderfully in this walled garden. Projects were worked on and produced all in one spot, then shipped to clients or a website by internet.
Today, I live in a world that comprises several Windows machines, several Chromebooks (Android), MacOS and IOS. They are all connected in terms of my writing and business through cloud services. Everything I do on one machine can be accessed on any other machine. There is no technological separation. Projects come to completion in several iterations on a desk, on a plane, a boat, the back of beyond, or wherever.
Except for Atomic Scribbler, now of course SmartEdit.
I cannot create anything in SmartEdit and have it dickered and massaged with in Scrivener, Google Docs, or a remote Word installation, without a lot of rodeo wrangling using exported and re-imported files etc. I have been tempted to experiment with keeping SmartEdit projects on Dropbox and the like but I take the very stern warnings of SmartEdit’s developer very seriously and I have never tried. Pity, because that sort of synchronization works so well for just about everything else I do, especially with Scrivener. I’ve tried using one of the emulators that supposedly allow Windows programs run on Chromebooks but my rudimentary knowledge of such technology has lead me nowhere.
Now, I want to be very clear here. None of this is to be taken as a criticism of SmartEdit. I am deeply impressed with it and I have done good work with it. But, it no longer works the way I do.
With the development of always connected word processors across the major platforms I have found that more and more of my work, particularly international, is being done far more efficiently than in the old days. My writing platform, no matter where I am or what kind of machine I am using, is now transparent.
In writing this note, ( I hope it is taken as a note of appreciation ,) I have come to recognize that SmartEdit is a program of some note and worth. It is shameful to me that I have not been making use of it. However It occurs to me that in the interests of making use of it I could make an effort when I am at one of my Windows machines (or on the Mac under Parallels) to use it for quick and one-off document drafts; blog posts and the like.
If something develops into a larger or more involved piece I can always move it over to Scrivener or into Google Docs where my Android phone and the Chromebooks can take it further.
I make no comparison with Scrivener because it does a different sort of thing in a different way. One is not better or worse than the other. (Although the style/grammar checker in SmartEdit is something to behold)