Computers Made It Easier

Written by Harriet McDougal

Computers made it easier. Actually, first an electric typewriter made it easier. Robert Jordan was an engineer by training, and he really liked a clean typescript. He had begun by writing by hand on yellow legal pads, and when he switched to a typewriter he called his work “typing” rather than “writing.” This lasted for a while. He said, at one point, “The only difference between my work and that of a typist is that I have to make up what I type.” But of course he loved it.

And then computers entered our lives. I worked on a TRS-80, eventually adding an external drive; he cleverly bought an Apple III – a dog of a machine, which still contains some files we have never been able to access. Now that his papers and that machine are in the Addlestone Library of the College of Charleston, the archivists may be able to pry the information out.

Then there came the days of compatible laptops, so that he could finish a chapter in his machine and give me the disk to read in my machine. I recall one book we finished this way in the Murray Hill Hotel, an easy jump from Tor’s offices in the Flatiron building. When the chapter was ready I would jump in a taxi with my laptop to turn it in to Tor – then gallop back to the hotel for more editing.

We were doing that because the book was late. Weren’t they all? Tom Doherty performed miracles in getting the books produced in no time at all. But what Robert Jordan did under the pressure of deadlines – even if he missed them, the pressure was THERE – seems, as I look back, to be little short of miraculous, too.

He began all his books with the wind blowing. Breath, to instill life into his characters. In the Bible, Job 33:4 says, “The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.” When other writers would talk of their characters taking on life of their own, and controlling the story, he said, “I am an Old Testament creator: My fist is in the middle of my characters’ lives.”

Oh, dear, dear man. And what a creator he was! And, as Scott Card said of The Eye of the World, what a powerful vision of good and evil.

On January 8 you will see the final turning of his powerful vision. It comes to you with his love. And mine.

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From the Tor/Forge January Wheel of Time newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter via email.

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0 thoughts on “Computers Made It Easier

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  5. Harriet,

    I am unable to find the words to properly express my thanks to you, Team Jordan, Brandon, and most importantly, Mr. James Rigney. He is truly missed, and I think few authors (none I know) will ever be able to weave a tale as deep, rich, and skillfully crafted as the masterpiece he created. That he was able to do so also speaks to the love, incredibly diligent work, and support of the people around him. Thank you, for giving us this series, and for making it possible for us to read it in it’s entirety. It has obviosly meant so much, to so many people. Myself included. That, however, is a tale for another Time.

  6. I thank you for allowing his legacy to be fulfilled and his vision completed.

    I only regret that I will not be able to read an electronic version of the book tomorrow. You see, I have advanced rheumatoid arthritis and the weight of a hefty book like the Wheel of Time series is– especially in hardcover– is simply too painful to manage, especially for the length of time that a WoT book would demand. Not to mention I usually bump up the text size a bit so it’s easier for me to read with my poor vision.

    And so I wait. Come April, I’ll buy a digital copy. But I’m really saddened to see an artificial barrier added that affects people with disabilities so much. I read 69 books in 2012, and I can say without a doubt that that number would have been 0 if not for my Nook Color.

  7. I have enjoyed all of the Wheel of Time books and loved them. I have bought them over and over as I wore them out. Your late husband has always been my favorite writer, he is what I base my opinion on all the books I read. When I turn the last page the moment is going to be beautiful and horrible all at the same time, the story and having the book not done has been a part of my life for so long. Thank both of you as well as Brandon and everyone else having anything to do with the books. On a side note having the Ebook release 3 months after the hard back is a very upsetting to those of us that have the ebook readers, we either wait 3 months or we have to buy 2 books. I’m not happy about that, I have been a loyal fan and feel like I’m being punished and forced to buy more copies of the book, I have bought the entire series up to book 9 5 times. Is that not enough? Anyway sorry for the comments. I do love the books and appreciate them and everyone who had a part in them. Just wanted to be heard. Thank you.

  8. I started writing on an Olympia SM7. That was brand new and horribly expensive. I still marvel at how I managed to pay for it on the lousy salary of a shorthand-typist. So when I progressed to an IBM Golf Ball it had to be second-hand. Finally, on 1 May 1986 I managed to get my hands on a MacPlus and never looked back; I sold the MacPlus some years later to buy another Mac. But what astonished me was how much editors loved those damnable typewriters. Even when they would accept copy from a computer it nearly always had to be presented in that hideous typeface that still exists on computers but should have gone long ago: Courier. It’s astonished me what a battle it’s been trying to haul publishers away from the first half of the 20th century, never mind into the 21st.

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  10. Thank you, Mrs Jordan.
    I have not been a man of many tears, but I wept when Mr. Jordan passed and this post made me misty. His effort and yours gave me much joy in difficult times. Again my sincere thanks.
    Dustin L Amundson USN Ret.

  11. Like so many others, I can’t properly express my feelings at this time. The world I have partially lived in for the last 12 or so years will finally have an end. I cried when Mr. Jordan passed, and was thrilled when Brandon was chosen to finish his epic. I can’t imagine how you must feel now, and I thank you with all my heart for all you have done to see this series complete.

  12. Morgan Blackthorne :I thank you for allowing his legacy to be fulfilled and his vision completed.
    I only regret that I will not be able to read an electronic version of the book tomorrow. You see, I have advanced rheumatoid arthritis and the weight of a hefty book like the Wheel of Time series is– especially in hardcover– is simply too painful to manage, especially for the length of time that a WoT book would demand. Not to mention I usually bump up the text size a bit so it’s easier for me to read with my poor vision.
    And so I wait. Come April, I’ll buy a digital copy. But I’m really saddened to see an artificial barrier added that affects people with disabilities so much. I read 69 books in 2012, and I can say without a doubt that that number would have been 0 if not for my Nook Color.

    I know it’s not quite the same as actually reading it, but for whatever it’s worth the audiobook version will be out tomorrow. I’m an active duty Marine, and rarely have time to sit down and do as much reading as I would like to, but I DO need to set time aside to run, so it’s a good way to kill two birds with one stone. I figure someone in your situation (not being able to comfortably hold the book) might find them similarly useful.

    If it helps, Michael Kramer and Kate Reading do an excellent job capturing all the characters! (Though, I suppose they do pronounce “Damane” a little too similarly to “Domani.” That got a little bit confusing, considering how much of The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight involved the Seanchan in Arad Doman! But really, other than that, they’re great!)

    Sure, it doesn’t fix the “have to buy two copies” problem, but at least there’s an electronic version out there, if you need it.

    • I tend to fall asleep listening to audiobooks :-/ I really wanted to like the format, and picked up a bunch of stuff on audible.com when I had a membership, but I never even finished “For Love Of Mother Not”, and that’s hardly a long book. That and headphones hurt my ears after a few hours (over the ears or in ear canal, doesn’t matter).

      It’s a viable option for some people, but not for others. Unfortunately I fall into the latter category.

      • hii i do have a helpful suggestion try listening to audio books on speaker i listen to mine on the tv taht is hooked upt o the computer its where we watch netflix and at night i like to listen to the wheel of time series over an over on it at night.. i even fall asleep listening to it but that just means i can rewind and listen to part of it again :)

  13. Harriet, we had dinner once in Half Moon Bay on the Gathering Storm Tour. My wife and I had just gotten back from our honeymoon in Japan, and she gave you some presents we picked up from there. It was an honor to briefly get to know you, and I can’t really convey how much gratitude I have to you and Brandon for finishing this series. So well, and so quickly!

  14. Thank you for helping to keep the story from the start to end… and thank you for your part in this vast world as well. we do.. or atleast i do hope that the series will have potential future stories, it is sort of nice the idea of alternate turnings of the wheel where mistakes can be corrected over time, and new ideas can be born over time… a wheel of time could be come like star trek, or star wars before the actual title of series books

    Happy new year and a worthwhile experience…

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