Writing In Public: Year 1, Month 1, Day 8

The Print Issue

My distractions on Friday led me to wonder if I could use LibreOffice Writer for creating my book files. It would be nice if I could set aside that investigation and return to the work I need to do, but …

One of the pieces of work I’m trying to do is print editions for eight full-length books and a dozen short stories. And I don’t want my print files depending on an old system, and neither do I want my printed books to look different going forward.

So, it seems I have to make a decision about this.

I spent the bulk of my day figuring out how that would work, what I would need to do to get there, how much of that would feel like wasted time, and how I could be reasonably sure that I wouldn’t abandon the whole thing and go back to my previous system.

It was a good day.

I’m hesitant to be too enthusiastic, but my analysis suggests that it would be very easy to adopt. The ODT format was what I was using before I changed out of it five or six years ago, so the problems of expressing my preferred structure and format in LibreOffice are already solved, and it’s just a matter of a few straightforward steps:

  1. Migrating the documents to the ODT format, something which pandoc and other tools are good at.
  2. Recreating the front and back matter for each book.
  3. Migrating production notes to other documents (or one big one).

It really does seem to be that simple.

What’s more, the change would give me lots of freedom in my workflow:

  1. Because Google Docs reads and writes ODT, I could use it for letting a trusted reader review my work, something which now is a little cumbersome.
  2. I could even do all my writing for some works in Google Docs, only transferring them out for the final steps. This would let me work on any computer, Chromebook, tablet, or even my phone, and even share it live on my blog if I want (which I do).
  3. Because LibreOffice is cross-platform, I could keep my files on a USB drive, and use a portable version of LibreOffice to work on my master documents on any computer.

I’ve been missing this freedom for a long time. My computer is the best one I’ve ever had, and i like working on it. But I don’t like being tied to it. And I really don’t like using a file format that no one else could reasonably work with.

I also dislike making such big decisions so quickly. But here we are.



I had hoped for a real breakout day on Saturday. Alas, that did not happen. While I feel reasonable that I did not waste my time, I also did not spend much of it writing new words, only turning to Taxi Adventure late in the evening, and surrendering to sleep after only a hundred more words.

Still, the breakout is imminent.