I have been working on the parable of the pearl for months, looking at the text in both Thomas and Matthew, reading what others have written about it, trying to get things into some kind of order and come to a position about the issues for myself. I have not been happy about what I have written. In the document two versions ago, I have a comment that says: “This section wanders in an undisciplined way between interpretations of Matthew and interpretations of Thomas and needs reorganising so that it is clear which is which, and I need to take a position on it myself.”
Earlier in the week, I thought I had it in something that looked like reasonable shape although I was still not happy with it, so I pasted it into the chapter where it belongs and left if for a couple of days before re-reading it. Previously, I had printed out each draft and read it in hard copy, but this time around, I decided that this was a huge waste of paper, so I just saved electronic copies and read on screen. After all, I mark on screen and I edit other people’s work on screen, and if I work on screen, I can make adjustments as I pick them up, so why not do it with my own work?
I started reading it on screen again and then decided that I was going to print myself a hard copy. My printer is currently refusing to print double sided unless I turn the pages manually* and then it sometimes picks up several pages at once, so I get the wrong pages printed on the reverse sides, so I compromised and used the blank sides of old printouts.
Suddenly, with the hard copy in front of me, it all started coming together, because on paper, I can circle things, I can draw arrows backwards and forwards and write notes where I want them, rather than when Word thinks I should have them. I can highlight and number things and then spread them out around me so I can see multiple pages at once, all in reasonable sized font. I still have some work to do on the section, but at least now I know what I need to do and how I need to rearrange it.
And before people start telling me I can do this all on the computer, yes, I can … but no, I can’t. I have two screens, one of which is actually larger than our TV screen, so I can have multiple version open in front of me. I have tried using highlighting on screen, but scrolling backwards and forwards through the document isn’t the same. I know that people rave about Scrivener, and I think that it would do quite a bit of what I want except that it doesn’t cope with Greek and Coptic fonts – it changes them into odd characters and when I paste it back into Word, the odd characters are still there.
So in future, when I get stuck, I think I will print hard copies and hope that I don’t waste too many trees in the process. Computers make research so much easier in so many ways, but sometimes you just can’t beat paper and pencil. :-)
*I know exactly what the problem with the printer is. It is old and even though Epson provides drivers for Win8, they don’t actually work properly. It still double sides just fine from Bruce’s Win7 computer. I think that Epson would like me to buy a newer printer, and I probably will, but when we took it in to have it repaired a while ago, the repairer was very impressed by how good it was.