HELP! A monumental pickle

Subject: HELP! A monumental pickle
From: "Kirk Turner" <royj -at- alltel -dot- net>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 6 Jan 2006 09:42:47 -0500

I have a serious problem that I hope sounds familiar to someone out
there. First, a little background. I am editing a massive manual for the
state although I am an independent contractor for a corporate project
management firm. So far, I have edited the submissions from 15 different
authors into very rough drafts that were uploaded to a Yahoo site for
peer content review only. No one ever logged into the site but to look
at their own document.

Of course, the state's people forgot that the sections were rough
drafts. Suddenly, they want the manual MONDAY--they say it's all on
Yahoo anyway, isn't it? This manual with appendices will run 800-1000
pages. In addition, they want links to the appendices.

So I began to assemble the manual yesterday. Immediately Word began to
crash frequently. I unchecked the spelling and grammar checkboxes in
Options, which usually helps. Word continued to crash at a frightening
rate. I upped my virtual memory, and the crashes continued. I have a 3.6
gig computer with 1 gig of memory and a 200 gig fast hard drive--it
should be able to handle almost anything; I have no viruses of Trojans.

This morning I think I have found the problem. This manual is meant to
be both a reconciliation and an upgrade to an existing patchwork system
of contracts and old manuals that don't address all of the current
issues facing capital construction in my state. The "authors," who are
the top architects and construction managers in the state, evidently cut
and pasted major sections of the old contracts and manuals into their
sections. Sometimes the paste WAS their section. When I put the manual
together I turned on the "Styles" pane, and saw hundreds of styles in
use from the old contracts and manuals. I think that the combination of
the multitude of styles and the size of the document has overwhelmed my
computer. Every time Word crashes, I open the document or recover it,
and some of the styles have reverted to their previous state throughout
the entire document, and I have to begin anew even though I have
acquired the habit of saving the document at a compulsive rate since the
crashes began--makes no difference. I can't get through 30 pages without
Word crashing

The Governor mandated this manual last January, and the state brought me
aboard in November. Even though they have had ten months, and I two,
this thing is squarely on my shoulders with three days left. Needless to
say, if I fail, this will be a public failure in full view of my
industry. As an independent contractor, I'll be ruined. On top of
everything else, there are powerful people who don't want his manual to
see the light of day and are undermining me politically, but I digress.
Maybe I should practice saying "Do you want some fries with your order?"
It might be more constructive for my future.

Should I just paste the entire thing to WordPad and start from scratch?
I tried that once, and Word crashed yet again and couldn't complete the
paste. I tried deleting the styles, and the manual became
incomprehensible and even more unstable. Is there a simple solution (I
wish) to this? If I could just stabilize Word, I could do this . . .
maybe. All I need is a polished first draft by Monday to show the
Governor's people. If you were in my shoes, what would you do? My Word
program is an OEM, and I don't have the disk. And please don't suggest
that I read the riot act to someone; I don't have the leverage.

Needless to say, I need expert advice. I have never been more thankful
for this forum.

Any thoughts?


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