Hugh Howey
Hugh Howey

Bestselling author of Wool and other books. Currently sailing around the world.

G. L. A. N. C. E. D.

Glanced. I swear that’s how you spell it. Past tense of “glance.” Just add a “d.” Right? I’ve been looking at the word so long I’m starting to doubt myself. Glanced. It’s becoming meaningless.

Glanced. I didn’t even know what else to try. It’s such a simple word. My brain wrestled with the perfection of how I had typed it and the presence of that squiggly red line underneath. Heaven knows, Microsoft Word is a more proficient speller than I am. I trust those squiggly lines implicitly. Glanced. Was there an ‘s’ in there somewhere? Was Word getting back at me for writing with so many “sentence fragments?” A full minute went by. Then another. I was staring.

I don’t know why the right mouse button didn’t occur to me. It’s not like I’m a Mac user (not cool or rich enough). Maybe it’s just that the word seemed too simple to require double-checking. This is what happens when you get up at six in the morning on a Sunday and try to write, you end up staring at “hte” and wondering what Word’s problem is. Yeah, I’ve wrestled with simpler words than “glanced.” This isn’t the first time this has happened.

Nor is it the first time the cause has been a duplicate word. “Glanced” sat at the left margin in the middle of a sentence. Another “glanced” sat on the line above, at the right margin. I do this sometimes when I pause in the middle of a thought. I forget the last word I typed and just soldier on. Word sees duplicate entries as a spelling error, rather than a grammatical problem.

They really need to fix this. Dupes should get green squigglies, not red ones. The entire reason they came up with the system was to create a faster method of live-proofing, the ability to recognize in an instant that an error has been made, and what type. You should know what’s going on with the flicker of an eye, not sit and have to gawk at the thing for half a minute. You know, just snap your vision over to it. Take a non-lingering peek. A rapid glimpse. Damn… what’s the word I’m looking for?