Encrypting a file

I'm running C6. I want to encrypt a file or two, before I email it. Now, I
have a very long passphrase - I used it a number of years ago. and that
worked. It's about a paragraph long. For the last year or two, since one
upgrade, kgpg popped up a window when I logged in. Until a few days ago, I
just hit cancel. But, since this came up, I tried to run it. It got to "enter
a passphrase"... and it FROZE MY ENTIRE WORKSPACE. I couldn't copy and paste
from another window. I couldn't change focus to *anything*.

So, given I want to use a long passphrase, I'd like to either copy and paste,
or tell it to use a file. I'm not seeing any way to do this in the gpg manpage.

Clues for the poor?