WHAT WAS WRITING like in the pre-sixties, seventies even? Before everything electronic took over. Perhaps you can enlighten me.
Through nostalgia’s telescope, a history emerges of writers who diligently hammered away on typewriters to the sounds of pings with no other inanimate distraction than a landline. I think on what it might have been like, and it seems ideal.
Record stops abruptly…
Actually, when I really think about it, it seems tougher. Way tougher. My romanticised notion of hitting keys, replacing ink ribbon, inserting new sheets of paper in a threadbare room while staring wistfully out a window is just that. The ease with which we can access and type now is incredible; from mobiles to laptops.
Everything is quick now…apart from literary agents. If I wanted to know how Eskimos lived for a story, before internet existed I would have had to research in a library (for those reading this in 2030… definition: a place with books accessible to the public for borrowing and reading). Trawling through books is time-consuming with no guarantee you’ll get what you are after. Now it is amazing. One click on the browser and we can not only read about an area of interest but often see pictures and videos as well for a full sensory grasp.
Instead of sending manila envelopes stuffed with short stories and novels, we just send an email. Click, click, done. The entire process of writing has speeded up. And I feel pretty lucky to be in this era of technology. Writing is such a basic millenia old practice, yet combined with tech they go so well together.
Instead of knowing you through a blog I might be friends with you based on a pen pals section in a writing magazine. The connectedness is really great now, and when I think back on how simple life was for writers 40+ years ago it’s nothing more than a temporary dissatisfaction with present day. Given enough time even global rogues lose some of their evil patina, such is the overwhelming power of the past to distort itself in real terms.
We have it pretty damned good. But, because there always is one…writing seemed more valued, treasured and loved even only about 15 years ago. I hope writers stay read and readers stay interested. There is more competition than ever for our attention in the dark arts of entertainment. One way or another, I think the written story will survive regardless of format. We need narratives and escapes. And some of us need to stay on the right side of sanity by exorcising the stories from our minds.