Sunday, August 28, 2011

Turning Back The Writer's Clock...

I love being a writer in the modern age with all the technology and gadgets at your fingertips. Computers, Internet, cell phones, iPad or other Pads, PC cams, Instant Chat, Video Chat, on and on. With these things handy, most writers can do all their business and then some without ever having to leave their office.

I have practically forgotten what it was like to type books on a typewriter, go to the library for research, go to local bookstores (with Amazon and BN online, among others, pretty much making it a lost art), gather at watering holes to shoot the breeze with other authors and fans alike (can do all that now with my iPhone, iPad, and computer), etc.

Even doing book signings is not what it once was. Readers are not as eager to press flesh with you or get your John Hancock, or watch you read a passage from your book. The thrill is gone now that they can interact with you online, talk to others about you online, review your books online, and most anything else they wish to do with respect to connecting with your book online.

And yet, though I am perfectly at home, fully embracing the ease with which I can write, publish, and promote books in the modern age, I have to admit that at times I long for turning back the clock to the good old days.

I may never admit this to my wife and would never suggest such to my publishers, but I miss (a little) typing my manuscripts on my old true and tried typewriter. Or going to the library and spending the entire day there pouring through books and newspapers. Or chatting with librarians and other users. Or hanging out at bookstores as a writer and reader. With the latter, I loved searching for the true treasure amongst tens of thousands of books. The read was almost incidental.

I also loved stocking my home bookshelves with books I acquired and could pull down whenever it suited my fancy. Now I do much of my reading and shelving virtually, through my iPad, Kindle, or Nook.

If there were a time machine, I just might take a trip down memory lane to enjoy the good old days as a writer old enough to remember and still appreciate.
So long as I had a round trip ticket to return to the sweet life for writers today.

How did you like the old tools of the trade compared to today?

What do you wish was still alive and well in the writing world from yesteryear?


Charles Gramlich said...

Agreed. I still do stock my house with reference books, though, but to somewhat of a lesser extent than I used to.

Erik Donald France said...

I particularly love the sound of typewriters clacking, and the old telephonic sounds. Manual stuff. Fun stuff. Though not a Luddite by any means (I work in a big physical library filled with books as well as technology, and the new stuff is cool, too), a nice mix works for me -- I still have a typewriter, pens, pencils, notebooks, etc. in addition to easy internet and computer access. Cheers to then and now ~~

Jewel Amethyst said...

I loved hearing the old typewriter click, until I formally took a typing course at the age of fifteen. I don't miss it anymore though I did enjoy the spring-like feel of the keys.

As for the old pre-internet days, well as nostalgic as they may be, I have to admit, my official fiction writing career did not precede the internet age. It's hard to imagine what book promotion would be like without the internet. I hate the thought of sending query letters by snail mail and spending that extra (45 cents?) on stamps. And I simply hate it when publishers ask for sample chapters by snail mail. The cost adds up.

So yes, the old days is good for the memories, but this modern age is a writer's dream.

Jewel Amethyst said...

Just a little food for thought: The old days were difficult to write and publish compared to now. That difficulty seperated the fly-by-night authors from the true-grit authors. Today, anyone can type a few lines with two fingers, publish it and call it a novel. Back then was a different story. Hence, novels were likely to be a lot better than the deluge of junk we get today.

On the other hand, with the selectivity of publishing houses, many excellent talented writers may not have been published and the world missed out on what could have been the Shakespeare of that era.

Liane Spicer said...

I endorse what Jewel said. The bad old days weren't all bad, snail mail queries/submissions and SASEs excepted.

I wouldn't exchange my laptop and the Internet, but there was something very soothing about the clacking of my Brother typewriter. Much as I enjoy the current fellowship and ease of research, there was something about the old isolation from the world at large that fed the writer part of me. Now I have to work hard to block it all out when I need to focus on the stories in my head.

Lynn Emery said...

I miss the little quirky bookstores in neighborhoods where I could wander in and find old books. Haven't seen one in years in my city.