Monday, July 11, 2011

Writing--A Half-Century of Change

So I hit a landmark occasion over the weekend and can now claim that I am a half-century in age. Wow . . . when you word it that way, it makes one sound rather old. ;) And since I seem to be approaching AARP mode, I feel it's only natural that I wax eloquently about some of the changes I've observed during my loooonnngg years in this mortal existence, especially as a writer.

First of all, despite what my children may think, we did have access to items like books when I was a kid. ;) Parchment documents were before my time. The big change here would be a subject matter that has been discussed lately on this blog: the advent of items like the Kindle or Nook. Books are now available in a computer format for easy download on these devices. Gone are the days when one could browse happily in the bosom of a favorite bookstore. Now most books (Hardbound editions are still available) can be purchased online, or in larger bookstore chains that are surviving the impact of E-Books.

While I'm enthralled with the idea of possessing an E-book reader that contains an unlimited library of books that can be carried around in one's purse, I will still want my old-fashioned books. In fact, to honor my noteworthy birthday this year, my kids got together and created a new library for me near the family room of our home, complete with brand new bookshelves. They are already filled with my collection of books, and most are organized into specific genres. I'm calling this my Kindle, the home edition. ;)

Another change: keyboarding had an entirely different meaning when I was in high school. It meant spending an hour in typing class every day, learning how to use an electric typewriter. In college, I enhanced this skill by taking advanced typing classes, figuring this knowledge could help me secure gainful employment. And those skills have come in handy with the career that developed in the writing world, so all of that training was not a waste of time. I can type faster than any of my kids, and they are impressed with my dexterity.

My first manuscript was composed on a sleek electric typewriter that was top of the line in its day. While it was impressive and even possessed a small memory capacity, if I decided to make any changes in a chapter, it meant retyping the entire thing. Let's just say that I was thrilled with my first computer, and the word processor it contained. This advancing technology has made that aspect of writing much easier. My current best friend: a nifty new laptop my husband bought for me last year. It uses Windows 7 and possesses more memory that I seem to have at the moment. =D

Back in the day, research for my books meant a series of interviews, hours spent at the local library, and traveling about the countryside. I still travel about the countryside when researching a setting for a book, but I use the internet to research details I can find at the click of a button. Instead of seeking out an expert mechanic to learn how to use the latest jack while changing a tire, I can use a Google search to find out the same information in much less time. I also cheat these days and tend to use an online dictionary and thesaurus. It saves time, and often comes up with more meanings or synonyms than I can find in my worn reference books in my new library downstairs.

Selling books these days is very different. My first book was published in 1994. To get word out, it meant advertising in newspapers, radio interviews, and booksignings. Booksignings still exist, and advertising compliments of newspapers and interviews still take place, but most of that can be done once again, compliments of the internet. Most newspapers and radio stations are available online. Utilizing items like Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, and online groups like the ForeverFriends Readers' list, grants access to an untold audience.

All in all, there have been many good changes during the past few years. While I will always treasure old-fashioned items like my books, I am impressed with the technology that in my opinion, has made it much easier to write.