Last year I established an organisation called Writing2day. The aim is to inform, educate and resource writers from a current perspective on the craft of writing. We are beginning to fulfill our mission statement.
So, with the thought on writing today, I offer the following bold statement that ‘writing is easier today than ever before’.
Here are the reasons.
1. In past times the writer was limited by proximity to the publisher. Now we have global access to publishers on a daily basis thanks to the internet. You can write from a desert Island, submit your manuscript, view your rejection slip, market your book, watch your Paypal balance increase, and see yourself nominated for a major prize all from the comfort of your seat under your own palm tree. Just make sure you have a solar charger!
2. Past writers faced that frustrator – the deadline. Hacking away at a typewriter, they watched the clock tick by relentlessly. They had to add time to sort the pages, bind them in some way, find an envelope, address it, hopefully have a postage stamp, trek to the post offiice…argh, it’s closed and they didn’t have a stamp. Now, we casually sip our 10th cup of coffee, put our feet up, wait until the deadline hour and press ‘send’ on our email dashboard, confident that it is received by the editor in the self-same moment.
3. Many years ago my friend gave his paper manuscript to his friend for an appraisal. The book had been years in the making. She moved home and lost the script. He lost heart and never tried to rewrite it. With multiple memory options – hard drive, memory sticks and cyberspace we have confidence that out creations will see the light of day, no matter how long we set them aside. mm, now where did I leave my memory stick?
4. Before the advent of the PC, I wrote a short story for a national magazine. I used a typewriter that had a little window in which you could see text scroll like an electronic ticker tape. When I went to spell check, it took forever, and yes, you guessed it, I was running against the deadline and the mail closing. My story made it into the runners-up only. Why? Because it contained three fatal typos that no professional writer should make. With grammar and spell checkers, we are freed from that all too easy oversight that ensures work ends in the editor’s trash can. But don’t depend on it two much!
5. Our writing forebears faced that inevitable life challenging trip to the library to conduct essential research in mid-winter, only to find it closed because the eager writer, so engrossed in giving birth, forgot it was a public holiday. Or what about an enthusiastic authorsaurus shivering in the garden shed, pecking away at typewriter keys, fingers frozen and a drip from the end of his nose? Now when the weather is bad or it is a public holiday – we can ‘Google’ it in the comfort of our own home, or while taking advantage of free heat at Starbucks.
6. Our prehistoric cousins had considerable setup costs and expenses. Pens, pencils, ink, sharpeners, notebooks, envelopes, stamps, train or coach costs to the publishing house, meals on route, oh, and a typewriter, ribbons, the frequent repair costs – more coach fares. Most homes now have at least on desktop PC and often several laptops, even a Notebook or two, or even a Smartphone and so writing today has a zero start-up cost. All we have to do is get using our fingers!
7. Oh to be a published writer! The oft heard cry of our writing forbears. They had to wait at least six months for a reply, and often it was a rejection slip. Since they could only submit to one Publisher at a time, it often took years receive a positive response. My friend gave up after twenty rejections. We don’t have to wait for the Big Houses to approve our worthiness as writers, since self-publishing has become a respected and often successful route to becoming read authors. Don’t let yourself down in the rush to publish – polish your piece.
8. In the olden days, our grandparents grew beards, had babies, gained the distinction of age and generally pined away as they waited for their book to see daylight. We on the other hand can write, edit and publish a book in as short a space as a month, then market it and sell it without ever leaving the comfort of our home.
9. Isolation was the lot of our prehistoric scribblers. Locked away in sunny Morning Rooms if they were lucky, or damp, cold garrets if they weren’t. Our scribblersaurus grandparents longed for human consolation on the one hand and cursed unrequested intrusion on the other. We however, struggle not so much with writing, but with our addiction to the thousands of followers that enter our writing space every minute of the day. I have two friends – Facebook and Twitter…I am never isolated and I welcome intrusion all too easily. Oh, for my garret days again!
10. Today, 27th April 2011, the very last manual typewriter will be produced in Mumbai, India. I repeat, ‘Writing today is easier than ever before’.