Thursday, August 13, 2009

Would You Be a Writer Without The Computer Age?

There's an interesting discussion on the blog Gusty Writer discussing how the internet has changed how we write. I was thinking about it yesterday. I don't know if I would have found myself working full time as a writer if it was not for computers and the internet.

So many of the successes I have originated from something I saw on the internet. My first contest win, a highly commended in the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association's Short Story Contest, I entered after reading about it on the internet. My first story that was chosen to be submitted for the Caine Prize was published at Author Africa a website I found on the internet. I've met almost all of the writers I know on the internet. For about two years now I've been doing a lot of collaborative writing projects with a woman who lives 200 kms away from me. We did the bulk of our work together through the internet. Without the internet I would be extremely isolated in my village in Botswana.

As for computers, I doubt I even need to mention how invaluable they are to me as a writer. Even just simple things. Like yesterday I was working on my romance novel and I decided I wanted a very minor character to take on a new role. If I was typing or writing by hand, I would have had to go back through all of the pages and find where this minor character is mentioned and make sure everything jives with her new expanded role. It might have taken a big chunk of my afternoon, not to mention having to re-type any pages that needed edits. Instead thanks to the computer, I used the find function and in a few minutes tightened everything up. Easy-ka-peasy.

As much as I rage at technology, and I do it often, I really must take a few minutes today and be grateful for how it allows me to follow my heart and do it so easily. Would I be a writers without computer and technology? Perhaps, but I would be no where near as successful as I've been.

What about you?


Miss Footloose said...

I was a writer before the computer age. Let me tell you, this is better! As a writer, how can I not love computers, the Internet? Since I am a country-hopping expatriate living all over the place, I could not possibly keep up with the business of writing, do all the research, and stay in touch with my writer friends without it. I've sent entire manuscripts to my editor on another continent with a click on the keyboard. No need to print, box, drive to the post office, spend a fortune on postage.

I've started blogging about my foreign (mis)adventures, and connecting with other bloggers from around the world (like you!) I could not have done this ten years ago.

However, all this technology brings with it new problems. That's how it goes. I spend too much time in front of the computer living a "virtual life," and have to remind myself to pay attention to my "real" life.

Miss Footloose, who hasn't had her morning coffee yet.

bonita said...

Like Miss Footloose, I began writing in the B.C. era. Manuscript changes and corrections were excruciating; checking galleys* was tedious; catching widows and awkward page breaks challenging. Now I no longer ship pounds of paper, and if I need background or guidelines from a client, I'm given access to their server!!!
Without computer, I'd still be a writer, but I'd be more annoyed, more frustrated, and much more crotchety. And there would be way fewer titles I could claim as mine.
* for you young'ns—galley: a proof of typeset matter in a single column before being made into pages

Lauri said...

Miss Footloose- Yes I forgot all about that. We can submit at the click of a button. That's lovely.

Bonita- Yeah- postage and post office (God give me strength- postal worker-yikes) that alone is a reason to give your computer a big kiss!

Helen Ginger said...

I would have been a writer - I've been writing since grade school, which was before the onslaught of computers or the Internet. But I don't know if I would be published or still writing. The computer is wonderful - I can barely type on a typewriter anymore. And the Internet? Wow, I practically live on it now.

Straight From Hel

Gutsy Living said...

Thanks Lauri for visiting me and linking with my blog post. I agree, it's addictive at the same time as opening up doors to meet people around the world. Sometimes I ask myself if this is really happening. Are you really living in Botswana? The next phase would be if we could "see" one another's lives. I'm sure that will be soon. What about travel then? Another question to ask ourselves. Where did you move from originally? And why Botswana?

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Lauri said...

Gaurvi- Thanks for stopping by and leaving a nice comment.

Anonymous said...

It is definitely easier to submit things these days, to access information and find writing communities. However, I typed the first story I ever sold on my old typewriter and sometimes I miss the simplicity of that. There was always such a sense of achievement when something was finished.

But yes, when all is said and done I love me the interweb!