As I scrolled through my online New York Times, a photo of an editor at work gave me pause. Paper did not lay strewn across his desk. Instead, he focused on his computer screen. Then I realized I was reading the daily edition without paper either. I felt relieved I did not need to wrestle with folding long sheets of newsprint. I knew that, after my daily glimpse of the world writ large, and my social media interactions, I would enter my paragraph factory to work on my next book, Sheol Rising, also without paper except for notes I jot in my dedicated Sheol Rising notebook.
I’m preparing a short story for my webpage subscribers. Turns out, although I wrote it several years ago, changing point of view and one character, adding another, and I have the backstory of my first book, The Divine Meddler.
Back then, I typed that story on my faithful Smith Corona, using carbon paper in place of today’s “save” function. If I wanted to add or remove anything, it required a rewrite before it reached the submit stage. The acceptance from the publisher arrived in a note with a $15 check, all sent by snail mail.
While “delete,” “cut,” “copy and paste” exist as this writer’s lifeline, and I do not wish a return of the good old days, I do find it amazing that wordsmiths of today use the computer in place of actual paper in their work. It snuck up on those of us of a certain age, so that it seems as if it had always been this way. Even so, many authors still prefer to write their manuscripts in long hand and more power to them. (A topic for my coming Newsletter, also available for subscribers.)
I am grateful we rabid readers treasure the paper and ink copies, the actual hold-in-your-hand books.
From a pragmatic perspective, future archeologists will rejoice they have something physical to study. Will they translate the content like they analyzed hieroglyphics?
Not that absurd a question, my friends. Will today’s students, who are not taught cursive writing, be able to read the Declaration of Independence, and other documents, in the original, or will they rely on an online interpretation that suits the zeitgeist of the future? An interpretation that cannot be challenged because the original document does not exist outside of cyberspace?
And we all know how accurate that would be.
Used with permission from Susan LeDoux.