When I was in high school, not quite so far back as when this photo was taken, I signed up for a typing course. Not because I wanted to go into business but because, even then, I aspired to become a writer. Naive though I was, I knew writers had progressed beyond the quills of Jane Austen’s time. If I wanted to write, I knew I must learn to type. My typing teacher, Mr. P., taught me the needed skills to produce neat term papers, skills that would later help pay my bills.
In my first office job, we typed on IBM Selectrics, a typewriter with correctable film ribbons, and ball elements for changeable fonts.
When our first son was born, I quit work to become a stay-at-home mom. Over time, I typed family letters, essays, op-eds, and cookbooks at one end of our dining table on an IBM Wheelwriter. Meanwhile, in the den, our growing sons played games on their Commodore 64, a cherished Christmas gift from Grandpa.
A few years later, we bought a CompuAdd 386. With college tuition on the horizon, I soon returned to office work. By then, I’d studied and was proficient in WordPerfect. It was the last decade of the 20th century. We were ready for a fast technological ride from mechanical hardware to mind boggling software.
Do you recall when you first heard the word Internet? In scarcely an eye’s blink, this invisible web expanded well beyond a science-fiction writer’s imaginings. In less than a generation, we traveled from dial-up modems to WiFi. Now, in seconds, we fling our thoughts around the world.
When I ponder how the Internet has influenced my writing life, I’m awed. I email peers in Hawaii, Wisconsin, and New Jersey. With a few clicks, we meet, critique, and hold online workshops. We make travel arrangements then follow friends’ flights on flight tracking sites. We email warm cyber hugs for a rejection, and cyber bubbly to celebrate a first sale. On Yahoo Groups, we reach out for help to find the perfect word, to find a reputable book mark printer, or for the best way to kill off the bad guy. And they answer! Always, day or night, someone is there.
I am not a techie. English and history were always my passion. In Algebra, I wrote pages of poetry (still amazed I passed). Yet, somehow, I’ve set up and maintain three blogs. I buy and sell on e-Bay, am Linked-In, and visit YouTube. I have friends who use FaceBook and MySpace, and others who Twitter (though not me…not yet…tweet).
Are we better writers than before this techno madness? Who knows? Future generations will decide the quality of our writing. They will choose which books will endure. I do believe that we are better connected than ever. If that helps some struggling romance writer alone in Montana’s mountains to achieve more than she would have before the Internet, isn’t that a good thing?
→ How has technology and the Internet influenced your writing? What do you most enjoy? What do you find most frustrating?