Kurt Vonnegut said that a writer who leaves technology out of their work is the same as when writers during the Victorian age left out sex….
When I was in my twenties I could write in ‘the noise’. I still can but it’s different. I make too many mistakes and half the time I can’t even read what I had written. There’s a groove and a meditation with writing, just like there is when you’re reading, and that’s what they call concentration.
Ok, so being a writer (I seriously Loath saying that but what can you do when you already can’t win) you have to have both restraint and also allow yourself to be spontaneous. You have to give and take and retract and expand. Writing for me feels like stuttering, and it does even more so while editing. It makes sense though because you forget that there is a small gap of time when the information is sent from somewhere in your brain all the way to your fingers, so thinking is in many ways stuttering and there’s always going to be a time delay. I guess while editing I see this more often. Then again, maybe I think differently than those that are smarter. Often I become overly sensitive to the sensing of my unspoken voice….and anyway…this is not what I’m trying to talk about right now. I’m talking about technology. I’ll get there, I promise.
When you edit you slow down your reading, and maybe it’s just me because I’m naturally more chaotic than some writers. I’m spontaneous but I’m also very disciplined. For instance, it’s the summer, and I think the way that non writing people feel in the summer is a lot like how I am as a person all the time. You have to work but it’s so nice outside, you want to go on vacation but can’t. You sit there looking at the dumb monitor as people are taking their vacations and talking about music festivals and going to the beach. There’s a party every night of the week and you still have to make sure you get up and go to work on time. It’s hard to level out because everyone is on a different schedule. This is how writing is for me, and it’s even more of a mess in the summer because people are always around having fun and relaxing or planning on relaxing and cleaning outside. I don’t know, there’s a lot of noise in the summer. Most people call this life. I do too…
I’ve gotten better and sometimes I fall back into old habits like procrastinating, but you show me one writer that hasn’t procrastinated too much and in person I’ll shake their hand and say I don’t believe you. All of this nonsense that you’ve read is why I’m writing this and why I got up after a split-shift of six hours of sleep. I don’t have any social responsibilities until one in the afternoon so I can catch some more snoozes around ten. So what am I going on and on about. I’m talking about technology. I’ll get there…
The reason I got up was to be alone and not to be in the noise. I enjoy only hearing the sound that I’m alone responsible for, and sometimes that’s even too loud.
I like being alone with the fan and the taps of the keyboard, alone with my stuttering pauses and the silent hiss of everything I don’t know where it comes from. And like I said, I used to be able to edit in the noise, but now I can only write in the noise, and even then it’s not as easy as it used to be. Damn. What the hell is wrong with me? I’m sounding like old man river over here. That’s alright…
You change as a writer and person as the years go by. That brings us to, technology.
Working on my novel I was thinking about how the action of reading has changed. It has, there’s no getting around that. Social media has forever changed the way humans read text. For a while I was a strict traditionalist and I still am when it comes to the physical word. That’s why my planned books and my old one’s for the most part (also that I have to make some money) will never appear in the digital form until I am satisfied with the technology that matches the technology that is my book.
You can’t think of technology as only being electrical. Technology as defined is, ‘the making, modification, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems, and methods of organization, in order to solve a problem’.
A chimp using a stick to get some bugs for lunch out of a log is using technology. Technology isn’t just readers and tablets and you know what I’m talking about. So what I’m saying is that the novel is technology too. Words are a form of technology. The book is technology. The physical thing on the shelf is a kind of technology that is made to solve a problem. What that problem can be is damn close to infinite, just like the problems that a computer can solve. Anything a human wants to solve has the potential to be solved with technology. That’s confusing but really simple so don’t think about that too long.
The problem can be all sorts of things. I’m not here to dive too deeply into this big old stubborn debate. What I’m saying is that the digital side of the written word, when it comes to tablets and readers and whatever else there is now, hasn’t satisfied me as the writer and maker of technology. Each year they’re coming closer, but until they get there I’ll still be a book bound traditionalist sort of writer. So what does that mean?
When I was outside I wasn’t even planning on writing this post. Still tired I was thinking about what the book is and why it seems to be at odds with the times we’re in. I’m sure this has been said before but I don’t care because for me this was the first time I ever subjectively thought this problem through.
Note: I should say that I think about writing and books more than most people. I would estimate that I think about writing fifteen hours a day in one way or another. Multiply that by almost ten years and that’s some damn thinking about some…thing.
Of course this is all besides the point. I’m not trying to qualify myself because as the brilliant young philosophical students always told me in the graduate program, ‘you never preface your argument by qualifying yourself’. This is another small side note that always made me laugh because…who cares. Let’s wrap this up because I have to get back to my book for damn, three hours before snooze time again. TECHNOLOGY:
- The Physical Book is a piece of technology.
- The way people read has changed.
- The book and especially the novel have been losing mass appeal.
- Therefore, the Physical book as a piece of technology must change.
I’m not talking about e-books and picture screens with picture words. I’m talking about the romanticized physical book. The cells and screws that make up the tool of the book must evolve. So goes the way of technological progression. If it doesn’t it will die. So goes the way of extinction.
I’m sure you might say, thanks a lot captain obvious, but do you have any ideas how the book should change? Yes, yes I do.
Be well, be cool, and…PEACE.