Tuesday, June 3, 2014

June 3 2014: Books, writing, sex, and technology

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.

George Bernard Shaw

WRITING A BOOK WAS ONCE ABOUT WRITING. I remember the days when writing a book was about—well—writing a book. If you were writing a serious novel about human nature, in truth, you didn’t really need to do any research at all. You just slept around a bit, went through a divorce or two—and then, life being what it is (and assuming you were moderately observant, and your memory was somewhat functional), you picked up your quill pen, and—fueled by your own angst, wrote a literary masterpiece that won many awards, and which no one finished—but which made you a little money, and gained you a reputation as a serious literary writer. You started wearing tweed jackets with leather elbow patches; and public speaking fleshed out the miserable amount you made from your literary masterpieces.

AND ABOUT SEX. Armed with that reputation, even more women came your way, you were divorced again—and now had the material for yet another book. It was, so to speak, a virtuous circle that revolved around books and sex (alcohol—along with lying publishers and cheating agents—being a given) and frankly what else could any sane writer want.

AND VIOLENCE. Thriller writing—back in those days—was much the same thing except you read up on guns and bombs and—if you were really dedicated—you put yourself in harm’s way just to give your writing a little flavor (or get killed—which, at least put your sales up). But, in essence, gratuitous violence apart, your life—quite sensibly—revolved around books and sex.

Those were the gone and glorious days of words, women and wine—and variations thereoff.

THEN THE GODS NEEDED ENTERTAINMENT. Then the gods, whose sense of humor is infamously warped, invented the PC, Amazon, and indie publishing—the devil invented Bill Gates and Microsoft--and suddenly all that time the writer had for sex was taken up by having to try and master strange and unreliable equipment and procedures which were supposed to make the task of writing easier, but which virtually required a full time maintenance guru.

Such is writing today—and I am prompted to rant about it because I installed Yahoo Messenger last night—and this morning found all my Chrome Extensions had been changed.

I remember the days when the only high tech tools a writer needed were the birth control pill, a corkscrew—and whatever nature had equipped him with..

So much for progress.

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