A Terrifying Moment of Personal Introspection


Balding? Check.
Unshaven due to deadline? Check.
Hand brace to avoid RSI? Check.
Strange Horizons t-shirt? Check.
Stack of anime DVDs? Check.
Aggressively messy desk? Check.
Geeked-out dual-monitor computer set-up complete with Web cam? Check.
Glasses? Check.
Haven’t seen anyone but family and pets in over a week? Check.
Employing mediocre Photoshop talents to avoid actual work? Check.

When was it exactly that I became the stereotype of a science fiction writer? Because, baby, I’m so there.

Yes, I know, top of the geek food chain and all. But, come on.

And now I’m off to find a woodchipper.


Word Processing

The Whatever has a fair share of visitors who are professional writers (and an equally fair share of visitors who could/will be pro writers, when/if the capricious gods of publishing align their stars in the correct configuration), so let me throw this out to y’all:

As most of you know, I’m 35, and I started writing in earnest when I was 14 years old, which, as it happens, is the same time that the original Mac debuted. What this means is that I have never written anything of any appreciable length — anything — that I didn’t write on a computer (or at the very least, a computerized word processor). As a consequence, my writing process has developed with the word creation and editing capabilities of the computer in mind. Indeed, is tied to it to such an extent that the mere thought of trying to write anything of any length — more than a few hundred words — without the aid of a computer fills me with a certain amount of dread and terror.

Nor do I think I’m alone in this — as I said, I’m 35, which ain’t exactly young (not exactly old, either, harumph, harumph, but I’m not, shall we say, any longer in the freshly-spritzed bloom of youth), and there’s an entire generation of writers my age (give or take five years) who also have always used the computer as their primary writing tool. Not to mention the entire generation of adults younger than I, who I assume are aware of typewriters, but may never have seen one in actual professional use.

So, writers: Can you honestly imagine trying to write a full-length book or novel (we’re talking 60,000+ words) without a computer? Or, for those of you alive and publishing in the terrifying days before computers, can you imagine going back to that? I’m simply curious.

As an aside to this, apart from the pure and simple mechanical issues of writing on a computer, I do wonder to how much my writing style is predicated on my writing tool — i.e., to what extent my “voice” is due to working on a computer rather than a typewriter or (eeeeeegh) pen and paper. I suspect it’s a not insignificant amount, although it would be hard to quantify without actually trying to write something like a novel with another writing tool, and I don’t know if my curiosity on the matter extends that far.


Commenting Note

Just to let you all know, sometime soon — probably in the next week — I’m going to disable commenting for all threads previous to December 2004, in an attempt to minimize spammation. So if there’s something you want to say on any of the posts earlier than this, now’s the time.

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