Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Quill and Scroll, Please

Julia Rogers Hook

There’s a new language out there in the world of writing these days and I can’t speak it.

Gone are the days of putting pen to paper, or quill to scroll or perhaps charcoal to bark in the candlelight of a very short candle, probably made from some sort of boiled down animal parts.

While the typewriters of yesteryear gather dust in our museums, even the “modern day” practice of sitting down at computers and typing one’s heart out as they create and construct their characters while they spin and swirl their stories and tales is becoming at best, a superfluous effort. After all, if the writer doesn’t understand the new technologies to get his/her work to its intended readers, isn’t it just an exercise?

If a writer writes and no one reads him/her, are they indeed a writer?

In addition to overcoming the normal authors’ maladies such as procrastination, fear of success or plain old “writers’ block,” now, once said author actually does have something to market, they must speak this strange new language that makes no sense to me.

They must blog. Or self-publish. Or E-publish. Or use a “vanity publishing company.” Or KDP. Or I-Books. Their book/short story/poetry/photos or whatever medium they’re marketing must be sent in a “jpg” or some other sort of cryptic method with no vowels.

The other day I was told about a class in screenwriting. I went to the site and looked it up. It said Students will need to be IT literate,” and “class materials will be delivered via an on-line forum. Students will be asked to use the screenwriting software.” There was also something about “DSLR.”

Does typing on a computer and using email qualify me for “IT literate” or is that something new? I’m just not sure. And DSLR? Not a clue.

In the days of the great William Shakespeare, paper itself was something that was relatively new. It is believed to be created by the Chinese sometime in the second century and it took its time meandering its way through the Arab world to the west but history tells us that paper was in England by the early 1500’s, just in time to be ready for the Bard of Avon.

Medieval paper was actually made from rags and went through a long process of being washed and dried and mixed with other things and washed and dried some more. It was thought to absorb ink better and was cheaper than parchment so it is believed that much of Shakespeare’s work was written on it, although many scribes in his time said it would never last.

I’m sure the same has been said of every invention since then and I’m sure as each new process or idea was introduced, it was met with the same reticence I’m feeling these days for all of this electronic mumbo-jumbo but some days a quill, an inkpot and a nice piece of parchment looks pretty good. 

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