Modern V. Old-fashioned Writers’ Methods

Some people believe that writers of old were more accomplished — and wiser — because they wrote by hand. In their opinion, modern authors lack flair because of using PCs. Even worse is it that these ‘modernists’ connect via the internet: such lovers of the quill believe that indie authors spend so much time dallying on the social media that it’s a wonder they get any writing done. To round off the quill lovers’ rant, they accuse the internet active authors of being second-rate: good authors who naturally are traditionally issued should only connect with their kind of authors etc, etc.

This is maybe an important discussion, but it isn’t one I can undertake with somebody who is against modern technology. It is notable that there are some authors who like to make it appear cute if they find it difficult to format manuscripts for Kindle or build a website. Others feel at home with the technology. It makes no difference in the end. What is important is only what an author produces. The number of books may vary, the publishing methods, the writing process is individual. The main issue is clear to me: whichever way they do it, they write. The average author writes, rewrites, revises and formats until he or she turns bald or wrinkly. But they write. They do it because they must. The thoughts, the ideas, and the stories in their heads must out on paper, or they’d go crazy. They make every word count and couldn’t care less in what way they get their words onto the page.

I believe that Charles Lutwidge Dobson, better known as Lewis Carroll, wrote Alice and Through the Looking Glass in purple ink. It may be less well known that he invented a ‘nyctograph’ a writing tablet that enabled him to write in the dark. The device consisted of a gridded card with sixteen squares and a system of symbols, representing an alphabet of Dodgson’s design. To make this work, he used letter shapes similar to the Graffiti writing system on a Palm device.

My point is that even nineteenth-century authors dabbled with technology. This is one of many curious facts about what writers do to transform their thoughts and ideas into something readable and enjoyable. Why would anybody care how we do it, as long as we write?

Last night, when I’d finished my ‘guilty’ media jaunt, there was some necessary research to do. That didn’t stop me from writing. Thank god for the internet. It helps me and, anybody with a search engine, to find the most curious facts. There’s no doubt that today’s writers easily get noticed and risk looking suspicious because of their search-habits.

Until last night, I didn’t realize how scarce the information on South Jutland POWs in Japan during the Great War is. I found a prisoner’s card in a Danish archive: it shows the name and birthday of this Japanese POW and that he went on the Mitau. That ship was almost impossible to track. . .

My other task, I found it even more difficult, searching for adequate info about Danish naval uniforms in 1919. It may not figure in my WIP, but it helped me to get going. At the end of the evening, I’d written a reasonable chunk of the scene and have something to go from tomorrow.



© HMH, 2018







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