When I think of Shakespeare and of Dickens and of Chekhov I imagine stacks of paper and ink pots and quills (or at least fountain pens). But when I think of well, me, I must admit that there is not much paper on my desk, and no ink pots or quills whatsoever, just a laptop and a computer screen, and my oh my even the books are starting to disappear, replaced by a convenient Kindle. Are you becoming a paperless writer too?
What we are becoming…
You are probably in a situation not unlike my own. I bet you still have some books around your desk and some paper and some pencils too, but you’re doing most of your writing on a laptop, don’t you? Nobody will blame you – typing is faster. And let’s not forget the spellchecker…
And what about your dictionary? Do you search for peculiar words like floccinaucinihilipilification in some big old tome? Or do you have a ‘type here instant result + synonyms + antonyms + etymology’ dictionary installed on your computer? Or maybe you just Google suspicious words.
I know you still read plenty of paperbacks and hardbacks and prefer them to e-books, but surely you won’t deny that the latter are (sometimes more) convenient. If you have a Kindle or and iPad or some other e-book reader, it would be hard for you to part with it now, wouldn’t it?
That’s what we are becoming, whether we write blog posts or books, whether we are young or old, whether we live in America or in Romania.
The pros and cons of being paperless
The paperless writer has a small bag to pack when she goes out – a laptop and an e-book reader.
The paperless writer saves the trees she does.
But then what if while waiting for the bus a thief passes by and snatches her bag? No backups? No cash for new hardware? My oh my! She is in dire straits…
Or let’s imagine that you are a boy about my age and one day you stand in the middle of your room, reading aloud a line from your favorite paperback. A beautiful woman passes before your window. You are so startled that you drop the book. You rush to the window, but the woman has, alas, disappeared. You sigh and hang your head. Your thoughts shift back to the book, and you brighten. You return to your fallen book and pick it up and dust it off and continue reading. ‘Good old paper!’ you whisper, caressing it.
But what if instead of a book you held an e-book reader? Or a fancy iPad? My oh my!
Computers and e-book readers can fall, can break, can die. And even if they work they need to be replaced every few years anyway. Paper and ink last more. I mean a bashful ballerina recently sent me a book that was over 100 years old.
For me, a short and frail boy-writer living in a shadowy attic in faraway Romania, laptops and e-book readers come in handy. I must admit that without them I would probably not be able to write in English today. But for you, Americans and Britons and Aussies and English natives, who have stacks of classics everywhere around you, and who by all accounts move too fast, maybe for you things are different…