Writing and the modern media, by Jan Needle
Sitting at my keyboard, or terminal as we call it nowadays, I look at my watch (or little panel at the bottom of my screen, as we et cetera et cetera) and realise I’ve done nothing at all in two hours, maybe longer, except twiddle and fiddle and piddle about in the name of being up with the times. I’ve looked at Facebook, I’ve even posted something on my ‘wall,’ I’ve wondered as so often before why it didn’t behave exactly as I expected it to, and why a link I typed in (inputted?) did not appear as it should have done. I—
Oh! New technology strikes again. My mobile phone, lying in front of me before the screen, has just given a couple of sickly buzzes. Why sickly? I set it up only yesterday to be loud and brash and insistent. Apparently it’s changed my mind for me – I deserve only a sickly buzz, and it’s just lucky it was lying in the open and not stashed in a pocket and inaudible. The message is interesting, and requires an answer. Unfortunately, the caller is ‘unnamed,’ for some unfathomable reason – but there is a phone number. Not one I recognise, so now what? Click and scroll and tap and curse my way through my in-phone-phone-book (or Contacts) at bills itself? And fail to remember it when I find the one, and have to scroll back and lose it and start all over again? No – it was only moderately interesting, on reflection. Sorreee…
Where was I? Oh that’s right, clicking and clacking away at the plastic button that the paint’s worn off of, thank God I’m a touch typist. (In the old days I had shorthand too, with my certificate for a hundred words a minute Pitman’s charmingly made out to Miss Jan Needle, oh those dear, dead sexist days!). Clicking and clacking away and wondering about Facebook, and why it keeps changing, and why my ‘wall’ or ‘newsfeed’ or whatever the hell it’s called has nothing on it now but a myriad rude notices about right-wing American politicians, some of which are bizarrely so interesting I waste yet more wodges of precious minutes reading them, and even replying, sometimes, to people three thousand miles away I’ll never meet or speak to in real life but who are, wait for it – my friends!
Earlier, it occurs to me, I did half an hour (why lie – it was nearer fifty minutes) looking at Twitter. Did you know that Charlie Farnsbarns had a boiled egg this morning but the dog ate his homework, or something, maybe? Did you want to know? Did you need to know? Were the people who persuaded me that Twitter is a vital promotional tool for an author 1, sensible, 2, bonkers, or 3, jealous rivals who want me to spend so much time on Twitter I never have time to write another book? Answers on an electronic postcard, please.
|Dook is the one in the middle|
Why half an hour (any advance on fifty minutes?) in the first place? Because, I’m told, that’s the minimum one should twitter in a day for people to register you and rush out and buy your books. What books? The ones I haven’t got round to writing yet? It’s now midday plus ten, and I switched on my machine (a Hewlett Packard, since you ask, and I used to have a Sony Vaio, if that’s how you spell it, it’s awful funny writing, not as good as Eric Gill sans trousers or whatever the dirty old fellow called it but my children tell me if I haven’t got a Mac I might as well give up and they’re unimpressed by the fact I got ny PC for fifty quid and theirs cost oodles of (my) money. Why should they be? I said my money. Ho bloody ho.) And now it’s twelve sixteen. Another six minutes I could have been tweeting. 12.17. Oo ’eck, I’ll never be a millionaire. 12.18.
The point is, I’m really very busy. I’m working on a manuscript which is long, and complex, and needs total concentration, and dedication, and all that old fashioned sort of stuff. Oh, the dog’s just barked outside near the barn. It’s a Great Dane called Duke (locally pronounced Dook) and it’s just been bought a friend called Pip, which is a Welsh collie (so I’m told; is there such a thing?). We took Pip out for a walk yesterday with granddaughter Izzy and grandson Fin (why does granddaughter get two ‘d’s but grandson only one? Blatant sexism.) and after we’d played near the stream for a while, I suggested letting Pip off her lead. There were no sheep around, and she’s very small, and I couldn’t see the harm. Izzy looked at me with scorn, and forbade it. ‘Why?’ said I. ‘She’d booger off,’ said Izz. This wasn’t wasting time, you see. This was gathering material for a children’s book.Except that most of Izzy’s language is a bit unsuitable for a children's book, if truth be told.
It’s 12.31. I expect there’s bread and cheese downstairs somewhere. Anyway I ought to do some tunes, or scales at least, on my mandola. Perhaps it’s not just all these modern bits of technical fripperie that stop a writer writing. Perhaps I’m just an idle toad.
But the truth remains, I find twiddling and twaddling so much more attractive than it used to be in the old days. Cleaning a typewriter was so much more boring, wasn’t it? Bring back the birch, I say!
On the other hand, clicking buttons is easy. Click on a few of these and make me rich. My children probably need a new computer. Dook eats more dog food in a day than I eat in a month. And that's the truth.
Killing Time at Catterick:
My Mate Shofiq:
Albeson and the Germans:
LATE NEWSFLASH late newsflash LATE NEWSFLASH late newsflash
Just read in the Guardian that Andrew Motion’s nicked my title. He's publishing a book called Silver: Return to Treasure Island tomorrow. My book, Return to Treasure Island – Silver and Blood, is about to go up as an ebook. Mine will only cost 99p and was started - and titled - well over four years ago. I wonder who'll get the most reviews....