Sunday, 9 December 2012

Roll Over, Lazarus

Well, I didn't think I'd be blogging again. I set a blog up ages ago when I was doing a creative writing course. We were encouraged to write every day so I was rambling about all sorts of shit. Facebook back then limited posts to 400 characters or something crazy. It was almost as bad as Twitter. I've never seen the appeal of that. Anything that can be said in 140 characters isn't worth saying.

As soon as I could post essay length things on Facebook, I dropped the blog, apart from the occasional writing competition or something. And it would have stayed that way had I not caught up with Helena, an old school friend. She had told me I should write a blog, I told her that I had, she read it and told me I should write more. So here we are. Why not? I'm always up for rambling about stuff.

And what a world full of stuff we live in! All sorts of things. Things we can touch, things we've done, things we never will, and sometimes, things we write stuff on. I may be writing something on not ending sentences with prepositions at some point. If I do, the last sentence was an example, a taste of things to come.

I'm writing this on my piece of shit laptop. It's probably about four years old, the disk is too full to defrag so it runs like a dead dog trying to swim in molasses, several keys don't work properly because there is so much tobacco and smoking paraphenalia under them and it overheats several times a day.

And while I'm writing this on my laptop, I'm also writing it on my laptop. I'm writing about technology. If all goes according to the plan, by the end of the month or so, I will have written five books on this beast. And yet I care nothing for it at all.

Not a jot. If I have the data, I don't care about anything else. The bits are everything. The atoms merely contain them. It's the ones and zeroes that matter.

Had I typed up the manuscripts for three novels and two poetry collections, I'd probably have them in a fireproof safe, even if I had to make it myself out of used asbestos and Quality Street tins buried in the garden. I would have an emotional connection to the pieces of paper. If I ever became the sort of writer that knew how to sell books, future generations might have bid at auction for the original manuscript.

What can I leave to posterity? A laptop I hopefully won't still have in a couple of years time and an OpenOffice ODT file. Literally the first time I print anything is when I see the first bound proof reading copy, and I've usually been so obsessive about proof reading (as has Gen) that there aren't really any major changes. So I have no atoms to leave, only bits.

It's not just authors that are affected, of course, even if they are the sort of authors who might be celebrated enough to have their manuscripts change hands at auction.

Both my mum and my nan had a stack of love letters, tied up in a ribbon, that my dad and granddad had written to them. I still think it's lovely. There was a lot of time taken to write them. They would have been required to buy stamps and envelopes, to leave the house to post them. There was an investment.

I don't think kids today are really going to have this opportunity. From what I've seen (and I've been father or de facto stepfather to a few of them now), they communicate mainly using texts or Facebook. Facebook isn't so bad, although a little sterile, a little lacking in the personal touch. And it takes ages to look at older messages, especially if you have the sort of relationship where you communicate a lot.

As for texts, though... the teenagers I've seen change their boyfriends and their phones on a constant basis. For them to show their kids and grandkids the sort of messages my mum and nan had, they are not going to need a bit of space in a dressing table. They're going to need a landfill. And chances are, they're not the sort of declarations of undying love that posterity will be kind to. Acronyms and punctuation seem to be the main linguistic tools for communicating emotion.

I'm old enough to have written love letters and optimistic enough to have written love poetry. I think it's nice to craft it, put some time in. The convenience of texting is great for things that needed confirmation, but not discussion. Saying 'fancy a pint at the Glue Pot at 8?' works a lot better than 'what do you want to do tonight?' Short questions and short answers suit the medium better. And things like taking time to woo a lady, even thinking of her as a lady, are so far out of the norm that maybe it's inevitable that the technology can't cope.

Shame though.

But I've not lost hope. I think, like this blog, and like Lazarus, romance could be in for a comeback. I've had my faith in love restored, and I'm one of the most calloused, cynical, grumpy bastards I've ever met. And yet on New Year's Day, Gen and I will have been together a year.

I've had two other phones since we met. I still keep the phone with her first texts on it though. Just in case my grandkids are interested.

No comments:

Post a Comment