Pencil to Cloud Computing
Changing technology has improved my ability to be a writer. This has been no easy task considering the many changes that have occurred since my first short story for a book report in the mid 1980’s. I have used pencil, pen, typewriter, computer, better computers, and now cloud technology. This is truly a technological Golden Age for writers.
I engaged in my first remembered written work at the tender age of ten. At that time it was pencil and note paper. In the beginning, that is to say grade school, my atrocious handwriting made sharing my work a true endeavor on the part of my teachers. For their willingness to plug through I am eternally grateful. During this time everything was done by hand. It was literally an effort to attempt cursive everyday. I would run up to submit my work excited that I finally had written the paper that would establish me as someone capable of writing. My hopes would be dashed a day later when all my efforts would receive the traditional comment “a good paper, but please work on handwriting -5”. It was the point that they enjoyed what they could read that kept me going.
In high school we used the Apple II. The computer with the green words and a black screen. Floppy disks were black, soft, and floppy. These were unlike the smaller came-in-all-colors hard disks. The original floppies also had a bad habit of losing information if you happened to build up static before touching them. I am surprised that any of my written work survived from that time. It only survived because it was in printed form. I remember my graduating class of 1993 in Buffalo (NY not Wyoming) had several creative writers, actors, and performing artists. What we did not have was social media or windows. It is possible that other high schools, at that time, had better computers (IBMs were all the rage back then), and better means to share ideas.
I relied on my old fashioned modern awesome typewriter to produce written works for my college professors for the first two years. Click, Click, Clack, Clack, ZZZROOP! That sound was so loud if writing at night. At least it seemed loud to the overtired college student. Overall, the noises became almost like a metronome guiding my words. Back then it was a real craft to use the MLA format with pencil ticks to show the edges of one’s writing. Luckily spacing worked as long as the typewriter agreed with one’s syntax and speed.
Spell check was another matter entirely. If one made a mistake there was a whole process to correct. One had to open the front cover, and apply just the right amount of white out. This was important to not erase the surrounding letters, or worse break through the paper. Then I had to realign by hand sight coordination to get the right letter in its place. At the end of a page if too many mistakes were made one had to put in a new sheet, and retype the whole page. In this way one’s care for one’s writing improved tremendously as the process went on. It literally became a labor of love.
Finally, my college in the mid 1990’s had internet. Our introduction to the World Wide Web was Netscape 1.0 for emails in the middle of my college experience. The websites we could ‘surf’ were limited. We did not have google yet to show us around. My college computers in the 1990’s were IBM’s. I had just spent a few years grappling with Apple. I think I may have decided to see how the wind blew before learning the new formats (thank you windows and office, which came out later).
When I began to earn my keep in the world it coincided with windows and office. These are amazing additions to the writer’s toolbox. It gives one the ability to keep up with the creative spark in speed, storage, showing and sharing in a way not possible before. It presents access to spell checks, Wikipedia, Google, and more that enables a writer for smoother and faster presentation across the World Wide Web. I have been able to produce works, store, share, edit and re edit. And the best part is that I can have multiple projects at any given time. I no longer have to pull out a sheet of paper and replace in the typewriter. I no longer have to worry about hitting the wrong key that will cause my paper to be erased. And I know longer have to worry about cursive when using my cursor.
I have grown over the years with the use of technology as a writer. I have new writer’s tools to create what I really intend to share. This Golden Age of Technology has given writers many resources including access to a large audience base, teachers, research, and platforms. Information in the digital age has definitely improved my ability to connect with readers and other writers as I am doing with you now. It has also enabled me to create spiffier ways for presentation. There is still something special about having a pen in hand hovering over some note paper that cannot be upgraded or uploaded.
Alex is a student in the Creative Writing (Fiction) program at Southern New Hampshire University. She is a regular contributor on Wattpad as Apogee711, and her own personal blog The Autumn Writings of Apogee711 at http://apogee711.blogspot.com/
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