I’ve never been much for reading or watching the news, especially when I was younger. I used to catch criticism for not doing the grownup thing — watching the news or reading the paper as much as everyone else did. I managed to keep up with most of the important news, but I noticed early on that the news upset me, a lot. It got me worked up about things beyond my control, and raised my overall fear and frustration level, without giving me all the facts, or any resolution. It’s possible this news avoidance started when I had a brother serving in Vietnam and saw war news every night during the dinner hour. Maybe it began even earlier. But those negative side effects of the news stayed with me and seemed to outweigh or play down the benefits of keeping up with every little thing presented as news. (more…)
Has it been more than a week already since I posted? I lost track of time during my panic of the past few days. The other night, after a glitch occurred when I ran my backup program, I thought I’d lost all my files for my current book in progress. Panic ensued, while I scrambled to find and undelete the files. I spent almost 24 hours straight on that, with little sleep, piecing together fragmented files, hoping I still had a complete book there. Finally I came across the directory on the backup computer where my backup program had stored a complete second archive of everything — perfectly intact and up to date, including every last minute of my work on the book.
All that panic because I was too dumb to know my backup program stored an archive of deleted files, and because I had allowed too much other garbage to backlog on my hard drive. (The glitch occurred when that particular hard drive filled up.)
I could sit here and ask why me, or rather ask why I do this to myself, but I’m too busy getting back to normal and on with work. Still, it seems that I go through this sort of panic on a regular basis. It happened two years ago when my old laptop gave out and I lost work that I hadn’t yet backed up. This time it resulted from the backup process itself.
Once I’m finished with this book and it’s off getting a look by some agents, I plan to spend a few weeks getting my life in better order, including both paper and digital files, to prevent future panic episodes.
But one thing I noticed during all of this was that I don’t tend to print out what I’ve written as often as I used to. In spite of what might’ve been lost, overall I consider that a good thing, a good sign that I’m making my personal transition from paper to a digital world.
I admit to some affection for the paper world. It’s what I grew up with, and where I found my love of books and the written word. There is still something sensual to me about the feeling of pen and paper or a book in my hands. I like the shape of the book, the weight of it, the toothy or smooth texture of paper, even the smell of ink, paper, and binding materials. I still recall with nostalgia the particular smell of the book I was handed in third or fourth grade when we studied the culture and geography of Japan. Ever since, I’ve looked for similar qualities each time I open a new book. All these things make letting go of the paper world a clingy process.
At the same time, I love trees. Because of that, I’ve always been troubled that my chosen form of expression — writing — has a history of felling so many trees. So when I went through my computer files and some paper files over the past few days, I was pleased to realize that I recently have less tendency to print as I write. I used to feel a need to print out what I’d written more frequently, to edit or proofread on paper rather than onscreen, or just to get a sense of what the printed story would look like.
Maybe it’s so many years of writing on a computer that’s changed this. Maybe it’s the laptop’s portability and reduced glare being easier on my eyes. Maybe it’s no longer having a job that requires me to stare at a screen all day and then do the same all my evenings and weekends for my fiction writing.
Maybe it’s blogging. The immediacy of blogging tends to encourage me to edit onscreen. My blog is even set up now so I can view what I write in two or three different fonts before I post it, which I think aids the onscreen editing and proofreading process.
Maybe it’s a combination of all those factors. It’s interesting to note that more publishing venues have opened up to electronic submissions just since the CRT monitor has begun to vanish. Hopefully the less glaring monitors that are replacing them will be much easier on all our eyes, and continue to save more trees.
I still write a good half of my personal journal pages by hand, and I still use handwriting to jump-start or unblock my writing process. This blog post is in fact a segue from my morning pages. But my journal pages don’t get reproduced, except by typing them into a digital format, and they’re unlikely ever to be published in book form. The paper is eventually recycled if they do become digital, so I’m not as concerned about my journal pages killing trees. At least that’s what I like to tell myself.
Now if we can get the ebook technology to the point where fewer paper books have to be printed, at least for popular fiction, then we’ll have made real progress in taking publishing from deforestation for profit to a more pure form of edification, expression, and entertainment. Of course there will always be uses for paper. I can’t think of a better way to keep certain legal documents or accounting records, right now, though that’s not a world I work or have much expertise in. There are also some types of books that just work better, for now, on paper. One that comes to mind is the coffee table variety, with color plates of artwork or photography. But the less trees cut down for paper and books, the better.
Even if what this Guardian Unlimited article says is true, that planting more trees in temperate latitudes won’t help assuage global warming, it also states that destroying more trees isn’t the answer, that the greater need, and indeed our motivation for attempting to slow global warming, is to preserve ecosystems, including but certainly not limited to our own.
Perhaps my panic over my files had some value. It got me not only to change what I file away on my computer and how I back it up, but also to take a hard look at how I use paper, to keep heading along the road I’ve started down, of conserving wherever it’s reasonable, and wherever I can.
I’ve been missing in action online because of serious computer problems. A few days ago my main computer that I use to blog and surf (and email and research) decided it wouldn’t boot in anything but Safe Mode, and until that’s fixed, I may not blog or visit your blogs very much. I may not answer email very promptly either, for those of you who keep in touch with me that way.
It’s been an uphill battle, two steps forward, one step back. Hopefully my resident computer medicine man will soon complete his magical mumbo jumbo, drive out the evil computer spirit thingies, and I’ll be a force to be reckoned with on the Internet. Since I never was before, that’ll be a feat of magic for sure.
Fortunately this doesn’t effect my writing computer, which I keep disconnected and safely backed up.
But I miss you!
I also miss being able to do a quick search whenever my brain hiccups out a question. I’ve become so used to having the world at my fingertips, this is a little like losing the use of a limb—or a major appliance.
Readers and fellow bloggers, thank you for your patience and stay tuned.
I just learned, via How to Save the World, today is World Blog Day, and I almost missed it. Figures.
I’m not sure what else I get done on all the days that I don’t blog, as opposed to days that I do. My day sometimes just speeds past and before I know it it’s over and I’m left attempting to assess where it went. That happens more during summer than in other seasons. My brain and sense of time become sluggish or warped when it’s warm out. I’m convinced, too, that blogging requires a different part of my brain than I’m accustomed to using. My thoughts can stay light or go deep, and I’m comfortable in both places, but expressing myself in a story or in hard facts, or even a personal journal (where I don’t even need to worry whether I understand, let alone whether anyone else does) turns out to be much different than the kind of writing I do here, clarifying my thoughts and ideas, or reviewing life events. Nevertheless, regular blogging is a good exercise. It’s like strengthening a muscle you rarely use, such as the one that bends your pinky when holding a teacup, or the one that lifts one eyebrow. It’s not necessary, but it’s a nice, sometimes elegant, ability to have. Besides, blogging helps me feel in touch during periods of writing isolation or silence.
Speaking of silence, Streams of Silence, by Bruce at Wordswimmer, takes a profound look at the silences we all face, particularly writers. An appropriate topic for me to ponder today.
Happy World Blog Day!
This will be brief, since I’m on dial-up. The temperature got up to 101 Fahrenheit here yesterday, and though we held up, our internet service provider didn’t. I’m not into s-l-o-o-w blogging, so I think I’ll refrain until that’s fixed. Off to my disconnected laptop to write.
We heard rumbles of thunder yesterday, but no rain. Thunderstorms look even more likely today, but at least it’s cooler. (The thermometer says so, though humidity makes me feel otherwise.)
A recent Washington Post column queried Bloggers on the Reasons Behind Their Daily Words. Reading it got me to thinking yet again about why I blog.
I started my website back in 2000, when Shadows Fall was first published, for the same reason most writers do, to promote my work. Four years later I started this blog as a way to provide up-to-date content on my website and let visitors know what I was working on—basically as a way to keep the website from stagnating when too much time passed between novels. Little did I know at the time that the blog would engage so much of my attention.
The immediacy of this format holds a certain attraction. Type, click a button, and what you’ve written is published. But that has its drawbacks. As easy as email, which carries its own risks, a blog can suck you out into public view in a way that’s scary and in some ways deceiving. It’s easy to forget you’re putting yourself “out there” to the degree we do online. After all, I’m seated here alone at my home computer as I type this into a little window on my screen. It doesn’t feel public at all, at the time I write. (more…)
The other day my husband came across a site I think is pretty special.
A poetic, illustrated tale titled
Violet Footprints by another Barbara. It’s one of the best things I’ve read on the Internet, and it left me feeling good. (Sorry, link no longer works, so it’s been removed.)
When I reached the end, I decided maybe the “Violet” who left the footprints in the story was a _________. (Fill in your choice.)
I predict this author has a bright future.
in the privacy of my bedroom, as a teenager, with colored pens. This involved lots of doodling as well as writing. Little hearts, daisies (shudder). I’m better at drawing the daisies now.
Later I taught myself to type on an old Smith Corona typewriter my mother or her mother purchased when Mom was in her teens or early twenties. She was born in 1923, if that gives you a clue to its age. It’s one of those typewriters that could be used to trace a murder suspect because of the way it slightly superscripts certain characters. I used it while seated on the floor of my bedroom beside my bed. Sometimes the typewriter rested on the floor, sometimes on a little castoff maple end table.