Technology is both a blessing and a curse. Technological advances have effected every occupation, and writing is no exception.
From typewriter to computer
When I started freelance writing in the early 1990s, I wrote my drafts by hand either in notebooks or on loose-leaf paper, and when I was satisfied with my final draft, I typed it out. That sounds easier than it actually was. I was a terrible typist: I rarely had only one error per page, and retyping the page didn’t guarantee I’d have fewer mistakes.
Personal computers were just becoming a thing, and they were expensive. Instead, I bought a word processor, which worked fine for me, but one of my editors preferred to get manuscripts via floppy disc, so we eventually bit the bullet and bought a computer. This was a bare-bones Mac with no internet capability. Now every few years we upgrade (kicking and screaming) to a more current machine. I currently use a year-old MacBookAir recently updated to Big Sur.
From snail mail to email or other electronic forms
In the old days, I had to mail my manuscripts, enclosing a self-addressed, stamped envelope for the reply and/or return of my manuscript. (No SASE, no response. Otherwise, you got some sort of acknowledgement, although you might have to wait six months for it.)
Now, virtually no one wants to deal with paper. Which is alright by me. But I am offended that so few agents and editors respond to a submission. They tell you upfront in their contact info that they are too busy. (In contrast to writers, who have nothing but time.)
From hard copy books to e-books
Electronic books were supposed to make hard copies obsolete. Instead, they are a purchasing option. Most books come out in both formats, and most readers buy some reads as e-books and others as hard copies.
And access to low-cost e-book production means that authors whose work isn’t snatched up by a traditional publisher can self-publish much more affordably than they used to (though it takes a lot of study to learn how to do it yourself).
From publisher-sponsored publicity to the rise of author websites, blogs, and social media
Once upon a time, the publishing house had a small promotional budget for even their unknown authors. Nowadays, unless you’re Stephen King or a Washington insider writing a Trump exposé, you get zip. You’re responsible for creating your own buzz. You’ve got to be an influencer, or know a few. You’ve got to blog, or at least have a good-looking author website. You’ve got to be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and whatever social media launched five minutes ago. Some publishers want to see how many followers you have before they even read your proposal.
Though I admit technology has made some aspects of my life easier—Google means I can do research without even leaving my home!—there are some things about the old days that I miss, such as getting a mailed acknowledgement of my submission, even a rejection slip.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (May 7, 1840—November 6, 1893) was the first Russian composer to achieve international recognition.
Though musical from a young age, his parents encouraged him to study law so that he could enter the more lucrative profession of civil service. To please them, he spent nine years at the Imperial School of Jurisprudence, and worked in the Ministry of Justice for four years while studying music on the side. In 1863, he resigned from civil service and became a professor of harmony at the Moscow Conservatory.
Tchaikovsky was greatly influenced by Russian folk music, but also by the Western music he studied while at the St. Petersburg Conservatory.
In 1876, Nadezhda von Meck, the widow of a wealthy railroad magnate and an admirer of Tchaikovsky’s music, offered to become his patron. She provided him with a monthly stipend which allowed him to resign from his professorship in 1878 and pursue composition full time. Her only requirement was that they never meet in person. They did, however, maintain an extensive intellectual correspondence that documents their views on topics from religion to politics to creativity.
Tchaikovsky’s body of work includes 169 pieces, including 7 symphonies, 11 operas, 3 ballets, 5 suites, 3 piano concertos, a violin concerto, 11 overtures and single-movement orchestral works, 4 cantatas, 20 choral works, 3 string quartets, a string sextet, and more than 100 songs and piano pieces. Among his most beloved works are his three ballets (Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, and Sleeping Beauty), his Piano Concerto No. 1, the opera Eugene Onegin, and the 1812 Overture.
This sweet little hymn for piano is one of my favorites:
The other day, I made tuna salad for lunch. Just a can of tuna, a tablespoon of mayonnaise, some chopped sweet onion, and a sprinkle of salt and a dash of pepper. No bread, just straight out of the bowl. It tasted so delicious, so satisfying. My heart said, Dear God, thank You for the fish.
Then I chuckled. How strange to thank God for the fish—it wasn’t like I caught it all by myself. So I continued, Thank you for the fisherman. I’ve seen enough episodes of Wicked Tuna that I know catching a tuna is no easy feat.
But I didn’t get the fish from the fisherman. So I said, Thank you for the factory workers who cleaned and prepared the fish and canned it.
But that wasn’t enough, either. So I added, Thank you for the truckers who transported the fish to the warehouse. Thank you for the stockers who put it on the shelves of the grocery store. Thank you for the cashier who rang up my grocery order. Thank you for the employee who put my purchases in the trunk of my car.
God used my simple lunch to remind me that whatever work a person does, it’s a holy occupation that He uses to bless the children He loves (all of us!). Every job has importance and value and dignity. Even if it’s not glamorous. Even if it’s backbreaking. Our work is one way we honor God and serve each other.
Dear God, thank you for your bounty, and thank you for the laborers who distribute it. Amen.
I just found out (a week too late!) that there is a World Photography Day, and it’s August 19 every year. People are encouraged to post a picture to share their world with the world.
Since I’m already too late to officially participate (and I’m really bummed about it!), I thought I’d just share a bunch of my favorite photographs with my favorite readers of Doing Life Together.
These photos represent moments when I was out and about seeking beauty, and found it. Beauty and joy present themselves when we open our eyes to see. It’s like discovering a love letter from God.
Have a beautiful, joyful, blessed day.
I see gorgeous old wood peeking out from behind peeling paint; what should be transparent, isn’t; the missing pane of glass is a portal into darkness.
Now it’s your turn. What do you see? Share in the comments below.