Thursday, January 13, 2011

Changes I've Seen During My Time as a Writer

When I began writing as a kid, I wrote with a pencil on lined notebook paper. There was no such thing as a computer, only typewriters and hey were huge and you had to have a lot of strength in your fingers to make the keys work.

I took a typing class in Junior High, a half semester. And I have to say, that's one class that has served me well through the years. I only got up to typing 140 words a minute, but I bet if I took a test today, it would be much higher. In fact, I type too fast for Facebook sometimes and have to slow down so the words aren't all jumbled.

My mom got one of the first "portable" typewriters. It was in a case with a handle so you could tote it around. Typing was easier, you didn't have to pound quite so hard. She gave me that typewriter and that's what I typed my first books on.

When I became serious about getting published, my first book, a 500 page historical family saga, was typed over and over until there were no mistakes on a page. Of course I had to have a copy, so I used carbon paper with each of these pages. (There was no such thing as a Xerox or any kind of copy machine.)

Sending off this manuscript to a publisher meant writing a cover letter, putting it in a box with my own address and enough postage for it to be sent back to me, and then the whole thing into another box addressed to the publisher and mailed off. Unfortunately, that book inside the box came back to me many times. After about five times, it began to look a bit shabby and I'd retype the whole thing again--often rewriting as I did so.

Before this book actually found a publisher, I'd written another and started the whole process again. And in the meantime, we moved from southern California to the middle of the state. After nearly thirty rejections, I finally received an acceptance letter and my first book was published.

The one I'd written first, took a bit longer.I also graduated to an electric typewriter with a correction ribbon. Oh, I thought that was so modern and so much better. Plus, I could take the manuscript to a place where they had Xerox copiers and I threw away my old carbon paper.

I began writing mysteries and a friend said I ought to buy a computer, it would so much easier than using a typewriter. I purchased a computer through a catalog. When it came, the instructions were so complicated, after trying to figure it out and feeling like my brain would explode, I sent it back to the company. I knew someone who sold computers and I bought a Kaypro with the understanding that he'd show me how to use it. What a wonderful invention! It had two floppy discs, one to write on and one with the writing program. Things went well after I learned what seemed like a secret code to operate the whole thing. And oh, yes, I got a printer to go along with it. I could make my own copies.

Of course the Kaypro kept improving and I bought newer and easier to use models. Then computer stores and better computers came on the scene and I kept upgrading as I kept writing.

Somewhere along the line, I hooked up with the amazing Internet. Ah, email, what fun was that. Surfing the web was amazing.

I'd begin to write mysteries and studied the Writers Digest Market book and found publishers who might like them. The first in my Rocky Bluff P.D. series was accepted by one of these publishers. The book was edited, the best job I'd ever seen. Then I learned that he planned to publish the book on the Internet and call it an electronic book. What on earth was that? How could people buy it?

As it turned out, his process was far too complicated and didn't work at all. And even if someone did manage to figure out how to buy the book, I was the only one, the only way to read it was on the computer. Who would ever do that?

Then I ran into a group of other electronically published authors who formed an organization called Epic. Finally, I had people to talk to (on the Internet) about electronically published books and I found other publishers for my books. By this time I'd written lots. An E-reader called the Rocket came along and made it much easier to read an e-book, though e-books weren't selling as well as we all hoped.

Finally, these wonderful new e-publisher started doing print books along with the e-books. That was great, then we had "real" books to sell at book signings and other events.

Along came the technology called Print on Demand which made it even easier for books to be printed and only the amount that was needed at any given time. Fantastic!

Other e-Readers came along, and then Amazon came up with the Kindle and all sorts of e-readers came along and we're up to the present.

What is going to happen next? I have no idea, but it's sure been exciting so far.

Marilyn

7 comments:

C. N. Nevets said...

What a fun retrospective!

When I was a kid I had my own manual typewriter I used for a while. It was so hard to get those hammers to strike. I think that's probably part of the reason I still type so hard! haha

April said...

What a great post, Marilyn!! I remember the times of the the typewriter. Growing up, I wanted one sooooo bad, so that I could write. I have several journals with my stories and poems handwritten over the years, then typed on my prize typewriter and later those big floppy disks from the school computers. It's amazing how times have changed!! Soon all one will have to do is "say" the story and it will be written up automatically - no typing, editing (other than changing story bits)or spell check needed, lol.

Rebecca Camarena said...

I remember all those technical gadgets. Learned how to type on a typewriter and then moved up through all the others. It just keeps getting better and better.

Cheryl said...

What a great post, Marilyn. I have some stories I typed up on an electric typewriter hiding in my hope chest. I used to think I was all that when I began using Leading Edge Word Processor. Now I can't imagine how I ever wrote anything without my PC. Amazing how our perspectives change.

Cheryl

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Nevets, it is hard not to hit the keys so hard after using a typewriter.

Hi, April, I too wonder what's next for writers.

Nice to see you, Rebecca, I'm so glad that people invented all the stuff we use now.

And good friend, Cheryl, it's a new and amazing world for all of us.

farrah said...

Have you used speak to type software yet? It has been around for years. Next we'll have hologramed books! Lol

Jaime said...

I went through a very similar time line with my writing, though they were up to Windows 95, I believe, when I got my first computer. I remember getting a dot matrix printer and felt overjoyed that I could actually print out multiple copies of my novel. No wonder I'm so in love with technology.