My beta reader recently reported that she didn’t know what a Rolodex was. I make a reference to this outmoded item in the first chapter of my new novel and it didn’t bode well that potential readers might not understand what it was. For those of you still unsure, check it out here: Rolodex
Ignoring for the moment the bigger problem of how many more of my carefully considered cultural references would fall on deaf ears, or worse, irritate or alienate readers, (the Rolodex reference stays, with a small clarification, because it suits the character it belongs to) I was diverted (not difficult) into considering advances in technology and how they have assisted me on my writing journey. Looking at the everyday accoutrements that clutter up my writing space – all superseded by more modern inventions, but some still pressed into service daily – I wonder if I’ve made any progress at all.
Many years ago, obviously channelling my inner Bard, I wrote in longhand, with a fountain pen. Pretentious? Moi? I’m surprised I didn’t use a quill. When I got over myself, I progressed to biros and then gel pens. But my writing didn’t actually ignite until I invested in a word processor. Yes, it was that long ago. Remember those bulky electronic items? Designed to be portable, weighed a ton. Successor of the typewriter, precursor of the PC, they had a brief moment in the sun, inhabiting a no man’s land between must-have utility and total obsolescence. They were equivalent in some ways to the Kindle, in that their only function was to facilitate the act of writing. You can’t watch movies on it, or access the internet, which, in retrospect, was actually a very useful feature for an aspiring writer prone to making the most of every diversionary tactic.Did I say I was easily distracted?
In those days I saved my embryonic scribblings onto floppy discs, where, incidentally, they are destined to remain because my current machine hasn’t heard of these antediluvian devices. But I retain a nostalgic affection for these rectangular bits of plastic. They illustrate how far we’ve progressed, in a relatively short space of time, from carbon copies, correction fluid (remember Tippex?) and card indexes.
I still use a proper address book (I skipped the Filofax generation) but I’ve traded in the Dictaphone for the recording function on my smartphone. I keep a stock of pencils (and a sharpener, obvs) and notebooks in the drawer, just in case, and as my printer will also scan and photocopy, sadly there’s no need for the much missed Banda machine