Today it’s my pleasure to help celebrate the release of Annabel Smith’s The Ark by joining in this group post on writing in the digital age. Annabel’s book is PERFECT for the digital age – a new invention of the epistolary form using emails and transcripts to tell the story of a group of people trapped in an underground bunker with vaults of priceless seeds in the year 2041. What’s more, The Ark is truly interactive – you can explore the bunker, listen to the characters speaking, and add your own fan fiction at thearkbook.com. So first of all, congratulations, Annabel, on your genre-defying dystopia and its groundbreaking format.
I have transitioned to writing in the digital age alongside the publishing industry. When I first began proofreading I had to learn all the little symbols that are the proofreader’s shorthand, and bulky tree-toppling typescripts would be couriered to me. However, my editing jobs slowly moved towards using tracked changes online over the last decade, and now I edit my own work the same way.
I find writing in the digital age to be a mixed bag – the internet pummels me with distraction and trivia as soon as I venture online, but there are many gems to be found too – and the joys of instant research rather than endless treks to the library are amazing. I’m certainly grateful for programs like Word and Scrivener – I think back to viewing Jane Austen’s manuscripts in the British library (incredible, to think her hand and mine had both been so close to the same sheet of paper) and I wonder about the personal qualities needed to complete an entire manuscript by hand.
When I become one of the billions of consumers of internet content, I can have a dozen moments of connection and disconnection in a single minute. If I’m writing intensely I find this exhausting, and I try to avoid it. I need to keep my story under the spotlight, and going online is too much of a firework display. The internet is a fantastic tool for publishing and promotion, but it’s also an endless noise-maker, making even the most meaningful things seem scarily devoid of meaning if I linger in this virtual world for too long. However, I cannot be anything but thankful for all the connections and relationships it has brokered for me since it came into existence.
Whether I like it or not, I belong to this digital age. How else could I be talking to you now? I’m ensnared in the worldwide web, by turns exhilarated and exhausted – doing my best to tame the techno-beast before it gobbles me up. In case that happens, as Annabel releases her new work into worlds virtual and real, I urge you to click here without delay and discover The Ark for yourself.
Find out what my fellow writers have to say about writing in the digital age by visiting their blogs. You’ll notice we have a new member, Yvette Walker, author of Letters to the End of Love. Welcome to our group, Yvette!