Happy New Year, everyone! This past year was a rough one for so many reasons. But we made it. We’re still here, and I hope this will be a better year for us all.
It’s hard to believe that it’s 2018. So much has changed in the past couple of decades, yet in so many ways, everything is the same. What’s that old expression? The more things change, the more they stay the same.
You start to realize the truth of this as you get older. We watch as technology does more and more amazing things, machines get smarter, governments change over, countries merge and separate, relationships form and dissolve, people die and are born.
But we go on as usual. We get up, go to work, go to school, pack lunches for our kids, feed our pets, take out the garbage, do the laundry, go on trips, buy groceries, celebrate holidays, binge watch Orange Is the New Black…
It’s the same for writers. Technology has changed the way we do everything. Where we once tapped out our words on a manual typewriter (or an electric one), making loud clacking noises that could be heard in the next room, our fingers now glide easily over our “quiet” keyboards. Where we once had to trek to the library and spend hours flipping through card files and following those leads to shelves, hoping that no one else had checked out the books we needed, we now just type in a few key words and get our answers in seconds. Looking up names, numbers, and addresses required flipping through gigantic directories, whereas now we simply type in a person’s name.
Of course, some people would say that the old ways were better in some respects. Typing on manual typewriters forced people to really think about what they were writing because making corrections was not as simple as hitting the back key. There was (and still is) a certain kind of joy to going to the library and feeling those cards in your fingers, and running your eyes over all those spines on the shelves, and smelling that ink-and-paper smell. Some people might also say that we’ve done ourselves a disservice by making things so easy for ourselves.
I’m not one of those people. Manual typewriters—yes, I actually had one, even though electric ones were long in existence—made my hands ache after a while. As much as I like libraries and wish a long and healthy existence for them, it would be impractical to rely on them for all the information we need.
And, of course, the style in which we write has changed. Today we don’t write the way Jane Austin did, or Shakespeare, or Dante. And maybe even our methods have changed. Some of us outline, some of us write scenes on index cards, some of us use applications that help us plot our stories.
But one thing remains the same: we tell stories. The basic premise of storytelling hasn’t changed since ancient times. The stories we tell have people (or animals—okay, let’s just say living entities) who have hurdles to overcome, battles to fight, achievements to earn, and love to win. And humans don’t change. We never change. We can change the things we do and the things we accept or deny. We can become more enlightened, or be thrown into intellectual darkness. But our basic makeup never changes. At the primal level, we are a finite creation.
And, therefore, so is our storytelling. This bodes well for writers. Why? Because if we haven’t changed in millions of years and people still enjoy stories, that means that there’s something deep within us that craves them. From drawings on cave walls and ghost stories around a campfire to magazines and fancy ebook readers, human beings have always desired to be told stories. And as long as writers exist, people will have their stories. So, give the people what they want. Lots of it.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.