Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category
I used to buy and read books. I bought books to enlighten, inform, educate, challenge and entertain me. I also bought newspapers, journals and magazines. I grew up in a literary household in which writing and the thought behind it was a daily topic of conversation. In short, I was a publisher’s dream customer.
A career as a computer programmer and systems analyst ensured that I was always aware, if not a user of technology. I watched computers evolve from large, expensive speciality machines into devices which could be put on a desk or carried in a pocket. I often wondered what we would do with the technology. We had the answer, now it was time to resolve the question. I think we have it now, and it is profound and pervasive; there is little in the world, rich or poor, which has not been permanently changed by digital devolution.
There are many every-day examples of how society has changed in the last fifteen years, but the one which has affected me most is reading. All aspects of how and what I acquire to read has changed. My purchase of books and magazines is a small fraction of what it once was. The modern publishing industry faces great challenges, and although not proud of it, I am part of the problem.
There are few things more enjoyable to me that to sit with book in my hands, but now I also read from a tablet and it too can deliver an enriching experience. There will be tough competition for revenue from publishing. Old models are failing and in some cases have become irrelevant. Of course the industry will survive, but in a very different fashion from the twentieth century. Adaptation and integration of new forms with traditional ways of publishing is key to a future which provides adequate and stable income for authors and publishers. How that will happen is yet to be determined, but one has only to look at the music industry to see how not to do things.
Blogs, tweets, video, photo-sharing and more will not replace books, but will be another way to learn and entertain. It has been exciting to have been an insider at the beginning of the digital age.
This post was originally written on September 24, 2007. Since this was the week I decided to learn to write and his lordship was released on bail I decided to edit and re-post it here:
Regardless of how one feels about charges and verdict against Conrad Black, his mastery of the English language can not be disputed. Ian Brown of the Globe and Mail interviewed Lord Black in the spring of 2007. I found Black’s comments on vocabulary noteworthy and quote them here.
A lot of linguists say we don’t need to teach standard or normative vocabulary because there’s no such thing – everyone learns the words they need for the circles they inhabit. Standard vocabulary, to these people, is undemocratic. Any opinion?
People should be encouraged to expand and use their vocabularies in unpretentious ways, to arm them as well as possible to communicate and to understand their language as well as possible.
The alternative view is just part of the vulgarization and mediocritization of everything and the triumph of a few trendy cultural charlatans at the head of a population of Philistines. Any such trend should be resisted.
I would like to learn to write well; to write articles and essays that people like reading. I have been thinking of this since late March, and practised by writing daily to Jason in April. It seems I had made the right beginning in what will be a very long undertaking.
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” These were the first words I read upon opening On Writing by Stephen King in a bookshop last week. It is something I have always implicitly known, (I grew up in a very literary household,) but seeing it stated so clearly was all I required to take a copy to the cashier followed by the first subway train home to start reading.
King described his recovery from a 1999 car accident in an essay. I remember his words conveyed not only the accident, but the pain and emotions he was still feeling many months later. The essay was not long, but it certainly was powerful. So, that’s how I want to write: clearly, sparsely and interestingly.