I started writing soon after I saw the film Memphis Belle (1990). I was a freshman in high school and I had years of reading and fandoms behind me. I’m from the generation that enjoyed the John Hughes series as new films. They were iconic and I have no doubt that they played into what I eventually came to do. Then until now there has been so much material put forward that has inspired and framed my thinking.
In those days, spiral notebooks and loose-leaf paper in binders were my tools of choice. Computers were not mainstream, despite films like War Games (1983) and characters like Max Headroom (1984). I filled notebooks with my stories, rewrote them into new ones. I was enthusiastic and a fresh pen and notebook made me feel amazing. This was my high. I could go for hours in the euphoria.
This period also came well before I learned the skills necessary to write scripts or novels. I was practicing dialogue and plot ideas. It was an important time, because, even though I was terrible at it, I was learning how to be good at it. The skills to teach myself what I needed were also developing. This is where I learned tenacity.
As the 1990s progressed, so did the technology. Not writing in notebooks was something I never pictured. I still have a pile of empty notebooks and a drawer of fresh pens. I hardly ever use them now. They serve me better in the capacity of note taking. For each work I have written, there is a notebook, or file of papers on which I’ve written ideas and others notes. So this much is still with me, and I find it to be quite effective. I will never lose the notes in a computer crash! And, typewriters, ha! I learned typing skills on a traditional electric typewriter in high school, sensing that technology was leading that way. The plan was to go to college, and I well knew that my papers couldn’t be hand written any longer. Still, I struggled with this skill.
Tenacity helps you when you realize that the skills you need to learn to accomplish your dreams require use and practice–no matter how boring they might be.
Nearly twenty years on, I write all my books on computers (backing them up all over the place). I learned to type well, thanks to a job as a data entry clerk, and became quite adept with computers in that same position. The technology that has evolved in my lifetime has opened up many doors. Not only am I able to educate myself on myriad topics, I can access information at any time. This has allowed me to pen books much more effectively. Whether I have a grammar question or historical fact, I don’t have to wait until I can get to the library to find out the answer, or find someone who can clarify the topic.
To truly exemplify how technology has opened up writing for me, through technology I was able to find books and information on screenwriting. Prior to my graduate degree, I was completely self-taught in this field. My work was getting great feedback from peers and professionals. The graduate work has only helped me to be taken that much more seriously. It has also helped me to regard things from more lenses, making the depth of my work much more engaging.
Without technology, my pursuit of that education wouldn’t have been possible. My studies were one on one with professors through the State University of New York system. I was able to focus on exactly what I needed to build a degree that served my future. This had an immense affect upon my skills. The decade or so between my undergraduate and graduate work was filled with efforts at honing the writing craft itself (the mechanics). Working with editors smoothed out the rest. But the time spent in graduate school taught me new ways of viewing information, working with it and disseminating it back out. Indeed, without the technology in place to make that possible, I’d not have the polish that is required to display the level of professionalism necessary in my field.
This is not to say that traditional means couldn’t achieve the same. For me, technology has provided opportunities that reached me in ways of which traditional learning and writing were not quite as capable.
On my shelf in my office can be found two large binders full of a series that will eventually become Trailokya: The Aghart Series. I wish there was a technology that could take handwritten pages and just scan them into Word effectively. Retyping this old series from loose-leaf is going to be a hard task.
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