This time last year I had finished putting together my archive book of all the fiction I’d written, and I was looking back on what I’d accomplished in 2010. This year all I’ll say is this – I’ve been thinking about getting my archive book together.
I need to do it, because I mistrust technology, and having an archive of my year’s work in print is the only way I can be sure that it won’t float off into cyberspace. This came home to me again last week when a browser I’d used for years and still had on my computer (because there were a bunch of bookmarks, addresses and emails on it that I hadn’t copied and dragged over to the new browser yet) simply – disappeared. The shortcut didn’t work, the mail isn’t there, and the programme itself seems to have folded its tents and stolen away into the night without my having done anything to offend it.
It’s annoying. A bit spooky, but mostly annoying. Who knows what else might decide to pack up and take its leave in the middle of the night, departing for the unexplored reaches of cyberspace? Just when I think I’ve gotten a handle on how this whole thing works – just gotten a handle, mind you, not acquired an intimate understanding – I find out that I haven’t. Even my resident geek (aka husband) – doesn’t know why or where the browser and its contents have gone. Galley west. Into the blue. Where the woodbine twineth, and left no forwarding address, e- or otherwise.
I’ve spent the last three days off in the company of my family, having Christmas and Boxing Day mostly, although not entirely, free of writing and related work. I think my next two days off, which will come in 2012, will have to be devoted to getting some kind of printout of my current crop of writing, because I can obviously not trust what I’ve put into cyberspace to stay where it’s put, no matter how well I anchor it.
When computers first made their grand entrance into the world of us non-geek types, it was bruited about that they would create the paperless office, where all information would be kept electronically. In the last ten years e-publications, virtual communities and online-only businesses have abounded. But I gotta tell ya, however handy it is not to have to retype a whole freakin’ page for one typo or grammatical goof-up, there is nothing like having a printed copy. The technology for reading the printed page may be so fifty million years ago, but it’s never gone out of date, had to be upgraded for a different language, or made the book completely disappear out of your hands.
Most of what I’ve written in the last year has been non-fiction, but even that needs to be archived in the only way I can trust it. I’ll be doing that bright and early in the new year, you betcha. Mock me if you will, you advocates of paper-free. I’ll be the one who can still read my work when the black hole of cyberspace gets the munchies and slurps up the entire contents of your e-reader.
I think I’m going to get a T-shirt printed. “Archaic, paranoid, and proud of it!”