As a writer, I take it for granted now that the internet plays a part in my writing career. I check my email almost constantly throughout the day to see if I have any new commissions or assignments or have enquiries from potential clients, and check to see if I have had any responses from pitches I have put forward for work. When I have received work, I compose an article or series of articles using Word, check them over carefully and then email them back over to my editor for publication. In a lot of cases I’ve had the work come in and emailed it back the same day.
When I first started out in the early 90s, I remember writing articles on my trusty Commodore Amiga computer using a combination of the two leading word processors for that computer – WordWorth or ProText – and once I had finished the pieces, saving the files as standard text files along with any accompanying image files as jpegs and putting them all onto a 3.5″ floppy disk and posting it to my editor and hoping that it reached him before the deadline! Looking back, it’s amazing to think that we managed to cope from one month to the next without losing countless articles or having a last minute panic having to resend content. I am sure that editors up and down the country had to find last-minute features to fill space when disks got lost in the mail, and I think more than a few freelancers must have used the “it got lost in the post” excuse to buy themselves more time when they missed an all-important deadline.
Before that era, any written content being submitted would have been sent in to editors on paper. Can you imagine that? Actually taking the risk of sending an article off to a publisher but having to have made sure that you had a copy first. Okay, that would be fine if you had still used a computer to produce it first and just sent a print out to the editor but if you had hand-typed it then you would have had to have typed a second copy just to ensure you have a backup just incase. It’s staggering to think of just how many articles have been lost forever simply because the technology wasn’t there to preserve them.
In fact, there’s a magazine I’ve been thinking about pitching a couple of articles to at the moment and they’re still accepting submissions on paper. It’s a very traditional, dare I say, old-fashioned magazine and their submission guidelines specifically ask writers to physically send their articles in to them. No email address, no contact telephone numbers, just a postal address. It’s an astonishing thing in this day and age but considering the publication and it’s readership it probably makes sense. The fact that they have a web presence is probably something that was a big step forward for them and – to be frank – something that the majority of their readers would never use.
Stopping to think for a minute though, as I write this in front of the PC, I have to ask myself… if anything happened to this PC, how would I actually cope as a writer? To be honest I don’t actually know. While I can access my emails remotely, I store all my files locally but without access to a PC, even for a few days, I would lose an incredible amount of work and not even being able to keep in touch with clients would be a nightmare.
It’s actually rather frightening to think how dependent we have become on technology in such a short space of time and how helpless we would be without it…