Monday, February 19, 2024

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now


Previously posted on a different blog as a guest blogger.


 I began writing in prehistoric times, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and writers pecked on typewriters. I had no idea computers, software, hardware, printers and emails were waiting in the future.

One morning I woke to birds chirping and mammoths trumpeting and decided I wanted to be a writer. Except for a few well-received essays in high school and a handful of English courses in college, I had absolutely no background in writing. I didn't even know what a thesaurus was. I just knew I enjoyed creating stories.

The one thing I did have in my empty toolbox was a knowledge of books. I loved reading. I was a voracious reader. And while voracious may not work anymore to describe my reading, I still plow through several books a month. How can anyone not read? But I'm getting off topic. So armed with my ideas, I began to write. This was challenging on a couple of levels. Creating a story and getting it on paper. 

Today creativity is my major challenge. Then, getting words on paper.

Each typed page needed to be proofed before it left the typewriter and, unless you were a perfect typist which I wasn't, involved a lot of white paint--correction fluid--from a little bottled called Wite.Out. Wite.Out was a secretary's and writer's best friend. Yes, back in the dark ages, people were called secretaries instead of admin assists.

After typing  out the manuscript, which usually involved several hundred pages, came the rewrites. Say you did a serious change on page ten that involved adding a scene or scenes that ran into extra pages. If you were lucky, you only had to retype that chapter then go back and use your trusty Wite.Out to change the following page numbers of the rest of your manuscript. Yup, the good ole days.

Next step was finding a home for your story. Again, there was no computer to do a quick search of who wanted what. The Writer's Market Guide was, and probably still is for those who don't publish Indie, an invaluable tool. I spent hours combing through pages looking for the appropriate home for my genre.

After I drew up a list, I began to send out my stories. Remember this was still the ice age and typewriters and carbon paper still roamed the earth. There were no emails, no attaching three chapters and hitting the send button. Instead it was purchasing legal size envelopes, stuffing your letter and chapters inside and heading for the post office. Then waiting and waiting and waiting some more, for a response that sometimes never came. In that respect, things haven't changed have they? Oftentimes when you did get a response, it was a form rejection letter--something else that I imagine hasn't changed--and you started back at square one. Other times, the publishing company or agent wanted to see the entire manuscript. Then it was off to the supply store to buy a box to mail your manuscript in and have copies made. It was a fairly pricey and time-consuming process.

Researching was also more challenging than it is now. The information was there, but not at your fingertips. Instead or tapping a few keys and doing a search, you had to track down physical books, which usually meant hitting the library or a bookstore.

And there was no self-publishing unless you went vanity and paid for it.


Since those days I have added to my toolbox and am always on the lookout for new tools. I have a few that I'd like to share, which you may already know of and use.

For synonyms I use Power Thesaurus.

For covers: pixelstudio. I love this group They are so helpful and their prices are unbelievably reasonable

For those of you who make your own covers, trailers and or memes: Book Brush. or Canva. 


For general information and support for most aspects of writing and publishing, IWSG.

So, back to the beginning: If I'd known then what I know now, I would have probably waited a few years to start writing. 😀



Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Querying back then sure burned through a lot of time and trees.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I remember those days!!

PT Dilloway said...

The title is kinda misleading here. Knowing about future computer technology wouldn't be a help 40-50 years ago any more than someone traveling back to the Middle Ages might know about cars, radios, TV, and air conditioners but would have no real way to reproduce them.

I am old enough that I wrote early stories on spiral notebooks, though by then there were early Apple II computers and IBM PCs that I could sometimes use, though it wasn't until the early 90s we actually got one in the house and then I had to share it with three siblings and one parent.

There were some good things about it, like everyone couldn't just have an "AI" slop something together and put it up for sale, but it wasn't exactly the Good Old Days. That's probably more along the lines of what the title should be.

cleemckenzie said...

Things were so different in the days of the SASE and the typewriter. A nice glance at the past.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sandra - I certainly couldn't have blogged back in the day ... I did write but only letters home when I was away. My blog using the internet and all the accoutrements I need (hardly any!!) ... but I'm so pleased I can connect around the world and have built interesting connections and friends - cheers Hilary

Sandi said...

Thank you! I am reading around to see what's new in publishing. Thanks.