Sunday, April 5, 2009

Love in the Time of Twittering

I told someone recently that I’m a writer. “How can you be a writer in this day and age? No one reads anymore,” he said.

Well I beg to differ. It seems all we do these days is read, face book, twitter, online mags, websites and blogs, email. What we don’t do is talk, in person or walk or hike or bike or camp. We do plenty of reading—just not on paper.

But how can we writers keep up with this technologically advanced reading? I was told to blog, to tweet and join online groups, then and only then can I attempt to write an old fashion “book” about open adoption and birthmotherhood and try to get someone to publish it—on paper. First I have to prove that people want to hear what I have to say, that people will read a book written by me, written on paper. So somehow someone decided that the best way to prove this fact was to get an online following. But truth be told, it’s exhausting.

I feel so old fashioned when I go on twitter and dive face first into the sea of readers, writers, chatters, and link givers. I don't know what to tweet about!! How do people come up with clever things to say all day long?

Is this really the future of writing: online phrases and quipy sentences? Are gone the days of reading classic literature, on paper? Will future classics sound more like Google-derived techno-phrases?
Madam Tweeterly's Lover
Oliver Tweet
The Heart is a lonely Tweeter
All the Pretty Tweeters
Temple of my Tweeter
Utweepia
Moby Tweet

Tweeting. I still cannot say this word without smiling.
“Honey what are doing after dinner?”
“Oh I’m going to go tweet in the living room.”
“Mom, can you read me a book?”
“Sure dear, just let me finish this tweet to my tweeps.”

Seriously, why does technology make me feel so old? Well as old-fashioned as this may make me sound, I will maintain that the beauty of reading is in the pages, the paper pages that you can flip through with your fingers, smell with your nose, dog-ear when you are called away, read even in a power-outage, by candle light, hide under the covers with when you are supposed to be sleeping, take on camping trips or to a picnic table or park bench. I have to believe as a would-be writer that the days of the paper pages are not gone.

But if we want to keep this romanticized version of reading and writing alive, we have to be book readers—especially us writers. We have to go to used and new book shops and not just the big chains with coffee shops built into them. We have to go to the little hole-in-the wall places that might actually carry our books when they are published. Because someday I want my daughter, my birthdaughter, all my future children and even my grandchildren to know the smell of an old book and how it is distinctly different from the smell of a new book. I want them to know what a library is, and not in an historical sense but in an intimate and familiar way. I want them to know the sound of a page tearing when you turn it too fast out of excitement to see what happens in the next line of text. I want them to know the smell of pages that have been left in a damp basement and turned moldy. I want them to know that “reading” necessarily suggests using a “book.”

So we writers must be readers. If you share this dream with me, go and buy a book, or check one out at the library. I just discovered a used bookstore called The Paperback Exchange on 50th and Penn Ave. in Minneapolis. Bring in your old paperbacks and get %75 off all your paperback purchases. Long live the book.

1 comment:

Miki said...

Lol This is so funny. I am also a bookish literature nerd but i do find i enjoy both worlds. Now i do not think i want to ever give up on holding a book in my hands... But i also find amazing connections and information through Twitter, Blogging, Face book.
I also love to write. And I agree , people DO read today, a lot, at least the people around me and in the bookstores I meet.