Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tuesday Technology Thoughts

Some day in the future, when people marvel how we used technology--and how we failed to utilize its full capabilities--they may think of the morning that I've had.

I got up and tracked the movements of my package that's coming from Amazon.  Yes, I love tracking my packages.  I track other things too, like the progress of a plane that contains my loved ones.

I don't have that tracking info sent to my phone.  I'm surrounded by screens, so no need for that.  I've resisted upgrading to a phone that does more.  I know I'd love having access to that data, and then, boom, there's another monthly expense that seems impossible to cut.

My package contains an old-fashioned book and an old-fashioned DVD.  How strange to think that in roughly 10-15 years years, the DVD has gone from being new technology to old technology.

I'm buying a DVD copy of A Christmas Story.  Yes, I know that cable runs it incessently, but we don't have cable.  We've owned this movie on a VCR tape that we made illegally and on an official VCR tape.  Now I'll upgrade to a DVD and wait for whatever technology comes next.

The book that will come in that box?  Craig Childs' Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Everending Earth.  It looks at all the ways the planet is threatened.  I can hardly wait to dive in.  Yes, give me a good book that talks about the Holocene Extinction, and I'm so anticipating the joy of reading it that I can hardly wait.

But wait I must.  I didn't download the book to my computer.  I don't have a portable reading device.  If I was buying a new device, that might be the one I'd be most likely to purchase.  But again, I'm resisting.

I may write more once the box gets here:  what does it mean that I have ordered a movie steeped in nostalgia, a movie set in the sepia-toned past, along with a forward-looking yet eschatological book?  I am a self-admitted apocalypse gal.  And I am prone to getting swamped in nostalgia.  Hmm.

After tracking my package, I got set up to address envelopes.  In the past few days, I've prepared a lot of poetry packets for submissions to journals.  Some I've submitted electronically or by e-mail.  An equal amount are going out in the U.S. Mail.  In envelopes with stamps.

But I don't mind.  I love stamps.  My grandfather Roof collected them, and so did I for a few years.  I love mail of all kinds, whether it comes to my electronic mailbox or the one outside my house.

As I addressed envelopes--by hand, with a pen--I listened to one of the episodes from yesterday's The Diane Rehm Show.  You can listen too by going here.

Diane Rehm interviewed Deb Perelman, who has just had a cookbook published.  But before that, she's been a very popular food blogger.  I have only recently heard of her, but she gets thousands of people visiting her blog every month.  I'm thrilled when my numbers get close to 100 a day, but I doubt that many of those people stay there very long.

Her story reminds me of how technology has made all sorts of interesting options available.  Deb Perelman writes her blog and takes her own pictures with a normal camera.  And her work is published daily, with daily readers.  And now, she's got a book out with paper pages.

She said that 80% of the book is new recipes.  She said she didn't want readers to feel shortchanged, as she thought they would if she simply collected the recipes that have been available on her blog for free.

It's an interesting issue.  Some would tell you that there are plenty of readers who will pay for a book so that they don't have to slog through all your blog entries to find the ones they want.  I'm not so sure.

I have been sorting through my old blogs as I look for entries that could lead to good essays for the memoir I'm planning.  As I've sorted, I've kept a different file of blog entries that could make good stand-alone articles.

Daily blogging does leave one with a lot of possible material.  And we've seen that it can lead to further publications too, as with Deb Perelman.

As I listened to her interview, which is well worth your time, I found myself yearning to be discovered in a similar way.  I remind myself that she blogged in relative obscurity for many years before she came into this success.

And I remind myself that blogging has led me to some writing success I wouldn't have had otherwise.  I was in touch with my editor at the Living Lutheran site yesterday; she found me through my blog a few years ago, when I didn't have much traffic at all.

I will continue to work on various projects, never knowing which might be the breakthrough project.  I've got a wide variety of theological and spiritual writings.  But I've also got recipes, fiction of all kinds, teaching ideas, writing prompts, all sorts of larger possibilities. 

Last week, a colleague asked me if I would leave our current school if I got an offer.  I said, "What kind of offer?"

We chatted about it, and I realized yet again that I don't want to leave administration to go back to endless Composition classes.  But to be a poetry professor?  Perhaps. 

I said, "If a publisher called me and said, 'We hear you've been working on a memoir about living a spiritually authentic life in an office setting that doesn't always support that idea.  Here's an advance so that you can quit working and get us a manuscript by June,"--if I got that phone call, I'd be turning in my letter of resignation."

But then we talked about how big the advance would need to be.  I'd like for it to be a clear sign:  a million dollar advance is a much clearer sign that a twenty thousand advance.

My brain returns to the future person analyzing how we used technology in the first part of the twenty-first century.  Will that person understand why I so much wanted a publisher to sweep in and award me a big advance? 

Or will that future person say, "She had all the publishing tools right there, inside her computer.  Why didn't she do more with those?"

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