Realized something recently. Okay, not recently-recently, but recently. You follow?
Back in 2002 I began writing a new novel. New for then. I was hitting my stride as a mystery novelist. My books were doing well. I averaged fifty books signings per release, was doing mad interviews. Keeping really busy.
At the time, I remembered why I’d become a writer. S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. As a reluctant reader, to put it mildly, it was this novel that turned me on to books and writing. It was because of The Outsiders that I made goals to write books.
Point being, I wrote a novel for young readers, Sounds of Silence. It is the story of a young boy who dreams of growing up to play professional baseball. Only, when he gets sick, he becomes deaf.
I took over a year of American Sign Language (ASL) lessons. I met with faculty, and students at the Rochester School for the Deaf. Discussed Meningitis and deafness with professors at the Rochester Institute of Technology’s NTID (National Technical Institute for the Deaf).
Basically, I did my best to get my ducks in a row for this manuscript.
Not long after completing the writing, I landed a literary agent, and after some nibbles for publishers, sold the novel to a good-sized press. The advance money was nice. Real nice. Unfortunately, the press — while my manuscript was in the editing process, went under.
Late last year, I re-sold the manuscript. What I realized while working on the story was, technology had advanced so much, that my references and a lot of my “props” were either rarely used anymore, or obsolete altogether.
Cell phones being one of the biggest changes. Texting is something the Deaf community loves as much as the hearing community. It is also an easy(ier) way to communicate, especially with people from both. The TTY (Teletype) machine is a house phone for Deaf families. In order to use one, you needed at least two. The person calling must and the person answering must have one. Now, cell phones have a TTY feature.
Then there is music. Compact Discs were popular in the 2000’s. Very. They’d crushed cassettes out of existence. MP3s were the next big movement. That is until cell phones (again). I haven’t bought a CD in at least seven years. I had an MP3 for a bit. But now–all of my music is downloaded onto my phone. I use a docking station with speakers as a receiver.
You know what, thanks to Pandora, I don’t even listen to the radio in the car. The radio! It’s not what it was even five years ago.
Needless to say, it is tough to make a story timeless. Technology moves too fast. Things change daily. Myspace, Facebook, Google+. Online dating, Skype, Google Glasses … How does a writer keep up? A story isn’t written and published.
A novel can take a year(s) to write. Then you need to sell it. Then you need to wait for your story to go through the editing process. Then, eventually, it hits shelves. This process can take years in and of itself. Years.
My advice, if it is worth anything at all, is to try to be more generic. To be honest, not positive how. One can always “date” their material purposely. “It was 1988 . . .” See what I am saying?
Technology hurts writers, mainly because lapsed time is a threat.
Anyway, was just really thinking about it as I sent back the latest round of edits to my editor for Sounds of Silence.
Be sure to check out PULSE OF EVIL