The writer married technology a long time ago. Think about it. They’ve always walked hand in hand – the invention of movable type, the ball point pen, the electric typewriter, and the ultimate machine – the word processor. I thought it would be fun to consider writers of the 20th century like Hemmingway, Faulkner, or Fitzgerald using the technology of now. Would they have accomplished more? What would they say about it? What would John Steinbeck think of word processors, the internet, or blogging? To satisfy my curiosity, I invited Mr. Steinbeck into my imagination for an interview.
Here’s a transcript of our conversation…
Ms. Nine: Welcome, Mr. Steinbeck. Thanks for spending e-face time on my blog today.
Mr. Steinbeck: Please, call me ‘the Stein’; it’s my tag.
Ms. Nine: (the Stein?? I could NEVER!)… >cough< …I’ve invited you here so writers could benefit from your perspective on being a writer in the 21st century.
Mr. Steinbeck: Writers are a little below clowns and a little above trained seals.
Ms. Nine: Uh..okay, if you say so… This is my first posthumous interview and I’m a little nervous… So here’s my first question. How do you feel about using a word processor?
Mr. Steinbeck: I hate computers. They know so much more than I do. Using a computer forces a writer to think harder, faster, stronger.
Ms. Nine: Would these modern tools have helped you write?
Mr. Steinbeck: After I won the big P for The Grapes of Wrath, it was tough getting back on track. I mean, I still had more writing to do. Maybe if I had a word processor I would have won that Nobel Prize a lot sooner. Who’s to say?
Ms. Nine: Would you have finished The Acts of King Author and His Nobel Knights?
Mr. Steinbeck: You had to mention that thorn in my side. I’m not making excuses, but in my day writers had to set priorities. Yeah, maybe a word processor would have helped. But back then writers believed in the perfectibility of man. We didn’t write frivolously. We wrote – I wrote – to bring awareness of the economic and social injustice of the time. I was making a statement!
Ms. Nine: This brings me to my next topic – J. Edgar Hoover and the League of American Writers. Do you think using social media and the internet would have made a difference?
Mr. Steinbeck: If I could have tweeted about what happened to Charlie Chaplin and the Smothers brothers, the resulting public outcry might have stopped that Communist brouhaha. I am clever with words. But remember, if I could’ve had access to social media, so too would McCarthy and Hoover. The ability of social media to shape collective consciousness is astounding. It flows in all directions.
Ms. Nine: One last question – would you have used a website to promote your work?
Mr. Steinbeck: At this point, I have grown beyond my work, walked up the stairs of my own concepts, and emerged ahead of my accomplishments, all achieved without a website. Ironically, now that I’m dead, I have at least a dozen.
Well, there you have it – a 20th century perspective on writing in the 21st century. Makes you think, doesn’t it?