In a demeaning spell of ignorance-and having scoffed, in the past, at elderly family members’ lack of technological wizardry-I have spent a prolonged and frustrating weekend in front of the computer in a bid to publish my debut novel. I am fortunate. I have a willing assistant in the shape of a grown up daughter. I begin to see how technology passes you by as the months pass-then the weeks-then the days.
My father was in his eighties when he acquired a computer and learned to write and send emails. Granted, he failed to understand and embrace the less formal approach to communication, beginning his mails with ‘Dear’ and sticking bullishly to a letter format. Nevertheless he was delighted with his prowess. Sadly this was the only internet facility he adopted, since he maintained a deeply suspicious attitude to surfing the net or to submitting any of his details to a site-perhaps wisely, given that we are all open to fraud, cloning, hacking and all those new and sinister online crimes.
‘It is said that in the future everyone will be published but no one will be read’ is often quoted in literary articles-but online publishing may well be insuring that this is not the case. Having mastered the automatic paragraph formatting I endeavoured to get to grips with the table of contents insertion with abysmal results, eventually calling in the offspring cavalry. I forged on with the tax form, only to be stalled by the ‘IBAN’ number. Even logging in to my online bank account became a major task, since yet again I have needed to change my log-in details after falling at the first hurdle. Once in, however the fabled ‘IBAN’ was nowhere to be seen which meant a call to the helpline. Would the damn book ever get published?
We forged on. I’d managed to prise myself out of bed in the small hours when I’d dreamt up a strap-line, to scrawl it in barely legible green felt tip on a pad. Then there was the cover. The learning curve was too steep for a near geriatric. The body of text needed to be converted to a web format. Eureka! I managed this unaided. I held my breath, pressed the ‘save and upload’ and…nothing…The connection to the internet was lost. I suppressed the urge to fling myself from our second floor balcony, an action that would incur humiliating, painful injury rather than death as I would be likely to land on the porch roof; salvation once more in the form of my daughter, clicking upload a second time- and ‘Bingo!’
So here it is: The Year of Familiar Strangers’. Just like giving birth, really; you don’t want to do it again until you’ve forgotten about the first time!