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'So what's it like being a writer today?'

6 August 2012

 ‘So what’s it like being a writer today? At grass roots level I don’t think it has changed at all from thousands of years ago. Good writers tell gripping stories; they always have done and always will do – it is the delivery method that has changed, but then it always has. Originally storytelling began as an oral tradition. Stories were eventually handwritten in order to preserve them. In Shakespeare’s time most people could not afford books, and would have been unable to read them anyway, which is why popular storytellers like him chose to write plays rather than novels…

The loss of physical bookstores is a tragedy on so many levels, most of all, in my view, the loss of browsing and the serendipity of finding new authors buried among the shelves, which has always been one of my great joys. But the digital age has brought so much to celebrate. The ease of editing without Tippex; delivering a novel electronically without all the faff of printing the damned thing out, wrapping and mailing it; the instant research provided by the likes of Google; direct communication with fans via email, Twitter, Facebook and blogging; and whole new possibilities for reviving the flagging interest in short stories. Kurt Vonnegut wrote that wars were like glaciers, they would keep on coming because they were unstoppable. Like it, loathe it or fear it, progress is unstoppable too. New technology is like a steamroller. You are either riding up in the cab or you are part of the road.’

Peter James in the Bookseller