Sunday, April 25, 2010

It's a Small Internet After All

I'm not about to tell you my age. I will, however, point out that I earned spending money in college by typing papers for a buck a page on my state-of-the-art Brother electronic typewriter, the kind that had a double ribbon (one half black ink, the other half white-out) and a memory of about a single line of text. Goof up your spelling and catch it in time, and with a touch of a button that clever little machine would go back and blank it out so you could type over it and no one would be the wiser. Much, much better than the old cast-iron Underwood I'd learned to type on in junior high. Screw up with that thing and you probably wouldn't even be able to manage to line your text up again after smearing liquid white-out over the offending error, resulting in anywhere from a single letter to a series of words hanging half a line above or below the rest. Ah, technology.

I mention all this as a preface to why, when I glanced at my April 22 post, I was taken completely by surprise to see that Adrienne Martini had left me a comment.

Adrienne Martini, in case you don't know, is the author of Sweater Quest, a very clever and entertaining book that I happen to be giving away in a blog contest. Now, to my knowledge, almost no one reads my blog. As of today, I have exactly four followers, at least one of whom I suspect must have clicked the "follow" button by accident and then not known how to take it back. And yet somehow, the author of this book managed to find out that I'm giving her book away as a contest prize, and she was gracious enough to publicly thank me for doing so. According to my reckoning, it took all of three days for this to happen.

Back when I was banging out my junior-high typing class assignments on that noisy old Underwood, the only way to touch base with a favorite author was to write an honest-to-goodness letter -- on paper and everything! -- and, after scrounging up both envelope and stamp, mail it to a publishing house, hoping it would get forwarded to the author in question. Whether that author would give a crap enough to answer fan mail was anyone's guess. (Incidentally, while I never took the step of writing a favorite author, I did receive a very handsome photo of President Gerald Ford in response to a letter I wrote while in elementary school. I'd just like to say a belated "Thank you, President Ford." I do believe I still have that photo somewhere at my mother's house, tucked away with the other treasures of my childhood. Nothing's quite as sweet as getting an answer to a letter, especially when it's from someone famous who sends a publicity shot along to boot.)

It still amazes me how much the Internet has changed, not only how we communicate, but the very dynamic of communication itself. That a published author could find out that little ol' four-person-reading blogger me is giving away a copy of her book is marvel enough. It goes hand-in-hand with the very fact that I can even give a copy of her book away to a total stranger with just a few clicks of my mouse. Put a note on my blog, post an announcement on ravelry, and the offer is out there for anyone to see.

No, the larger change here is the dynamic between author and reader, seeker and sought after. Authors who, in the past, would have been as static as their books to a typical reader such as me, unreachable and unknowable beyond those words they committed to the printed page, are now instantly accessible in half a dozen different ways. Got a question about how to turn a heel on a sock? Message Cat Bordhi over on ravelry and get the answer straight from the designer's mouth. Sounding off about how much you love -- or hate -- somebody or something? Better watch out; far less than six degrees separate us from those we choose to discuss online, and we never know when our words may come back to us. For better or for worse, the famous and the completely not-so are talking more than I would ever have dreamed possible back when I scrawled my little letter to President Ford and was giddy with surprise months later to receive a heavy manilla envelope from the White House in return. What an amazing world we live in.

All of this to say, did you notice that Adrienne freakin' Martini left a comment on my blog? My blog!

How. Cool. Is. That.

Thank you, Adrienne. You made my day.

1 comment:

Adrienne Martini said...

It's weird to think that I could make someone's day with just a little comment. I mean, I'm no Gerald Ford.

But it is a little strange to eavesdrop on conversations strangers are having about your book. Mostly it's good and gives me something to do when I start to obsess about whether or not anyone is reading it. So there's that.