Tuesday, August 30, 2011

For the Love of Writing

It is said ‘true writing’ (not proto-writing) was invented independently in two different places; Mesopotamia around 3200 BC and Mesoamerica around 600 BC. Debates have erupted in various circles also crediting Egypt in 3200 BC and China in 1300 BC, lest we forget about the Tartaria Tablets from Transylvania that predates all of the others from 5500 BC. No matter where ‘true writing’ surfaced, it is by far the most exhilarating concept known to man. The simplistic idea of having the tool to communicate one’s thoughts or stories for all to interpret across the ages of time is mind boggling.

Mankind learned to record their script on several different types of materials such as clay, tree bark, stone, parchment and later on papyrus (plant found in Egypt). The ancient Egyptian scrolls were used as the first form of a book in 'roll' format when they glued sets of papyrus together to create a tablet of sheets. Eventually this material was imported into Greece where it dominated the land as a new writing element from an exotic nation. After the fall of the Great Roman Empire, parchment became the main writing material once again as the trade with Egypt was no longer available. After the development of Codex (books), and before the invention of the printing press, monasteries would copy text into books by hand which is why they were so rare and expensive to make because of the labor intensive work it took to create and make a single copy. Unfortunately, some works of art were ultimately destroyed by the Monks because they were deemed 'dangerous' for their lack of religious content and were feared to have the ability of manipulating the person in contact with the book. 

Fast forward several centuries and you have the ease of uploading any form of writing onto the internet for all to view. As consumers in an advanced society, we no longer have to hold a piece of paper in our hands to read but can browse the electronic pages pictured across our mechanical devices. What is that saying for future historic prosperity? Are we removing an art form from our genetic line as humans by relenting to the ease of technical mechanics? Personally I’m inclined to say yes, although many people would say I’m not thinking about how this saves on natural materials and refraining from leaving my carbon footprint. But I must add this small comment before moving on; peruse the old books from before and notice the gorgeous handwritten calligraphy, the intricate swirl of cursive and the originality of personable printing. From an artistic stand point these scripts are priceless, but speaking as an author I am eternally grateful to be living in my current era of keyboards and automatic print! Can you imagine the carpal tunnel claims and ink poisoning statistics from the insurance departments of the renaissance generation? (snark) Now, moving forward…

I have asked several people their opinion regarding paper or electronic books with answers dividing the argument straight down the middle. Prior to my meager interrogation of several avid readers, I must admit I had a clear assumption that the younger generation would veer toward the viral world as opposed to the older contemporaries leaning toward traditional paper books (with my generation stuck in the middle of understanding both arguments equally). I was actually proved wrong on both points, which under normal circumstances I would not outwardly admit, but in this case, I’ll let it slide; for humanity’s sake of course! Depending on which side of the fence you stand, the choice is irrelevant because the art of writing wins the battle hands down. We are still able to read great works such as Austen, Dickens, Tolkien, Twain and Lewis. Or modern authors like JK Rowling, Cassandra Clare, Stephenie Meyer and Dan Brown, regardless of which source it is read from, the outcome is equitable. Whether you enjoy turning the pages and feeling the weight of the paper rustling beneath your fingertips while the smell of aged ink whisks lightly below your nostrils or it’s the ease of carrying your electronic device weighing less than ten ounces and holding up to 2,000 books while simultaneously surfing the net and responding to twitter. Whatever tickles your fancy is your prerogative.  The beautiful part of the great debate rests simply with that of the individual. You can stand loyally to one or share the best of both worlds by actively participating in either sets of scholarly utopia; paper and/or electric.

Writing this post made me think back to my younger years and remember how I first got started as a lover of words and who my person of influence was who inspired my reading passion. I was in third grade and my older sister Kim would sit with me in our room to read Greek Mythology while I envisioned the wondrous creatures, epic battles, and sheer beauty of the story. My imagination was filled with incalculable fantasies and extraordinary stories that still remain vividly in my mind today. How I loved to listen to the ancient expressions and later read them for myself and now share that same love of reading with my own children. I'd like to thank my sister for taking the time to read to her kid sis and thus spawning a lifelong fanatic of historic mythology. It’s a cyclical and harmonic cycle passed down through generations and the key to future works of art. As you sit and read this segment, what was the infamous book that turned the tides from a regular reader to bibliophile and how has that shaped your interest for your genre of choice? Is reading an escape from your everyday life; an opportunity to venture beyond the boundaries of time and relevance or purely out of delight? Post your comments on this blog or on twitter @fuentes_kate1 using hashtag #readingfan. I would love to read your opinions!

To learn more about my Elements of writing, you can visit my webpage at http://www.katefuentes.com/

Any historical content featured in this article was gathered from http://www.wikipedia.org/ .

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