Luddite’s (Last-Ever?) Lament by Claudia Mills (April theme)
Our Smack Dab theme this month is book trailers. I have never made a book trailer for any of my books. I almost wept the other day when I heard that one librarian told an author friend of mine that the kids at her school no longer want to listen to book talks before they read a book; for them, it’s a book trailer or nothing. “No, no, no, no, no,” I wailed.
I still write my books the old-fashioned way: long-hand, with paper and pen, leaning on my extremely worn clipboard that lost its clip some decades ago. I still do my school visits the old-fashioned way: no PowerPoint, no slides, not even a microphone unless the gym is very big. What do I do instead? I stand there and talk to the kids; I tell them stories; I do my famous Ape Dance. I sent exactly one tweet on my now-defunct Twitter account. I don’t know how to text on my (non-smart) phone; I asked my college students once to help me switch the phone from ring to vibrate.
Sometimes I feel like Edward Arlington Robinson’s “Minniver Cheevy,” born too late. In the poem, Robinson is scathing about poor Minniver and his dreams of medieval romance, Minniver whose failure to engage in the actual world of his own life and times leads him to spend his days in endless thinking and thinking and thinking, and endless drinking, as well.
So I’m vowing here and now: I’m not going to let myself be Claudia Cheevy.
Once upon a time I vowed I’d never give up typing my manuscripts onto my IBM Selectrix typewriter: “I like having to retype the entire manuscript for every round of revisions; it’s good to be forced to rethink every single word, really it is!” That is one tune I haven’t sung for several decades. I am an email addict, scornful beyond all reckoning of a writer colleague who served on an awards committee with me and refused to conduct committee business by email. I adore Facebook. Heck, I found out that my own son had gotten married by going on Facebook (a story for another day). When social-media-phobic friends complain that they’ve missed out on big news from me, news that I plastered all over Facebook, I think, Get with the 21st century, buster!
So this to say that I’m grateful to my fellow Smack-Dabbers for helping me think that it might be possible for me to make a book trailer sometime. (Not quite yet, but sometime. Soon. Or soon-ish.) Just this week I did my first-ever Skype school visit, thoroughly modern Millsie that I am becoming. I wish it had been an in-person visit; it was so much less satisfying than talking with the kids face-to-face. But it was also so much more satisfying than no visit at all.
I’m still a Luddite at heart. But I’m no longer going to be a loudly complaining Luddite, an annoying geezerette who brandishes her cane as she rails against these darned newfangled gadgets and gizmos. The horseless carriage is here to stay, and so is Skype, Twitter, and book trailers – at least until they’re replaced by the next new thing that I’m not going to be complaining about.
Maybe I’ll go reactivate my Twitter account and tweet about that right now.