The Times They Are A Changin’

       “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” – Alan Watts

On Saturday, October 29th, those of us living on the U.S. East Coast were pummeled with a pre-Halloween storm. “A fifty-year storm,” one weatherman called it. By early evening over a foot of snow had fallen. Our trees, still holding tight to their brilliant autumn leaves, were quickly blanketed with wet, heavy snow. Branches began to droop dangerously low.

We lost our power around 1:30 PM. I was at my desk writing on my computer when the lights flickered on…off…on…off, in rapid bursts, as if struggling to hang on. Finally the power failed altogether. Lamps, computers, and all things electrical went out.

The electric igniter on our gas range didn’t work, but that’s what kitchen matches are for. For a late lunch, I heated chicken rice soup on the stove top instead of the microwave. And instead of completing another chapter on my computer then watching Bride of Frankenstein on the television as planned (it is almost Halloween), my husband and I spent a few hours engaged in deliciously quiet conversation.

After a time, a dear friend called from Wisconsin and we caught up on her life, and mine. Then my brother and sister-in-law called from their nightmarish vacation in Hawaii. (Yeah, nightmare…in Hawaii, but that’s another story.) More talk. I’m glad we still have a non-electrical land line. My cell phone battery never would have lasted.

Our power was restored before nightfall. We were lucky. As I write this, many in the East are still without electricity as diligent linemen work non-stop.

Youngest son called home around 11:30 PM. His bus from New York City had been cancelled so he took a different line but it didn’t go to where he’d left his car. So, around 1:00 AM middle son and I drove to a Park and Ride to bring him home for an unexpected overnight visit. On the drive there we skirted four fallen trees.  This morning revealed cracked branches in our own backyard.

Such were yesterday’s small adventures, courtesy of the changing weather patterns. But global warming and changing climate, if that’s what it was, isn’t the only change going on in the world. Change is constant, and it is everywhere.

“The only thing constant in life is change,” wrote French author François de la Rouchefoucauld in the 17th century. Given the times he lived in, the man well knew what he was writing about. So, too, did Bob Dylan. His classic 1964 song, “The Times They Are A Changin‘” became an anthem during the Viet Nam peace protests of the 1960’s as well as the Civil Rights movement. It maintains its popularity.

This morning I watched a news story on CBS Sunday Morning about Asian carp that have escaped from Arkansas to the Illinois River, and the havoc these vicious leaping fish are wreaking. The story told of other invaders to the U.S., the Kudzu vine creeping across southern states, the Burmese python slithering through Florida, and others. A sign of our changing world as species once unknown in this country flourish in a landscape with no natural enemies.

Gunpowder caused massive change in the Middle Ages. The invention of steam engines heralded the Industrial Revolution. In today’s world, along with weather and environmental changes, the primary element of change is technology and its many ramifications.

Earlier technology – telephones, radio, and television gave way to computers, microwaves, cell phones, i-pads, e-readers. The list grows daily. Keeping up with hardware, software, and applications is not always easy, especially for this aging baby-boomer.

As writers, the change in most minds is the transition from traditional publishing to e-publishing. The issue is more complicated than it might seem to those unfamiliar with the topic. What is happening is creating a far greater change than if inventors had simply built a better printing press for established, traditional publishing companies.

E-readers and companies like Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble, have given writers (not just publishers) the ability to publish electronically and distribute that work easily, efficiently, and cheaply – all without the need for traditional agents or publishing houses. For the first time in history, writers have become empowered, in charge of their own careers.

Will a lot of rubbish be published? I imagine so, but doesn’t that already happen in print publishing? How often have you paid good money for a print book by an author everyone raves about, only to toss it aside? There will be bad writing in e-publishing, but I believe good writers will also emerge, outshining the bad. Professional writers will create stories that today’s editors and agents, many barely out of college, now reject simply because “it won’t sell” or “it doesn’t rock my boat.”

Writers will win, and so will readers as stories of all lengths, all genres, all topics, become available. And traditional publishing?   Change, my friends, is constant.  Plunge in, move with it, and join the dance.  ♥

27 thoughts on “The Times They Are A Changin’

  1. Deb,

    First of all, I’m so glad your power came on. I’ve wondered and worried all night and today. But then, that’s my nature.

    Your photos are grand with the snow. Even in destruction nature flaunts her beauty.

    And your comments about change? I live through the 60s and Dylan’s anthem to change. I figure I’m not old yet because I embrace all the changes happening now though it takes me a bit longer to figure them out.

    Great post. Great friendship. Great writing. That’s You.

    • We seldom lose power, and when we do it’s just long enough to have to re-set every clock in the house. So this one had us a little concerned. But it came back before the house turned cold. Meanwhile I had some great conversations. 🙂

      Didn’t take as many photos as I planned. Too caught up in quiet talking.

      Thank you, and take care.

    • Change is always a little scary, but also more than a little exciting, don’t you think? And you are right – limitless opportunities await for those willing to take the leap. Thanks for stopping in, Anne.

  2. Deb, you make me smile. As I write about not giving into e-publishing you put such a positive spin on the subject that I ALMOST feel like working on PubIT! immediately. I like your take on what a rejection letter really means, and certainly you have me thinking a bit more about change in the publishing world. Great post!

    • Rose, your post on Phrase by Phrase was fascinating and amazingly timely with this one. I encourage all who read this to click over to your blog and read it. Any writer, whatever their preference for publishing, should understand the territory. Thanks so much, and all my best!

      • Konqi: The thing is, KDE and Gnome are two separate deospkts that happen to be able to run each other’s software (and who share quite a few things behind the scenes these days). Making GTK controls look like Qt ones or vice-versa isn’t enough. A Gnome app doesn’t *feel* the same as a KDE one. You wouldn’t expect an app targetting KDE to use the Gnome HIG, or vice versa.As the author of a GTK/Gnome app, I wouldn’t be the least bit offended about a KDE user looking for a Qt equivalent to it.I guess Windows users don’t kick up a fuss about consistency because they’re so used to apps being inconsistant on that platform — even Microsoft’s own offerings don’t look like each other (compare Windows Explorer, IE, WMP, Office, etc). I would argue that MacOS users very definitely *do* care about it.Fortunately there is a solution to all this duplication of effort, and that is D-BUS. For example, if there was an amarok-dbus-service, it would be relatively easy to create separate Qt and GTK front-ends for it. Then the people writing the GTK front-end could go ahead and systematically remove options and functionality until all that was left were “play” and “next track” buttons a la the iPod shuffle, whereas the people writing the Qt front-end could go ahead and make sure every pixel of screen space was covered in a button of some sort, and add seven or eight configuration dialogues in case there’s an option somewhere that might not be accessible to the user. Et voila, now it fits in perfectly to both deospkts 😉

  3. Deb~
    Great post. I normally lurk on FTHRW loop, but am glad I popped over to read your blog. Times are indeed changing and writers are beoming more and more empowered. From where I sit, everyone wins.

    • I’m glad you did, too, Lynda. And I agree – everyone wins, (or at least has the opportunity). A great new world! Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

  4. Nice post. I just started writing in 2009 and my first two books will be e-pubbed, so I am experiencing the changing times already. I think it’s giving writers more choices to get books to readers that agents may have never allowed to see the light of day.

    • Congratulations on making the choice to independently publish, Patricia. Your plots look quite intriguing. And I agree totally that the choices to readers are expanding significantly by these changes. Best of luck!

  5. Deb, losing power is never fun. I’m glad you got yours back on relatively fast.

    I agree times are definitely changing and that is the way it has always been. But in this past century the changes are happening faster and faster. When I look back on how much things have changed since I grew up in the late 50s and 60s, I am amazed. I wrote my first book long hand then typed it on a typewriter. Can’t imagine not writing one now on a computer.

    • Trick or treating in the snow this year…now that’s a change! Having the power back on is great and we’re lucky. My son’s is out until Thursday in his apartment building so he’s coming back home, with our new grand-kitten, for a few days.

      Ah, long hand and typewriters and carbon paper, too…those were the days. 😉 Don’t know what I’d do without my computer! Thanks so much for stopping by.

  6. Deb,

    I’m glad your power is on. Sounds like you had a nice time without it, though. 🙂

    I’m SO glad the times are a changing when it comes to publishing. Self-publishing sure has been a lot of fun. 🙂

    • Debra, we did have a nice time. I think sometimes we all need to be reminded just how fragile our lifestyle really is.

      You are doing fantastic in self-publishing and providing real leadership. Thanks for your postings on your blog. Very informative. 🙂

  7. What a great post, Deb. Glad you weren’t without power very long.

    I’m one of those people who is dragged kicking and screaming into the newest inovation. Having said that, I love my Nook. I got it because I had friends who were self-pubbing or the book was only coming out in that format, and I wanted to be supportive.

    Reading so easily is what I love about the change. Old eyes need lots of light and getting the “real” book in just the right position. Not so with my Nook. 🙂

    Yes there are e-pubbed and self-pubbed books that have dreadful erros, but so too in hard back and paper backs. You have to ask what the editors are doing? LOL

    You guys who have jumped into the indie pubbing world are brave. I admire you. As more and more of you show how successful you can be, more of the scared ones of us out here will come along.

    • Hi Marsha! Congratulations, however belated, for your finalist status for VERMONT ESCAPE! I haven’t entered anything for several months now but it is an amazing thrill to get that phone call or email, isn’t it? I wish you all the best with the manuscript.

      I love my Kindle, and the ability it gives me to increase the font. Am also cutting back on the number of paperbacks and hardcovers coming into the house (and never leaving). That will be increasingly important when we begin downsizing.

      Thanks so much for stopping by. Keep in touch! 🙂

  8. I like the parallels you draw between the various technologies and how they changed the world. The times are, indeed, changing!

    I liked your comments over on K.W.Jeter‘s blog, too. The official organizations seem to be ignoring these changes, but the rank and file are not. My hope is that our professional organizations will soon start to support (or at least acknowledge) our indie career paths.

    • Frankie, I’d just written a response to you and was about to click “post comment” when my computer came crashing down. I’ve spent the last 95 plus hair-pulling minutes getting things back up and running. Now I haven’t a clue what I said in my first reply to you. But I’ll still take technology over a typewriter and carbon paper.

      Musing now…I believe it was about how our organizations will be unable to ignore the changes if we all stay involved and nudge them along. And how, as writers, we’ve tended to stay within our own isolated comfort groups – Romance, Sci Fi, Literary, Horror, and so on, but the advent and success of Indie Publishing is stirring the pot, and with a huge spoon. Who knows what new flavors will grow and develop?

      Of course it was more brilliantly worded BEFORE my computer crashed. 😉 Thanks so much for stopping in!

  9. The only thing constant in life is change – I have always loved that quote. It’s one of the good things about indie publishing on ebook too, it’s easy to change things. I’ve just improved the blurb for one of my books and I can go to the outlets myself and do it now. I don’t have to go through the machinations of a publishing company and find that it can’t be done anyway. ‘

    However, I don’t recommend the indie route for anyone without a lot of time for publicity though. It’s enormously time consuming to try to get word out that your book even exists let alone convince people that they might like to read it. For me though, it’s better than waiting around for my agent to try to sell another book that I know is just too different for trad publishers to pick up. I’m saving myself the frustration.

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