As a writer, sometimes it's easy to wish for the good old days before email and the internet. You know, the ones you hear about when publishers accepted unsolicited queries because people actually had to go through the effort and expense of printing and posting their beloved manuscript so the volumes were vaguely manageable.
The ones when agents weren't so overwhelmed with queries because everyone with Google and a book idea emailed them, that they now only accept submissions from people they've requested them from and file the rest in "Junk".
And yes, I will virtually hang my head in shame and admit that I was one of those people back in the day when I had absolutely no clue about the publishing business. Before I'd even finished my first manuscript, thanks to the power of Google, I had already selected who was going to be the lucky agent to represent my masterpiece, not just querying him once, but emailing him regularly over a few weeks with updated thoughts. Because of course he was just hanging around in front of his computer desperate for yet another update on what m main character could do in Chapter 6 and wow I have this great idea for Chapter 10. And yes, I received a far more gracious rejection than I deserved!
But, for all the extra challenges that technology has brought as a writer trying to get noticed among thousands of others, it also makes it easier to be a better writer.
I'm currently reworking one of my manuscripts to be based in Chicago, after being told by an editor that it needed to be based in the USA to have a chance of it being picked up. A bit of a challenge when I live in New Zealand and have spent all of five days in Chicago four years ago!
And yet here I am, sitting on my couch in Wellington reworking my manuscript, and with the click of a button and the flick of a screen in seconds I can find out exactly what I need to know to make it sounds like I might actually live in the US. How long would it take a character to fly from LA to Chicago? What flight would she be on if I needed her to get in early in the morning? What is the time difference? What suburb might my main character live in? How would she get to work?
With another click I can email a friend in the US with questions I'm unsure of. Does it make sense if I have my character cross X road or is it a busy four lane highway? Would someone of her age and profession realistically eat at Y cafe? How long would it take to drive from here to there?
The internet makes it all possible. Things that writers would never be able to find out, or would take significant amounts of time or expense to research can be found in minutes. Authors are more accessible, critique partners on the other side of the world email back feedback while you sleep, and when one day you get lucky enough to get on a plane the people at the other end whose blogs and tweets and trials you've followed are friends, not strangers.
So what about you? Favourite things about technology? Least?