This is going to be a very short post. I am terrified of writing anything. Or of pressing any buttons. Or of walking too close to the keyboard in case I bump against something, which knocks over something, which rolls into something, or onto something, and presses some button. Any button.
You see, I have had a close encounter. Of the terrible kind. And I haven’t quite recovered from it yet. I don’t think I ever will.
It started off so innocently. I was sitting at my computer, minding my own business and amusing myself by writing 1500 words about a friend, as one does. I am basing a character in my book on her and the editor wants her ‘fleshed out a bit’. It was a warm and affectionate portrayal, which, I thought, read fairly well. But she was never going to see it. Nor anyone she knew. Not, at least, until I had changed her name. At a minimum. Anyway, I was just practicing. I was using the blog software because it has very good editing facilities, and it makes everything you write look nice, and I like it. Well, I did, right up to the point where I discovered the serious design flaw.
There are two buttons, one to let you preview your piece so you know how it would look if it was published, and one to publish it. They both begin with ‘P’. Neither one has a skull-and-crossbones sign next to it, or a ‘Are you REALLY sure you want to do this’ label or even a ‘Publish and Be Damned’ sign underneath, written in red. No, it simply has two buttons, both beginning with ‘P’.
It could have happened to anyone.
So, after hitting Publish, I panicked. I started stabbing furiously at the Back button. Instead of retrieving my post, it just made the computer freeze. I got more productive. I jumped up and down in my chair and shouted ‘Help me. Help me. Help me’. Christopher came running in. He seemed a bit surprised when he didn’t find any blood. Or me being electrocuted. Or attacked by a rabid squirrel. No, I was in a much worse state than that.
I told him what had just happened. He laughed. Now, he’s not a cruel boy so I assumed he didn’t entirely understand the gravity of the situation. I explained that I could get the post back before anyone saw it on the blog, but that I had to hurry before the automatic email went out to the people who subscribed. One of whom was the friend. At that exact moment, my ‘you have mail’ sound sounded. That’s when he REALLY laughed.
He then sat down and read my latest blog. All 1500 words of it. About my friend, and her husband, and her family, and her dog, and her business, and her home improvements, and everything else I either knew about her or could invent. Yes, 1500 is a lot of words. And every single one of them was about her.
As he read, I wrung my hands, and hopped from foot to foot, and checked his face for signs of a dawning awareness that we were going to have to abandon the house, in the middle of the night, leaving no forwarding address. He finally finished. He leaned back in his chair. He looked at the floor. He looked at the ceiling. He looked at me, and he said ‘Well, she might not like the part about Nanny McPhee and the moles but other than that it was pretty good’.
What? Was he seriously telling me that writing about someone, in detail, without their knowledge, or permission, and then posting it to the blogosphere was acceptable behavior. Give or take a few moles?
Apparently he was.
Which just goes to show what a dangerous new world we live in. One without rules, or at least without the kind of rules that everyone knows, and understands, and accepts. And that brings me at long last to the purpose of this blog. This can’t go on. The insanity must stop. There is just too much information whizzing towards us, at us, through us, from all directions, all the time. We aren’t safe from it, anywhere. Someone has to make a stand. That person is me.
I am starting a Bring Back the Quill campaign.
Why? Because the worst thing that could happen back then was that you got pecked at by the turkey, or goose, or whatever animal originally owned the quill. Or got ink beneath your fingernails that you couldn’t get out. Or writer’s cramp. Or strained eyes. Back then you could sit in the comfort of your own home, safe in the knowledge that you couldn’t accidentally do anything that was going to be instantly seen by everyone you knew, and who they knew and who they knew and, well, you get the idea.
Yes, it is time to bring back the quill. The campaign starts here. The campaign starts NOW.
At least, it will do. Just as soon as I check my Twitter account. And my iPhone alerts. And perhaps Facebook. And, of course, post this.
Not Leo Tolstoy (aka Eileen Riley)