With every generation, life gets exponentially faster.
Shipping something across the country within a couple of days became overnight delivery to now ordering an item online and having at your door in an hour. Mailing a letter has become instantaneous texting.
I remember downloading images from the internet in just a matter of minutes. Wow! Now my blood pressure rises if it takes more than a few seconds. Come on, you stupid, slow computer!
Where we once had fast-food, we now have “fast-casual” dining, like Chipotle, Jimmy Johns, or MOD Pizza.
We don’t want to wait a week for the next episode of our favorite show – we binge-watch an entire season in a weekend! We suck down the in-your-face drama of reality t.v. like we’re chugging beers on Spring Break!
I know this observation is nothing new; you’re all savvy to our world’s ever-growing need for speed. But I’ve recently become aware of how it’s permeated something of personal concern to me – the books we read.
There’s always been a turn-n-burn element to publishing, evident by dime-store store novels, pulp fiction, and Harlequin Romances. I personally have a penchant for short novels, by the likes of Louis L’Amour, James M. Cain, and S.E. Hinton. Now, it seems, this has become a standard for e-books and independent publishing. The majority of books I’ve read this past year, many of them bestsellers, follow a similar model: hook the reader in, propel them through the plot like a bullet through jello, then get them out and on to the next book (in the series, usually; there’s almost always a series) as fast as possible!
My concern is this: Where does my meandering, comma and semi-colon infused style of writing fit into this landscape of fast reads? Will I ever have a modicum of success as a novelist while I’m living? Or will I attain popularity posthumously, after an EMP has wiped-out all e-books, and survivors will be forced to escape the doldrums of long nuclear-winter nights with slow reads?
These are just a few morsels of anxiety that feed my melancholia.