It’s the best time ever to be alive.
I’ve sounded that note more than once, here and elsewhere, but it’s a tune I believe, and I’ve lived nearly half a century now, so I think I’m able to comment on how good things are with some accuracy.
Beyond the awesomeness that is record-cheap energy, fuel, and travel, is the astonishing array of resources the author can draw on to help make her better. Just a few examples:
- Thesauruses. You want a new word for “walk”? I have, next to me, a Roget’s Thesaurus, the gold standard, in book form (best option, for me, because of the serendipity of finding words I wasn’t looking for). Centuries-old tech, of course, but I got it from Amazon, shipped to my door. If you don’t like books, there are hundreds of different thesauruses out there for you to use (including some just for writers). Seconds, mere clicks away.
- Dictionaries. See “thesauruses” above.
- Training. Conservatively speaking, there are four kajillion writing blogs, not including this one (which would make an uneven four kajillion and one), which are crammed full of great advice. I recommend Chuck Wendig (occasionally NSF, always a language warning and a “don’t be drinking coffee while you read this” warning), The Write Practice, Amy Trueblood, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and (every day) Kristen Lamb’s astonishing blog of awesomeness. There are an impossible number of others as well.
- Research. I’m writing a novel of surpassing elegance and charm, a thing I can handle on my own, but it happens to be set in 1920’s New York, and my Big Apple experience is limited to my running down all 106 flights of stairs at the Rockefeller Center when I was fifteen. Not to worry. I have bookmarks for close to seventy sites that have resources for me to use, including photographs, maps, and original research. It’s astonishing. If I want to know it, I can. As a writer, the research has never been easier.
- Books. It used to be very difficult to find books in the genre you wanted to read, or if not difficult, then expensive. And now? Playah, please. Any genre, any title, it’s all there. Some of it is a penny. Some more of it is free.
- Discovery. This one is a double-edged sword, because everyone else is discoverable, too. But your natural market can find out about you more easily and less obtrusively than they ever could before. If you’re publishing good stuff, people can find it, and they can buy it.
It’s the best of times.