Why Today's Writers Are Cursed
edited: Thursday, April 19, 2001
By Lazette M. Gifford
Posted: Thursday, April 19, 2001
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Zette's theory of what went wrong in the writing world.
Writers of the modern world have been cursed. It's obvious when you look at the trials and tribulations we have to go through to be published, and how, even then, it's no guarantee of fame. We're cursed, and I've finally figured out by whom and when.
In the old days, writers were considered great people. According to Diodorus, "It is fitting that all men should ever accord great gratitude to those writers who have composed universal histories…" They were venerated, and it wasn't always because they were brilliant authors.
The same was true in the Middle Ages. Writers flourished, whether they were writing inane poetry or historical dramas.
But then the modern age came, and we fell from grace. And now I can tell you the secret of why writers are no longer adored in the ways that we ought to be. It has nothing to do with ability. We all know we're just as brilliant as any of the ancients, right?
It has everything to do with paper.
The ancient world didn't have paper. The ancient world, in fact, was lucky to have words at all, but that's beside the point. They wrote on wood, rock, and clay. Later, the Egyptians invented papyrus paper, which was a great step forward. In the Middle Ages, writers worked with vellum and parchment, which was made from the specially prepared and skins of animals. It was cheaper and easier to obtain than the papyrus paper that had to be imported from Egypt.
It wasn't until modern day that we began using paper. Paper is made with vegetable fibers. More importantly, modern machine-made paper is 95% wood.
Let me tell you about ancient Greek mythology, specifically about the Dryads. These lovely female creatures, who were generally friendly to humans, lived in or near trees. When a tree was destroyed, the dryad died as well. The Gods punished humans for destroying trees.
We've been cursed by the Ancient Greek Gods.
But there is hope, people. The future holds the key to breaking this curse.
It's called electronic publication.
(This article originally appeared in Holly Lisle's Vision: A Resource for Writers)