Digital Destiny and the Crux of Divergence. An ‘Alpha Girl, Beta Max and Me’ short tale.

This is a short uni piece I wrote some months ago. It was the second appearance of Alpha Girl, Beta Max and Me in my writing, and the feedback from those uni posts was what lead me to becoming a blogger. I’ve removed the uni academic references from this version.

 

(“So, what are you doing now?” says Alpha Girl, housemate and self-professed Steve-hater.

“I’m writing my latest micro-novel on Twitter,” I reply, reclining on the lounge and not taking eyes off my iPhone. “It’s an existential philosophy in 140 characters, with an unnecessary M.Night Shymalan-twist ending.”

“Writing? I didn’t even know you could read.” She obviously forgets I now steal her newspaper every weekend to read the movie reviews.

“Can’t read? What do you think I do in my room all the time?” I say.

“I shudder to think.”

“You might be surprised to know that I’m currently reading six novels and I’m enrolled in two uni writing courses.”

“Two uni courses? Will they get you a job?”

“They’ve improved my writing.”

“You’ve nicely avoided the question.”)

Advances in technology are opening up opportunities for writers to expand their story-making into new art forms. The digital realm (hereby referred to as the electro-microcosmic frontier, or for those who prefer a more minimalistic approach, the internet) has allowed writers to experiment with various ways of utilising animation, sound and divergence (not Veronica Roth’s novel) to provide innovative experiences for readers.

The course notes indicate some writers might face a certain level of anxiety due to the “bewildering array of tools to generate multimedia”. As a result, they might be hesitant to take up these new art forms.

I’m a bit of an IT geek, always have been. This may be partly due to some mysterious aura I give off, like a bad deodorant that reminds you of a seedy night club venue. When I was working, people would come to me to ask me for help with their computers. I would stand there and ask the inevitable “have you switched it on and off”, then show them how to switch it on and off and receive profuse thanks when the computer magically started working again. In my semi-retired life, my friends still ask me the same things. I have worked on an incredible array of systems and programs over the last 25 years. I pick up new IT easier than Superman juggles elephants. I have desktop publishing, programming and graphic design skills and can use such arty programs as InDesign, Paint Shop Pro, Illustrator, Fireworks and PowerPoint, to name a few. I’m ideally placed to take advantage of this opportunity.

I love art in all its myriad forms. I love electronic media. I love the invention and ingenious possibilities brought by their combination. I draw in my spare time, I compose music; I’m a bit of an artist already. But I don’t want to take on a new form of writing. I want to be a “straight” novelist and short story writer (my apologies to any LGBT readers who may feel I have used that term in a discriminatory fashion – that was not my intent).

Old fashioned? Maybe. But I’m a strong believer that if you invest yourself in a new art form, whether it be a flash poems, generative texts, micro-fiction, or shadow puppetry at the pub, you need to invest yourself wholly. And I don’t believe I would be committed to these new forms enough to do anything more than make a cursory attempt. I guess I just wouldn’t want to be known as a “dabbler”.

And do I think that digital culture may replace novels? Not really. The novel goes through cycles of popularity, much like any other form of entertainment. All it takes is a new Harry Potter and suddenly the world is filled with a gamut of new book readers. Digital media often tends to be free, but along with freedom comes a huge breadth of content, some of which is of questionable quality. But that’s the same for anything, digital or not. I think there is a place for all literary forms.

As long as there are stories to tell there will be people to read them, no matter where they are or how they consume their content.

(“So, what are you doing now?” says Alpha Girl.

“What he always does,” says housemate Beta Max. “Contemplating his navel.”

“Oh, ye of little faith.” I reply. “I’m writing the next smash hit screenplay, composed entirely in Haiku verse. Every character recites their lines of dialogue in syllable structures of 5-7-5.”

“You are such an idiot,” says Alpha Girl.

“You won’t be saying that when Hollywood is at the door for the rights.”

“I wish you’d go out the door. And not come back.”

“Love you, too.”)

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