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Musings

The internet has removed any sense of true timescale


Once upon a time, if I wanted to find something out I had to either go to a shop and buy a magazine, go to the bookshop, or take a trip to the library. That or ask my parents. Now, if someone asks me a question and I don’t know the answer, or I want to do some research on the Indian Mutiny I can just turn on the computer, or pick up my phone and within a maximum of a couple of minutes I’ve got the answer.

Similarly, if I wanted to get in contact with someone I had to either phone them – remember the days when you knew everyone’s phone number off by hear? – or write to them. If they weren’t in, answer machines weren’t an option as they weren’t that well-known at that time. Granted, the postal service worked far better and if you sent a letter first class, it was pretty much guaranteed to reach them the next day, either in the first or the second delivery. That’s right young’uns, there were TWO postal deliveries a day. The first was 1st Class and the second was 2nd class with all of the first class that didn’t make it in the morning.

Once the person had received the letter, they had to find time to open it, read it, and then pen an answer. Look at this post. It has taken me about three minutes to write it. If I was doing this by hand, then it would have taken far longer, and there would be far more mistakes. Tipex would be dabbed liberally over those mistakes, or there would be a line through them. Either way, writing a letter takes a lot longer than people think.

Now though, now we just turn on the computer or the phone, choose email or text and bang out a message. We don’t even have to know how to spell as the phone and computer will either correct our mistakes, or point them out for us.

As soon as we click or press ‘send’, the message is gone. Bare milliseconds later, the person at the other end has received the message. This is the rub. We know that they have received the message and we expect a reply back straight away.

I sent five submissions out last night, and have one to post today. Two of the submissions had auto-replies which basically said ‘got the submission, now leave alone for a few weeks.’ A few WEEKS? I’m sweating beads of impatience. I know that they have the submission but, because I’m used to instant replies and results, I’m now sat here, jiggling in front of my computer and checking my email every five minutes just in case they had a quiet time and had got around to looking at mine.

It doesn’t help that one rejection I got came after about 48 hours. That is incredibly fast in the world of agents and submission considerations, but is has skewed my perception as well.

So, I now have to re-learn the art of patience and – as my wife suggested – “sub and forget, move on to the next story and the next submission.” Great advice. Bloody hard to follow! I shall however follow it. Because if I don’t I’m going to get pressure sores from being sat in front of the computer for so long.

About mattsylvester

Father of two beautiful daughters and married to the beautiful Karen, Matthew has been reading and writing fantasy and science fiction since he first read the Hobbit at the age of 7.

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