Hey! Have you published your book yet? ME NEITHER!!! OMG, we’re like twins or something. Are you left handed? No? ME NEITHER.
So I lost the internet on a bus, and I couldn’t get it back. Trippy, isn’t it? In 1995, the internet had four Geocities pages about the same family in Wichita, Kansas; an eight second lo-res video of a camel sneezing and one picture of tits. Now I can keep the entire Net in a dongle the size of a Chinaman’s peen, and I can watch youtube videos on my cellphone, in the shower, while listening to a Spotify live feed from inside my Nan’s coffin. That’s the future, Mr Drummond. That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout, Willis.
We were watching the Whoopi Goldberg movie Jumpin’ Jack Flash the other night, and I think that’s from 1986. It was sort of about meeting strangers on the internet, in a time where the internet didn’t actually exist. So was the 1982 film War Games, for that matter. So was Tron. It’s like they ACTUALLY KNEW that one day in the future, relative anonymity might encourage the growth of cuntishness.
In Whoopi’s film, she worked wiring international transfers in a bank, and accidentally became friends with a dashing British spy. I say ‘dashing’; when he turns up at the end (SPOILER ALERT) it’s actually a balding and yet very mulleted Jonathan Pryce, who’s wearing some sort of horrific un-tucked blue shirt/incredibly high waisted coral-coloured chino jacket ensemble. One suddenly felt empathy for the shady Eastern Bloc types who wanted him dead. That was another point; the plot of the movie depended on the now defunct notion that someone could be ‘stuck’ in Eastern Europe, and unable to obtain safe passage without a contact in the diplomatic service. Kids watching Jumpin’ Jack Flash today would just be like ‘LOL Y DNT HE JUST GO ON RYANAIR HAHAHA xD’. They’d also be questioning whether the whole Giant Toothbrush thing on the movie poster was going to be integral to the plot, or if it was just some shit that 1980s movie producers pulled to make you forget that Whoopi was black. (She is the unblackest black person of all time in this movie. She listens to the Stones, she loves Noir films, she can’t dance, she hates fried chicken, she’s allergic to watermelon, the list goes on and on!) I may have made up a lot of the list.
What has any of this got to do with writing?, I hear you ask. Well, it’s all about how contemporary references date your manuscript. You could leave them out completely, and hope that it makes your book timeless. It’s not really possible though. And anyway, references to things that are around now might spark nostalgia in future readers. The trick is to figure out which things will be remembered fondly, and which things will not. Space-Hoppers, yeah. Piers Morgan, no. Sherbet Dip-Daps, yep! H from Steps, nope! And so on.
The most important thing is, to believe in your text and believe in yourself. Someone is always going to hate what you do. That has always been the case, it’s just that with the internet, you can actually see their hate, down to the last poorly spelt Facebook comment or the youtube comment with a sentence structure almost as poor as the one that I’m sort of making you read during this sentence, the one you are looking at now. Haters are gonna hate, as the kids say. That’s what they do. They hate. If they mainly cleaned floors instead of hating, they’d be called floor-cleaners, not haters. They’d also speak Polish and secretly want to kill you.
The best thing to (with regards to your writing, not homicidal Slavic janitors) is to not give a fuck. There are so many people out there making a living from something that they are terrible at, and that’s never more true than in the worlds of art, music and writing. Some clever fellow once said that world is only shit because clever people doubt themselves while fucktards are full of confidence [slight paraphrasing]. That’s the key, guys. You’re already a fucktard, all you need to figure out is how to be a more confident one.