Category Archives: water

not drowning but waving

On the Suffolk coast where we stayed last weekend they had been warned of floods comparable to the deluge of 1953 which submerged whole villages and killed hundreds. In the event the high tide wasn’t as high as predicted, although a breach up the estuary submerged the fields beside the river. Local residents were relishing stories of alarmed visitors; they’ve seen it all before round here.
We walk along the river bank and my novelist friend is keen to discuss the future of the book. Her publisher has been circulating their authors with letters about the impact of digitisation; she’s convinced big changes are coming in how novels are distributed, but doesn’t believe there will be much interest in using new media in literary storytelling.
We visit a fish shop by the river that was flooded out. They’d only just opened an extension built at a height recommended by a local fisherman who had told them, “That’s as high as the tide went nine years ago – you’ll be all right.” They weren’t.
Bloggers mix text with still images with moving pictures embedded from YouTube etc. – young people take that media mix for granted, and as consumers we all do, watching tv adaptations of favourite books, using the web to research more about the author to discuss at our reading group. A new generation of more consciously transliterate reader will take it as read that the text is surrounded by researches, images, networks of reader response to the point where these become an entirely integral part of the work of art, the author’s creative voice distinct but no longer so alone.
The flooded fields are rather beautiful and it’s already hard to recall what the landscape looked like before. Nature can adapt instantly to change; it takes longer to redraw the maps. At this week’s if:book:group at DEMOS in London we’re discussing authorship and user generated content. Let’s push off into uncharted waters and see not if but where we float.