Saturday, 30 May 2015

celebrating the simple things: writing


I heard on the news this morning that they've discovered another type of human which was living at the same time as our ancestors and the other species of humans. Sadly, we're the only humans left, and, while it's possible that there was some interbreeding, it is also possible that we killed them off. We can't know for sure, because there wasn't anyone writing it all down.

Humans like us have been around for about 200,000 years.

Throughout our history we have communicated, at first through gestures and sound, but we have evidence that we've been communicating by making marks for 40,000 years (which isn't long compared to how long we've been here, eh?). The first thing that springs to mind is cave painting, but there is also evidence that some marks were made to communicate to others.

However, writing as we think of it, has only been around for about 5,000 years (probably - it might be earlier, but not written on things that lasted - think Betamax).

Times that we can read about seem pretty close to me. Times when we can read the actual words of the people that lived then closer still. Changes in writing and in language can make it harder, but we have written texts that tell us about Egyptian Kings 4,000 years ago, although not in as much depth as we'd like. 

More recently, we know more. 600 years ago, in 1415, Cecily Neville was born on May 3rd. She was the mother of Richard III. Around this time lots of births and important events are registered. We even have some of the books that were produced. 

Lately we've been able to use writing more widely, as it's become a tool of the masses. During the 2nd world war, mass observation studies gave a fascinating glimpse into lots of real people's lives, using diaries that they would keep.

Now we all keep in touch with each other on Facebook, and people like me get to write in fora like this. This is my 400th post! 

I need to write everyday, to get the thoughts out of my head, and to try things out. I am profoundly grateful to all of those who have contributed to the wonder that is writing. 

I do sometimes wonder if I would need to write so much if I could draw. I'm told I could learn, but I don't have time. I'm too busy writing.

I'm also profoundly grateful to all those who use writing to spin tales that catch the imagination. Tanith Lee has died this week, and she is a great loss to the craft. May her stories live on.