The blinking cursor blights the writer. Dickens Bronte Wordsworth Shelley or any others you might care to name in our tongue could finish and know it was truly done.
They could close the book with a satisfying clunk or set aside the last sheaf with a flourish.
The quill would be stowed, pen given its lid, pencil inserted into case. They might sigh contented, and look out the window with a quiet and nostalgic satisfaction.
But today’s writer - if she uses modern means - is not so easily sated. For there will always remain the cursor winking and blinking in the fluorescent white light - asking and encouraging her to do more.
“The work is not done,” it says, “write more. Write more.”
“But, I’ve finished,” she will say, "see here…” and she will scroll back through many hundreds of pages to demonstrate, “see here, it is done”.
But the cursor is not placated. Still it blinks. And now it is worse - because the work the writer thought she’d done is now incomplete and the cursor inserts itself in like a chisel.
“Oh, look,” it will say in smug delight, “this needs more work. And this too. And this. And this.”
The cursor follows her around the page and the piece and where in decades past the writer might have taken great joy in reviewing the work she has done with capped pen in hand, now the cursor mocks and shows her she is always incomplete. The work is never done.
There is something pure in ending and decay. But the endless digital spectrum - extending infinitely at both ends, twisting and turning into multicoloured double helix - has robbed us of all finality. Give me back the dusty tome, the bleeding pen, the taste of the dirt under my nails and the feel that a full stop is final.
Very nicely put, Adam. I think about this a lot when trying to build computery things. When you have infinite editability in a virtual space it’s easy to avoid the attachment and motivation to want to see the thing through to completion. (e.g. never getting around to making a curated/edited/printed photo album after a trip, vs just printing the set of photos from one roll of film.)
Also funny how you only catch typos on an assignment once it’s printed and final and you *really* read it deeply.