The page is blank before my eyes on the screen. My voice inside my mind echoes the words before they are typed. My fingers tap dance on the square keys of the keyboard, relaying what’s on my mind at this very moment. Yet, I’m not the only person writing today, right now. I will also not be the last to write in the near or far off future. I’m also not the only human being who has ever written before or said words on a page from the past. For speaking words turns into writing them down that shaped all manner of the civilized world all over this Earth.
You see, telling stories around the campfire, from days of our ancestors centuries ago, forms ideas for one another. The foundation of these ideas includes dwellings to keep the rain and cold out, locations to rest, and the ability to cook food with the right tools. Bathing in rivers and lakes using the right tools. Techniques for brushing your teeth with wooden bristles that have been softened. The procedure of crafting clothes and footwear. The memories of elders long dead kept alive by word of mouth were to find the freshest water to drink and the best hunting grounds. These basic items that make up daily life in a village or ancient town all began by speaking words and drawing the idea down to be reproduced.
As writing ancient languages progressed, so did the way writing on stable materials became more commonplace. Writing with a stylus on clay to keep receipts from a merchant’s tallies of wares gathered and sent to another town. Etched on stone, gold, brass or copper were common to keep records. Even stories were kept in such a manner. To keep records of what someone has said, even a story passed down for generations, is an important process.
In ancient Egypt, 3,000 BCE papyrus was used with a wooden or reed stylus, writing hieroglyphics. Also written in stone and plant extracted pigments on temple walls told stories and spells on how to face the trials of the soul to get to paradise after death. Parchment, created by sheepskin left after the wool was removed for cloth, was cheaper than papyrus. Later, wood-pulp paper, the cost of writing materials steadily declined in price.
Inks, quills, pens, writing desks, journals and books gradually developed around the world through trade. Everyone needed to tell their stories or keep records of sales. Documents for governmental processes to maintain city and country order were widespread in use for writing needs. Religious texts such as the Hindu Vedas, the Bhagavad Gita and the Sutras. The Abrahamic faiths of the Jewish Torah, the Bible and the Quran – all these human made books needed a place for these thoughts to be preserved for posterity.
Let us not forget the first single language dictionary handwritten by Robert Cawdrey, published in 1604 and the Encyclopedia Britanica published in 1768. Wikipedia, an open-source form, was established in 2001. Mary Shelley wrote The Modern Prometheus in 1818 and was published shortly after. Anne Rice’s first novel, Interview with the Vampire, was written in five weeks and published on May 5, 1976. The first published cookbook by Bartolomeo Platina’s (Italy) De honesta voluptate et valetudine (“On Right Pleasure and Good Health”) was written in Latin printed in 1474.
Manuscript – handwritten by pen or pencil in a large collection of papers into a book form. During the Medieval period parchment is used to write on with homemade inks using resins, egg and pigments. Quills sharpened to a point and dipped in the ink ready to write in calligraphy penmanship by educated monks in France and Germany.
Novel – meaning new idea from a person’s personal experience of thought that come to mind suddenly. My third-grade teacher had the class in the school library at Echo Mountain Elementary school to start reading fiction. She started that day of class with this: “Did you know ‘novel’ means knew idea.” I sat at the edge of my seat hearing that definition for the first time as she held up the book, Ramona and Fudge to be read that afternoon.
Author – meaning authentic creator of a work. An author is the writer of a book, article, play, or other written work. A broader definition of the word “author” states: “An author is ‘the person who originated or gave existence to anything’ and whose authorship determines responsibility for what was created.
Without writing what is in our minds and that comes out from our mouths to tell stories to our children, our words are lost in the wind. The stories get jumbled and misunderstood, losing all the heart and soul of what was originally intended.
Writing is a soulful and heartfelt emotional human process. The act of telling stories by campfire and then gradually cataloging our words by writing helps build civilization around the world. A sacred form of communication that needs to always be maintained and protected.
With the invention of the internet in the late 1960s, whole massive stores of words, stories, knowledge and histories are kept for anyone to study. People wrote all the words, sentences, paragraphs, pages, scrolls, books, and libraries by hand with ink and pen. This fact is often overlooked, despite the invention of the typewriter and printing press. Humanity combining their minds to accumulate and organize knowledge for the benefit of posterity.
Now, there is a greater threat. Possibly worse than when the Library of Alexandria burned to the ground in 48 BC. The threat of AI (artificial intelligence) being used to write stories and essay papers. Mere humans using this unleashed technology to cheat the art of thinking up words and sentences on their own. To fake their way through school to make a computer program, write an essay for them (which does not make a passing grade at all).
What scares me the most about AI being used to write a piece of fiction is to cheapen the art itself. To forsake the artful work, it takes to create something original from the heart and soul of each creative human being. If AI is not kept in check by rules and regulations, the jobs of writing stories for books, television, movies, and plays will come to a halt. Even the recorded visual medium of TV, movie and home recordings (YouTube Shorts, Facebook Reels, TikTok videos, etc) are a form of recorded words. The computer coding of any software is also writing and cataloging information.
But to use AI is a total insult to all our ancestors before us for 10,000 years of human existence to be whisked away into a weakened ability to think. Even the penmanship of ‘author name’ is diluted when AI is involved. Especially when the work is plagiarized by other authentically created works by human minds and hands. Once removed from the ability to learn how to read and write, the stories told by writers will revert to words spoken. This then finally means a breakdown of civilization. If the art of writing by human minds and hands that type and write with pen are lost, our humanity dies with us. AI cannot be allowed to propagate, for it will be the end of us as we know it.
To conclude, I would like you to think of this little piece I wrote in 1997…
“Words written down,
Sketches drawn on paper,
And dreams from the mind
Last longer than words that are spoken.”