Forty years ago these days, in November of 1983, my book Saturno: nubi, anelli e lune was released by the small Italian publisher Italy Press. Early that year I had started writing this astronomy book about the planet Saturn.
Such a traditional publishing deal, my first and only one, was a stroke of luck.
While most debut writers collect dozens or hundreds of rejections before landing a deal, I got mine easily at the first try. I was a kid almost old enough to sign a contract and, when I pitched the idea, the publisher agreed with no objections. What's even more remarkable is the publisher trusted not just one kid at his first book writing experience, but four.
Along with three friends of similar age we pitched the idea of a series of astronomy books. I picked the one on Saturn and my friends did the others.
The book proved a success as the print run of 4,000 copies was distributed throughout Italy and sold well. It earned me roughly one fifth of what top science writers were paid for for similar work at the time.
In these digital era there's a growing interest in analog writing with pen and paper, possibly fueled by a reaction to technology and a romantic vision of art.
Almost four decades ago, in 1983, I wrote a full-length book with these tools, all 216 pages of it. Plus one third of the manuscript worth of additional text I cut while editing. Also, for years I kept a personal journal with pen and paper.
Although a practical necessity back then, handwriting was an awful, time-consuming experience that brought no value to me.
Now I use pen an paper only for occasional short notes of up to a couple of lines, and computers or other digital devices for everything else. I'm not missing the fascination with handwriting, at all.
You’ll have to pry my digital writing tools from my cold, dead hands.