Ode to the Internet

Girl in love onlineCan I just say I love the internet? For all its BS (and there’s a lot of it), I love it. I would not be here without it. I mean, obviously I wouldn’t. This is the internet and without it I couldn’t be on it. But in the more abstract sense of “here,” as well. Putting my writing out there and, yes, actually expecting readers (at least three, please?).

Just think how things have changed in the last decade or two. Ebooks exist and are widely available to read on any number of ubiquitous devices. Before that, I could have crossed my fingers and waited for a publisher to notice and woo me. That might have happened. But, just statistically, more likely not, regardless of whether my work is worthy or fits a particular publishing house’s current needs. OR, I could have self-published. Paid a bunch of money for real-life, fancy bound books and then sold them… where? Well, maybe one or two local bookstores would have put them on the shelf, if I’d asked real nice. Or I could’ve gone the cheaper route — photocopies and staples all the way, baby. And then given them out to my friends, who might politely accept them, regardless of whether they actually even enjoy the sort of stories I write. No. Things are exponentially better now. I can reach the freakin’ world and if there is an audience out there for my writing, people who genuinely want to read the kind of stories I write, I have a delivery system that will get those stories to them. And at least a fighting chance to find them, which brings me to…

Social media! And also advertising. Just the complete and total connectivity of the world we take for granted today that didn’t exist when I was a child. Amazing. No, but really: Amazing. I have at least the theoretical ability to connect with readers anywhere in the world. Even if my audience is .000000001% of the population, I now have a least a glimmer of hope of finding them. Which is HUGE. How to find them and convince them to try my writing? Well, that’s another problem (also huge) for another time. But the mere fact that there is a way to reach them means little niche nobodies have a fighting chance of, in their own way, competing with the blockbuster bestselling authors we’ve all actually heard of. An opportunity to let people who might enjoy my writing know it even exists.

In fact, never mind readers for my work, how about just readers who like the sort of books I like? Because it just so happens that in my real-world circle of friends, I’m kind of the odd one out. My male friends don’t read the sort of books I prefer, because they think they are “for girls.” My female friends mostly think they are fluff and those that do read them do so under duress as part of their book clubs or with a heavy dose of embarrassment as a “guilty pleasure” (I actually don’t believe in guilty pleasures, but again, another issue for another post). Maybe they are fluff. That’s not inherently a negative thing, or even a lesser thing, I sometimes feel like pointing out. Also, they aren’t all fluff, and those that are often aren’t only fluff. But to each his own. The point is that through the wonders of the internet, I can meet those elusive people who LIKE the books I like. Unapologetically, even. It’s freakin’ marvelous. Maybe someday some of these people will give my books a try and that would be lovely, too. Meanwhile? It feels great to have found my people.

As a matter of fact, I’ve found my people beyond just those who share my reading taste. I’ve found the writers, too. All — you got it — thanks to the internet. For one thing, I’m in touch with the writers and related creatives I’ve met in my various real-life travels in the arts. People from school and the professional world who otherwise would have been lost in the ether long ago. A select few Facebook holdouts HAVE been lost and I’m beyond sad about that. But many more are right there, even if I’m just seeing the occasional picture of their child or their lunch and “liking” it. Every so often, perhaps, chatting about our writing or other projects. It helps me feel I’m at least keeping a toe in a few different worlds.

AND, then there’s my writing group. Four of us now, which is cozy and relaxed. One from my graduate program, one from college, one I know only online. And there we are, supporting each other’s habit. I completely credit them with getting me back into a regular routine, for which I’ll be forever grateful, even if I do owe each of them a critique. And beyond that familiar circle? I’ve struck gold, I think, by stumbling into an amazing group (literally a moderately large Facebook group) of writers who write, more or less, the same sort of thing I write! And chat about it! Online, any day, any hour! I’ve gotten such amazing support and advice from this group. And I now have Facebook friends places like New Zealand. New $%*@ Zealand. How cool is that?!

All this internet fabulousness is even before I mention the many resources at my fingertips. From being able to find out all about, let’s say, untraceable cell phones or whoopee cushions in an instant, to searching for grammar rules I cannot for the life of me remember, to, failing that, hiring a professional editor. I can design my own book covers with professional artwork I can buy online. Read advice how (and how not) to market myself. Set up my own little corner of the virtual world (that would be this site, right here).

Writing is no longer the solitary pursuit it once was. And there has never — never — been a better time to be a writer.

So, here I go, putting it out there. The adventure begins…