I often wonder what it is that makes the Internet so alluring. Sure, the multitude of information merely a click away helps us writers do our thing much faster and more effectively than say twenty years ago. I think I’d really freak if I had to go down to the library every time I needed to look up a specific shade of green or the architecture of a pirate ship.
Cyberspace is also a source of inspiration where writer’s can meet like-minded people in places like chats and forums (my favourite being Absolutewrite.com). Networking has become the tool of the century. Surviving writer’s block and punctuation dilemmas on our own is a thing of the past like mobile phones that don’t remind you to brush your teeth at 7.30am sharp and actually reading a printed map without a very polite woman ordering you to “turn around when possible” (I can’t find my own shoes sometimes mind you, so I’m not really one to judge).
The worldwide connection that we have today would have blown our minds a decade ago. Suddenly, a corpulent man falling off a water slide becomes famous overnight and talents like Justin Biber are discovered through shared videos. I could ask a girl in Tokyo to share her Planking experiences and she’d be all “Oh, yeah.” The possibilities are endless now, especially for writers.
You can be whoever you want to be on the Internet. A kid who has to sidle around school with a wall always at his back to avoid Wedgie Power by schoolmates who think that they’re “all that”, can be one of the most revered gamers on the Planet. He could be the next Bill Gates while his puffy-haired schoolmates end up patronizing AA meetings and living with their mums. The Internet can make dreams come alive and nobody remains a “Nobody”.
Internet Marketing and publisher/agent/editor searches are yet another plus for writers, although sifting through the con artists and home-made garage companies is a pain and a half. E-mails have changed the querying process like penicillin to the medical world and publishers really have to brace themselves against the wave of newly empowered aspiring writers out there (I officially belong to this notorious wave and am proud of it, although I have received my share of “Unless you’re selling pizza, please get lost.”). It’s also great to be able to check if a title that you want is already taken by another, faster writer. I’ve had some really nonplussing moments when I found out that the titles I wanted to use were already snapped up by the Power Rangers and Pokémon. Needless to say, I’ve been trying very hard to grow up ever since.
However, as with everything good and glossy, there will always be a rubbish-strewn alleyway out back (We could use the discovery of Justin Biber here, too, but that’s all I’m saying about it). Because of the abundance of information and inspiration on the Net, the competition has also increased making us once meek and soft-spoken writers into elbowing, hissing members of the literature market. The pressure to perform is sometimes unbearable and some writers’ forums only make you want to donate your laptop and take up hula-hoop gymnastics instead.
So, how did we humans survive before “LIKE” buttons and having shoes delivered to our front doors? Well, we did other stuff: we went real window shopping, read a book where turning a page actually involved a possible paper cut and talked to our friends without the words LOL and OMG in each sentence. However, all being said, as a writer, I just love Ms WWW with her educational sites—and freaky flaws—and I wouldn’t ‘Unfriend’ her for all the free credits in the world. Sayonara, bookworms and yellowed pages; Guten Tag, “Oh dang, the battery’s dead!”