Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Writer's Tool Box: Top 5 Reasons Why the Internet Belongs There

A few months ago, I discovered the fabulous playground known as Face Book. A place for friends to gather and buy each other cyber drinks, go green, and send a host of outrageous gifts back and forth. Aside from throwing the odd sheep now and then, I love to send and receive little treasures from the Writer's Toolbox—time to write, copy paper, a million fans, a book contract, an agent,... How fabulous is that?

And then I thought, there is one thing missing...the internet. Imagine the old days, those wonderfully romanticized images of Eric Blair huddled over his crappy desk in a dark hovel, alienating his wife and cutting himself off from all human contact so he can scratch out 1984 only to die completely broke and under-appreciated.  Okay, maybe not so hot.  Of course then you have Ernest Hemingway, always the life of the party, constantly trying to prove his manhood by running with the bulls and heading out to the high seas to hook a marlin...until he shoots himself in the head.    

Hmmmm...ya gotta wonder.

At least in the world of children's books, today's authors have a little more spunk and a stronger sense of life.  Maybe it's because we're closer to the font.  The source of youth and joie de vivre.  Or maybe it's the internet.

Let's start with the most practical reason why the internet should be in our Writer's Toolbox, and move toward the more metaphysical:

  • #5.  Research:  No matter what kind of book you write, whether it's historical fiction, fantasy, or the edgiest anthem to modern teen angst, you do research.  If you're old (like me), you might not be in touch with what an EMO is or get the latest fads or slang.  Hit the internet.   And even more practical, who's publishing your kind of stuff or representing it, or reading it?  The list is endless.
  • #4.  Speaking of queries:  Not only can you research the publishing industry and all its fabulous fodder, but you can submit via email or online forms.  Oooooh...and get the answers that much faster.  And even better, you can check your email 150 times a day in the privacy of your own more skulking to the mailbox, out in the open, for all your non-writer neighbors to gawk at.
  • #3.  Distraction:  Hallelujah!  When you get that 247th rejection on your teenage vampire/spy/beauty queen novel, you can get lost in a variety of online games and other mindless distractions.  Of course this cuts both ways.  Instead of working through that writer's block in the middle of your 10th revision, you can waste time visiting 100 different blogs.  You might find inspiration...then again, you might find out that everyone else is having more fun than you—or not.  Best to set up a daily routine and limit the distractions (can you tell it's working for me?)
  • #2. Community:  Voila!  There it is.  THE BIG ONE.  This is the thing that keeps us from pulling the trigger.  We have FRIENDS.  Face book friends, LJ friends, Blue Board friends, Blogger friends,...  There is a whole world of human contact out there.  Okay, maybe not exactly human contact, but it's real and active and something we come to count on.  When your non-writer friends have no clue what a hook is or what a galley looks like or what the hell a good synopsis looks like, you have cyber friends.  People at all stages of their writing careers who are willing to show you their bloody wounds and battle scars.  They'll commiserate with you in your failures and celebrate like no one else in your successes.  And when you travel two states over for a conference, they'll even welcome you into their home, feed you, and haul you around even though they've never seen your face before.  Because the know you from the internet.  I know, that could sound a little creepy, but children's writers are a different breed.  They understand compassion, empathy, and good old cathartic key-banging.  I don't know what I would do without my connections (in case you missed it, that was a pun...okay, not a very good one, but...).  
So there it is.  The top reasons why the internet should be in any writer's toolbox.  Oh, wait!  One more?  That's right.  
  • #1.  Where to find Your Book!  Yep, the internet will have the Publisher's Marketplace announcement of your deal, your ecstatic declaration on the Blue Boards and on your blog, and the cover image on Amazon (shhhh...we still support the independent book sellers!).  


  1. LOL.

    I heart my 'puter and my Internet. Sometimes, too much. LOL.

    btw ... you're on FB? So am I!

  2. Great post, Mary Ann.

    I would not be the writer I am today without the internet. Where else would I procrastinate? ... And yes, I'd still be writing "clever" little 2,000 word picture books with no plot.

  3. Without the internet we just seem so isolated - lol. I work a day job on the internet and when I need a break I look at my friends' blogs and catch up on their lives. I feel alone and isolated because I don't have a lot of friends locally and with me working at home and staying out of people's business and them out of mine is just fine with me. I'm thankful for having met folks like you on the internet and although we may not know each other for real, I feel I get to know you and consider you a friend. - Congrats on the agent, hoping your books do get sold soon, hoping the house sells or the job offer is better for your husband than the teaching and that everything settles back in to the norm you want it to be. See you in the postings - E :)

  4. Awesome post! I feel remarkably less guilt seeing you list the Internet as a destraction in the POSITIVE! It's okay to play Wordscraper waaay too much! Woot!


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