Thursday, May 12, 2011

In the beginning, there was chat, then a blog...

How does a person explain becoming a writer? Some claim to have wanted to write from childhood, some don't. I've talked to people with all kinds of stories. Each one is different, and some are downright weird. Others, well, they tend to be somewhat plodding. All of them fascinate me, however.

For myself, I started out reading when I was a small child. I didn't see the inside of a classroom until years later. When I finally discovered the internet and of all things, books and literature chat-rooms, I was absolutely delighted. In my little speck of the world, few people share my interest in books. Few, granted, have time to do so. I could not see well as a child, so I visited the world vicariously, through the words of others. I still do. When Yahoo came out with the 360 blog-sites,  someone sent me an invitation to link up. It confused me, but I did finally figure out what they were talking about and decided to try it. From there, I was hooked. In this part of Kentucky, there are no good writers' groups or support of any kind. No form of community exists within my reach other than the internet.

At first, I left the blog open to everyone. I soon found that, if one chatted in the chat-rooms, the site would soon lock even me out of it, due to too many hits. The eyes of a world are on chat-rooms and similar social sites. Some of those eyes are not friendly, and some are a bit too friendly. In order to access my own page, I locked access of it down to just a few online friends. It wasn't something I had wanted to do in the beginning, but slow connections and a few nasty little problems made it necessary. With a few adjustments, the whole thing cleared up and began to be genuine fun. A few years later, 360 closed. I moved on, like everyone else, to somewhere else.

For a long time, I juggled several blog sites. Now I'm mostly down to this one, and it doesn't get updates as often as I'd like. Facebook holds most of my social interaction, and indeed, I've found many old chat-friends here, some of whom have joined a Group I started on a 'secret' setting ("Hello, Couch participants!") a few months ago. I had missed those folks; they're good company still. Some decided to friend me directly, some not. I'm OK with that on several levels. I follow a few blogs myself, and all is well.

Along the way, I learned some things. Every person who commented helped me along the way. And I have become a better writer for paying attention to what they had to say, I think. One friend is a multilingual freelance proofreader in Argentina, and another friend, in New Zealand, has the sharpest, most fearless eyes for editing I have yet to see (it helps that she's not afraid of me, bless her). If it weren't for my friends, I wouldn't have come this far as a writer. And I know it well. I'm grateful to have genuine, honest friends. They're rare.

Feet of clay? Yes. Absolutely. For one thing, I don't enter fee-contests (cost-prohibitive taken as a whole on a limited budget). I have trouble still in regards to thinking of myself as a Writer (capitalized for emphasis on it as an occupation). To write does not necessarily mean you are a Writer, after all. Ahem. Writers and Poets are people to respect; kings once feared a poet more than anyone, and with good reason: words have power.

Words have the power to change lives. Not only the writer's life, but every life for endless ripples throughout the world. To take up a pen (or keyboard, in this case) is to pick up a weapon of either destruction or construction, a weapon that can cut both directions, can hurt or heal with equal action. Words are also fragile, a blade of thin, delicate glass, something that can crumble easily, taken out of context or misused. Words need careful handling by skilled hands.

Working blogs and conversing across internet lines around the world has been an intense blessing to me. Thank you, my friends. Thank you so much for your understanding and strength. It's good to know that creative criticism can be done on such a fine level of cooperation.

In the beginning, there was chat, where I met you good folks. Then there was a blog, where you began to teach me. And where I began to learn just a little about the proper care and handling of words.