So. If you pay any attention to some of the things that I say, or if you remember a lot of things, then you’ll know/remember that that I’m an avid listener (and fan) of several podcasts. I was listening to episode 199 of the “Enough” podcast the other day/week (it’s called “That’s All I Have To Say To You” for reference) and minding my own business while doing whatever it was I was doing (probably playing with pens, let’s be honest) when Mr Myke Hurley says (amongst other things, including the awesome phrase ‘geeky nerd nerd’ which I found hilarious); “why does everyone on the Internet want to write?”
I think Patrick Rhone tackled this fairly well from what I recall, but, I’d like to chip in a bit. I mean, I can’t speak for everyone, but I can, obviously, only speak for myself.
I should let you know that I am going to look at this from a fictional/creative person’s perspective instead of from an article/non-fiction based one, because that’s how I roll. Oh, and this is me so it’s
probably going to be a long one. Get comfy.
First, I think a little history might be in order, and then I’ll get around to answering the question. Probably a little along the way too. Oh, and I might even throw in stuff about me that I don’t recall mentioning before. So, here we go.
I’ve been writing stories since I was little, since I was in year… Four or five I think so maybe since I was about seven or eight. Ish anyway. (To put it in perspective, I’m almost 24 now). My maths is terrible and my memory isn’t much better. So, I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember. Just like the fact that I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember. I think it somewhat goes hand in hand. In fact, I could talk before I could walk and crawl and whatnot so I’d imagine that my poor mother would’ve had to listen to me babbling to her a lot. I just tell stories with my hands by typing/writing now. Anyway, there used to be a time when you would hardly ever see me without some form of reading material. I love stories, books, words more than I love most other things.
Books, stories, fairytale and whatnot were there when no-one else was for me. Disney stories were my friends when everyone else was hanging out with the neighbourhood bully and I had been left out again. I identified with with the characters in my books much more than the kids in my class. Especially in primary school – it was really odd having divorced parents in my year group. It didn’t feel like… Y’know it felt like I was the only one? I mean, I don’t remember if I was, I probably wasn’t, but it really felt like it. It wasn’t all bad, I think having split up parents is one of the main reasons why someone told me that I might like “The Suitcase Kid” by Jacqueline Wilson. That did it for me, I read everything by her that my school’s library had, and then asked for a load of her books for Christmas and birthdays and stuff. I even got one of her books as my year 6 leaver’s present (“The Illustrated Mum” just so you know, which I still love the concept of.) I identified with the girls in Wilson’s books so much. I wanted to do it; I wanted to write like that. I can’t say that, at that age, that I knew I wanted to have them identify with my stories, to help them escape from their own lives. I’m not sure that nine or ten year old me was really… Aware of all the precise reasons why people loved reading. Despite the fact that I knew why I loved it so much.
This love of books intensified as I hit secondary school. I moved away from where I’d spent all ten years of my life thus far, and I started a new school. God that was lonely. I needed books more than ever. Secondary school was really… Difficult for me. It didn’t really perk up until the last term of year nine and even then it was almost too little too late. Bullies really, really suck man. I mean, what gives you the right to make someone else’s life so utterly miserable?
English was my favourite subject alongside… History I believe. But English was always my favourite. I wasn’t necessarily good at it, at all of it, but I enjoyed it. I looked forward to it. Except for when I had… I think it was Mr Clarke in year eight. He wasn’t a very nice guy to be honest. I think he scared me a little. But anyway. English was my favourite all throughout secondary school. English Language was the first course I signed up for in college actually. Then in my second year I took English Literature. Then, obviously, I went to Uni to take a Creative Writing course.
(Are you all still with me? If you are, thank you!)
Basically, I’ve been connected, for lack of a better term, to words my entire life. I’ve always loved reading and I’ve always enjoyed writing. I’ve always realised that they’re both things that… They helped me y’know? Escapism. Liking books, shows and movies and… Anything that tells a story. It connects people, it helps you realise that you’re not the only one going through certain things. The Internet is just a bigger library, a bigger book club, a bigger writer’s circle. There’s so much already there, that whatever you put online is just another drop in the water; it’s easier to admit that you want to write because apparently everyone else does too. (Or, if you’re a more… “Glass half empty” type, it can devalue the whole “I’m a writer” thing ’cause apparently so is everyone else. But, that’s another thing.)
As for ‘writing on the Internet’ – I think I first put something online 2006. (I should really, really take some of that down because it makes me cringe to look at it, but I digress) and I continued to do so until University. I mean, I used to post my fiction online, nowadays I don’t. I just put things like this online. I think there’s a big difference between posting fiction and posting something like this. Probably something to do with the fact that you can find people’s thoughts all over the Internet, from Facebook to Twitter to blogs, so it’s not so… Hard to post them. I think that might be another post for another time.
So… Why do I/did I post things online? Um. I suppose that there’s a wider audience online and a bigger change that people will see whatever it is you post, especially if you’ve tagged/labelled it right. I suppose it’s easier to share things with people, ’cause you can just send a link and leave.
I put things online for that reason – the internet is a bigger audience/larger possible reader base. I mean, I’m not bothered if people find me or not, but hey, if they do, it’s a nice bonus. It’s something to do, that I enjoy. Anyway. I’ve never really had the biggest circle of people in “real life” that I’ve been able to/felt comfortable enough with to share my writing with. Especially not face to face. I mean, man, I suck at face to face interaction. The writing workshops in my second year of university were really hard for me for that. I think even my criticism comes out too nice?
I don’t know, maybe that’s a good thing either way. You don’t always need to be so harsh with people, especially the creative types ’cause if they’ve given you something of theirs to look over and/or review or whatever, then be darn grateful ’cause that’s hard. Especially face to face. Handing over something that you’ve spent hours and hours on isn’t easy. Us creative types are (almost always) constantly worried that someone (we’ve trusted with one of our “babies”) is going to tear it apart (and not in a good way) or laugh at us or… Whatever you know? Sharing your creative self, your creative heart and soul, if you will, is hard. Even more so face to face. (And that might be the… Fruitiest thing I’ve ever written, but darn it, it’s true.)
Putting stuff online is easier ’cause you can “hide” behind usernames. It’s also easier to take criticism from a faceless person, I think. You can post something and walk away for hours or even days and not look at it for as long as you want. Unless you’ve signed up to something like email notifications of comments or whatever. And even then! You can set comments to be approved by you before they’ll be posted to the world. Although, admittedly I can’t really hide behind my username; it’s unique, it’s mine and I’m very possessive of it. Plus, I sign my name at the end of every blog post. I don’t really think it’s very hard to find me, so… No running and hiding here! But that’s because I’m getting better and braver and frankly, I guess I don’t care too much? Most of the stuff I post is my opinion, and I think people need to stand up and claim their opinions more, instead of retracting them all the time if/when they’re ashamed. I find it easier to share my thoughts and opinions than my fiction, at this time anyway, so that’s what I do. I’m not saying that I don’t share my fiction; I have special people for that, I just don’t share it with the world. Yet. I think. One step at a time, baby steps!
So, in summery I suppose! (In my case at least) it’s not a case of everyone in the Internet wanting to write. In my case, I wanted to write and then the Internet came along. I use it as a… Hmn… Communications device, an improvement tool, a bigger platform to “talk” to more people. (That and putting things online is a great, massive storage system if you don’t have much space. It’s seriously a huge filing cabinet.)
I’m not really sure that all that properly answered the question. I tend to dance around the topic and then get there in my own, rambling way. A massive ‘thank you’ if you managed to read it all; seriously, well done.
Something shorter and hopefully more light hearted next week!
Blog post word count: 1776 words. (Holy cow, seriously?!)