Take writers groups for example. The people in the know say if you’re a writer you need to be part of one so you can get regular feedback, bounce ideas off one another, help get over blocks, provide and receive inspiration. City dwellers need only to look up “writer’s group INSERT CITY NAME” and a list of resources so long it’s hard to take it all in appears out of the ether. Especially if you replace INSERT CITY NAME with a city full of artists like San Francisco or Los Angeles.
Then there is the conference and workshop thing – they cost a lot of money to travel to and there are no conferences or workshops being held within driving distance of my home (if you know differently, please speak up!!). Ever the optimist, I didn’t let that detail stop me, but after approaching one “expert” to see what they would charge to come and run a workshop for a tiny group of writers willing to make the trek here to participate, that isn’t going to happen any time soon. (That is, they want too much damn money despite the offer of a week’s worth of free accommodation in a highly desirable tropical vacation destination).
But I have come up with two solutions to the limitations presented by my current circumstances. Following the San Francisco Writer’s Conference, a small group (three in total) of us have begun to create the closest thing to a writers group that can be conducted over the internet. We are sharing our work and our opinions and giving much needed encouragement and support.
And then there is this internet thing itself.
There is a revolution occurring. It may come as little surprise to you the readers of a blog, that the nature of publishing, reading, writing and the research that informs it has changed dramatically over the past several years. The internet has changed the way we communicate, shop, determine the meaning of a word (when was the last time you used a printed-word dictionary?) and interact with our fellow human beings. Never before have we had such easy access to the worlds of complete strangers.
Recognizing this revolutionary shift in popular media, publishers of newspapers and magazines began many years ago to provide their content online, much of it for free. The days of paying for subscriptions that gather unread by the front door is long gone. Online magazines are an incredible source of information and inspiration, provide content unimaginable and inexhaustible – all of it available NOW. No more looking in the closet for that edition you never read, or the one you did and want to revisit. And search engines point you in the right direction, to the correct source or to something completely new.
Escape Into Life is one such online journal that I recently stumbled upon while surfing through the blogosphere. It is full of incredible visual arts, poetry, fiction and non-fiction writing. It is the best quality art I have found on line, ever. It’s like going to a excellent gallery and an ivy league English department all from my little chair here in the middle of nowhere in Mexico. A little writers workshop, university of the ether, that inspires and pushes one to ponder the craft of writing. At no cost to me. My world just expanded several fold and my excuses are dwindling.