Saturday, July 14, 2007

New Connections Via the Internet

Hot weather--wet parakeet

Joel and Sarah spent a night with my sister and by all accounts (Joel on cell phone as Sarah drove north, Chrissie by email) it was a happy visit. Joel especially liked the plums that grow in the backyard in San Luis Obispo. They didn't get into Hearst Castle-- too late for reservations-- so maybe if and when Andy and I go out to visit we'll do that with them and see Chrissie and Goro and Alex too.

This is Saturday morning, and Andy is off to run the two town bike ride. I’m trying to get the desk in order, and particularly papers “graded.

I’m increasingly getting from people with personal requests, usually for free critiquing. My writing exercises are now first up if you Google for "writing exercises." I'm proud and astounded, but on the other hand, so far this has translated into no money and various requests for help. This interests me a lot. It is partly an entitled people (I have a lot of trouble with that word: half the time it has to be shaken loose from my head– I get “privileged” but not the one I want, “entitled.”) It’s also partly, of course, how easy and low-risk and email is, but also the intimcacy that the internet fosters. The person doign the writing exercises feels close to me, as if I were an aunt or the lady down the street.

So many things are made easier by email and the internet– getting speakers for Ethical Culture is smoothed out by email, many kinds of quick thank yous and responses, and the instant gratification of photos and sharing an article you read. The down side, pretty obvious, is how easy it is to toss off an angry or ill-considered response to something, to forward a clever comedy routine or ugly political attack to hundreds of people (the virus effect).

I’ve resumed relationships in a meaningful way through email with certain people, but then there are all the strangers asking for free responses, free critiquing, free friendships. It is going to be really interesting to see what shakes out in politics and publishing. Those are the arenas I see most in flux: people writing letters and calling each other on the phone is something we’re familiar with, although maybe I' m underestimating the importance of this part-- I don’t use MySpace (although an article in the Author’s Guild publication suggests maybe I should– some genre authors are really using it in a lucrative way). Maybe I’m missing the friendship web side of this.

One odd thing: I avoided having a color CRT and internet access on my computer for a long time for fear I would lose the magic of my computer as a place for writing alone.

I was right: it is suddenly a place where I teach, shop, interact from people, get political pleas, do all kinds of business. And it is indeed a problem to be so connected and less deeply private to follow my own internal tunnels and shady byways. And yet–and yet– I also feel those voices welcoming me, that I am part of something very real, all around.

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