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My online tribe

May 15, 2011

I was always a hopeless penpal. I’d manage a letter or two before the relationship would dissolve into nothingness. This is because I didn’t know how to write short letters.  I would gabble on for pages and pages and never finish the letter.  So penpal friendships just never worked for me. There are probably many lost opportunities over the years from the friendships that I either never developed or let fade away from lack of communication.

We live in a different world now.  A world where I can chat in real time to people across the contryside.  A world in which I can ‘sit’ in a global virtual classroom, learning and sharing ideas from people from the United States, New Zealand, Australia and other far-flung places. A world in which I can keep up with friends and family who live hundreds of miles away.

I love this world.

And I love the opportunities it has presented to me.

I saw glimpses of it 12 years ago when I was living in Adelaide and I emailed an author of a book to get an opinion on an article I was writing. I was thrilled to get an answer so I could add a direct quote to my article.  Anything seemed possible.

But I never imagined it would be like this.

Video phones. Remember when they seemed like a far-fetched idea that only future worlds could provide?  Now we have Skype.

Facebook brings friends and family together with an easy way to share photos, videos and conversations.

Twitter provides a communal lounge room where we can sit with thousands of strangers and comment on the same TV show.

And blogging gives us a potential worldwide audience. If you blog it, they will come.

On a personal level, I have found old schoolfriends and work colleagues on Facebook. I can find out the likes and dislikes of agents and publishers on Twitter.  (I’ve even won books on Twitter).

But mostly I have found my tribe.  Most of my friendships with other writers have been developed  online:  through the Friday Night Chat at Romance Writers of Australia, through the old Red Dress Ink forums, through yahoo writing groups, through Writer Island (write/edit/research a minimum of 15 pages per week to stay on the island). I have participated in online writing challenges such as Nanowrimo and 50ks in 30 days.

Now through Margie Lawson’s Deep Editing class, I’ve found an editing partner, the gorgeous Laura Main. It seems we share a wicked sense of humour, and we have swapped the first 3 chapters of our work in progress. I look foward to working with her.

But without the internet, none of this would be possible.I’d be alone in my writing room, churning out the words, and that could be the end of it. With the support and cheerleading of my tribe, I have been motivated, challenged and inspired. I have entered contests. I have volunteered for tasks and positions I never thought about previously.

Find your tribe and find your potential. You won’t regret it.

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 16, 2011 6:23 am

    Sometimes it’s strange, when you’ve known someone for years, but never met them in person.

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