Sparked by Words

I Found It on the Internet

Surely you’ve heard the comment, “I found it on the Internet.”  You can write an entire book just by finding information on the web, trolling around Google Earth to discover how a location looks, and verifying historical references on Wikipedia. Search through a thousand images to describe the scene of your dreams or nightmares. Birth intriguing characters, devise a dilemma, pop in several crises, add a few red herrings, and construct a conclusion. Write it all out in your own words.

Spend three months or a year hanging out in Starbucks sipping your favorite wrappa-frapppa-chappa frothed with whipped cream while plugging away on a laptop, compiling your ideas and notes into a story. Your story. My story.

Title your work, apply for an ISBN, self-publish or aim for traditional publication, and you’ve got yourself a book. Maybe not a great piece of literature, but a story of sorts. Flash fiction, a six-word story, a screenplay, novel, or memoir. Perhaps a prospect for a serial looms, each title relating similar hi-jinks and low brow appeal with a quirky but likable protagonist at the helm and a nasty antagonist in the underbelly.

Everybody can try. Anybody can be a writer. Even you. Even me.

My newest WIP is loosely based on my grandparents’ and parents’ lives early in the twentieth century. Of course I didn’t know my parents when they were kids, and the stories they told are bereft of the details I want to include. I find myself checking the Internet for the facts I need.

It isn’t that I’m too lazy to go look it up in a library among the stacks of real books. It’s that the library of today is a media conference room, a cultural gathering site, and rent free micro-business office space. Latch key kids work on homework while waiting for parents. The homeless find it a safe place to doze while appearing engrossed in pamphlets left by various local businesses. The unemployed bring their dismay with them as they search job opportunities. The elderly gather to read magazines and newspapers. The lonely come to socialize.

Books? Many of the shelves have been swept of books, creating more room for videos and CDs, space for computer stations, and sofas for lounging. So I can’t peruse the stacks in search of corroborating information for whatever premise I’ve imagined – the books aren’t there. I might as well stay home. It’s Internet browsing for me as well.

Ah, computer research. There I’ve located my childhood homes – seven of them, all posing for their photos, a few looking dated and worn,  a few graciously maintained and attractively remodeled. One in Philly, one in Hawaii, three in New Jersey, two in California. I discovered that Trenton and much of New Jersey were very much the center of the Revolutionary War. I grew up mere miles from the places whose history made me American instead of British. How I wish as a kid I’d been so impressed when studying the war that birthed our nation. Should have been more attentive to being in the actual locales of history. Unknown heroes and unfamiliar sites reveal their mysteries in online educational sites, encyclopedias, dictionaries, and thesauri. (Yep, that’s the correct plural – I looked it up on the Internet.

Several books related to my subject are suggested so I consider whether to pursue them. I dare not read a book without first scanning reviews on Goodreads and Kirkus to assure I’m not wasting time on a tome I won’t like, and reading the reviews takes time. Some reviews are so interesting I must investigate others written by same person. I get up to heat water for tea and remember the microwave is broken and not repairable.

So, next I’m shopping on line. When buying appliances, I always examine the safety, efficiency, and value ratings before handing over my credit card, all of which I can do over the Internet and never have to enter a store. The entire world lies before me on the screen, seducing me away from everything else I need to do. Away from writing. Ah, but it’s all so interesting.

Fact is, I can find out nearly everything on the Internet, but I must write my own book. There are no new stories, only new iterations of old ones, and only a limited number of themes to explore. The fresh approach must be mine. Time to close the browser with all its attractive and tempting images, jingles, pop ups, cat videos, on-line personality quizzes, Facebook friends, links to sensational news stories, cooking and travel blogs, and Groupon deals, and hie myself to my story files on my computer. I went looking for a few facts to put in my book and became distracted with a million (fascinating) excuses not to write.

But I am a writer. I should be dipping a quill into ink, scratching a pencil in a journal, typing on my old manual Olivetti. Armed with ideas and information, my story is waiting to be told, and only diligent application of words will result in its completion. So now I write.

New document page please.

Wait – where’s my coffee cup? For crying out loud, how can I write without my coffee?


Photo of coffee cup and computer courtesy


Comments on: "I Found It on the Internet" (29)

  1. Sharri, don’t forget the biscuit with that coffee! I’m always taking breaks from writing/computer to fetch a cup of herbal tea…my brain freezes up otherwise! 😀 Congratulations on your WIP and the research sounds a lot of fun (if divertingly so!) Your book idea about your parent’s and grandparent’s lives sounds fascinating and good luck with the research and writing. You could always order the books at the library…surely they still offer that service. Strange how few books they hold these days.

    Yeah…the internet does so much but not the writing…off we go, set to work! 😀❤️


    • You’re right, Annika, I do order books from the library. It can be many weeks before they arrive. The newest publications are available for rent, the lines of people waiting for them are often long, and I read so slowly, I might as well buy the book for the rental investment. Libraries are not what they used to be. Do they have mobile library services in England? I loved that little vehicle coming to my neighborhood when I was a kid, but they are long a thing of the past.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sharon, we actually still have a mobile library travelling around the villages…just about! With all the spending cuts I’m surprised they have survived but I read in the local paper that they might not fund a new set of buses which are needed as the old ones are now beyond repair. A great pity as they are a welcome part of the community – I used it often when my son was young…until he’d read all the books they stocked that interested him!😀


      • How lucky you are to still have a mobile library. It’s unfortunate to see programs that are great assets get decommissioned because of expenses. Maybe there will be enough of a community outcry that they’ll find a way to keep it going. Wishing you luck on this.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. All too true. In the Houston area, the library gave me the creeps more often than not and here in the sticks of Nebraska our library doesn’t offer enough. Research of any kind has to be done individually. I have been asked to take over the library but I haven’t enough time in the day.
    And coffee is required. Always.


    • I really enjoy doing research, Audrey, but I regret the passing of the library as we know it. And one of the most outrageous things happened many years ago. I’d taken my oldest grandson and we were sitting on the floor reading a kid’s book. I’m a rather dramatic reader and he was spellbound – as were the three or four other little kids who came to listen as well. Then the librarian came over and told me to stop reading out loud as it was disturbing to the people on the computers. I coudln’t make up such a story.


  3. Well done, Shari. Inquiring Minds are a curse as well as a blessing, aren’t they. That Lifelong Learner is alive and well within you!

    Libraries–I find them inspiring. I start with a specific book I want to check out (love that they’re still free) but then I can peruse the stacks next to my book. Because of the Dewey Decimal System, I find lots of related information I just can’t leave without. I have fond memories of researching in libraries.


    • Thanks, Jacqui. The local library, part of the county system, now charges a weekly rate for the newest books. The most popular titles have long waiting lists. I used to love spending time in the library exactly as you describe, but now most sections are depleted of related books and rarely have even one title for a subject I want to research. There’s a book to be written in the way libraries have changed over the last 20 years – hmmm. There’s a book to be written!


  4. Jenna Barwin said:

    Great blog post! And now I have to go find my coffee and get back to work…


  5. I do want to visit the local library more often but it looks like that won’t be happening soon. I probably will not use the books there but will enjoy the calm quietude while I sit at one of the many desks doing my research and typing via laptop. [I wonder if my library will allow a travel mug.]


  6. Coffee? I thought you preferred wrappa-frapppa-chappa? I looked up that esoteric beverage (on the internet of COURSE) and figured out you concocted it. Sharon Bonin-Pratt, Barista Extraordinaire.
    P.S. A very savory post


  7. Your description of the library left me laughing although in a sad way. Some change is for the better and the only reason that libraries have branched off into all these other roles is because their prime reason for being – to give the people access to books – is no longer wanted by the people. Does this mean that people aren’t reading? Hang on – yes they are – they are reading on the internet but they are reading small. Perhaps you should think about publishing on the internet (just joking) in small bite size bits and while people read each installment you can do your shopping and your research. You’d never have to move away from the computer. Hold on —- there is still that coffee that is needed.


    • Now you’ve got me laughing, Irene – and that’s a good thing. A lot of people read on E-readers, even many who were resistant when they first came out. I don’t have an E-reader yet, but some day I will. When you travel, there’s no other way to take a bunch of books with you. For right now, I still prefer a book in my hands, and I save books that really engage me. I might have more books than the local library!

      Liked by 1 person

      • LOL. I bet you do. When my mother visited our uni library she was so disappointed. She was expecting a hallowed hall such as she had when she went to university. She told me that Sydney Uni had a proper library. I refrained from saying that probably it too was predominantly online.


      • Our local library was never a great place though they tried at earlier times to make it the best it could be. When my older son entered high school, we discovered that neither his school nor our local library had the resources he needed. So I drove him 10 miles to the university and made plans to pick him up several hours later. He called me and said not to bother – half his classmates were also at the uni library and he’d catch a ride home. That’s how it was for both our sons. We took them to the uni library so they could get the materials they needed for their work. I believe there are some really great libraries around the world but most of us don’t have access unless we travel great distances. Tell your mom I’m with her, missing well stocked libraries in more places.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll tell her. Your sons were lucky to have that access and to be of a mind to use it.


  8. Love this! You’ve packed more information, charm and personality into this post than most people do in a one thousand page novel!


  9. It really is a strange things those libraries more and more devoid of books… Luckily my local one offers still lots of them to which I´m eternally thankful as I read far too much to be able to afford buying them all! 😀 Funnily I prefer reading real books printed on paper to ebooks but have no problems whatsoever to write my own stories and ideas on my laptop 😀


    • I’m with you all around – real books, trying to borrow more from the library, work on my computer. Though our local library has gutted the shelves of books, and gutted the floor of shelves so they could add more computer carrels, they will locate any book within the bountiful county system if they have it and send it to the local branch upon request. Costs a quarter and well worth it. However, they rent the newest and most popular books for $1.25 a week. Since I’m a slow reader, that can be expensive.

      Liked by 1 person

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