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just by finding information on the web, trolling around Google Earth to discover how a location looks, and verifying historical references on Wikipedia.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 Pixabay.com