It was the mid nineties. I was pushing the BIG 40. Over one third of all American homes had computers with internet access. There was nothing beyond the United States...was there? I was about to get a lesson in that. A lesson that tumbled into my home along with the tower, monitor and dial up internet access my husband insisted we have. Correction. My darling daughter, then in the 4th grade, decided her studies would greatly suffer without the ever growing in popularity, home computer. She went to her father. Just as she went to him when she wanted a dog...and a huge bash for her 13th birthday. The former brought an un-trainable but lovable black lab trampling through our house. The latter ended in a limo drive for daughter and her friends. Really. I did not always say 'no'. Only to un-trainable labs, limo rides and what I perceived as an unnecessary home computer.
My husband came home from work one evening, computer in tow. I sat down at his encouragement and guardedly touched the 'mouse'.
"What does this mousey thing do?"
It was probably the last question I asked before taking off on 'my' computer. No one in the family, children with computer classes included, has been able to match my tech skills. We (the late thirties/early forties crowd) were catapulted into a world our parents barely dreamed of and our children with their young, sponge-like minds, were being taught. Our minds, older and not so absorbent, let alone open to new ideas, were sent swirling into cyber-space at the speed of dial up.
This generation I belong to are the true pioneers of the internet. The World Wide Web was at our fingertips and we weren't letting it pass us by! That was well over a decade ago. The world that opened up to me has been an experience so amazing that words fail me. People from all over the world were marching across my monitor and into my life.
My biggest surprise? Not everyone loved Americans. Not everyone even liked Americans. Who knew? Biggest disappointment? Not everyone online is honest. Greatest thrill? Four of the most awesome people I could possibly imagine having in my life, I met online. Mike in NZ was the first. No, he does not always like Americans but it's okay and he adores me so that is all that matters. We only talk a couple of times a year, always on New Years as it is the anniversary of his son's passing. Tom, a liberal living in Texas. That alone should clue you in to his great sense of humor and quick wit. How else could a democrat survive in Texas? Fran, a postal worker, who is as sane as anyone working in that field. Last but I assure you never least is Sheree. A Canadian woman who is as different from me as night is from day. Except, we both...write. It is the one common denominator that brought us from "Hello how are you?" to "Let's write a book!" It is she whom I would name if asked my greatest joy and most rewarding accomplishment online.
A good decade ago, on a hot summer afternoon, and after a nice swim I came home and checked in to what was then the booming MSN Communities. In one such community I frequented there was a 'tag' that caught my eye. An inter-active writing group set in a medieval island. It was "Sheree" who created and moderated the group. After I applied and a short talk later, I was accepted.
My first 'accomplishment" was to spend a week wreaking havoc on the story boards where I asked so many questions, Sheree created a 'general board' to side track me from interrupting story lines. Then I delved in! My writing, as rudimentary as it was, had potential. It was possibly that budding talent that allowed her to see past my many flaws. (We will not mention how many years it took her to teach me the necessity of conflict in a story line.)
I would tell you there have been no bumps in the road, but just as in life off line, such unfettered bliss is not possible. What I will say is that every wondrous, tumultuous moment has been worth it. A decade later, having raised six children between us, I pestered her to practice writing with me. She relented, with some trepidation, I'm sure. In six months we realized we had written enough to fill several books. It was then we decided to simply "just do it". Write the books we knew had the substance to sell.
106,000 words into the first book, we are well on our way! Not bad for a couple of Internet Pioneers.