Sunday, August 28, 2005

Poetic Community, pt. 3: Discovering the Online Writing Community

After moving to Japan three years ago, I found myself without any of the nearby social circles that I had while living in San Francisco. Some of them were still available to me via the computer but, as I soon discovered, the computer could only bring my loved ones so close, and then some of those people, in fact, drifted away altogether. I'm not sad about it. It's just part of the evolution of one's friendships, I suppose. It could very well be that I'm just not as well liked as I imagine myself.

Anyway, as a result of my relocation, which obviously altered my lifestyle and habits considerably, I was forced to develop new habits. I made conscious decisions about how to reallocate my time. Moving to Japan was a great opportunity to resume writing as my senses were being bombarded by new things, which was exciting, and it was easy to resume my old habits in that spectrum.

Survival was my first concern as I was in a strange country and needed to earn money. So many things about my life had changed and satisfying my writing desires were the least of those concerns, but I nonetheless made more time to write and read. One day, I stumbled across a person at my office who shared similar interests in writing, and we were soon meeting each week to discuss our personal projects and motivate one another. Soon, I had resumed churning out work at a steady rate. I had also started doing more research on the internet and began to really pay attention to e-zines and online writing communities, which I had largely avoided in the past.

Things were good and I was approaching this activity with renewed energy and a more focused plan. As I explored the internet, I discovered that the online community of writers had grown much larger than I had imagined. I remember understanding that the internet could actually sustain my writing. I thought it was a legitimate place in which to work and publish. In reality, I was living hand-to-mouth and couldn't afford to spend money on postage for submissions. I didn't have a printer and couldn't afford to buy one so I wouldn't be sending heaps of work the old-fashioned way. No more blindly stuffing envelopes. If I was going to do this, everything had to happen through e-mail. Eventually, I began to submit my writing electronically.

At the time, I didn't realize what I was looking for. I was just operating on an instinctual level and one thing lead to another. The failures of my first attempts at publishing guided me, and I made more informed decisions and maintained a greater level of patience. By the end of this first year, I had an acceptance rate of about 25%, walked around my bedroom with a swagger, and felt completely comfortable in my new life. This was the beginnings of my online community.

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