As readers doubtless know, the bricks-and-mortar bookstore industry is not doing well (here and (here). But does that mean a loss of writing and reading as such, or just different methods of connecting readers with writers?

I got a chance to test my guess when the local Christian bookstore closed, leaving our writers’ group that meets there stranded.

In truth, the group seemed to have been languishing for a while. We very much wanted to put on an outreach conference. But month after month, it just never seemed to happen.

When I heard the news of the imminent closing, I said, let’s meet at my place for now. I have a bit of space. Plus parking in the area. And let’s keep it simple while we explore our future together.

At the second regular meeting, a curious thing happened. The atmosphere suddenly electrified.

People started thinking of what we can just start doing for ourselves now, without waiting for anyone else to do anything. We could hold the conference here, get this person to sing, that radio station to publicize, this volunteer to design the flyers, that national writers’ organization to send a resource person, this convenient and affordable caterer to provide the lunch…

Suddenly, everyone who had been telling me how difficult things are somehow morphed into John or Jane Solutions. After a while I couldn’t keep up with all the e-mail from the rapidly developing project. It was almost as if the death of the old way had freed people to start working on the new way.

I will be hosting a workshop called “Can I be a writer in the age of the Internet?” The answer, of course, is yes.

In fact, in many ways, it is easier today. So many resources that used to be difficult, expensive, or time-consuming to find are now easy, cheap, and quick. Resources can be reached just by typing a question into the search box. For example:

What were the top fads in the 1950s?

Is there a rhyme for silver?

Is the blue whale extinct?

When did Easter fall in 1935?

Of course, none of these Internet sources of information will turn a dispirited writer who doesn’t think she has a message into a best-selling author. They do mean, however, that a great deal of drudgery can be circumvented, in the pursuit of the best possible piece of work. Especially a boon to those who work or are raising children or have health issues.

What local experience is teaching me is that the Internet empowers or disempowers to the extent that we decide that we own our problems. We can only change what we own.

So readers who would like to write as a hobby, part time job, or retirement career, think of the Internet as your friend.

Next: A librarian responds to “Libraries: too un-cool to survive in an internet age?” 

Another free Internet resource is music (of one’s choice) that helps one think creatively. Here is one example:

 

Denyse O’Leary is a Canadian journalist, author, and blogger.

Denyse O’Leary is an author, journalist, and blogger who has mainly written popular science and social science. Fellow Canadian Marshall McLuhan’s description of electronic media as a global village...