It was 1999 and I wanted in.
An increasing number of television advertisers were referring to their company’s dot-com. The very concept of eBay fascinated me. And AOL kept offering me 1000 free hours.
That about sums up all I knew about the World Wide Web the day I drove over to a nearby Radio Shack, bought a phone jack, drove home and dialed up for the very first time.
I decided upon my AOL screen name, hahnmah, an online moniker I use to this day. My 15 year-old nephew gave me the names of a couple of sites he said I could use to search for things on the Internet–Metacrawler and Dogpile. Through them I quickly learned that you could shape your online landscape any way you chose; go down dark alleys and you’d find the evil lurking in every corner, or build your virtual world around pursuits you love and create a friendly, welcoming global community.
Naturally I chose the latter.
I initially primarily sought the company of other writers. In this time before social media, we found each other on forums, or on websites dedicated to us. Eventually I set up one of those myself, a website for writers, as I learned that there was plenty of room on the Internet for all of us. We swapped ads, articles and resources. Cheered each other’s successes. Promoted each other’s books and services. The bonds we formed on our screens and through our keyboards often seemed stronger and more enduring than ones in our offline world, where so many of our friends and relatives just didn’t share our passion for the written word.
After a number of years, I dissolved my writer’s website. But other writers I met online way back when have not. Today I want to salute those pioneers who stuck with it and who continue today to share information, ideas, inspiration and resources with other writers:
- Hope Clark: Her Funds for Writers website has deservedly made Writer’s Digest’s 101 best websites for writers over 16 consecutive years, and she continues to send out both free and paid email newsletters–all this while writing books of her own, teaching classes and doing book signings. I applaud both her tenacity and the wealth of information she provides. Truly one of the most remarkable women I ever crossed paths with on the Web.
- Yuwanda Black: She blogs. She writes ebooks. She’s all about how writers can make a living writing search engine optimized content for websites. She moved to Jamaica several years ago just because she wanted to–and took her freelance writing career with her. I’ve respected her worked for years, have learned a great deal from her. You can, too by going to her Inkwell Editorial site.
- Steve Slaunwhite: Steve is a Canadian copywriter who also provides marketing consulting to businesses. Moreover, he’s eager and willing to share his knowledge with other copywriters and wannabees, and has been doing so for years through both books and article. Just an all around nice guy.
- Anne Wayman: About Freelance Writing is another one of those venerable websites for writers that has been around since, like, forever. Anne continues to fill it with fresh tips and encouragement through her blog, and sends her subscribers a weekly email newsletter, while at the same time providing coaching services for writers and website development and ghostwriting services for those who need a professional. I love Anne’s work.
- Alice Wisler: I just want to give a shout out to this particular writer who, in the wake of her own personal tragedy, has worked for years with other writers trying to find their way through grief and loss. Alice has also written tender novels filled with characters seeking healing and wholeness. I’ve known Alice, and have admired her work and spirit for years.
I owe a great deal to these dedicated writers, as well as to hundreds of others I have followed but never personally engaged with. Non-writers will never know or fully understand how remarkable an achievement it is to stick with one’s writing through thick and thin. I am both humbled and inspired by their perseverance.
Who have you “met” online whom you’ve admired, or who has inspired you? Feel free to share your experiences–we can never have enough positive influences in our lives.