Thank you

I’m trying to remember what year it was … back in 1991 or ’92, I think – there was this new thing called the Internet and a friend gave me a Prodigy disk and showed me how to install it on my desktop, which was little more than a word processor and a ginormous calculator (attached to a printer with feed lines that I’d have to tear off gently before handing in for my college coursework).

Anyway. After being screeched at by the little men in the machine (I wish there was a word for the sound the phone lines made when connecting to the Internet back then; there’s a whole new generation now who never heard it, but it was impressive) the Prodigy software would welcome me, and I’d patiently click and wait, and click and wait, and finally the pages, the communities, I was interested in, would load. There were two. A tennis forum, where I met a girl named Regina who adored Andre Agassi, and I got to gush over Boris Becker and Steffi Graf. There was also a very active Books & Writers forum, though it was called something else at the time, with a good handful of fantastic published authors, the best known of whom was Diana Gabaldon.

Obviously, this writer’s forum had a huge influence on me. It was a part of my daily life before the Internet was a part of daily lives. I met Joanna Bourne and Darlene Marshall there, both of whom writes historical romances, Barbara Rogan, writer of literary mysteries, and Diana herself. I exchanged messages with Linda Grimes and Susan Adrian, who slaved away daily with me at the page, hoping someday to be published. (And now we all are.) We had guest authors come in sometimes, too. One such author was a newbie you might know. She wrote Dead Witch Walking and chatted with us about that. (*waves* Hi, Kim!)

The point is, a greater average number of working writers came out of that forum, I think, because it was expected there. It was what you do. It was what came next if you did the work. We all hoped to be published, but I think we all expected it a bit as well. Diana was already a legend back then, and would freely regale us with lengthy stories of her own editor (and editor, OMG!) who reportedly said things like, “It’s so not hard to be published in New York. All you have to do is write something one of us loves.”

We all drank that cool aid.

It’s where I learned the protocol of the Internet. Where I learned how to behave. It’s where I learned how to critique and take critique in return, that ad hom was never acceptable, that you call readers what they are – readers, not minions or fans or something else that knocks the author/writer partnership out of balance – and you write. Every day. You write.

That forum, and my own hard work, turned me from a dreamer into a writer and, from there, an author. It was the first place I joyously announced the sale of The Scent of Shadows and they all celebrated with me. (I still have those messages.)

releaseBut I totally digress, because the first actual friend I ever made on the Internet was Regina, from the tennis forum. We spoke to each other openly about everything, we spoke like sisters, and when I tried to explain this to Sarit, a good Real Life friend, she scoffed and said, “You cannot become a real friend with someone you met on the Internet.”*

Fast forward to 2013 and we all know differently. And your response to yesterday’s post is proof of that. I actually panicked after posting it and came back online to delete it, but messages had already begun trickling in … the first of which was a simple Thank you.

No, thank you. I plan to take time and respond to each individual message this weekend but for now please know how much your messages meant.

And be kind to yourself today, too.

*BTW, Sarit is back in her home country of Israel now and we’ve been able to reconnect … you guessed it, via the Internet. (So there, Sarit!)

17 thoughts on “Thank you

  1. Kim says:

    Awww. we just love you, Vicki! :-) Don’t feel like you have to respond to my posts. It was there as a nod across the room from one professional/friend to another.

  2. It brings a really warm feeling whenever I see a Compuserve alumna get published, And we’re still there! We’ve got an active Books and Writers Community where folks can get feedback, help, and research assistance, all in one spot. Sometimes we just hang out and talk about books. Check us out at http://bit.ly/2fzDNF

    1. I clicked on the site, saw the homepage, and almost started crying! It *feels* like going home! Thank you for commenting — I didn’t know if you’d see this or not. *hugs*

      1. Yep, I saw it. Really, feel free to drop by anytime. We’re still hanging out and having fun.

  3. Susan Adrian says:

    Vicki–And you neglect to say, but you were the first one in our group to DO IT successfully, and get those books out there, so you were the inspiration for those of us *cough* who took a little longer to keep going…

    1. All that matters is you don’t stop. And I didn’t *feel* like the first. After eight years, I feel like a loo-sah. But I learned to write and that’s all that matters. Now to keep getting better…

  4. Debi Murray says:

    Love ya, Vic! It is time for a VPeep reunion.One of these days it will happen.

    1. *sigh* One of these days … I loves mah Peeps!

  5. Raven Twinn says:

    I’m just a little teary-eyed. Not much to say. Glad you didn’t delete. Your words are my crack.

  6. Jon Daedalus Govoni-Watson says:

    Thank you, Vicki. I look forward to your blog posts, be them rants about FaceBook knowing your age (29?), or ones like yesterday’s heart-wrenching one on depression. I was on the road, so could not comment on it then, but I am glad like so many others that you did not delete it. Like you, I look at successful people and wonder what they have to be depressed about. I know it’s clinical sometimes, medical imbalances in the body’s systems and whatnot, but you are right: we all go through it sometimes. My mother’s father suffered from depression and died when she was only 12, forever changing her life. He was one of the few people who actually had a job during the Great Depression, and yet his mind killed him. I consider you to be successful (don’t glare), gifted, talented, and beautiful. To read about you contemplating jumping from a plane made me feel not-so-odd for having similar thoughts on occasion. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve long thought that some writers write and create a different world to escape the one they are trapped in… I know I have, with both poetry and prose. I have told you before, I truly appreciate the way that you respond to your readers, the people that you touch with your words. Your trusting us enough to share this side of you just blows me away. Again, Vicki, thank you.

    1. If I could help you, or anyone, feel a little less alone, even for a moment, then it was worth posting (and not deleting). Thank you — your friendship on FB (Yes, 29! ;) ) and here is priceless. Thank *you,* Jon.

  7. Kelly coughlin says:

    ..why do i get the feeling you’ve just blasted through some nasty boss level, and your writing is about to get even better? Anyway, thank you for the best writing advice, which is always-dangit-work hard, work hard… Then work some more!

    1. No rest for the wicked, Kelly. (Just thought you should know. ;) )

  8. Tiffany says:

    Hi Vicki,

    Prodigy and dot matrix printers! I totally remember those days, and that impressive modem sound.

    I love hearing this story. Of your writing background, on perseverance and hard work, and about the ways we can and do find real friendships and relationships through the Internet.

    What a great group to be a part of! There is strength in mutual support like that, and great inspiration in the way not all cool aid is laced with something damaging to drink – sometimes its an excellent refreshment for cultivating belief in and perseverance toward the realization of something we want.

    It really is phenomenal to think about how the Internet has expanded our world – not only as a culture, but as you’ve said, as communities based on common interests and as individuals. Today the same is true for me – not only do I use the Internet to keep in touch with distant friends and family, but some of the people who are truly important in my life are people I’ve met online. People who have become real friends, people who inspire me, people I learn from, people who are meaningful to me. That, in turn, continues to enrich my in-person life, as I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some of those excellent people.

    For me, the first time I met and interacted with people online happened in the midst of reading Kim Harrison. I went online looking for someone to gush with about Ivy Tamwood. That led me to Kim’s blog, though it hadn’t occurred to me that authors were out there blogging (nor had I heard of a blog at that point). I’m digressing. That was a great experience – like walking into an unexpected room and finding it filled with your people. I met people to engage with in some lively discussion, to soak up the nuts and bolts of writing advice and offhand tidbits that Kim is great about sharing, she pointed us to other authors, such as you, and I met people who challenged me (with a virtual kick in the pants) to write for the very first time.

    Anyway, how’s your weekend going? Mine has been both wonderful and bittersweet. Bittersweet is because one of my good friends is moving on Monday. *sigh* :-( Anyway, I’m on my way to a gathering to spend some time with her. Hope you’re having a nice evening, Vicki! <3

    1. Well, everyone has a backstory and I think it’s important to keep that in mind when dealing with others. Maybe we’ll all be a bit kinder in the end. (Like Kim, who always always pays it forward!)

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October 23-25, 2015
Surrey International Writers Con - Surrey, BC, Canada

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