How the Internet Saved My Life: An Anthology Project Is Born
I'm actually not here to tell you how the internet saved my life. I mean, it has saved my life, and it's even done it more than once. Wait, no. The internet didn't save my life, but the people I met here did or at least helped out, and it has been nothing short of a miraculous addition to an occasionally complicated life.
Over the last 11½ years since I began blogging in August 2003, my offline life has been peppered with cancer, addiction, and a breakdown, but it's also seen a creative career blossom, travel all over North America, and brilliant new friendships. My online life has been peppered with… Wait a second. My online life was part of all those stories, too.
And that's what I want to talk about.
Over my first seven years of blogging, I was completely anonymous, and I managed to keep my online and offline lives separate, or so I thought, aside from a handful of friends who also blogged. In 2010, though, I came out of the blogging closet — on a tv news segment that also revealed I was an alcoholic, no less (Surprise, mom and dad! I'm a drunk blogger!) — and the fairly strict line I had artificially drawn between my existence online and off proved to be actually pretty blurry if not mostly non-existent.
I realized that when I blogged my way through cancer, when I admitted to my alcoholism, and when I struggled to find my way after leaving an abusive workplace, I had had all kinds of people around to support me and carry me through to the other side of some pretty long nights. Sometimes those people were flesh and blood, standing in the same room as me, but sometimes those people came to me through email, video chats, and social media, and they were in the same room as me in their own virtual way.
Welcoming the internet and its myriad citizens into my life hasn't all been some kind of utopian, singing-kumbaya-in-a-round love-in — there are some seriously wounded turds out there who derive a sense of control out of making other people unhappy — but it's definitely been a trip worth sharing for me, and I know a lot of you out there are nodding along.
And that's where you come in.
See that there? That picture just below this sentence?
How the Internet Save My Life
(when it didn't nearly kill me)
Bloggers reflect on the maddening, essential, frivolous,
life-affirming and soul-crushing complexities of life online.
That crazy little thing called the Internet: love it or hate it — and most of us do both, depending on the minute — its technologies are by now deeply woven into the fabric of our lives. Especially for bloggers, there is no clear separation between “life online” and “IRL”: increasingly, we inhabit both spaces fully, negotiating our identities, careers, friendships, politics, triumphs, heartbreaks, artistic pursuits, family, and social lives in both digital and analog form.
What are the rewards of our online engagement? What are the costs? And how do we tell the difference? We are looking to both new and established bloggers to take on these questions and contribute to this anthology of full-length, creative nonfiction essays, drawing on their own stories about and experiences of the ways in which the boundaries blur between life on and off-line.
Over the last few months, Susan and I have been talking and researching and working over documents and emailing writers, and, finally, here we are.
We already have an informal lineup of bloggers that we've gathered together who will contribute their stories to this anthology, and now we're looking to round out the project with additional contributors.
Remember when I said that this is where you come in? This is where you come in, because we are putting out a general call for submissions. We want your stories, be they about romance, mental health, creativity, family, addiction, identity, money, or politics. Your stories can be happy, sad, or bittersweet. The only thing we ask is that they be true and that they not be previously published.
Do you have it in you to write 1500 to 4000 stellar words about your life with the internet? Get on it! You just might see yourself in print.