The Internet: Not Just for Porn

By on Tuesday, July 1st, 2014 at 9:01 am

Melissa Adamo attempts to navigate the internet

My relationship with technology could be a romantic comedy—with blogs starring as that guy right under my nose, the guy who’s so perfect for me in his imperfection, so stellar with his boyish charm and manly good looks. Like any good romcom, let’s start with images of my past as the opening credits roll, so you can understand all future plot points:

Flashes of young me in what’s now considered hipster-chic oversized glasses taking typing classes in elementary school (do those still exist? Use the home row, guys). Stills of me watching adorable oxen die crossing the river. Speed up the recap to teen-me browsing Myspace, then college smiles of first making my Facebook account.

When the pop music fades, audiences see a full scene of me upgrading to the free smart phone long after my plan first allowed only because my flip phone died of old age. I was pretty broken up about it. I had even waited a week to open the iPhone box, looking at it from my desk with disdain and fear. I then, or course, epically failed at setting it up and had to take it to the Verizon store where the salesman laughed at my level of ineptitude.

I am not a Luddite. I love my computer, and Facebook and I have been going steady ever since we first met. I also recently revamped my Twitter account to help promote my writing (Plugging myself #dirtytalk: @adamopoeting). But I don’t Snapchat, talk to Siri, or crush candy. I don’t know the latest apps or any really besides the ubiquitous Twitter and Facebook.

Cue blogs.

Not Julie Powell type blogs with the hopes of being famous and getting Amy Adams to play you in a movie (although, obviously I want that). Not Mommy blogs with tips of the trade and inspiring advice. Not the whiny blogs of adolescents. Anything but that! The blogs I am advocating for pertain to writing workshops.

This past winter, I signed up for an online workshop through the Fine Arts Works Center. It was an 8 week course led by poet Ada Limón. She posted weekly readings and writing prompts for the 15 enrolled students through Blogger.com. Each week, we posted our own poems and commented on our peers’. Clearly, this is everyone’s favorite single gal scene: the adorable girl tries something new to an upbeat song in hopes of taking control of her life.

I was eager to be a part of another workshop after my MFA graduation in 2012 but skeptical about the online setting, thinking of it more as a questionable online dating site. (iDate: for the technologically challenged!) How can this internet machine work as effectively as a face-to-face circle of writers? However, not only did Limón provide a wonderfully structured course, the members within it regularly supplied spot-on feedback for poems. We were poets in various stages of our careers, scattered throughout the country, and this diversity helped create an open, intelligent workshop environment.

After the course ended, the contributing members and I started up a new blog to continue our work with each other. As the youngest one in the class, I took up the challenge (pressure) of putting together the blog. I struggled when I first tried, which means I tried quickly, failed, and gave up. How do I invite members? Which interface works best? I asked these questions aloud, and when the solution wasn’t shouted back, I cursed the internet and shut the computer. Plot point: in this moment, I don’t realize that I am falling for blogs because my pride is getting in the way.

The next time I tried, I followed the instructions that were so clearly right in front of my face, the ones I didn’t bother sorting through prior. I found out that Blogger.com is actually quite easy to manage (#bloggerplug), just as Limón promised it would be. Here, Limón would be playing the role of my best friend who gives sound advice I ignore at first. This is awesome in my narcissistic mind because I am a huge fan of hers.

So I had made it! I fully dove into the relationship despite all initial fears and excuses. I was happy to have a space to read poems of these wonderfully talented writers again and to have new voices and ears helping me with my own work. I went straight into teacher-mode and started posting schedules and requirements. I set up side “pages” (this is the technical Blogger term #knowledge) where we can discuss writing and editing, post our publication news, and share various readings. I felt as if I won, as if I was allowed to be a 20-something again. Of course, days later, my friends had to teach me how to shut off my smart phone. Comedic relief. #shesjustbeingmelly

Meanwhile in another email account…

A former MFA colleague of mine reached out, saying she and other alums wanted to start an online workshop. Such timing! I responded as the expert I then was, telling her about the FAWC course and how Limón ran hers. My friend loved the idea and quickly (more quickly than I) put together the blog. It has been great connecting with my peers, getting the chance to read their work again, and keeping me on schedule with my own work.

Writers all have busy schedules and getting together for workshops is often difficult. In this year, another group of alums and I have met together only three times. Picking a location, date, and time is always a challenge. But online, we can post whenever we have the time. We can meet with friends who no longer live in the same state. Everything rumored about online communication is true for writers, too. This seems simple, obvious (dumb?), but I never utilized this option before hence the joyous romp in finding this out, in finding myself #leadinglady

My romcom ends with colorful scenes of me posting online, throwing my head back in laughter. Oh, blog! You’re so cute this morning. The uplifting song at the end seems to shout at audiences to spread this joy in case other writers also have not seen the obvious truth staring at them from their computer screens: Set up a blog to keep on schedule, to get notes, to hear new voices outside your own head. Don’t let pride or prejudice stand in your way. Fall in love. It will end happily. Always.

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