Inspiration. It’s a word we’re all familiar with. Of course there are many definitions of the word ‘inspiration’ so I’d better make clear which one I’m going to be talking about here and that is inspiration as encouragement, an uplifting experience as opposed to inspiration as some kind of muse.
They’re related, of course. If I read a good book then it somehow makes the thought of me writing one myself not such an impossible consideration. But then I’m a writer and I’m always scrounging around for ideas that I can develop into poems or stories or even books. I’m just listening to a string quartet by a composer called Adorno as I write this (and it is lovely stuff) but it doesn’t really fill me with the overwhelming desire to sit down and try and compose a string quartet, and the same goes for any great painting or piece of sculpture. And yet they inspire me all the same, they lift my spirits. Or perhaps ‘lift’ is the wrong word. A film about the Holocaust is unlikely to lift my spirits but one can still be awakened by such things.
We go away and think about what we’ve seen. And we’re affected by what we see. Perhaps ‘touch’ would be a better word.
And that was my first reaction to coming in contact with the Internet; I felt touched. But then I had come ‘in contact’ with something; the notion of taction contact is implicit in an expression like that. Let’s clarify something though: my life had not been one devoid of human contact – I had hugged and been hugged – but this was different for me because all of a sudden I was able to get in touch with people who were like me and that was new.
Let me explain. I began writing in my early teens, as so many of us do, but it never petered away with me as it did with others. No, rather it became the focal point of my life around which everything else revolved. Trying to explain this to everyone around me, for they were all non-writers, was next to impossible and yet within a few days pottering around on the Internet, perhaps a week at the most, I had made contact with a number of other people out there who treated me as normal. Yes, it’s perfectly acceptable to get out of bed to write things down. Of course, why did you think it wasn’t? But it was more than that even: writing about things was not simply accepted, it was expected.
This was an incredibly uplifting thing for me and I don’t think children nowadays who have grown up with the Internet will appreciate what life was like before when you were forced to interact solely within your peer group – the kids at school, the fellows at work or church – and this was your world. So you made do.
Relationships though are about give and take. Again, at the beginning I was really only interested in me: talk to me, read my stuff, tell me I’m great. And I got that – my ego was well and truly massaged. Ah, another taction metaphor! Yes, I’m never one to refuse a back rub and I could sure use a neck rub right now – is there a writer living I wonder who doesn’t suffer from neck pain? – but, much as I like them, I’m sure even I could get sick of nothing but constant back rubs.
There’s supposed to be more happiness in giving than in receiving. Perhaps there is, and I’d like to think I’m a generous person, but if I’m giving then someone needs to be receiving and if they’re as natural a giver as I am, then I’m sure it must be hard for them to receive, but the fact remains that a giver needs a receiver and a receiver needs a giver – it’s symbiosis.
And there is something lovely and symbiotic I’ve found about relationships on the Web. People are very willing to help virtual – and sometimes total – strangers, locate scraps of information or provide answers to their questions and often more. There was one I came across a couple of weeks ago. A woman’s daughter was doing a school project in which she wanted to illustrate how global the World Wide Web truly is. She proposed to take a note of all the countries that visited her mother’s blog. Simple enough. Word spread and people began contacting their friends in out-of-the-way places.
I don’t know how many she ended up with but I was encouraged by the fact that complete strangers would do this for a little girl in America. And, yes, I was involved too. I wrote to a friend in Bosnia because I could see it wasn’t on her list of countries that had responded and my friend was happy to help out and I myself added Scotland to the list.
I am sure that if there is one problem that the Internet has gone a long way towards eradicating then that is loneliness. I know that at any minute of the day or night I can log onto my computer and make contact with a live person. Okay, responses are sometimes delayed but responses do come. I even had a go at chat once but my fingers were not up to the challenge – they couldn’t keep up with my thoughts and my thoughts refused to express themselves in words of one syllable – but it’s an option for the dexterously nimble out there. And, yes, we sometimes rub each other up the wrong way – that happens in relationships, and, make no mistake, there is nothing virtual about some of the relationships I have developed online. (No, rubbing’s not another taction metaphor – it’s friction).
For me personally, the Internet has provided purpose. Having spent so many years in isolation as a writer I’d got used to my own company and there are times now I’ve even felt crowded in by all the people there are out there willing to get involved in…well, pretty involved conversations, I have to say. But being able to write and to have people read what I write and (so they tell me) look forward to reading what I write means that whatever I write will be read, guaranteed. And these readers respond, support, encourage and inspire me to do my best for them. Readers are no longer an abstract thing for me. They have names. I know where many of them live, what they do to earn a crust, bits and bobs about their family life. They’re friends. Okay, most of them live hundreds if not thousands of miles away and I’ll never get to take them for a coffee. A couple live just the other side of the Clyde and you never know.
Of course the Internet is not perfect but perfection is relative. A hammer is perfect for hammering in nails but you can also club someone to death with it. And so the Internet, a great idea for mass communication, has its dark side and you really don’t need me to elaborate on that here. The point is, just because something can be misused doesn’t mean it has to be. I have a hammer in my toolbox and I’ve never once considered beating someone’s brains in with it. Okay, maybe the once. We talk about the Global Village – well, even local villages have their seamier sides. If your were to base your view of the English countryside simply on the novels of Agatha Christie then no one would want to live there.
If the Internet is anything, though, it is a magic jar. As for the jars in my house, you pretty much get out of them what you put in them. Not so the Internet. I produce a literary blog but I get to read blogs on a whole host of subjects: music, films, whatever. And as a research tool I cannot imagine having to go back to the old ways, the treks to the libraries with pockets full of change for the photocopier.
So, I hope I’ve inspired you. That was my intent. What you do with the inspiration is up to you. If you’ve had any doubts about getting involved in the Internet then put them aside. You’ll be surprised how little you need to know to get started. I started off by typing ‘poetry’ into a search engine and I could fill a book telling you where that led.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jim Murdoch of “The Truth About Lies” needs no elaborate introduction. He is a well-respected member of the writing community at Entrecard.
He is a poet by heart and a novelist by chance(I’m not sure of this though); but he sure writes novels that have uncommon interesting plots. Read what I wrote about his novel Living With the Truth.
Visit his blog to learn more about him.
Thanks Jim for participating in my first book venture. Kudos to you!