A web of inclusion
I mostly enjoy living in Wangaratta in north-east Victoria, but sometimes find it hard living in a conservative country town. My left-wing attitude and openness to new ideas does not fit in sometimes. My isolation is enhanced by illnesses that make it hard to find work and to socialise. My saviour has been the World Wide Web.
Connecting with writers
I write science-fiction. Local writers seem to only want to write books about magical vampires or duck breeding. So when I first connected to the internet I immediately searched for other science-fiction writers. I also joined a number of online writing groups and forums. Currently I am a member of groups in Sydney, Perth and the US. I am very involved in the online writing world.
I joined Myspace but was disappointed. Myspace appeared to be just about music and celebrities. Many of its members confessed to being bored by books. So much for all the hype about social media, I thought. But then I discovered Facebook and its many science-fiction writer members. I very much enjoy sharing writing experiences online.
A few years ago I was thinking about increasing my writing skills through further study. I had exhausted limited local options so I applied to distant universities. I was accepted for a creative writing degree at the University of Canberra. Unfortunately my ulcerative colitis became regularly active and could have made the move to Canberra very messy. So I decided to defer the course. But then the university staff told me about their online Master of Creative Writing. I happily signed up.
Blogging, shopping and work
For the past five years I have kept a blog on writing and science-fiction. I post a new blog at least once every week. Each time I post I feel I am conversing with the world. Every comment on my posts makes me feel just a little less isolated.
Wangaratta has one small bookstore. On one trip to the store last year I was dismayed to find only three science-fiction books on its shelves. So it is just as well I can use online bookstores for my science-fiction fix. If impatient, it takes less than a minute for a new e-book to be injected onto my e-reader.
The web brings a world of writing opportunities to me, like writing for the DiVine website. I also work for a Melbourne-based research company that allocates jobs through its website.
More than football
Men in Wangaratta only seem to talk about the football, the weather and the number of stubbies they consumed the night before. Fortunately the web allows me to join in more meaningful discussions on subjects like science, disabilities, politics and the environment.
I am a member of a well-known online advocacy group. I have joined in its campaigns on subjects such as climate change and freedom of speech. Being involved in the group's campaigns makes me feel like my opinion actually matters.
Dependent on the web
Writing this article has brought home just how dependent I am on the web. A bit of a worry really. What if the power fails, my computer breaks down (again) or a virus crashes the internet?