I'm going to date myself here, but I didn't have the internet until I went to college. While I am glad for so many reasons that I didn't grow up with Facebook and Twitter, sometimes I realize how much I missed out on because of it.
As a young teen girl, I found out about the world around me from my magazines: Seventeen, Sassy, and YM. I learned about music from MTV and the arts from my grandmother's hand me down Smithsonian magazines that I obsessively cut up for scrapbooks I never made. I found out which celebrities I shared a birthday with by waiting until February 17th each year to see that episode of Entertainment Tonight.
When I was in high school I excelled in music, but never knew where a love for that could take me. I assumed all music majors had to be proteges at their instruments otherwise your only other option was to be a teacher. I majored in Biology in college because I had a really wonderful teacher my junior year and wanted to combine it with my love of tennis to become a sports physician. I signed up every year for career shadowing day, but there was never anyone to pair me with. I shadowed a Nurse Practitioner one year and learned a lot about the reception area of the doctor's office.
What I love about 2017 is that so many more things are accessible. I went to an author signing this week for a writer whose work I am completely in love with. Her books inspire me and, because I follow her on twitter, I get to see some of the behind the scenes parts of the process. I went to another signing a few days later for an author who gives out course-loads of free (and amazing!) writing advice and I was able to thank her in person for that.
When I was a kid I loved Judy Blume books so incredibly much, but I had no idea who July Blume was. She was just this name on the cover of these books I devoured over and over. And it never occurred to me that I could do that, too. That writing a book wasn't just sitting down at a typewriter (remember, this is pre-computers everywhere, kids!) and creating something wonderful in one try. My love for reading never translated to writing when I was growing up and I was terrible in my english classes.
A few years ago I was watching an awards show and a celebrity wore a dress in the most beautiful shade of yellow/green. I tweeted to Judy Blume (who I knew was also watching) and said it looked chartreuse to me, a color I learned about in her book JUST AS LONG AS WE'RE TOGETHER. She wrote back in agreement and pre-teen Scarlet was ELATED. (Who are we kidding, adult Scarlet was freaking out, too.) You guys...Judy Blume is a person. She sit at the computer like the rest of us and strings together words, whether they're on twitter or in a word doc to create a book. And this woman, this sensational writer whose books I have loved for most of my life interacted with me. It was cool!
I was thinking about this the other night at my second book event in a week and about how maybe just 10 years ago I said I didn't really care about meeting authors. "It's not that exciting to meet someone who wrote the book. I'd rather just read it." 2017 me laughs so hard at this, but also, 2007 me didn't have the same connection with so many of my favorite authors: the internet...and twitter specifically.
I drove to Pennsylvania last year to meet Sarah J. Maas because I love her books so much, but also because I follow her online and it seems like we both cry all the time at stuff we love. I love when she posts on Instagram about seeing a ballet and sobbing by the end of it. (I, too, can't control my tears!)
I went to Susan Dennard's book signing last night because I love her Witchlanders series, but also because I relate to her as someone who has interests in science and the arts and because she gives the best writing advice!
I left work early last Sunday to go to Victoria Schwab's event not only because I am obsessed with her books, but because we share a love of Scotland and I admire her work ethic. I know these things because I follow her on twitter.
I've always been a lover of the arts (books, music, films, etc.), but more than with musicians and actors, authors were always a little more inaccessible. I would walk into a bookstore and look for the latest installment of my favorite series, but it never went much farther than just thinking about what their last name was to find them on the shelves or reading their short bio on the last page. Twitter changed that, and while there are, of course, cons to being so out there, I, for one am so grateful to have learned more about books and writing.
I was always going to be a lifelong reader, but in the past decade I learned I could create something, too. I discovered so many different ways to explore and share my love of books and creativity. I may never have a published book, but I learned that writers are just people. (Talented, creative, awesome) People who sit down and do the work. I love that the internet has provided me that knowledge.
It may suck that I never knew paid internships existed in college or that there are career paths for non-protege clarinet players, but it's okay because it's 2017 and if there's one thing the internet has taught me, it's that anyone can have success and at any age.