I love the Internet for so many reasons. It makes researching a book so much easier than it used to be. I can be in touch with experts in minutes. I can Google absolutely anything. I can chat with old friends. But one of the most fascinating facets of the Internet is our ability to connect with strangers.
My work-in-progress, The Midwife’s Confession, has a character with leukemia. She doesn’t have a central role, but she’s important. To understand her and her family better and to educate myself to her medical treatment, I began reading the many blogs about children with leukemia. I finished that research about a month ago, but there was one blog I’d stumbled across that I’m still reading. That’s because I came to care about the girl at its center. She and her family don’t know me and I don’t know them, but every day I check her blog for news about her, praying that it’s good. I worry about her and I marvel–absolutely marvel–at her strength and that of her family. Where do people find such courage and endurance? Her family is loaded with love and that comes through in every post.
I realize that’s what I write about in my stories: love and courage. I saw so much love and courage in my former career as a medical social worker and psychotherapist and it inspires every story I tell. But this post is not about my books. It’s about our ability to connect with people we don’t know. To care about them and worry about them and imagine ourselves in their shoes. The Internet can be a place filled with negativity–porn, kids bullying other kids, scams, identity theft. But it can also be a place filled with compassion, education and connections between strangers. My character will be all right, and I want the same outcome for the little girl who teaches me every day that we’re all in this together.