When I first decided to become a writer, back in the olden days before the turn of the millennium, I had no internet to help me.
To find an agent or editor, I went to the library and checked out the previous year's copy of the "Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market." Submitting a manuscript involved a lot of paper, envelopes, and postage. And waiting. Lots and lots of waiting.
If I wanted friendly feedback on my work, I was limited to the people who lived near me. In those days, I was lucky enough to meet a newspaper writer who read my work and recommended that I read a book on writing style. A neighbor who was a former editing intern taught me how to punctuate dialog. Another writer I met encouraged me and gave me some suggestions. But progress was very, very slow.
I compare that to now, where if I want the latest news on agents, editors, and market trends, all I have to do is explore the children's lit blogs. Finding a place to submit a manuscript is done by checking one of the many reliable online lists. Agents have blogs, websites, and do interviews on other blogs and websites, so when I submit to them I no longer feel like I'm tossing my words out into the dark. And when I submit an electronic query letter, I can start getting responses in less than an hour.
And that's just the publishing end. What about the writing? There's a plethora of information on the internet on how to craft a novel. I can look up punctuation rules. I can download free worksheets to help me with my plot structure. And many of my favorite critique partners are people I only know through the internet, while others I met at conferences or workshops and now keep in touch with across the country via e-mail. That's not to mention all the random research I've done on the internet. Do I need to know how telephones looked in 1958? Do I need to know how to make home-made gunpowder? It's only a few clicks away.
So what will come of all this collective information about writing and publishing? Is it going to produce better books than we've ever seen in the past? Will we now be able to reach higher than those classics that were scratched out alone and in the dark, scrawled longhand on paper or typed in dusty library basements on rented typewriters? Or will we find ourselves boggled by all of these voices telling us how to do it right, telling us what they want to see? Will books become one monotonous shout, purged of all adverbs, passive voice, and extraneous passages, formulated on a three-act plot structure and bristling with hooks to keep the reader turning empty pages? Or do we all now have access to the tools that will empower us to light the world with the fire of our minds?
Only you can decide.