[I currently have a wicked, never-ending cold, which has slowed me down considerably. Let's just pretend this blog was posted on December 1st as I originally intended it to be, shall we?]
Sometimes, the internet gives you gifts. Sometimes, those gifts are a laugh when you desperately needed it, or a dancing cat that expresses a myriad of things that you wish to express to a friend. But sometimes, and best of all, the internet gives you the gift of people--people you might never have met, were it not for the internet and its powers of connectivity.
A few years back, the internet gave me the gift of Gwen Bell. She lives in Colorado; I live in New York City, and were it not for the internet, I suspect that the chances of our ever crossing paths would have been fairly slim. Gwen's a social media guru/evangelist/expert, and her particular expertise and passion--besides simply living a vibrant life which I deeply admire--lies in helping people and companies discover the places where humanity and technology can intersect in positive ways. But underneath the work she does is the person she is: Gwen's a storyteller, and one whom I believe takes equal measures of (if not even more) joy in helping others to discover and share their own stories as she does in uncovering and sharing her own.
Why am I telling you about Gwen? Because she and two friends have created something which I think is of particular value to the many storytellers and writers and thinkers who read this blog: #reverb10, a month-long, online, end-of-year initiative that encourages you to ponder and share your responses to thoughtful daily prompts, written by authors & creative types (including a few folks from the kidlit world that you may recognize).
#reverb10 is free, and it's simple to join--sign up for daily prompts, and you'll receive each day's prompt in your email. Take it a step further, and become an official participant, registering your name and the url where you'll be posting your responses. You can get involved at any point in this 31-day project (so feel free to start late) by blogging or tweeting or Tumblr-ing--or video-blogging, or audio recording, or posting photographs, or however else the creative spirit moves you!--your responses to any or all of the prompts. And if you can, take some time to be inspired by some of the other people sharing their own #Reverb10 responses, too: at current count, over 2200 people have signed up, and reading their responses may give you your own "gifts of the internet" --potential new friends, and fascinating blogs/people that you might never have otherwise encountered. One way to do this is by following the #reverb10 hashtag on Twitter for a near-constant stream of inspiration; another way is by following @reverb10 on Twitter; if you're not on Twitter, you can also click through the links to people's blogs listed on the "Participate" page. And if I haven't explained all of this well enough, go here for the FAQ or go here for a more comprehensive explanation of how to participate, whether that means a lot or a little, and how to make participating the most meaningful experience for you.
Given my many other obligations, I'm going to admit right now that I won't manage a blog post for each day's prompt, but I intend to post responses to at least a few that particularly strike me throughout the month. And you can bet that even for the prompts that I'm not answering "out loud," I'm pondering them in my mind throughout the day, because there are few things more that I love than questions that make me stop and think meaningfully. So go! Be inspired! Consider this the opposite of NaNoWriMo, if you're so inclined--there's nothing to "win" or "lose" by participating--just the chance to write and to reflect and to share and to be inspired...and those are some of the best gifts we can find on the internet (or anywhere else, for that matter), in my mind. Happy pondering!