It started with NaNoWriMo. Write a book in a month they said, so I did. It was rough, incomplete in places, and in need of a ruthless edit throughout; but it was a 55,000 word story with a decent enough plot and some interesting characters. It had a beginning, a middle and an end. More to the point, I realised that I loved writing fiction.
That story will never see the light of day, but it served its purpose as my launch pad. I may use some of the ideas, develop a few of the personalities, but I will not attempt to turn it into a book. What winning NaNoWriMo showed me was that I get a buzz from writing fiction, that it is a worthwhile pursuit in its own right.
From there I moved on. From there I started to think about writing stories for others to read.
I had been blogging for about a year and had picked up a following that I was unconvinced would welcome my foray into fiction. I decided to create a new blog for my stories. Inspired by a Bring Me The Horizon song, Can You Feel My Heart, I called it Dreams and Demons. I have learned the hard way over many years that I cannot drown my demons, but my writing now helps me to let them swim alongside.
Having created my fiction blog I wished to find readers. I looked around the internet for sites that publish other’s work and found Tipsy Lit. They liked the story that I submitted for their consideration and my career as a writer of fiction was born. Although a few of my stories have been published on other sites by submission, most have been written for open challenge grids. For several months I took part in the weekly Tipsy Lit Prompted (now sadly no more) and then the Yeah Write Speakeasy. When Yeah Write introduced the Gargleblaster (42 word fiction) I discovered that I enjoyed crafting micro fiction and joined 99fiction.com. My success in all of these has been mixed, but in putting myself out there I have found readers.
The internet is full of advice for writers and I wanted to continue to improve. I enrolled in an on line Creative Writing course where I got my first slap down from a critic who objected to the structure of a story and my use of commas. Despite my best efforts with Google I have never quite grasped the finer details of comma usage. Structure though? My writing style is my own and I had no wish to conform to someone else’s ideal.
I wonder now if that was arrogant of me. The Yeah Write site introduced moderation and my submissions were rejected. I got a note explaining that one had significant grammar issues, the other was rejected without comment. It would seem that the moderator has the same views of my writing as the critic on my course.
Grammar matters and, as a result of this feedback, I have ordered a writer’s handbook recommended by a lovely author friend who runs writing courses for young people so knows her stuff. I will do what I can to overcome my comma usage blindness. In the meantime, the wind has been taken out of my creative sails.
Writing is always going to contain ups and downs, positive comments from some readers and rejection by others. We each come to a piece of writing coloured by our individual experiences, looking for something different.
On line communities ebb and flow. It can be hard to walk away from one that I respect and felt a small part of, but if I am unable to be what they want then I believe it is best to bow out. I find that I can be more honest in my writing than in any other aspect of my life. I do not wish to compromise the therapeutic value of that, even if it would make me appear ‘better’ in some people’s eyes.
How boring it would be if all writers were the same. As a book blogger I am presented with a plethora of works from a wide variety of authors. I do my best to be eclectic in the genres I request to review as I want to be exposed to different writing styles, to appreciate and to learn from them.
Perhaps the biggest issue with my own writing is my sensitivity. My stories are my babies and, when they go out into the world, I want them to be loved. If the cool kids will not accept us then it may not be necessary to radically change, but I suspect we will be happier finding somewhere else to hang out.