Sunday, October 19, 2008

Why I'm Not Quitting

Spyscribbler asked what we've been doing recently, and my post got a little long so I'm putting it here instead.

I've been writing recently. A lot. Nothing commercial, but I have readers, and fans, and immediate reader feedback. Sometimes I need that. Contracts and royalty checks are great, but a big chunk of my Writer Self needs to connect with the readers, to hear exactly what they think about each chapter of a story, to be able to respond to their comments and have them respond back and have a conversation. It's fun seeing people speculate about what's coming next, or what something means, or how the characters will work something out.

Art is communication and every now and then I really need that communication to be a dialogue rather than just me posting billboards and then going home to wait for my royalty statement. Reviews are great, but they're still few and far between.

I need to connect with my readers, right now, not months later when a review comes out. I love reviews, mind you, but twenty or thirty comments today get me bouncing and remind me why I'm writing and who I'm writing for. This is why I'll probably never give up writing and posting fanfic -- I get something from it that my commercial fiction doesn't give me, and might never.

In the last five days I've posted about 9600 words, in five chapters, and I have three more chapters ready to go, another 6700 words. I started writing on the 12th, and have been posting a chapter a day since the 15th. In that time I've gotten 129 reader comments. That kind of immediate feedback is awesome, and it's probably one of the reasons I've been this productive recently. "Publishing" chapters as you write, even with some padding as a safety zone, is stressful, but the adrenaline is great and channels right back into the writing.

I don't get that from my commercial publications. The thrill of getting an acceptance, or seeing a story published, or getting a royalty statement (I actually get more excited by the statement than the check -- I want to see how many people read my stories) are wonderful and I'm not planning on turning away from them any time soon. But there's something just as cool in the high of immediate interaction with readers; this is why a number of published writers (most of whom are a lot more published than I am) write fanfic as well, for that right now back-and-forthing, the immediate appreciation and dialogue and an actively engaged community.

I want both. So for right now, I'm dividing my efforts, and the lack of money on one side of the line doesn't bother me. Money's all fine but other returns are just as important, and for that I write fanfic, and probably always will.



Charles Gramlich said...

I've only written one short piece of fanfic, which was based on ERB's Barsoom stories. I've started another one set on Ken Bulmer's Kregen but have had no time to finish that one. It can be fun, especially for those of us who are serious fans as well as writers.

writtenwyrdd said...

I used to write Harry Potter fanfiction, and it was fun, but I quickly gave it up because I wanted to write my own stuff.

I don't write to see what others think about it, though; I write purely to please myself. Don't get me wrong, though; I really like it when people like my stuff! But I don't think of pleasing anyone but myself first and foremost. Then the whole can I get it published/will people like it occurs to me.

If you clue me in as to where to find your stuff, I'd love to go read some of it!

laughingwolf said...

i need cluing in, angie... thx

would like to read your stuff, too, ww....

Angie said...

Charles -- exactly, when you get seriously into a story, it's natural to want to play in the sandbox yourself. [nod]

WW -- I sent you an e-mail. :)

To me, it's not a matter of needing to please others with my writing, as in, being willing to change what I write to please them. I don't write to please others; I've seen other writers do that and it usually ends badly. :/ I write what I want to write, and the story goes the way I think it should go.

I do want some feedback on the finished product, though. If I didn't need that, then there'd be no reason to write it at all; I could just spend a lot of time in my own head with my own fictional fantasies and that'd be enough. [wry smile] Or at most, I'd type up my stories but they'd never leave my hard drive. I need to share them, and need to know that others are reading. It feels pointless otherwise, like I'm doing all that work and then tossing the pages down a well. :(

LW -- I'd rather not post links to my Other Identity in the open here. Send me an e-mail at angiepen at gmail dot com and I'll write you back with links.


writtenwyrdd said...

"I don't write to please others; I've seen other writers do that and it usually ends badly."

I can imagine!

laughingwolf said...

thx... will do, asap :D

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

I think it is awesome that you are writing for something that you feel passionate about.

Angie said...

WW -- I'm sure you can. :/ It's easy to get caught up in the excitement, but when you have two or more Enthused Fans who want different things, or pleasing one group of Enthused Fans pisses off a different group, mayhem ensues. I've seen people abandon really good stories over it. Much suckage.

Laughingwolf -- just e-mailed you back. Enjoy!

Ello -- thanks! I'm having a blast with it. :D


Steve Malley said...

Over the years I've drifted in and out of periods where it's just about the money. They always leave me feeling so much like a whore.

These days, I try to stay connected to that sense of wonder, excitement and love that drove me to make marks in the first place...

Angie said...

Steve -- that's it, exactly. [nod] No one gets into an artistic field just for the money. There are other (easier, faster, more sure) ways to make money if that's your primary goal. I like making money with my writing, mind you, but there are other things that are important too, and right now I'm getting those other things primarily from my fanfic. So long as that's true, I'll probably keep writing it. :)