September 24th, 2007

A Pocket Full of Murder

*opens case, takes out violin*

You know what's really, really nice? Thinking to yourself that this week your goal will be to finish Chapter Four of your WiP, and then when you open up your working document and write the last couple of lines of the scene you'd left unfinished the previous week, you look at your page count and realize that... hey, I just finished Chapter Four!

So this week my goal is to make good progress into Chapter Five, instead.

Anyway, I said yesterday that I was going to talk about my attitude to writing, which I described as "literary busker". As you'll know if you followed the link from last night's post, I see myself as standing on an imaginary street corner, strumming (or in this case, typing) away in the hope that somebody, somewhere, will like what I'm doing and toss me a few coins of feedback.

Of course, now that I'm working on original fiction, I naturally look forward to receiving a few coins of the literal sort as well. But I didn't get into writing for the money (nobody in their right mind does), and dreaming about advances and royalties isn't what motivates me to keep writing, either.

No, it's all about the readership -- which is what has led me to the realization of what I'm finding most difficult about profic after several years of fandom. It's not the challenge of creating my own worlds and characters, because I'd already written two original novels before I got seriously involved with fanfic.

It's the lack of an immediate audience.

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My experience in fandom -- where I went through a similar process of writing a chapter every week or so, sending it to my beta-readers for comment, and making revisions accordingly before starting on the next chapter -- served to cement my feelings about the value of feedback to my personal creative process. I am a storyteller, and a storyteller needs an audience. I want to know that someone is listening to the tale I want to tell, and that they're interested in hearing more about that world and those characters even if the story isn't perfect. I want to see their reactions, good and bad and indifferent, so I have an idea whether the direction I'm going is a good one or whether I should stop and retrace my steps. Of course, I know that the story is ultimately mine and not theirs, and that not all of my readers are going to like everything I write. But if there seems to be widespread agreement that a certain element or character either works or doesn't -- yes, that is going to affect me, and it should.

I am not recommending this approach generally, mind, Collapse )

In my case, however, I write coherent first drafts, and I also know a fair number of insightful folk whom I can trust to tell me if a story is really working, or not working, or just Not Their Kind of Thing. So I'm thinking that perhaps I should put out an APB and see if I can enlist a small but dedicated audience (say, three to five people) who would be interested in reading Touching Indigo chapter by chapter as it's written, and letting me know what they think.

This wouldn't have to be a major commitment, either. All it would take is being willing to read the chapter more or less promptly when it arrives, and say something about it afterward. The response could be anything from an in-depth critique with suggestions for improvement to a simple "I'm hooked! Write more!", depending on the reader's inclinations and ability, but I would like to know that when I send out a chapter I can count on some kind of answer within the next few days, and that the people reading it are genuinely interested in the story and not disappointed that I'm not writing something completely different.

Any takers? ETA: I has peeps! Thanks to my new band of brave and possibly foolhardy volunteers.