Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Be Veerrry Afraid

Showing your work to others, whether on a friendly basis, or of one much more formal, is always a good idea. If you are writing, most likely it is more for just your eyes.

You've got that dream, right? The dream of millions of people reading you work. Well, if you don't let anyone read it to give you their opinion and help you better yourself as a writer, then how will your dream ever have the chance to come true?

Not everyone is a good critic or review. Beware that many, if not most, of the people who will read your story or poem just don't know how to look at a piece. But, many do, and those are the people that will form writing groups with you or spend hours on online communities. So, just because the fear of rejection lies within you doesn't mean they won't love it.

People usually like to find strengths within a piece to rave about--the same goes for me. Find one good thing and one bad thing, at the very least. That's the beginning of a thorough review.

So, if the chills go down your back this Halloween, just remember that not showing your work is much worse than waiting for feedback. Grow some courage and march on.

Happy Halloween!

-jheld out

Sunday, October 3, 2010

An Ever Rising Plateau of Skill

If you’re an aspiring writer/author, then there will never be a time when you will stop improving your craft. How can that be? Shouldn’t be a limit, like the sky?

The short answer is: yes, there is a limit. But, only for those who cannot see above what they have written. That doesn’t that if you get published and look back on your work and are disgusted by it that it’s bad. Though that could certainly be the case, usually you’re already a fantastic writer. This just means that you can do even better than before. And you should.

So, when does this magically uplifting moment occur? When does Nirvana enter and you come to peace with your work, stop treating it like an untouchable, perfect baby? This can happen in many different ways.

For me, it happens when I’ve simply written something new. My mind will be craving a new piece, and so it writes, and it’s better. Then I feel like I had just wasted a year of my life because I can spot so many flaws.

Then there are times when you read/review other’s works. If those pieces are written well, or your piece has a thorough review, you’ll start seeing it then. That’s usually what happens with me. Take those feelings to heart and let the pen flow once again. Remember that changing one line in that page will probably not change the flow of the story (in most cases), and therefore all you’re really doing is improving that scene. Improvement is what you’re trying to do, so why fight it? Trust me, you’ll be happier for it.

Back to reviewing and getting reviews. Join a writing group. Having that group atmosphere and work ethic is amazing. I’ve been part of such a group since January and I’m so glad that I joined. It’s the only official writing group on campus, we meet weekly, J-WOC. If you get the reference, then you’ll know where I go to school! And then you should join!

Being with others, regardless of if they write poetry, shorts, non-fiction, or epic novels, is a wonderful experience. You will not always get as great of feedback as you’d like, but trust me, it’s better than nothing. Opening up and letting others read your work is key, as well as learning how to critique others. Those skills of critiquing will help you when you sit looking at your manuscript at 3 am and think, “I can make this better.” It’s tough, but I have faith that you can do it.

-jheld out

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Publishing, Online Communities, and Competitions

The Internet is a wonderful tool in most of it’s plethora of applications. For the writer, it has forums and other online communities, but now it goes much further than that.

Online Publishing, Flash Fiction, and the occasional professional-level review are all possible here in the Cloud.

FictionPress is one such site, though I would caution any who create an account and spend time using it. An advantage of the site is how many users there are. There is always something new to read, and generally always something crawling along the web and finding something to read. On the flip side, there are too many pieces, and not enough talented authors. Reviews are generally scant and not worth a lot. While you can establish relationships with other users through the forums and community-level groups, and can grow through some relatively great feedback, it is difficult to maintain as the consistency is just not there. That and you have to be careful about what you put up there. You cannot delete your account, though you can remove your pieces, at least on the front-end. Don’t be too scared, but definitely be cautious. Copy & Pasting is still a viable resource for talentless crapholes. I no longer have anything on there due to the above constraints and cautions. I did, however, get some really good feedback and become a better writer for the two months that I spent on there.

Webook is another site, one in which I currently am very interested in. In many ways it is similar to FictionPress, but I believe it is on an entirely different level, overall. For one, the users generally write better, but the site actually has funding and is updated with user input, etc. You can actually contact them, unlike FictionPress. Also, there is P2F aka “PageToFame” which is a competition with three rounds (hopefully you’ll make it all the way!) that serves as a community-picked writing competition to get you to the bucket where participating literary-agents look. If you make it to round 3 then you have a really good chance of getting the attention of an agent. There is a fee, $4 summer special for novels, normally $10. There are also poetry and shorts, though I’m not sure what the associated fees are. Either way, if you are confident that you have something special on your hands and you think it can stand up to some pretty high standards of writing (again, community-picked at first, which means a spectrum of talented and not-so-talented reviewers… (at least for the first round or so)), then I say go ahead, send your fee and copy your submission in. Each round takes time, and rates are 1-5, 5 being the best. You don’t want under a 4, but a 3 isn’t bad, though it does actually hurt. I got a coupon for a free submission and I put The Defender up (round 1 is a one-page submission, 2 is 5 pages,and 3 is 50 pages). Round 1 has taught me a lot about my writing and I wish I’d waited a bit to put The Defender up because my rates have not been as high as I’d expected. Whoops.

There are many other sites, Writing.com, which I know almost nothing about. But you may find your muse there!


Good luck!

-jheld out.