The Experiment, or: Why I'm posting at FictionPress and Wattpad.
Until a few years ago, my day job was on the periphery of the publishing world. I spent my days immersed in stories, but the stories of others, instead of my own. Like many writers, I have written since I was a young child, but it wasn't until I was in my 20s that I considered writing for anything other than my own entertainment. When I decided I wanted to write for others, I did what a good girl who wants to write well did. I went back to Uni (part time) to add screenwriting, story analysis, and script-editing, to my B.Arts in Philosophy and Comparative Lit, thinking I'd also like to write for the screen. I wrote in every spare moment (which has always been my default state, anyway) then, every now and again, I'd peek out with a piece for "the gatekeepers" - "Please, Sir, is it worthy?" I haven't done too badly, as submissions go, I've never had anything that didn't get at least a request, each submission has made it a little further up the hierarchy of editors, or considered a little more seriously by production companies. I know I'm improving, but it's a slow process, because, when it comes right down to it, improving on your own, without regular feedback, only happens by chance. I can apply all the theory I use to edit the work of others to guess at whether my work achieves my intentions, but I cannot leave my own brain to experience my work afresh, so I cannot truly know if my writing communicates well to another mind. In short, the only way to know if I write well, is for my writing to be read!
My goal is to be published, not because I want to 'be a famous author' (or a rich one, either), but because I would like to create something which moves people. I would rather not be published if I don't write well enough to communicate my intention to the reader, keep them turning the pages, and give them a satisfying emotional experience.
So, at nearly 40, I've decided to stop being a "good girl" and try my hand at sharing these stories directly, using the digital resources which afford me that opportunity. I'm not starting by editing and self-publishing any of my previously shopped works whole, then throwing myself into mad marketing, because my number one goal is to write well enough to attract readers, not to spam people into buying my work. Instead, I'm continuing my current Work In Progress, a romantic suspense entitled: "As Long As She Lives", and serializing what is (approximately) my 3rd draft on Fictionpress and Wattpad - two sites where readers come to read undiscovered work. When I am finished with that, I'll consider my next move, whether it be self-publishing or an attempt at a more traditional route.
So far, I have quite a few readers who return to read each chapter as I update it, and I'm encouraged. Readers seem to be falling in love with the right characters, and asking me the questions I meant them to be asking, after each chapter. I don't swap reviews, or votes on these sites, so I know it's honest feedback (I'd have a lot more votes if I was willing to sell mine!) I have one reader who is a downright cheerleader, asking for "MORE!!!" as she finishes each chapter.
The serialization process has also been good for my writing, in general. Updating regularly is essential for work to be seen on these sites, and I find it provides a deadline-esque structure which I've lacked, alone at my desk. Posting chapter by chapter (which isn't new, Dickens did it!) is helping me to cure my terrible case of "ooh, but what if" syndrome, because once I've posted a chapter, I don't want to change the story events and confuse my small group of readers. Most importantly, I'm having a ball, and I think that 'freshness' comes through to the readers.
I think it's going to be interesting :)