Community or Platform? The Accidental Community

I’m pretty burned out on editing, and just generally pooped, so here’s a post that I wrote for my Goodreads page.

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A year or so ago, I made the decision to serialize a novel (Boundaries) on my Live Journal blog. It wasn’t a finished work, but was fairly well edited, about the quality of a second or third draft. I knew that this was a controversial move, with many writers warning of possible theft, the loss of those all-important “first rights,” and the unwisdom of exposing your work in any but its ultimate, perfect form.

So I did it anyway. Since then, I’ve serialized a NaNo novel (The Warden), as it was being written, and a sequel (Taryn) to the first novel. Was it worth the effort? Yes! Did anything terrible happen? If so, I don’t know about it, so it probably doesn’t matter.

I confess I had some interest in building a platform. But even more, I wanted feedback. As a brand-new writer of fiction, I wanted to know whether my writing was 1. engaging, 2. acceptably professional. I didn’t anticipate the interchanges with my readers and how much they would influence my work. There were insights that made me develop some ideas or characters more fully for the published version. There were suggestions for the future chapters. There were interpretations that were way offbase, but also some misinterpretations that told me where I’d failed to make something clear.

And then there were the cries of “can we have some more, please?” that led from the first novel to the sequel and to plans for still one more book. Could I have done without the laughs, the concern for the characters, the advice, the sharing of ideas and feelings? Absolutely. But I wouldn’t have learned as much about writing. I wouldn’t have had the support of caring people when the writing was going hard or I was just plain burned out. We’re a tiny community of virtual friends, and that’s worth more than turning myself into a brand and creating something called a platform.

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