|Flickr Credit: Ian Livesey|
Not sharing my stuff is my favorite option by far, which is why it usually wins. I don’t want to so I don’t. Easy as that. Except…
I remember sharing my stuff back in the day. It was fun, mostly. When I was a baby high schooler, I wrote these stories where my friends and I were characters in super spy stories, and it was great. Blatant self-insertion, of course, but the only people who read my bad writing were my friends, and we all got a kick out of it. After that, I ventured into the realm of publishing fan fiction. Those were better, and people seemed to like them, too. Truly, this lifestyle had its charms.
The immediate feedback, for example, was great. Nothing makes you feel more bouncy than receiving a positive review on a story, especially when they shared their reactions. I love reactions, even now. I enjoy positive feedback on my writing more than is appropriate for a writer.
I also liked being kept on a schedule. It helped to have to publish something every week, and knowing that people might notice if I didn’t post on time was a big motivator in getting things done. That’s one of the reasons that blogging works so well for me! I am being motivated by the same thing.
I could tweak the story to suit my readers. In general, this is probably not the go-to writing tactic, but if people were interested in seeing more of a character I’d neglected or something, I had the power to make it show up. How gratifying.
Likewise, catering to a specific audience brings with it inside jokes, a bubble of fame, imaginary fortune… Silly, but I liked sharing back then. I’m way more hesitant now. I cringe a little bit even when I share WIP snippets on this blog.
For one thing, I don’t like the idea of people stealing my stuff. Which they totally could do, because this is the internet. And maybe it is a little bit of an overreaction to care when I’m just sharing 300 words on here, but uploading an entire work? Everybody knows how to copy-paste. That’s why I mostly stuck to fan fiction in public places—those weren’t wholly original ideas, so nobody could properly steal it anyway.
Posting stuff online is not the greatest way to earn respect. Obviously, there’s value in building a platform, but Figment, WattPad, FictionPress? The first thing that pops into my head is teenage girls who exploit their readers with emotional plotlines and subpar writing skills. Which is fine, of course. I was one of those girls, and if I hadn’t had that stage in my life, then I wouldn’t be here. But doing that would feel like a step backward—at the very least, I’d lose respect for myself.
It would feel wasteful. If I’m posting something online, I think it’s good enough to share with the world. But if I published something online, it would rule out publishing it for money—traditional or indie—because why would people pay for something they can read for free? For that to work, I’d need to post something I’d feel sure is not worth selling. But then, why would I put it where others could read it if it were such low quality? I get kinda stuck.