All praise the internet! It really has changed our world in so many ways and not just for getting your porn fix. We all get to be our little stars now. The internet has given us an audience and a kind of secrecy that didn’t exist in the past. I’m still a little freaked out that I remember life before the internet. Seems like it’s been around forever and yet it hasn’t. Floating thought…sorry. Anyway, the internet brings out the bravery in many of us.
I am one such person. I’m one of those “I’ve been writing forever” kind of people though it was focused on school projects. I LOVED writing exercises, the ones where we had to come up with a story. I was the kid who not only met the number of pages requirement but easily surpassed it. I liked seeing the A+ and 98% marked in red in the corner of my pages. You know, the pat on the back telling you that you did a good job. I’m not sure when my interest in writing moved from school requirements to hobby, but I’ll guess it was around the time when a friend of mine and I would do…well, basically fan fiction and pass each other our notebooks to see what the other one said about our fantasy guys and our pretend lives. I am revealing far too much about myself here. See what the internet does to you!! Moving on…somewhere along the line I would occasionally write something original, something creative (or I assumed creative) just to write it, but I kept it to myself. I was so terrified of rejection and negative feedback. Like bawling before anyone could read it kind of terrified. Alright there weren’t tears but you get my point. The idea of letting someone read my work that wasn’t a teacher (teachers get a pass because you expect the criticism) and watching their face melt into disgust or laughter when there wasn’t anything funny was far too unappealing to give up my goods. Now there was a time or two when I did, always friends, always kind. Those moments do stick with me. Don’t remember the story, but I do remember the folder that they would write their comments on and they were all good. Might have that treasure somewhere…
Even though it happened during school, the writing for pleasure, it still didn’t seem like it was “the thing” that I wanted to do. To this day I still don’t dream of being a published author. Okay, maybe I sneak that one in the fantasy reel every now and then but just for kicks. But I have become more serious about writing. I went like ten years without a real creative thought in my head then this magical day came. Again I don’t remember the specifics, but a flood of ideas nearly drowned me. They were coming like crazy. Buried maybe, biding their time to come forth and explode in my head. I started writing again, writing for the enjoyment, not for school assignments. There wasn’t much granted, because I’m lazy, but they would come occasionally and the ideas were still flowing.
Now what would I do with these stories? Well, keep them to myself of course, but one day I came across a website that interested me. It’s called Elfwood. What’s cool about Elfwood? Well it’s massive and has some beautiful fantasy/scifi art, but it also has some serious crap. The idea of Elfwood was that it was for EVERYONE. Whether you’re a brilliant artist or can’t even manage a stick figure warrior, you were welcomed as long as you followed the rules which consisted of no more than be a fantasy/scifi piece and not too graphic. They later added writing to the group.
Elfwood seemed liked a good place to anonymously put my stuff out there. There are thousands upon thousands of material out there. How are they going to find me to abuse? I wrote a silly story and submitted. At Elfwood, everything is reviewed for approval by a team of volunteers. These moderators also have the privilege of pointing out special pieces that come through so they aren’t lost in the shuffle of hundreds each week. This was like an award called Moderator’s Choice and your piece was placed on the main page for a period of time. Guess who got Moderator’s Choice? Damn right! My first submission and I got it. You would have thought I won American Idol. I freaked out, screaming and jumping in place. My reaction was ridiculous but at the time it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I put my stuff out there for the world to see and I got a great response.
Since then the internet world has been my cushioned heaven for my writing. I don’t expect great responses all the time but overall they have been wonderful. There were the occasional less loved comments, but usually mixed with something positive. I’d dwell on the negative, fume for awhile, try to see what they meant if it was constructive then get over it and try to improve if I agreed. Luckily I’ve picked the right places. Most of the places I’ve put myself out there don’t go out of their way to be mean. The responses I got made me more confident in putting my stuff out for everyone to see. I’m still very sensitive to criticism, but I also crave the good responses (as we all do even if you won’t admit it to yourself) so it’s hard not to keep throwing up new stuff when I’m feeling confident about a piece. Even if it’s so so, the internet has taught me that there are all kinds out of writers out there and there are all kinds of readers so what the hell, put it out there anyway. You just might get the response you’re looking for.