I’ll Look at Yours If You’ll Look at Mine

The following guest post has been written by Gloria Hildebrandt from Orchard House Communications. Stonyfields, her novel in blog form, can be found here.
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We would all benefit from a greater sense of community among fiction bloggers, or to put it more elegantly, online fiction writers. It’s difficult for newcomers to find other writers who are currently active on line, and even wilder finding well-crafted blooks (ugh) or e-fiction. (An aside: I’m not fond of the new terminology and wish we had lovelier words.)

My Work Over Yours

It’s a labyrinth out there, and you have to be diligent about searching out e-fiction. I’m grateful to the fiction bloggers who have blogrolls listing other sites of note. I realize that I should add one to my blog. I have lots to learn about this new medium. An active community of e-fiction writers could offer dialogue, information sharing, learning and the promotion of our own work.

I think that last point is key.

Here’s one problem: I am more interested in my work than I am in yours. So I’m not too keen on reading your fiction. It might be bad or boring and a chore. It could be better than my writing, which could be hugely depressing. I want ME to become rich and famous or at least published by a traditional publisher so my father can finally see a book of mine in a bookstore and feel that what I’ve been spending my life at is finally showing results he can be proud of.

Not that I care what my father thinks.

I can also sense people agreeing with me that the time I spend on your work is time I’m not spending on my work.

Another problem is that writing is an introverted activity. Fiction writers probably tend to be more introverted than non-fiction writers. Supporting a community is an extroverted activity.

We have to get over this. We have to make the time and effort or we’re writing, posting blogs and publishing our work in isolation.

Last year, when I began my experiment of posting Stonyfields in blog form, I knew that I couldn’t simply post it and you would come. I knew I would have to find others’ work, comment on it, add to blog conversations, get involved. It was hard to find appropriate sites. Only with persistence and by trial and error did I discover some of the “bright lights” of e-fiction.

Corporate copywriters and freelance writers have more active and visible blog communities. I follow their blogs as well because I earn my living doing their kind of writing. My lifetime fiction income has covered perhaps one mortgage payment. But non-fiction writers – and even some hard-copy fiction writers are chattier, referring to each others’ blogs and works and promoting themselves.

The Question:

If WE don’t support and promote online fiction, who will? Are we waiting and hoping for traditional publishers to discover us and for academics to analyse our work as pioneering efforts on the Internet? Well, perhaps we are, but we can increase the chances by being the first to recognize what we’re doing.

We’re making literary history. Novel means new, after all, and after a few hundred years of the development of the novel, there seems to be very little that’s really new about novels. Online publishing, self publishing with the option of public comments on small sections of our work, is really novel, innovative, progressive, unknown territory. And that’s just for starters. There are eye-popping possibilities with online fiction that need to be explored.

We’re at a new frontier and we can explore and develop it endlessly. I believe we’ll push the boundaries further if we have an energetic community supporting, sharing, teaching and appreciating our efforts.

What’s your vision of community?

Read more of Gloria Hildebrandt’s work at Orchard House Communications.

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Category: Guest Bloggers · Publishing · Writing Web Fiction
  • http://undeadflowers.com Richard

    Gloria,

    That’s a really interesting post. By-and-large I think you’re right. I have a few–fairly random–thoughts…

    ‘I am more interested in my work than I am in yours.’ This is both true and untrue. Writing is, generally speaking, a very egotistical and egocentric passtime. I’m deeply invested in everything I write–and only a fraction of that ever sees the light of day on my blog!

    On the other hand, as a writer, I’m always reading. And everything I read is, to a greater or lesser extent, a learning experience. Some (well, okay, many) writers are better than me, and those writers I study closely to see what I can do to improve my own fiction. In this way, I learn just about as much from reading Stephen King as I do Tolstoy. Obviously, I learn completely different things from both.

    Your blog, Gloria, is a prime example of a piece of online fiction that has taught me a lot. For instance, I was quite worried about having slower sections in my blog which examined the characters motivations and emotions until I saw that you’d achieved exactly this while remaining compelling reading.

    Of course, there’s a lot of chaff out there. As with any blogging community, we need to wade through 100 rubbish blogs to find the 3 or 4 good ones. That seems to be a problem common to the whole blogosphere (there’s another unlovely word for you).

    So I do think there’s a lot to be gained by developing a community–a space where we can all exist. Selfishly, one would be of great benefit to me: my writing will improve and it may well help my visibility to publishers.

    And to turn to your final point, you are absolutely right: the impetus to do this has to come from us. No one else is going to do this for us because, frankly, we’re very low profile and at the moment very few people see the benefits of reading fiction online.

    Richard

  • Sara Mentira

    Gloria;

    Thank you for posting your comments and your perspective. While I agree in numerous points you make, I however, reserve the right to disagree with you on others. I have been reading your work, and find it well written, yet simplistic in nature. While the characters are developed, I find that they are very two-dimensional, and the situations very artificial. I have read your articles, and continue to follow your work, and have seen much of the same type of writing. I encourage you to continue, and I like to see the amount of effort that you put in your work.
    I will concur, novel writing or fictional writing is a very difficult “nut to crack,” yet, if you continue, I am sure that your writing will improve, and perhaps you will attain your goal.