Wattpad and the Problem of Writer Community

If anything will make you a better content writer and a better writer in general it is interacting with other writers. Reading the works of others and having other others read your work elevates you to another level. However the biggest and most common issue a writer faces is getting feedback. Now that’s a broad way of putting it because feedback is buying your books, views, shares, comments, etc. But in this case by feedback I mean what people enjoy or dislike(in a constructive respectful matter). While there are people who write perfectly well in a vacuum even they could stand to gain from interaction. With all that being said…most writer’s communities suck and unfortunately it is in part because of selfish writers who constantly want to take and never give. Two weeks ago I started using Wattpad and the frustration I have always felt with others began to become clearer. The selfishness of fly-by-night writers who steal into writing communities demanding without ever wanting to give is underscored by communities that are swamped by so many fly-by-nighters that all work gets buried.

So how do you get involved?
Now, my opinions may change, but over all they can only change if the community standards change. Wattpad specifically needs more forums that are better organized in order to connect writers and readers more directly. They also need a search system that is at least on par with FanFiction.com, and can separate newer and older stories…BUT more importantly a can be searched on views in order to give everyone a chance to be seen. But wattpad isn’t the only problem.

The problem is us.
Writers keep acting like we can be selfish  and that if we just market we’ll find readers, reviewers, and beta readers. Marketing is important along with everything else, but you can’t hope to get  anything when you don’t give. Writing communities don’t work if writers don’t actually invest in stories they don’t write and participate in not only dissecting their own work, but other’s. You learn so much by reading and talking no matter how introverted you are. As a teenager I thought I was an excellent writer, but after years of workshops I look back fondly at my work while muttering a “Thank Hera” under my breath because I am SO MUCH BETTER. I am not unique.

Critiquing, sharing, and discussing writing exposes you to a wide range of styles, ideas, and concepts that you can dissect in terms of why it works, why it doesn’t, why you like it, and maybe why you do not. The bottom line is when you exit your vacuum you not only learn, but your brain gets going. You learn how to pull apart your own stories and you also learn what other people pick apart. In essence a group of writers or just readers like Wattpad connects  you to your audience. That is one part why community is important because your writing friends can become your buying friends. Not just because they know you, but because you’ve learned what works in your writing and what works for real people and not just for you.

And yet somehow all of these communities suffer the same problem. Some would say it is accountability that’s the problem. Well, everyone is accountable…only to themselves. Somewhere in writing programs and reading classes we never taught people to value interacting with writing and the writer. Yet this is what keeps writers in business and going because who reads more than writers and creators? If we don’t support each other who will?

So I challenge you now to find writing communities.

I challenge you  to not just read, but review and comment on other authors.
I challenge you to help that friend whose writing a novel or poem, by reading and giving honest thoughts about it.

We make the communities we want to live in. Earlier tonight,and not to get political, I was watching a program and a conservative radio host was laughing at the thought of basically any celebrity or anyone with a platform using it. It was whining. It was grandstanding. And I’ll be real conservative republicans have a very nasty habit of assuming everyone to the left of them is insincere and/or weak. Nothing I or anyone to the left of them is real, which is bullshit. But I bring this up because his point was that no one gets to make their community. In his eyes you don’t get to challenge, change, or make a statement about culture. It’s a very dangerous mindset no matter who you support or what you believe. It is dangerous because our communities support us emotionally, economically, and intellectually. Humanity is interacting. Writing for all the solitary hours we spend with a page and our thoughts…requires interacting. Communities inspire writing. Communities inspire you to dream bigger and do better. No one is an island and we all need to do better by each other, by book stores, by bloggers, and by ourselves by engaging with each other.

So I have one last challenge for you…engage more, have fun, and do better by yourself as a content lover and creator. If you do this you may discover stories, authors, and friends that will enrich your life in ways you can never imagine. Please, support each other because if you don’t who will support you?

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The power of walking for writing

I am a lazy woman. What makes that harder is I’m an introvert with occasional agoraphobia, a deep fear of the insectoid world, and depression. So you can guess I don’t always do a great job of getting out much…but I do my best to make the effort to at least go on a ten minute walk once a week. Besides my trying to be healthier I do this because it “clears my head”. A rush of cool air, being out in an open place full of a thousand little changes, and switching my mindset from inside to outside is like a small system reset. When I do a reset like that I come out able to sit down and feel in a better position to write with a bit more inspiration than before.

So many of us writers are home bodies, but those of us who are able can learn a lot from going out into the world and finding means to alter our thinking, find inspiration, and generally refresh ourselves. Sometimes getting away from writing is the best thing for writing.

What are your techniques for resetting your mental modem? How do you give yourself a new  perspective and approach?

Gimme that Old Time Lovin’

Everything is relative. When we look back at “romance” we look back with rose tinted glasses. No mention of women as property, no mention of all the people who never had a chance to find love, but only to find like, no chance to figure out their sexual interests or if they matched. For many black people in America, until recent history showing public affection was seen as inappropriate, our love and affection constantly equaled sex. Recently I spoke to a gay male friend of mine and we agreed that so many people see him kiss his boyfriend or hold his hand and immediately think of intercourse. Years ago the same acts were associated with people who looked like me because we were inherently sexual and sexualized in the common narrative. Kissing was indecent and making yourself a target. Let’s not forget the many who had no choice in who they loved or whether they could leave or go. Many things have changed and to say the old way or the new way was better across the board is a bit myopic. Today people have a lot of choice and perhaps we abuse or misuse it to a certain degree, depending how you measure. Maybe we focus too much on “happiness” and not on “contentment” like eastern cultures and how every culture used to.

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But hasn’t sex always been a gimmick?

Sex has become a gimmick to things. Commercials, movies, and yes Undressed or Sex Sent Me to the E.R on TLC all treat sex like some novelty and not a point of fabulous exploration and raw human experience, if not connection. Meanwhile romance is something defined by whoever feels they have the best definition at a given time. For generations now people have been bemoaning the death of romance as technology, free love, and sexual freedom have become more normalized in western society. It can’t be denied that some things have been sacrificed in the face of technological ease and connection. I can’t be denied that plenty avoid romance by swiping to sex and seducing…even lying for it in ways that’d be unimaginable decades ago. Still we cannot say what has changed the fundamental concept of romance except people’s attitudes:

1099575.jpgWomen have options now that women 40, 50, 60 years ago did not.
More people travel constantly and often, moving from place to place, making it harder to find connections at all let alone love.
Because of people exploring more and experiencing more they require more attention to those who can understand or be willing to understand that fact.
Divorce isn’t as frowned upon, and perhaps this is not so beneficial in some ways. Why? So many people pine for the ideal romance, partner, and relationship without realizing in the old days you had to make do. So many ignore or destroy good things in search of a perfection that will never and can never exist. We say “Don’t ever settle”, but then never want to admit that if you want certain things you have to settle. You have to accept another human being for all their good points and bad whether you love them or hate those points if you want to be with them. You have every single right to say “No”, but we have this real problem now of saying “Never settle” and in the same breath saying “You you need to have a “real” reason to reject someone”. If you can’t deal with someone’s issues or if you don’t want what they do a lot of times you become the bad guy even as you’re told to not settle for what you can’t stand. What we need is contentment in our romance. Happiness is fleeting. Happiness is a moment of time, but contentment occurs even in unrest, it is the willingness to say “I am fine with this relationship and situation, and enjoy the continuance of it” instead of “I want to just constantly stay happy and the moment I’m not everything is wrong”. Very technical I know, but I’m being technical so you can see the difference.

marvel-comics-retro-my-love-comic-book-cover-no-18-kissing-love-on-the-rebound-agedYears ago if you got divorced some people wouldn’t give you the time of day….and at the same time plenty of people engage in aimless sex and wake up wondering why they feel used. How we talk about sex and romance is so limited, so driven by structures and intentions we can’t even see because they’re “normal” to each generation. Romance evolves and changes, and we need to evolve and change with it. Does that mean romance is dead? Did it in the 1960s? 1920? 1990s? I think not…but it does change in ways big and small…but everyone’s relationship and romantic views differ.

I kissed on the first date. I had my first kiss when I almost had my first…everything else. I am a libidinous woman, but I love holding hands on long walks. My lover brings me flowers sometimes. Other times he greets me with a hug so fierce my back pops and all I can do is laugh. We met on OKCupid which still shocks people and even disgusts some. The internet isn’t real to them. It is this technological thing separate from life when it is really interwoven in a lot that we do. I’ve met some of my most important connections that way. Some I’ve known almost a decade if not more, and that is more than most “friends” I’ve spent time with in the same room. My view of technology is human centered. It isn’t simply a tool, but a process dependent on quality human interaction, use, connection. The internet would be nothing if we couldn’t send pictures or messages about our kids, pets, and family that could make people feel something! Anything. I spent way too much time online as a teenager…but I had more friends over private messanger and on video game servers than in real life. I had more romantic overtures there by shy peopl who liked my spark and my ability to listen than in the small pool of bullies, anti-black people(which includes other black people btw), and small mindednes I was surrounded with in my school and county. Was that good? For personal growth yes, and I know I am not some unique case. People find ways to connect however they can.

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This is my relationship. People say we’re childish right as they fight because they don’t communicate at all…we try to makes things work. We play. Love. And most importantly Listen. I call it the P.L.L System

As humanity has grown and changed we have adapted new ways of connecting. Perhaps we’ve lost others that were uniquely valuable. We should continue to praise and teach that value. A love letter can mean more than one ever realizes. I gave my lover a homemade birthday card a few months after we started dating and he told me he takes it out every now and again when he feels alone or depressed. We can also text, and do, every morning and night when we’re too tired to talk with words. Monday we spent the evening making a delicious fondue with a recipe we found highly rated online, and it came out great because people shared their tips and tricks. We had an awesome date because of that.. Technology, sex, romance, and humanity…we’re still figuring those things out. Heck we’re just now acknowledging all the people in the world who don’t have sexual urges, who don’t see someone and go “I wish I could kiss them”. We figure these things out as we go. It is the only thing we can do, but to bemoan the death of romance is to ignore all the new ways it manifests for different people and all the ways people still hold tight to old ways.

Romance is in the hands of those who want it.
It is not a series of specific acts or actions.
It is a series of acts or actions specific in the intent and meaning of those engaged in them.
Playing video games with a lover seems horrid to some and like paradise to others.
Going out to some stuffy restaurant is uncomfortable to some and a dream to others.
Walking along the lake seems like pointlessness to others and heaven to some.
We cannot guess the realms of love, or limit them for others with measures that cannot possibly capture the ranges of expression.

Inspired by this nice little post Is Romance Dead? Though I obviously disagree with some points I think it is an important viewpoint and read and consider.

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Until next time!

Also if you’re interested in random comics stuff and why I posted so many old Romance Comics…I’m an avid collector.

I highly recommend checking out Sequential Crush an online archive and analysis of girls romance comics that explores any and all facts and details of these protoypical romance stories in away that is entertaining, personal, and quite frankly fascinating. I’ve been a long time fan of the site and think they do a lot for preserving an often over looked part of the romance genre. The runner of the site is the granddaughter of Green Lantern creator Martin Nodell, and she does more than live up to the family legacy by offering unique takes that really have helped me understand romance better from a perspective I didn’t know about until reading more.

If you’re interested in comics in general check out this fascinating read too:

I Used To Sell You Comics: Kids Love Comics (And how that makes comics better for everybody)