When I began writing “My Life at the Bottom of the Food Chain,” I had no desire to write in complete isolation. I This was my first novel, and I wanted to create an environment that would help me stay motived as I attempted to navigate through this entirely new territory. In short, I wanted to know I was writing something that would successfully connect with other human beings. I wasn’t looking for professional critiques, or human spell-check programs. I wanted gut reactions. It proved to be an entirely gratifying process (I wrote about it in some length in the acknowledgments in “My Life at the Bottom of the Food Chain”).
Recently, I had the opportunity to get to know writer Andrew Eckhart in a Google Hangout in a Google Plus community entitled, Authors & Bloggers Seeking Cross Promo, a community of writers seeking ways to work together to achieve their individual goals. Andrew, who has written several science fiction ebooks, also sought a path through which to connect with his readers. He took the process several steps further than I, and presented raw chapters of a writing project in serial form on a public blog, as he was writing. Though the book would evolve further as he moved toward publication of the actual novel, he chose to share the process publicly.
In an article published a couple of years back on the “Tuesday Serial” blog, Andrew wrote about the process of writing serial fiction, Serial fiction forces writers to focus and practice and produce...but it also allows writers to feel accomplished, acknowledged and legitimized, especially if they haven’t had the opportunity to publish before.
As I, too, felt with my tiny audience” Andrew felt a sense of obligation to maintain his output on a regular basis. Knowing that there were people out there that were waiting for his work provided the greatest incentive: Most importantly, serial fiction allows you to receive support from your readers. I promise you that whatever it is you’re writing: Supernatural Romance, Time Traveling Hijinks, a written reality television show based on the life of an amoeba that lives on the ear of a cat, you will find an audience that will enjoy your work.
He concludes that it can be stressful, hair-pullingly annoying and make one consider the pint of slow-churned cookies and cream in the freezer a viable “snack,” but it is incredibly rewarding.
In theory, I love the concept—and I hope to give it a try. In writing “Own the Scrawny,” the follow up to “Food Chain,” I had intended on repeating and slightly expanding the public side of my writing process, but soon discovered that this particular novel would be passing through quite an evolution. Sharing the process would have been, I believe, insanely frustrating for my prospective readers. The book that took shape is quite different than the book I set out writing months ago. In contrast, the original book had a fairly clear roadmap from the outset. I abandoned the sharing process after the first week.
I’m intrigued, however, with the challenge of writing serial fiction, and intend on preparing a future project with that specific approach in mind. Based on my limited experience with a hand-picked audience, the idea of creating a truly public blog and taking readers along on the adventure as it happens could be both exhilarating—and terrifying.
What writer could ask for anything less?
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