How I got into writing

If I started at the beginning, this would be a really long, ramble-y blog post. Instead, I’m going to briefly go over how I got into writing short stories and creating an online writing presence and then found my way into a local writing community.

Needless to say, I’ve always enjoyed writing.

A couple years back, I started working on a very rough draft of a novel. I lived in a small town and knew very few people who even read much, let alone wrote. I’ve always been an outlier kind of person, so social circles in a small, rural community just didn’t work for me.

After trying places like fanfiction.net and their sister site, fictionpress, and even creating a writing group at DeviantArt, I stumbled upon Wattpad.

I’d done well with my fanfiction work a good number of years earlier, and thought I knew what to expect. Wattpad, though, was surprisingly addictive. I got hits pretty much right away. I made friends and found myself in a pretty reciprocal community. It was great.

There was a forum (or clubs) called ‘The Pub’. It was branded as a hangout for guys, which honestly, always bothered me, but it was also kind of a hidden forum for the adults. Wattpad was, and probably still is, a haven of One Direction and Twilight fanfiction. They have entire genre sections on the site dedicated to werewolf and vampire fiction.

Anyway, some of the folks who hung out at the Pub would put on what they called Smack Down short story competitions. I got involved in the first Horror Smack Down. I’m not a horror writer, but I wanted to challenge myself, and I’d seen good things come out of previous contests. I made it through all four rounds, and had written four pretty decent short horror stories in a matter of two months or so. Though I didn’t win, I was hooked.

One of my stories did extremely well, and ended up at the top of the rankings for a number of weeks, and occasionally would climb the ranks after. I began to get a steady following after this, and wrote story after story for competitions. Soon, I had a complete collection of short stories, and then some. Soon, I’d created several short story collections, most of which can still be found on Wattpad.

Right about the time I felt I’d began to outgrow the site, one of the admins, Gavin Wilson (TheOrangutan), who had always been wonderfully kind to me, contacted me about my collection titled “Bittersweets.” He’d suggested that it become one of the featured books.

Since that time, “Bittersweets” has garnered almost 300,000 reads total, and at least 3,000 reads per chapter. By the stats, about 3,000 of my readers actually read the entire book, start to finish. While other short stories in the collection have a much higher number of reads.

While I know these numbers aren’t anything too amazing, and I’m making no money off of it, it’s still proof people are interested in my work. I do nothing to market this collection, and I still get hits and followers at least once a week, if not daily. I’ve not been active at the site in about a year or more.

So why am I no longer active at Wattpad?

I realized that short story publishers didn’t want my work if it had been published online. And I wanted some short story collection credits.

So I moved onto a site called Scribophile. Scribophile is an awesome for learning to critique. I ran a number of my stories through Scribophile and had them picked apart while I worked to learn how to look at other people’s work critically. My grammar, sentence structure and prose developed a great deal during this time. I was writing flash fiction and was determined to write tight and clean.

I’m still not entirely sure I’ve managed to write clean and tight, but I’ve gotten better. I even got a few writing credits at some ‘for the love’ type online publications before I was burnt out. By this time, the novel I’d started when I first joined Wattpad was in need of a rewrite.

So, the next stop on my writing journey was NaNoWriMo (Or National Novel Writing Month for those not in the know). I re-wrote my novel during Camp NaNoWriMo in the spring of 2014. By September that year, I was writing book two in the series with the goal of writing book three in the series by November, the traditional month of NaNoWriMo.

While on the NaNoWriMo site, I realized there was a Non-Profit writing organization in the Seattle area (I’d moved up to Seattle a year or so prior) called Old Growth putting on a NaNoWriMo class, and I signed up using their scholarship program. It was a good writing experience, our leader was awesome, and I met some great people. I signed up for their editing class in the spring and began the next steps of my revising my novel.

By this point, I was going to readings put on by Old Growth and discovering there was a strong writing community in Seattle. I happened to also go to my very first convention, Mythic Worlds to fangirl over Charles DeLint and Holly Black. There, I met the founder of Cascade Writers, and have been sucked into the writing community to the extent that it has all but swallowed me whole.

Norwescon, Worldcon, two Cascade Writer’s workshops came and went. Soon, I’ll be attending Orycon.  My friend Kelli and I also founded our own writing and critique group, called Rainier Beach Writers, and we meet every other weekend. I’ve met so many professional now, I no longer sputter and fan girl (not too much anyway).  I’m still not published, not in the paid or pro sense. But what I’ve learned has been incredible.

I never imagined, back in my small home town in the middle of farming country that this community existed. I only wish we had a broader reach. That all these wonderful experiences could be shared with all those younger versions of me who only dreamed such opportunities exist.

At least now, there are great sites like Wattpad, Scribophile, and even Amazon that give writers a sense of community even where the physical community, the conventions and workshops are not available. I know I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for those humble beginnings.

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