Monday, August 23, 2010

The Gaslight Journal is finally DONE!

Approximately 23 minutes ago, I officially finished my first, full-length novel, The Gaslight Journal.

Begun back sometime in 2001, this book was originally a fluke of an idea.  Because I've said previously that I had no confidence in my writing, I did not work seriously at the thoughts of ever finishing this book, let alone trying to shop it around for either a publisher, or to make available as a Kindle title, which I plan to do.  I am shooting for an early to mid-November release date, hyping the publicity for Christmas.

It was around this time that I also joined an online writing group on Usenet.  That group of people that I met there, taught me a lot about life, growing up, the value of friendships of people you've never met, and how with just a little relentless encouragement and a whole lot of craft, I was the only one holding me back from doing this.  Some of those people--Steve W., Barry A., Joe K., Alaric M., Bob W., and Amanda P., are still close friends and confidants to this day.  To be honest, I have no idea where I would be in all this, if it hadn't been for their kind hearts, and taskmaster discipline.

I highly encourage you to find a good, active online or face-to-face writing group.  The benefits of an online group, are that it's easy to post excerpts or short stories for critique, and many, many people have the benefit of making comment, so you get many varying POVs.  Plus, my favourite, being able to post stories, comment and commiserate, all without leaving your chair or changing from your peejays.

The downside of a group of this nature, is that you generally have to wade through several timezones before you get an answer, sometimes waiting for days or even weeks in some cases, as people are extremely busy and the level of posting is in high volume.  The other drawback is that because each poster is in equal probability an amateur as well as a published, experienced author, you never know, without trial and error, if the advice you receive will truly work for you.

The pros of seeking out a face-to-face writing group, inherently, are the same as an online group:  you learn how to give--by mere repetition and discussion--effective constructive critiques, and you get them in return, which, since true writing is only in the RE-writing, will only make you a better writer.  You also have that immediacy of advice, because once you read your excerpt, you then have the luxury of hearing its immediate affect on those listening, and they can offer comment while the work is still fresh in their mind, and they haven't had an ample amount of time to think about it, which often happens in online groups--people have lives to live between the time they read your story, and the time they have to comment, so opinions are sometimes in jeopardy of changing in that time, and you just don't have the access to those visceral, gut-wrenching opinions.

The downside of this sort of group, is that you have to get dressed before you leave the house.  Oh, and you have a specified time to meet each and every week, rain or shine.  You can't just sit back in your cozy armchair if the snow is too deep and you don't feel like reading Shteeve's latest tome until in the morning.

As you can see, both groups have benefits and both have their drawbacks.  As to which one will work better in your situation is entirely up to you, but the important and only thing is, that you find one and become an active part of it.  Those who offer critiques and read our stories are an integral part of the writing process.  Even if your average reader does not know how to place into words why your story sucks, if it's not polished and snazzed up, is rife with misspellings, grammatical errors and typos, he will simply know it does, and that will be more than enough to kill your sales, because avid bibliophiles TALK.

Now that my own group disbanned about a year ago, I am also, in want of a new, constructive and active group, because I'm not nearly done writing--I'm just getting started!

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