Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Blessing of #1 Fans

To describe writers in brief: bipolar, self-doubting, whiney, lonely, self-critics, strange, different, bipolar (oh wait, said that already...).

We can, quite honestly, be a perfect mess. I rarely meet an author that is self-confident about anything (and when I do, they tend to annoy me. Except for the one that said: “help! my novel is perfect!” Then I just laughed.), and I certainly belong to the stereotypical bipolar, doubtful, whiney crowd.

A community of writers (for me, the OYAN forum) helps a lot with most of these writer-ly ailments, particularly the feeling of isolation and loneliness that the craft of writing involves. (And also, we can then whine together.) It’s also wonderful to have fellow writers who actually know how help me make a book better, and won’t just say “it’s good” or “missed a comma.” But even with all that, there can still be something missing.

Writers write to be read. We can say we write for our own enjoyment or just because we like it, but the truth is that at the heart of every writer is a longing for readers. Without that longing, I would venture to say you’re not exactly a “writer” but rather someone who happens to write. Why do bloggers like people to follow, comment, and contact them? Why do they (or is it just me...) watch stats like hawks to see how many times the blog is hit and which posts are popular? Because they know they’re being read. It’s not just a cry to emptiness.

That’s where readers come in. And, those number 1 fans.

From the ages of 8 to 15, my biggest fan was my sister Grace. Even though I never finished a book in my first 6 years of writing, Grace read everything I wrote. She read all 48,000 words of the novel that would become Betsy Flowain (when it went down to 39,000), she read my Robin Hood snippets, she read A Tale of Interesting Coincidences and Unexpected Happenings. The only thing she didn’t read was my brief LotR fanfiction, and that’s because I hid it from her (it has since been justly erased from all time and space).

She read everything.

I was a writer; I was 8; I was being read. My little sister nurtured my early years.

Since my joining the OYAN forum, God has blessed me with friends, critiquers...and more no. 1 fans. Jane, Mercia, Lizzie. They were sure (or at least said they were sure) that I was brilliant. I was sure I wasn’t, but I appreciated their love of my writing and my stories. They lifted me up when I was down.

Writers can’t survive without critiquers. They CAN survive without die-hard fans, but die-hard fans do help keep our teensy egos slightly alive. They tell us we’re not wasting the time in front of the computer.

And so, I thank God for the blessing that each of my no. 1 fans is.

Who are your no. 1 fans? Do you ever thank them for their devotion?

11 comments:

Laurale said...

Go #1 fans! :)

I think my #1 fan is my friend Sarah who got me writing in the first place.

Yes, where would we be without that small group of people, (or just one person) who truly wants to read every word we write, no matter how painful, and help us make it better. Those who believe we are brilliant. :)

Oh, and btw, I think you're brilliant too Nai. When I first read FoL I become a #1. Speaking of which... are you sending other stuff out to critiquers right now? :)

~SG

Angela said...

Very true post, I have to say. :)

My number one fans... Isaac from the forum, my friend Katie, and my sister Valerie. Even when I know they're lying, or wrong, it's still nice when someone says "Wow... That's... amazing. You're a really good writer."

Nairam said...

@Laura: Definitely. Sometimes having just that ONE person can be even more beneficial--for example, I have many FoL fans (including you!) but then I have Lizzie, who thinks EVERYTHING I write (including the insult to humanity _The Bow_--which apparently she still has on file. *cringe*) is brilliant. They're really neat fans to have, though I usually go to others for critiques. ;)

Well...I've posted 1&2 of _Quintessence_ on the forum, with thoughts of posting 3&4. It's not getting read much. Would you like me to send it to you? I could just send you 1 at first to make sure you like it. It's very different from my other stuff.

@Angela: Most certainly. It tells me that I'm not a complete failure...or I have good friends...or both...:P

Laurale said...

Yes please! Send them my way. :)

Would you like a full throttle critique on it? (Yes, I just used the term "full throttle". ;) )

~SG

Grace said...

Whaa?? I'm not your #1 fan anymore? :'( ;)

By the way, how can people have more than one #1 fan? The math just doesn't compute. Maybe because some writers don't care tuppence about math...

/end entirely useless comment. :)

Nairam said...

@Laura: Yes please--though I won't be using them quite yet. (Still have to finish the rough draft...blegh.) I'm sure I'll grudgingly (just kidding) appreciate them once I get to the editing stage, though!

@Grace: You can if you want to be. ;) You get first dibs. But you don't read quite *everything* I write anymore...not that I blame you...(again, _The Bow_.)

Yes, that's probably the reason. :P

Taylor Lynn said...

Eh, yes, I might be a bit self-doubting when it comes to my writing. ;) I'm not sure if I'm ready to join a critique group yet (or even how to find one I'd like!) but it sounds like a good way to get suggestions and opinions on your novel. I think maybe at some point I'd like to try finding one.

I'd say I have fans, though. :) Like my mom. She reads just about everything I write and encourages me to keep going. I'd say she's my #1 fan! :D And she's not afraid to give me advice. That's a plus. ;)

Nairam said...

I wasn't really ready either, the first time I was put in that situation (it was actually in the OYAn class--way back in 2008!), and I freaked out again when I posted something on the forum for critiques, and again at the first OYAN Summer Workshop critique group, and again at the second OYAN Summer Workshop critique group. :P

As you see, I never really get over freaking out, though it has got gradually easier. It's something quite necessary for a writer, though, so I'm glad Mr.S. made me do it way back in 2008!

Taylor Lynn said...

It does sound like a critique group would be quite a helpful thing, at some point. Maybe once I finished my current WIP and have gone through it myself I'll look into finding one... I've tried getting publishers for things I've written in the past, but I think that I'd like to improve my work a LOT before I try again. :) I think a critique group might be helpful for that!

Nairam said...

Oh, they are. They see the things wrong with the manuscript that you don't, AND point out the things you knew were wrong but thought you could get away with.

I'd suggest the OYAN forum, because that's where my critiquers are all from, but you can't get on without buying the curriculum--all in all, an expensive critiquing experience. :P Here's something a friend of mine uses, though: http://critiquecircle.com/

I'm not sure about how good it is, but my friend was on the OYAN forum too, so she probably has good taste in critiques. You might check it out.

Taylor Lynn said...

"AND point out the things you knew were wrong but thought you could get away with." LOL! I'm repeating myself, but critique groups definitely sound helpful. :)

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