Learning to Write in Public

“I always hear about writers who’ve written four books that end up in a drawer, and their fifth book is the one that gets published. The first book I ever wrote was published, flaws and all. For better or worse, I was allowed to learn to write in public. I think those books are simply early efforts. You have to take them as they are. I don’t think they’re very deep or anything; I think they’re okay, but they simply represent where I was at that particular time.” – Robert R. McCammon interview, emphasis mine

Mr. McCammon made these remarks in 1988. Much has changed since then. With the advent of the Internet, there are now many different outlets, including fan fiction, blogging, self-publishing and more that are allowing more and more people to “learn to write in public.” I include myself among the number of people who still have much to learn about the craft of writing, and am now shamelessly inflicting my learning experiences on you, gentle readers.

I noticed last year that my book-buying habits had changed a bit. Mostly due to economic necessity, I wasn’t buying as many books because I simply didn’t have the money. I bought a few hardbacks, mainly those that were part of a series that I was already collecting, such as F. Paul Wilson’s Repairman Jack series, or from authors like Dean Koontz who I have been collecting for years. What I noticed that was different was an increase in reading self-published and small-press books. These included Mercury Falls by Robert Kroese, Cursed by Jeremy C. Shipp, The Force is Middling also by Kroese, Saving Rachel by John Locke and a few comics that I found while attending Starfest in April.

During college at East Carolina University I took a number of creative writing courses as electives. The experience of workshopping on my writing and the writing of others was good experience for learning to read critically, seeing if my writing was clear and getting my point across.

My most recent participation in learning to write in public was NaNoWriMo. I completed the challenge in 2009, but was not able to participate in 2010. My participation in NaNoWriMo consisted of a public commitment to write nearly every day during the month of November and to complete a wordcount without regard to quality. In the spirit of learning to write in public, I may edit my entry from 2009 and make it available for feedback.

My writing goals for 2011:

  • Maintain this blog and others with regular updates and comments
  • Write and edit a novel to a state where I could send it to agents and publishers. However, I may still decide to self-publish.
  • Participate in online writing critique groups
  • Attend at least one convention geared primarily toward writers and readers, like Renovation or Mile-Hi Con.

I’d love to get your feedback on what you’d like to see here and whether you think learning to write in public is good or bad for readers.

About John Marte

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