There are a lot of people writing online fiction these days. And why not? Until recently anyone with the desire to write fiction had to suffer with a drawer full of unread manuscripts or a social network dotted with unreliable (if not patronizing) readers. Today you can easily find a writing community that shares your specific interests, and if you’re not a total jerk you can usually find someone who will give you honest and useful feedback.
But online communities — at least some of them — also provide another important resource for fiction writers, and that’s emotional support. Whatever you want to say about any given writer’s skill level, or the average skill level of all fiction writing on the web, the fact is that putting your work out there for others to see is a risk — and it should be a risk.
Unless you’re a pure artist — meaning someone who is creating without concern for audience reaction (which is doubly hard to do when you’re using the written word, which was literally invented for communication) — you intend the people who read your fiction to have a particular experience. And at some point you want to know if you created that experience or not. So you need other people to validate your work when it’s finished, and that certainly involves risk. [ Read more ]