Well, I've taken some time out from the regular daily grind over Christmas to spend some time focusing on reading that I've been wanting to do for ages.
I also used the break to dedicate some really much needed time to writing, and chapters for my latest adventure continue to take form and roll off the press as it were, something I'm really chuft about, as I've been waiting to get this one of the ground for ages.
I got to do a full rewrite on my anthology entry, which I've been told by my editor was far to soppy and flowery, I think that is possibly a part of who I am as a writer, and I have yet to learn that it is all about show not tell. To be fair, I understand this concept and appreciate the impact that it has on a story, yet it is not something simple to achieve when I sit down to write. Maybe this is something that comes with time?
I finally got to the end of Circumnavigation, or rather to the last chapter posted, which considering it's 145 chapters in, took a lot longer than I was expecting. A few times in the story I'd considered giving up on it, but one of the things that I hate is reading something and leaving it hanging in the air unless it is just too terrible to continue with. In this case, it was not that the story is in any way terrible, just very long winded.
There is much intense drama in the story, and I guess that if you are one who has followed it as it has unfolded, then maybe it does not have the impact that reading the same story in one chunk would have, but after more than a hundred chapters, I've had about all I can take of the protagonist's ability to survive anything it would seem, some of it amazingly well thought out, yet some of it too far fetched to fathom.
The thing that made me hop up and down a bit was to get to chapter 145 and realise the story is not yet completed. I don't know what the heck made me think it was, maybe just the sheer number of chapters in the story, but for some reason I'd assumed that it was a complete work and so that kind of settled it for me when I was looking for something to read.
See I like to be able to read, enjoy, and reach a completed resolution in my mind, rather than have to sit waiting for it to come along when the writer can get around to it. I'm an impatient so and so, you only have to ask Hamish to know what I mean.
One thing that struck me while I was reading the story was a sudden outburst, a rant if you will from the writer C James in one of the later chapters of the story, where he kind of implies that if people don't review his work or take part in the forum discussion, that he'd stop posting and leave the story unresolved. This got me thinking. I know what it is like as a writer to see people reading and suddenly begin to wonder why you are not getting the feedback we all crave.
"Is it me?" "Is it my writing?" "Am I really that bad?" It's called insecurities. One thing I have come to learn on GA is that like many sites, it has an active core of people that intermingle and mix, and a lot of what I can only describe as ghost visitors. No disrespect meant to them, they are as important and critical as the noisy core of the site, it is just that they are more reserved in their willingness to participate openly for whatever reason.
I am a fairly open person. I don't really care who knows me, or what they think of me. It is the few that I allow into my close perimeter of friends that I give concern to. For that matter, I have never really cared who knows of me or sees me for who I am online. Maybe this is foolish, as there are far too many people willing to take advantage of this and could easily use it against me if they chose, but I am of the opinion we only live once, and this is what living is for me. The online world is a fundamental part of my life and who I am, so I take risks and make choices others consider foolish. Take my brother for example. He won't even buy from Amazon for fear of having his details cloned. I respect that. He has his opinion and impression of the world online, and while we have discussed and debated it, I am able to accept that if it were a person like my brother reading something I'd written, then he'd most certainly not be leaving a comment or feedback, no matter how much the story moved him.
Another thing I have noticed is that friends online are very loyal and we gather around each other and support each other. Now some people are better at interacting across a large divide of people, but if you are like me, you love to talk to everyone, you just don't let too many of them get too close. Hurt is a funny thing, and once bitten, twice shy the saying goes. In my case this is very much a reality of how I choose who to trust and let in to my ring of close friends.
Having said that, there is a level of anonymity online that means I can be a lot bolder with allowing people near me, as there is less of a risk of the immense loss a faded friendship can have on you emotionally as a person. Friends online come and go as circumstances change around them, like ships in the night, near for a while, then gone into the shadows. See that I can deal with. It is the physical attachment and I hate to lose in friendship.
I guess what I am trying to say is that we should expect to find little cliques. They are part of the fabric of humanity. They happen in every walk of life, and so when I see them happening here on GA it is not surprising, nor should it bother anyone. We all still talk to each other. Although I may not be part of someone's clique, they may still at some time read my stuff, or comment on a thought or update. I may message them and chat for a bit when we are in the chat room at the same time. That is life. So when I let my insecurities get in the way of something I actually really enjoy doing, then I feel that I am the one worse off for it.
There is always a lot of encouragement on GA to engage, interact or feedback, and I do support that. However feedback in many ways is a two way thing. We want to know, or at least feel that our thoughts and opinion matter. So when your feedback is not always responded too, it is easy to wonder off else where and find something else to entertain your time.
Look, feedback is the life blood of any writer. We love to hear it, love to get it, crave it and cherish it. Fact. We are all slightly vain in that way, there is nothing wrong with admitting it. But the thing that really disappointed me about the whole rant was the idea that for a reader such as myself, who has come along at a date many moons after this saga began, and has trundled through dozens of chapters, thousands of words, millions of characters, and suddenly read that because you have not participated in a forum that may well no longer be active, or ceased to leave comments as they are not replied too, you may have the ending of the story withheld from you, is a bitter pill to swallow. I really was disappointed when I read the rant. Not so much the reason for the outburst, but more the guise of blackmail that it appeared to throw over the whole work. It was a shame.
I would like to think that I give credit to C James for the effort and hard work that has gone into a remarkable story, and I suppose that after such a long adventure it is difficult to remain motivated when the enthusiasm wares off. But is that possibly the risk of a massively long project? People do get bored, other things grab at our attention, and even though I sat and tried to read it in one consistent go, I got sidetracked a few times.
It was really interesting for me to sit and think it through. I do like a long story, I've read a couple on GA now, and admire the writers that can achieve it, but it does make me wonder, unless doing it for the love of the story and your own passion for writing, Is It Worth It?
Thought for today - "The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand." - Vince Lombardi
Song for today - Wishful Thinking by China Crisis http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjCWiG5Yw7U