Amy-testy

Writing: The Breakup and The Comeback

I don't know too many writers since I left an online writing community (Wattpad) for many reasons. The biggest one: I wasn't writing! Wattpad brought me friends and a nice way to get constructive criticism, but it also gave me non-stop anxiety about my own work. I would spend literally hours a week not writing, but refreshing the page, hoping that someone would recognize my books and read them with the same passion as they did with my friends. I thought: "Hey, I'm a pretty good writer. But maybe success just isn't or me?"

Still, I kept coming back and it did absolutely nothing for me. I'd been off-and-on Wattpad for three years. In the last two weeks, I closed my account and have sworn not to return.

It just wasn't good for me. Wattpad is toxic (for people like me) because it offers instant gratification. Writing should not be about instant gratification! I shouldn't write shorter chapters just to publish them faster; I should write to whatever measure the story demands. Jealousy over reads and acclaim turned me against my own friends. I lost sight of why I loved writing in the first place because I was too busy trying to be an internet persona. And because I'm a tad bitter, Wattpad was starting to piss me off with its contradictory mods and the chat forums that only offered empty conversation. All the signs were  pointing to the exit, and yet my ego made me want to stay.

Not so coincidentally, immediately following the Wattpad breakup, I picked up a novel I'd started and stopped in the middle of its 20th chapter! It hit me as I read through the book that I loved the large array of characters. That was one thing that was missing from my (unfinished) novel I was writing previously; it needed more characters to play with and interact. So I continued where I'd left off with this one (which we'll call Brothers) and my mind is spinning, spinning, spinning! So many ideas, so many plot developments, and so much fun. Brothers became a book I hadn't written since I was a kid: a novel where my sole purpose of writing it was enjoyment.

I'm not finished with it -- it's shaping up to be a pretty long book. I'm halfway through my outline and the word count is clocking in around 68,000 words. This is astounding to me because the last novel I actually finished (in 2015) was less words than that! At least it makes me less self-conscious about taking so long with it haha. I've set a goal for 100,000 words -- which I'm positive I'll pass -- and will keep pushing forward. Once I'm completed, I will self-publish it so I can get a physical proof copy. Then I'll probably sit by my pool and read it in the burning summer heat, feet kicking through the water. The main character of Brothers is/was a swimmer, FYI.

Here's something I learned when I self-published a book for my senior project: People are vaguely intrigued when you say you're a writer. They only think of the heavy-weights and NY Times Bestseller Lists. So when you say "I write books", they'll say Ooooh. But if you give them a physical copy that is professionally published with a cover and real pages, those people will do a 180 and be clamoring for a look! I was blown away (and slightly offended) at how much people cared now. Like I wasn't a real writer until this moment, and not when I wrote my first novel in fifth grade. But I digress...

Since I have pretty much nobody to share my excitement with, this journal will have to do. Whenever I hit a milestone or just want to have an open discussion with myself, this will be the place. Any other writers out there?