Reading, Volunteer Editing, and Writing on Wattpad

One of the many things I learned about while participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is Wattpad.  Prior to NaNoWriMo, there are a lot of writing helpers, programs, websites that would have probably never appeared on my personal radar.  It’s a terrific program, and I’ve enjoyed the conversations in the local and international Facebook pages and Twitter.  Wattpad intrigued me for its spontaneity and accessibility for would-be writers of all genres.

Since last November 2013 I’ve been noodling about with some short stories and serial novels there, and shortly after one NaNoWriMo webinar made a more dedicated plunge. I’ve been published before decades ago in the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate as an LSU rodeo writer, as a student reporter at WLSU, but nothing as a fiction writer. My fiction writing goes back to high school, but I never shared any of it until Wattpad’s arrival in my life. It had always been something I’d feared, that my fiction writing would be so bad that public humiliation would ensue shortly after.
The anonymous nature of this platform is both good and bad. There are a lot of people who for reasons of their own keep their identity private, allowing them to expose their nom de plume to readers without fear of blowback in their private lives. Works very well if one writes Erotica and still want to attend a house of worship, or keep that side hidden from the PTA of your children’s school.
On the Wattpad platform people feel free to feed their creativity, read others’ works, offer free editing for in kind reciprocity, and generally broadcast their abilities. It’s both liberating and frightening.
My own writing has been both on the platform and uploaded after using Scrivener, and using Grammarly and Grammarly Lite help weed out basic and detailed errors. Composing and publishing quickly are both fun and potentially embarrassing when done in a rush. That’s when kind fellow readers and writers are so helpful and lifesaving. If you’re especially lucky, someone will point out syntax and overlooked grammar errors, as well as remind you of style infractions. It’s wonderful, and one has to have a good sense of humor and thick skin to accept this kind of help.
Writers as a whole need thick skin to stay in, being humble enough to accept editing, but self-aware enough to know when malarkey’s offered.  The volunteer editors who’ve helped me have been true, and been right on the mark, which is a relief.
When working on a quid pro quo system, one’s editing must be offered gently, with the knowledge that the writer you’re “helping” may completely blow you off. One can simply not keep on offering editing that’s ignored, or keep plugging away with the knowledge that the writer just wants comments, and has no intention of following through on corrections. That’s human nature in its most undistilled form, and rarely reflects on the editor.
Here’s where the editor needs a thick skin though. Some of the writing on Wattpad is incredibly bad, but some of these writers have huge followings, many don’t but keep valiantly plugging away, wanting to get better and attract a high profile and large following themselves. If I start following a writer, it’s because I see either a writer blossoming before my eyes, or someone who’s almost there but needs work. If I offered editing, and it’s politely accepted then ignored, I either keep reading, hoping the writer wakes up and improves, or stop because reading badly edited work’s painful.
That’s the freedom of Wattpad. As my ex-husband used to say about doctors, if you don’t like one, vote with your feet. Keep reading the bounty there if you find a wonderful writer, don’t if you so care. Write like a fiend if you feel that intoxicating drive, and keep working, thicken your skin, learn and accept, but never stop trying.

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Ramona DeFelice Long

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