I’ve always written stories for myself, or for particular contests and magazines. Somewhere in a box of mine there’s a book written that I’ve never shared. My recent decision to share writing online stems from a conversation with my former professor, who stated that collaborating with other creatives is one way to begin my journey. On this point, I agree: as someone with a background in television production, I’ve seen that collaboration is how everything gets done. And my past blogging experiences allowed me to make amazing friends and do amazing things.
This time around, I’ve taken a liking to reddit communities. I didn’t know much about the site, and assumed it was one of the internet lawless zones when celebrity porn and hentai run rampant. As it turns out, they have subpages for sci-fi writing, fantasy, fan fiction…I couldn’t make an exhaustive list even if I tried. Writers of all calibers gather to ask questions and post works for critique; it’s something of an oasis, a community for those who, like me, haven’t found local writers to talk to. Now, I’ve used another site for sharing writing, Writer’s Cafe, but I get the feeling the creators have abandoned it entirely, despite its continued use.
What have I learned from using reddit? There are fewer trolls and snobs than I anticipated. There’s generally no indication that anyone’s a more experienced writer than someone else, not unless one reads their actual posts. reddit is an open forum, and well-received posts get “upvotes” recognizing their quality. The system is refreshing for someone like me, brought up to excel in academic circles, used to learning from teachers.
On the other hand, the deficiencies of a wholly democratic system become clear: regarding critiques, members take the advice of whichever member they respect most, or whatever reply sounds best. For the majority of neophyte writers on reddit, I think testing their mettle in the online crucible is great; however, because reddit isn’t about throwing weight around and proving one’s industry authority, people may not learn what publishers actually need from them. Now, some people don’t care about publishing professionally, or just want to indie publish through Amazon, and that’s okay too. I’m just a firm believer in finding a role model that will guide people, of all trades and professions, towards achieving their aims.
Will I continue using reddit? Yes. My latest short story, “The Cyborg and the Illusion,” did receive random critiques from an anonymous person, which was cool. I’m still new to the site, so in time I anticipate building an audience, making friends, and learning my place in the publishing industry at large.