Tuesday Snippet

Confession time:

Writers Posting Stories Online For Free Scare Me.

When someone posts their writing on the web, so many alarms go off in my head.   I admit, I wonder about people who post their stories online without any expectation of recompense.  Yet, here I am….  I have posted snippets of my “exercise” writing for the past month and a bit with little concern.  Actually, I rather enjoy it.

As well, I’ve found a greater appreciation for many of the writers I’ve “met” online since posting my work.  Some of the writing that people post on their blogs and websites ends up being the best writing I find.  Some of it is … well, to put it politely… dreck.  But usually I see enough to keep me content.  And sometimes I see something that will inspire me to look up the longer works of an author.

I hesitate to say that is the goal of most posters of online writing is to get you, the reader, to go buy their books.  I know it is for some people.  It wasn’t my reason, and I know others who that wouldn’t fit either.  Some share for the joy of sharing, for attention, for an outlet…

I started sharing because I thought I needed to.  Pretty much that.  I was new to blogging when I first shared a piece of fiction, and I hadn’t read many more than a few blogs at the time, many of which were story blogs.  Basically, I was naïve and kind of dumb.  😦

We all make mistakes.

So why do I keep posting these snippets?  Well, my thought process hadn’t really evolved much from “This is what writers do online”.  Until last week, the purpose of the Tuesday snippet was because I knew I wasn’t keeping steady enough posts for this blog and I felt I needed something to fill the empty days a bit.

Where am I now?  Well, I know it’s not for a platform; I have one submission to my credit (unless you count that horrific submission when I was in high school to the Reader’s Digest, but I won’t talk about that if you won’t), and that story Release as I called it was (thankfully) rejected (I still need to send the slush readers at Tor a thank you note for not allowing me to mess up all my other storylines).  I think it was an okay story, but it was a first story.  And I hadn’t grown up enough to get myself out of it.

So if not for platform?  Then?

Well, a lot of this introspection has been based off this blog post by Emma Newman where she discusses her unease with reading stories sent to her by fans.  I’ve looked over older stories of late and seeing that (frightfully) bad stuff with a new eye recently, and her post, with its frank appraisal of what writers “want” when they ask another reader to look at their work first made me cringe….then relax.  Of her requests of the reader,  I’m at most guilty of things in the first section (and only a few of those.

And I’m not upset when I don’t get these things.  They’re just nice when it happens.  But as Ms. Newman stated next, there is another level to asking someone to read your work.  She posted a second list of deeper ‘what we’re looking for’s  to think about.  And I’m rather happy to realize that I’ve kind of “been there, done that” with pretty much everything on that second list.  Been there, Done that, Got the DVD and passed it off to Goodwill a while ago.  I’m posting my stories (especially the present piece) because it’s been fun for me, and I hope I can give someone else a smile too.

And on that note….  here’s the continuation of “I don’t have a name for this!” where we last left with Atyr finally heading up to see Val and ‘Mara preparing to drown his fears in the bottle.

Atyr sighed as she walked up the side stairs to the room Val slept in. Not the master bedroom. As long as she could remember, Val had avoided the room for sleep, allowing his second wife the luxury in favor of what had amounted to a closet of raw-hewn boards and ratty blankets. He’d often say it was a better bed than many he’d had as a soldier and commander.

He was right, but it wasn’t why he’d done it.

She sighed, looking over the grayed walls stained from years of poorly ventilated wood smoke and the pipes she knew Val would have when stressed. Even now she fancied she could smell the acrid-sweetness of the coltsfoot and tobacco blend he used.

Both she and Val had married their variatei. Only she had been able to accept and enjoy the company and touch of Alanii. Val had effectively refuted Nisxel the day he’d made his oaths to her. When he’d wanted company, he’d leave the House to visit friends. When he’d wanted more, he called in a whore.

When she was near, he would deny interest in anything else save her, even when Alanii was near. And what was worse was that she would want to do the same.

And Alanii, she sighed. Alanii would just understand, would just accept. Her heart could stay in Val’s keeping as long as she didn’t act on her desires. Dear Goddess, she still wanted to strangle the man of his expectations for her.

Now Nisxel was gone, gone to her Goddess a frustrated woman, a woman who’d died a virgin because her husband had seemed to prefer sleeping with her step-daughter rather than her.

To think she had nearly condemned–had condemned–the poor man for the same crime. She gave her head a little shake as she saw the priest standing by the door holding a tray. Next to the steaming guastu was a small pot and cup.

She gave the man a raised brow.

The priest smiled. “Nutritive broth. When I heard rumor that you had come, I ordered it made. It will help speed the removal and cleansing of the guastu from his system should he choose to stay.”

Atyr nodded accepting the tray with mixed reluctance and relief. “Thank you, teacher. Your consideration does you credit.” With a slightly less formal tone, she added, “You’ve dealt with the Sier before, I see,” with a smile.

The priest’s own smile broadened. “I served as religious consult to the Army for many years under him. When I heard he’d chosen to seek his rest, I requested to be his guide through the process. Some others may not have understood his needs as well.” The smile had faded but there was nothing untoward in the priest’s expression. Simple, unselfish respect for the man he was caring for was written in his posture, but he was not about to say more than he had.

She understood and though she didn’t add anything to his overview of the situation, she did smile gratefully as he opened the door for her.

*

The room was dark, darker than the foyer. Dingy walls made of mahogany toned wood, rustic hand-woven blankets on the bed–a small cloud of smoke rose around the person sitting by the roll-top desk nearly obscured the glow of the single candle.

“I thought I felt your presence, Atyr.”

The voice was a hollow whisper with no memory of the rich melodic baritone it had once been. Even so, Atyr fancied she could still hear the sensual burr she remembered so well.

The room itself was windowless, being on the inner wall of the House. A defensible place, dark and cave-like. The smoke from his pipe and the candle gathered like a shroud overhead in the rafters.

She found herself unable to look to the desk.

Silence fell as she looked about aimlessly, all the while she felt that hawk-dark gaze. She thought about the tray she was carrying and, setting it down temporarily on the bed, began making room for it on one of the nightstands.

“You can just bring that here.”

She steeled her nerve and looked. “No, Val. You have time. Until then, we are going to talk.”

She was proud of herself for keeping as much control over her reaction as she did. She did blink. She may have even gasped. She didn’t faint. She didn’t start crying. And she didn’t scream.

She had known what to expect. She’d helped Alanii bear cups for his father’s wife. She knew the effects of the steaming sap that brought the dreams and heightened sensitivity the mediators used in their search for resolution to their lives.

She had known what to expect, but she hadn’t expected.

Val’s once lively face was gaunt, the tanned skin gray like uncared for leather that hung in awkward drapes over his bones. The Hastor all had strong bone structures; Val’s stood out now as model of their finest.

The pipe in his hands trembled. Atrophied muscles cupped the glowing bowl. Quivering from ill-health, his right hand rose to bring the pipe to his lips.

Out of that skull-like face his eyes were still intimidating dark and bright at the same time. They looked resigned. He looked resigned–a small touch angered, a small touch annoyed, certainly tired and possibly amused. Mostly he looked resigned.

The pipe paused before it met his lips. “About what? It’s been said before, Atyr.” The pipe jerked away suddenly as he raised his left hand to block a cough. He failed thoroughly.

She waited the few moments as he set down the pipe in the ashcup next to the stack of papers he’d been reviewing. She waited until he’d poured himself a cup of water and had drunk some.

Then she moved over a small stool so that she could sit next to him. Before he could pick up the pipe again, she took hold of his hand in both of hers. He tried to withdraw it, and she held more firmly, gently stroking flesh that had long surrendered its reserves.

He looked down at his hand cradled between hers, then to her. For a few more moments he was silent. Then he sighed. “They talked to you? ‘Listii call you here?”

“‘Mara did,” she replied. She realized her own voice had lowered to the same bare whisper his was.

A momentary flash of surprise graced those harsh features. “‘Mara?” He shrugged weakly and, with the help of his other hand, freed himself to retrieve his water again. Already his voice was the barest touch richer. He finished the cup and poured the remains of the pitcher into his mug. That he drank as well.

No doubt he’d just done more talking in the last five minutes than he had in the past three weeks.

She reached up a hand for the pitcher. “Here. Let me refill that for you.”

He looked at her cock-eyed over his mug. “You’re being awfully sweet, Atyr. I ain’t reconsidered.”

She shrugged. “Then I’ll stay with you during this week. I’ll be here, hold your hand, talk you through your resolutions–just like that fi-Harnii is supposed to do.” She looked straight in his eyes. “You aren’t running away from me, Val.”

More silence ensued, then a quick, faint smile touched his face. He passed the pitcher to her. “Warm water. Cold hurts the throat.”

So there you are.  Hope you are having fun.  I do like to know if you are having fun.  Always tell me that.

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8 responses to “Tuesday Snippet

  1. Oh, Eden, while I empathize and understand your reasons for putting some writing on your blog–oh, I have visited this issue many times–I can’t put out of my head those “experts or professionals” (agents, publishing houses [traditional and indie], authors [traditional and indie], social media resources) that say, “don’t do it,” and after thinking it through, I don’t. To be frank, I don’t read those excerpts because as a reader, I can’t know enough to get involved, even when the writing is yours–so, yeah, I peeked, just this once, and I had fun. A most courageous post, Eden.

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    • As long as you had fun, Karen, I would say I did my “job” so to speak. I have trouble with the whole idea of publishing this piece, since I wrote this as an exercise (and the possibility of publishing it would actively interfere with the story line I’m trying to write professionally), but I like knowing that some consider it good enough to publish. It’s a nice feeling. In the end, I think I’m just glad people are enjoying it, and hope they like my characters and world… because if they do, maybe when I do publish something traditionally, they might be interested enough to read that too.

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  2. Its funny, when I post snippets of my novel it has always been for two reasons,
    1st To help me feel like my novel is not lost in the 70,000 unedited word abyss. When I post a portion,,,however small it is, I feel like I’m making headway. When I take a scene that I actually like in my rough draft…polish it enough that is free from spelling errors and 3rd grade gibberish…I”m like Yeah..another 69,900 words to go. LOL! I guess that’s selfish way of doing it.

    2nd reason is that I want to share with people what made me happy, in hopes the reader will also enjoy it.

    Im glad you thought this is what writers do… otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to meet you and read about the worlds you create… each of those things are inspiring to a new writer,, a connection and another point of view in writing. at least i think so

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    • Natasha…. have I told you recently that you are beautiful?

      Thank you so much for sharing your insight. In the grand scheme of things, as much as I want to convince myself it’s solely about offering something fun to other people, I have to admit a certain level of selfishness in that very action…. After all, I could be content in letting someone else entertain them, but it’s really “all about me”. I think we all do it.

      So no, I don’t think your reasons are selfish at all. We do all have a certain amount of personal need for validation, even if it’s just self-validation. We’re only human, and we need that connection to each other.

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  3. The first time I posted an actual snippet of my writing on the web, my initial worry was that of copyright. I worried that it would be so good, someone might steal it. After a year of posting mostly blog stuff, with the occassional prompted flash fiction, excerpt, or short story, my worry has turned to “Is what I’m sharing dreck?”
    When it’s an exercise post, I don’t care if it’s dreck. It’s labeled as a writing exercise that I shared with others doing the same exercise. But I started posting a serial novella for those “other” reasons… it was an outlet, and yes, I wanted attention. I needed to share! Since the serial wasn’t directly related to my “main” stories that I do hope to shop out (Tor? Oh, I wish…. I hope… wouldn’t that be awesome?) I could be freer with them.
    But sometimes I wonder if I’m being a bit too “free” and not putting my best stuff out there. I don’t people to think I’m a hack.
    You say you aren’t thinking about platform building right now. Will you ever? Even if it’s something that won’t happen for year yet, building a platform now has many advantages.
    I like having something regular on the fiction blog. It’s good for ME to have something I write regularly, for better or for worse. It’s good for someone looking at my blog to see that there is content added on a regular basis. The one thing I have to change is the fact that the only writing I’ve been finishing lately has been for the blog…. I do intend to submit to an agent and then hopefully a traditional publisher someday, and those stories do NOT go on the blog. (Related, yes, but not the actual stories I hope to publish.)
    Time to do a few #1k1hrs where I’m working on something more than my blog!

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    • I’m sorry I took so long to get back to this, Amy. Too many things clamoring for attention n my mind (we call it “death by a thousand paper-cuts” here… which is an analogy I really hadn’t tried to visualize before and is making m cringe just trying to imagine that actually happening to anyone now…)

      Anyway, you sound exactly like me with the spending too much time blogging, the writing stuff that was more meant as an exercise… yadda yadda. Even down to the “I guess U really should start shopping for an agents. (And yes, I would love to have my work published by Tor, but I think the proper market I should be looking at is DAW… they produce books more similar in style to mine. Though really, I would be delighted to get something in with any of the major imprints. I can only guess, but I bet you feel somewhat the same.)

      I understand the whole goal of building a platform, and I guess I do toss the idea around often enough, but I always come back to “I don’t know”. So I keep doing what I’m doing, and a little more and a little more and… Well, I think that’s what happens to us all. Just some people are more focused for their “little more” pieces.

      Thanks for visiting, Amy. Always delightful to hear your insights whether on your blog or here.

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      • Every Friday I do an interview on my blog. It’s always someone related to either SciFi or Romance, even remotely! (Today is an actual scientist, next week a YA romance author)
        Sometimes I interview a pre-published writer. They are really fascinating and… who knows? If and when they do get published I can point to that interview and say “I knew them when!”

        I’d love to interview you for my blog! I send 20 questions via e-mail (usually on a Sunday, and I hope to get answers back by Thursday afternoon) and the interviews go up at midnight Friday (ready for Friday morning readers)

        Are you up for it?

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        • I think you have a great idea in that, Amy. Everything we do is about people after all, whether it’s writing a story or living without killing each other; what better way to show that than to involve others in the creative process.

          Of course, I would say that everything is related to Romance anyway. Maybe love doesn’t make the world go round, but sex sure does. Science Fiction and Romance are natural bedfellows.

          As for the rest… sent you an email.

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