Welcome to our very first Question of the Week! Each Friday, we’ll be responding to your most pressing questions about writing, our projects, and the journey to publication. To ask us a Question of the Week, simply visit the QotW tab above!
This week’s question?
What Was Your FictionPress Experience,
and How Has It Helped You?
Before FanFiction.net spun off a sister site, I had been dabbling in sci-fi fics and parodies. I wasn’t doing any serious writing of my own, and hadn’t, really, in years. I had the germ of an idea that would become Thorn of the Kingdom hidden away in my story-starter notebook, but I kept a lot of ideas there and most of them never went any farther than that. At best, I would get a chapter or two into a manuscript before quitting and working on another.
FictionPress came along at just the right time for me. Once I decided to post Thorn of the Kingdom, there was no stopping that rough draft. When I knew there were people out there expecting the next installment, there was no room for writer’s block or lame excuses. By writing and updating on a regular schedule, I discovered I could actually do this: I could start a novel and finish it. And, of course, some of those readers became good e-friends too. A couple of them are even contributors on this blog!
A year ago, when my pursuit of publication forced me to take Queen of Glass off FictionPress, it felt like I was ripping out a part of me. For six years, my life had been centered on sharing my novel with an audience of thousands. While it was wonderful to have so many reading my work, it was the people that mattered—that made the whole experience worthwhile and life-changing.
I once received a letter from a young woman living in South Africa, and she told me that she would walk the two miles to her library every day, just so she could read Queen of Glass and follow Celaena Sardothien on her adventures. She stayed at the library until it closed each night, and returned each day after school. I wept when I read her letter, and I’m getting teary-eyed just writing this now. Never in my most wild imaginings, did I ever think that I would write a story that could connect with someone living so far away, leading such a different life than my own.
The letters I received from around the world—from England to China, from France to the Philippines—made me realize I had something special. They made me realize I had a story worth sharing, a story that could resonate with others. It gave me confidence, and I return to that letter, and all the letters I’ve received over the years, when I need to remember that my dreams are achievable. The global audience of FictionPress gave me that—and I will be eternally grateful for it as long as I live.
FictionPress was what built me as a writer. I first began posting up my work when I was a young girl unsure of herself as a writer. But through the encouraging reviews I received, I grew confidence. Now I no longer doubt my ability as a writer when I receive criticism. FP has taught me that writing is very subjective. There will always be those who love your work and those who hate it. The only thing that matters in the end, I’ve learnt, are the readers whose lives you are able to touch with your story.
Like so many others, I found FictionPress because of FanFiction.net (I used to write Animorph fan fiction, lol). I started posting chapters of my first draft of Antebellum (then called Woman’s World), and began getting more and more readers and reviewers. It became sort of addicting… an ego boost every week or so. Eventually that feeling departed and I was left with a community I wanted to please and entertain.
It was wonderful to have such supporters, because they wouldn’t hesitate to give me feedback about what felt off to them, which had an advantage over readers that are also your friends, because they don’t really have a vested interest in making sure your feelings didn’t get hurt. There were some bad seeds, of course. I remember one user in particular (I still remember their anonymous username but won’t reveal it here) told me I was committing religious atrocities because my story had a female god.
Flamers aside, my days on FictionPress were wonderful. Reviewers made me fan art and fan fiction about my story, sported icons and banners on LiveJournal that I had made, and in general gave me the courage to talk about my writing ability outside of the Internet, and the confidence to believe I was good enough to actually try and get that story published. I owe a lot to FictionPress, and it was very hard to have to take my stories down when I signed with my agent. I miss you all very much, and hope one day to be posting with you again.
My FictionPress experience began when I was thirteen, and started posting short stories based on what I wanted to happen in my life. I’m not happy with or proud of them; they were my dark, angsty teenage poems and “one shots.” However, by posting them, I was allowing others to see my work, something I still struggle with today. It did lead me to some amazing and wonderfully inspiring people, whom I look up to, and I am constantly reminding myself that they were once in my position too. I am so grateful for finding FictionPress; it gave me an outlet when I felt like I had no one and led me to people who make me feel like I have the entire world at my fingertips.
I can say, without a doubt, I wouldn’t be an author if it weren’t for FictionPress. I was always a reader, but by the time I was 20, I’d still never written fiction. I found FP and used it to read for several weeks, and then decided I wanted to share work on the site and read. So I started my first piece of fiction, in 2003, solely because of the site.
Years later, when I became published, also functioned as a way to get the word out about my books. Fictionpress people have been incredibly supportive of Prada & Prejudice. I absolutely love to hear from FPers who purchased P&P, because it helps me feel like I’m still part of the community, even though I can’t really post new work over there anymore.
Thanks for stopping by, everyone! Stay tuned for next week’s super-juicy Question of the Week, and make sure to visit us on Monday, when Rachel will be posting her article about writers on Twitter!