Many of you may have been following my Dirty Little [Writing] Secrets series. It is a series I am writing which is inspired by a critique group I belong to. The series involves, I think, at its core, the idea of what it means to have your writing exist in community.
I am currently involved in writing a novel. It is a novel very close to my heart, as silly as the premise may seem (a premise you can now view here!). I have heard some conflicting advice as to when to start sharing your work with your readers.
Some people say get it out early and often, let the readers see your process, give them a struggle and a stake in the finished product.
Other people say to keep it hidden for awhile, get the first draft done totally, and maybe start sharing somewhere around the second or third revisions. Make sure you are putting your best-ish foot forward, and never release something that isn’t as polished as you can make it.
I can see the wisdom on both ends, but I am torn as to which wisdom applies here. Should I post the first drafts, in all their ugly glory, and give you the chance to journey with me as I revise and tweak and edit? Should I wait until I know the story, start to finish, and am in the process of making it all shiny and sumptuous to the reader? Should I just tease you for the next year, as I look for my publishing options and then spring the finished thing upon you all at once?
For once I am stumped.
I can, of course, see how you would enjoy seeing the ingredients I blend to create my Goblin Fashion Designer, the magnificent Gazzletini. I think you might enjoy my struggles to find the right historical model of organized crime I am looking to emulate for my underworld element in Castle Gallifrax. It would probably be intriguing to follow my own learning process as I study math and science in an attempt to generate an inspiring and also educational system of wizardry that for once does not merely rely upon “bibbity” “bobbity” or “boo” as an explanation for its inner workings.
However, I can see you rolling your eyes if the first draft seems tedious, or confusing, or just plain uninteresting. And if I can’t grab you, as a reader, you won’t follow me on this journey. More than that, I know that first impressions are everything. Can I gamble your interests on the first words that happen to find themselves onto the page?
Recently, I happened to post my first DLWS entry on Reddit, and had the very surprisingly experience of having it read and then receiving nothing but downvotes. If you don’t know how Reddit works, that means that people read my work and then thought it was bad enough that they voted to bury it further down on the page. It was quite the sobering experience, and has made me, perhaps more inclined to believe that you need to delay your entry onto the literary stage until you are really “ready”.
What I’d like to propose is that you, within the comments section, give me your feedback. What would you like to see, from me, as an author? Do you like following an author on their drafting process? Is it useful for you to see all the steps along the way? Or is the “under-the-hood” process a tedious mess, done too many times, that needs to be swept under the rug until something beautiful has grown from it?
Basically, shall I post about my current work or keep it to myself?
What do YOU think?