Second, a NaNoWriMo update: After a rough first week, I'm finally catching up on my word count. It's fascinating, working from the POV of OCD itself, let me tell you. Trying to create a relatable character out of a mental illness while staying true to the nature of that illness and the fact that the OCD is, essentially, a "villain" in this story is a wonderful challenge. I'm enjoying it a lot. =)
Okay, on to today's post now!
I started writing at a pretty young age, as you might know. When I was younger, I was a lot more voracious. I don't think I'd say I was an extrovert, so much, since that appears to be a constant quality and I'm sure not one now, but I didn't have nearly the volume of anxiety problems as I do now. Therefore, I was not one to ever shut up about my writing and what I was doing.
Point is, I had a lot of support from the beginning when it came to my writing and that mattered to me. Honestly, a lot of the time then, when I would go on about my writing or related things, it was because I was looking for support and praise, because my anxiety then focused almost entirely on needing reassurance from others. I do still do that sometimes (it's a common OCD compulsion), but now I can take critique a lot better than I could have then. As such, their support, my elementary school friends being my "first fans", meant everything to me. It may even have determined my decision to keep going as a writer, although it's hard for me to really say that. I wasn't as self-aware then.
One of those friends is still my best friend today and she continues to support me as much as she ever did. She's not the one I'd go to for critique necessarily, but she's the one I go to for the reassurance, and also to see the emotional impact the story might have on an ideal reader.
Another one of those friends, though I haven't spoken to her in years now, sticks strongly in my mind because of the incredible enthusiasm she had for my writing. Through middle and high school, even as we drifted apart as friends, she continued to seek me out for my books and even got her mom interested in them. I had a really surreal conversation with them at the beginning of high school when she returned a rough copy of my book to me. (It was one of the Chosen Four books, for those of you wondering.) Until then, I hadn't known she had shared it, but her mom's words of praise mingling with hers made me feel so... good. Like, a "real" writer for maybe the first time. She, I think, would be the person I would name if I had to pick one as my "first fan."
In between elementary and middle school, I joined an online writing community where I got another set of "first fans", many of whom I got to meet last summer at Ch1Con! (The story of my experience here.) They, too, meant a lot to me. When I started getting replies (predominantly positive ones) on the first chapter I ever posted on that community, I printed them out. All of them. Because they made me so happy. I don't have them anymore, but I remember that, that feeling, and how much I meant to have other writers telling me I had something good, not just my friends and their moms.
It was through them that I did adjust to critique and learn how to take rejection, which was helped by the fact I was meting out some critique of my own, LOL. They continue to be great friends and a huge support as beta readers and critique partners -- and fans.
So what I'm trying to say here is that writers get a lot of rejections, critique, and sometimes cruelty in their careers. But we also get a lot of support and love through our fans, whether they're 'useful' in terms of critique or just in terms of happy feelings. My fanbase may be very small right now, but they still mean the world to me. So thank you, guys. Thank you so much. =)
Images via time4writing.com and angliaalove.blogspot.com.