I’ve seen this debate elsewhere, publish on your blog so you have a ‘presence’ or keep your work to yourself so that it remains saleable. So far, I’ve just put up early pieces; exercises, bits and bobs that might entertain but that wouldn’t make it into a slush pile, never mind a magazine. Last week though, on leave and with only myself to entertain, I wrote what I think is one of my best short stories EVER (nah – doesn’t take much!) and, it being under 500 words, I was about to sling it up here for my many thousands of readers (ok, might have shifted a decimal point or two) to peruse. STOP! I thought. If this is a winner, it can’t go here, it has to go somewhere to do its winning and for that, it has to be pristine, untrammelled, unseen, and unpublished (Six readers – hear me? Six!). I teetered on the verge and muttered things like OMG, and WTF, and even They’ll Never Know, I so wanted it to be seen!
And then a compromise hove into view – Critique Circle! I could put it there, let people rummage around and maybe even get some decent feedback, and then send it to a loving home – what could be better? Well, not much as it turned out. As a CC Newbie (not now – got elevated to the Grownups queues), my story went into the up front public queue and fairly quickly picked up critiques. Some of these were rather limited – the critiquers hadn’t ‘got’ the story and so didn’t know how to judge it – but others were spot on (these, of course, were the most intelligent and insightful of the bunch [irony alert, just in case…]), not only understanding the tale but also coming up independently with the complex driving theme – musicality, poetry, and rhythm. Blinding!
It occurred to me too late that I should have announced the submission on twitter and my blog so that other members could go and take a look. I will next time. If CC offers a place to put work that might be published and doesn’t jeopardise its virginality, then that’s the place for me. I have another tale up shortly. If you’re a CC member, go take a look from the 18th (or 25th) for ‘Promotion’ and maybe give a crit if you fancy a go.
This story, ‘Dissolution’ was inspired by hearing Kate Baker narrate podcasts for Escape Pod and Clarkesworld. That voice, which turns out to have singer/musician and writer underpinnings (quelle surprise!) is one of the most evocative I have ever heard and if she were to read ‘Dissolution’, I would probably dissolute myself into a greasy blob on the carpet!
So there we are, a new phase entered in which I find I have something finally to guard. I welcome myself to the wicked and paranoid world of fiction writing!
What do you think? Use a critiquing service to find your potential readership and hone your skills or just keep it all very quiet before unleashing the lot on an uprepared public?