It’s really tough being a writer. Most of us live in a little bubble; loved ones might occasionally take an interest and encourage us, they might laugh at our exploits. Maybe we join a writers group and find that most people there are more concerned about showing off their own stories than helping give feedback to others, or accepting any criticism on their own work.
When I first approached Emma Marigliano, the head librarian at Portico Library to ask if she would like to be involved with the CAKE.shortandsweet project, she asked what was in it all for me.
A valid question, and one that I didn’t even need to think about to answer. There’s the obvious factor that I get to put my own work out there, but more than that, I get to help other people do the same. It’s a dirty secret for most people, but as a teenager I was a fanfiction writer. One of the things most folks don’t know about fandom is that it’s an incredible environment for improving yourself creatively. I’ve watched writers and artists blossom from fairly average amateurs into truly talented individuals. I haven’t found another network of such support, encouragement, feedback and genuine enthusiasm anywhere else and I doubt that I ever will. Because people are already engaged with the characters, they truly care about helping you to get it right.
What I’d forgotten in my time out in the lonely ‘real world’ of writing is how good it feels to help someone improve their writing. I’ve just had a really lovely email from a woman who submitted a story to CAKE.shortandsweet, which we decided not to include. I’ve offered to give feedback where I possibly can to writers whose stories we turn away, and I did so for this one.
The response blew me away. The writer responded to my comments and engaged with them, she took suggestions on board, and she was incredibly grateful to me for the time that I put in. I hope that she will not mind me posting an extract from her email, but it touched me and has absolutely made my day.
So, to anyone else who wonders, why? This is what’s in it for me. Feeling like I’ve made a difference.
Last but not least – once again THANK YOU – you are so good. I, sometimes, (like all writers I understand) feel so alone in this journey to being published (being published is the measure of excellence at writing) that your kindness almost brings me to tears. Any validation of the writing is immensely valuable, and when you tell me what you liked about the story I treasure it!