I’ll be honest. At first, I was put off by grammar errors and amateur mistakes. Even more, the commenters who gush over the simplest sentences with “I so get u” and “omg this ^^^ right here” and other such text-style feedback.
Then my wife kindly reminded me that everyone’s on a journey to being a better writer, and any mistakes I see now are only because I’ve had quality writer friends supporting and educating me along the way. I’m guilty of some of the same–if not right now, then certainly in the past.
And let’s face it. Feedback is feedback. If a character, quip, or interaction resonates with a reader, I am happy, whether they tell me, “Poignant and touching; Splendid work” or “oh wow sooooo many feels.” Any connection with a reader is a good thing, and the teen fangirl who says “omg” today is the young adult who clicks “buy” on Amazon tomorrow.
The short stories I’ll be posting in “Pieces” aren’t all new. Many appear somewhere on this blog. But I figure WattPad is another avenue to gain a following, and a fun way of doing so. My “Echoes” story (mentioned in a few previous blogs) will be posted entirely to WattPad.
Plus, my wife’s comment reminded me of the point of all this. WattPad is full of unique content and interesting takes on existing material. It’s a bunch of people who are expressing their passion for good characters and stories. Is that what I find valuable? Is that what excites me? Or is it grammatically correct, properly formatted, everything-just-so writing?
No, the point is to have fun and share the experience with others.
So I went ahead and drew an amateur cover for my project, incorporating scenes of most of the various stories into sections of different puzzles. No, it’s not professional quality. No, it’s not what will garner attention.
But I loved the process of expressing myself through a different medium, and I’m having fun with my own amateur mistake.
Here’s the cover to Pieces:
I hope you’ll visit me on WattPad, especially if you have an account and post your own work.
I walked out of my brief doctor’s visit and headed through the lobby to my car. The hospital has a valet service, but I need to walk. After all, I’m going through post-surgery physical therapy, so I don’t use it.
The valet is a young man, maybe in his early 20s. He’s got a sketchpad and pen out, and he has a burly superhero-type man flexing next to a typical comic book female figure (the sort that would make Barbie feel unattractive).
Many visitors don’t take advantage of the valet service. Even when they do, the young man jogs out to retrieve the car, so he ends up with a lot of down time. And he’s using that to hone his skills, to build up his craft as an artist.
That’s worthy of respect. I made sure to catch him and pay him a compliment.
My daughter surprised us last night as she was getting ready for bed. She grabbed her violin and practiced for about five or ten minutes, playing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” for her brother to help him go to sleep. It didn’t work, but both Mom and I were pleased with her willingness to take a few minutes to practice. She wants to learn, and she shows that dedication in moments like these.
I think of the civilian in my technical school’s chow hall almost 20 years ago. When the customers were intermittent, he always got out a drawing pad and started working on some project, taking advantage of every spare moment, every opportunity.
That’s why I have a notepad or my iPad pretty much everywhere I go. Sitting for 10 minutes with ice on my ankle after physical therapy, I can write the majority of my next A-Z post. Waiting for the doctor, I can jot down a few ideas. When someone in public says something unbelievable, I take a quick note to save it for a future character.
There’s a need for scheduled practice time, just as with any pursuit. But I think one difference between having a hobby and having a passion is that desire to fill every available moment with effort to hone the craft.
Just something I noticed as I walked out the hospital door this morning. What’s your favorite way to take advantage of opportunities throughout the day or week? Maybe it’s a suggestion I, or another reader, will find useful. Let me know in a comment.
I have friends who pour money into building and rebuilding cars. They take apart engines and put them together again; they spend money on upgraded parts and they spend hours putting the new parts in. More power to them.
I have friends and family who collect coins. They take great interest in stuff I personally don’t care about. They can tell you all about the various Liberty Dollars, and each design of the penny over the years. They can recall which metals were used to mint U.S. coins in which years. They know all about the different currencies in other nations, and they pay attention to the gold and silver rates the way I pay attention to my Facebook wall. More power to them.
I have friends who can tell me the stats for the obscure player on the worst team in the National League in 1986. They remember all the best plays of all the best games, and they can tell you the champions of the World Series or Super Bowl or NBA Finals or Stanley Cup or whatever other thing. Like all the champions ever. They track actual stats and they watch the performance of their Fantasy (Fill-In-Sport) League, talking about how their team is doing with a sense of ownership as if they are personally on the field scoring points. More power to them.
Some of my friends play or have played World of Warcraft. They know all the equations for figuring out Damage Per Second, and they know how to get every ounce of performance out of any character. They’ve tried out every bit of the content in their chosen game over the last seven years, for the low low subscription price of fifteen bucks a month.
Some of my friends play music. They have their own studios in their houses, where they write and play and mix and record and publish their creations. They’ve invested thousands of dollars into their equipment, and they have a list of everything else they are looking to buy in the future.
Some of my friends write. Some read voraciously. Some are avid cooks. Some just like to browse imgur. Some like to run 10-20 miles a day.
Some are rabid debaters, always looking for a topic to discuss. Some are avowed Trekkies (or Trekkers, or just plain Star Trek fans), and they can tell you all about why their favorite iteration of the Trek franchise is better than all the others.
Some are Star Wars fans – the kind that build their own lightsabers to movie-accurate detail. Some read comics, and can tell you all the “facts” about what their favorite heroes have endured over the years.
Some get together and roll dice, moving figures around a table, cheering when “dragons” are slain.
Some are amateur theologians, devouring religious writings and commentaries, learning all they can about their chosen religion. Some, like my 7-year-old son, are only interested in Angry Birds.
Some of them are bloggers who pretend (like I do) that anyone really cares what they write.
I’m sure there are plenty more that I’m unaware of. People have all kinds of interests.
More power to all of them.
None of these hobbies bother me. I don’t consider any of them “invalid” or “beneath me” or worthy only of “losers.”
That’s what I don’t get.
What makes one hobby any better or worse than another?
Ok, I can see how some hobbies are more beneficial than others… the avid runner is better off than the stereotypical couch potato. The lady who goes to Spin each week is better off than the lady whose hobby is making (and eating) cakes. Some activities are more healthy than others.
But when Sports Girl makes fun of Warcraft Guy, or Car Guy picks on Brony Guy, it’s a bit ridiculous. It’s just as ridiculous if Star Trek Girl makes fun of Sports Jock, or Star Wars Guy picks on Spin lady.
Some guy hits a little ball with a stick and runs around a square… and that matters more than a group of 5 or 25 people getting together online to play a game? Someone watches a guy put an orange ball through a hoop on TV, and that makes him better than the person who browses LOLcats on the web?
Someone spends a few hundred dollars to put the perfect engine into their car, but makes fun of another person who watches a TV show? Someone who wears every piece of Husker memorabilia and sportswear makes fun of a Star Wars nut standing in line at the theater in costume celebrating his favorite movie series… and that makes sense?
We all have our own costumes, our own collections, our own interests which we are willing to invest time and money into. But we also have social expectations to deal with; it’s easy to try to hide what we know others won’t accept in order to look “normal.”
After all, you don’t want people to know you’re a Trekkie… a gamer… a Bears fan… a Brony…
Be real. Be honest. Be open.
We’re proud of our hobbies, and that’s alright. We should be.
Maybe if we are willing to honestly show the joy we get from the things we love, others will see something worthy as well.
And if not, so what?
My hobby is not for their enjoyment, after all. It’s for me.
The home of David M. Williamson, writer of fantasy, sci-fi, short stories, and cultural rants.