Oh good. Just what the internet needs. Someone else writing fiction

by Steve

pen in shirt pocketWhat is it about that old saying that everyone has a book in them? Why do we all believe it? Is it reassuring just to know that at any time we could depart from our mundane lives in order to write the Great (Insert Country of Origin Here) Novel? Is it almost enough to just know we could do it, without having to actually go through with the messy business?

But now, we have the glorious internet! We don’t have to worry about writing half a million words of genius, or finding an agent, or a publisher. We can just scribble a few words down and BLAM! We foist it upon an unsuspecting public!

But, then again, dare we do that?

I’ve been working on some short stories lately (hence the title above), but have absolutely no idea if they are any good or not. Clearly, this ol’ internet is a great medium for sharing writing and getting feedback. But that is kind of scary, isn’t it?

What if the stories are downright awful, and are greeted with disdain, or even worse, silence?

Or what if they are in fact works of God-like genius, and putting them in the public domain will reduce my chances of getting a great big multi-million pound advance?

Don’t worry, I’m well aware that the former is more likely than the latter.

And if I do go ahead and put up some stories online, should they go up unadorned, or should I try to present them in an interesting manner? Why not make the most of the medium?

The best example of this I’ve come across is Jennifer Egan’s blog, which I found via the New York Times’ profile. She not only publishes the start of the story, but gives it a context – where it was written, the inspiration behind it, the music that soundtracked it. I think it is a brilliant idea and a wonderful site. It certainly points towards one future for fiction, and fiction writers.

So, do you publish stories online? Or do you write fiction, but opt to keep it out of the public domain, or at least off the internet? What have been your experiences as a fiction writer engaging with the internet? And finally (if you’re not sick of all these questions already), have you seen fiction presented in an interesting way on the internet?

Cheers! Now, I’m off to fantasise about my perfect writer’s desk

Image by Sacha Bertrand via Flickr