Well, it's been a year since I joined the e2 community. And I've got to say that this place has become one of the true joys in my life. No matter what's going on in The Real World TM I can always come here and feel that I'm a part of something very, very cool.
I can come here and get that sweet rush of instant feedback, knowing within minutes and sometimes seconds of posting a writeup that someone's read my words and appreciated them. Such a wonderful far cry from The Real World TM of publishing, in which you write something, print it out, send it off to an editor ... and wait. And wait. And wait some more. And when months (and sometimes years) have passed, you get a form letter: Sorry, this does not meet our needs.
Well, that doesn't meet a writer's needs, now does it? The need to be appreciated? The need to know you've been read? Even the downvotes are better than the cold outer-space silence you so often get as you send your work around.
A year ago, some other Columbus writers and I were trying to warm our writerly souls a little bit and perhaps drum up some anthology sales. We held a reading at a little bookshop in Yellow Springs, OH. My housemate /jen brought zot-fot-piq with her to the reading. He heard me read my story "Through Thy Bounty" and was apparently quite impressed with it.
"I'm an editor with this website, only it's not really a ezine," he told me. "People post stories there, and I think they would really enjoy it. It's at www.everything2.com."
"A website that runs stories but isn't a ezine?" I wondered to myself. "What the heck kind of place is that?"
So I came. I gazed in wonder. I read the FAQ. And I proceeded to post writeups like a maniac, like a lab rat hitting a lever to get a hit of pure liquid love.
I'd put in 15, 25 writeups a day those first few weeks. In two weeks, I was at Level 4, and 24 days after that, Level 5. I slowed down after I hit Level 6; I convinced Braunbeck to join, and had some of his stories I'd posted reassigned to him. Later, I moved about 60 writeups over to the BioTech account.
Recently, I've been made an editor, and I think I've come to understand this place in ways I never could as a regular user.
I want to keep going like I have been.
But I can't.
As much as I love this place, it doesn't pay my rent. And this place, this wonderful place, doesn't "count" as real publication.
My mother calls me every week. "How's the writing going?" she asks.
Me: "Pretty well."
Her: "Have you sold anything?"
Me: "Well, no ..."
Her, sounding worried: "Well, then, what have you been writing?"
Me: "Stuff." I feel like the hapless convenience store clerk Raymond, with Tyler Durden holding a gun to his head. "All kinds of things. Mostly for this site I work on."
Her: "Do they pay you?"
Me, feeling more like Raymond every second. "Uh, no, ma. We're all volunteers."
Her, sounding disappointed: "Oh."
I've had this conversation in a thousand different incarnations with other writing friends. I grow weary of trying to explain E2 to them, to explain my lack of real-world progress. I should be trying to write things I can sell. I know this. But I come here, and day melts into night, or night into day and I've written and learned a lot ... but somehow none of it counts.
Braunbeck is frustrated with me for all that I'm not getting written. He knows why I love to come here (which is why he wisely stays away for the most part). E2 is horribly addicting to those of us who live to write and who crave immediate gratification. It's the neverending chocolate cake, the everful bottle of sweet wine.
And I've got to push myself away from the table and get back to the writing that might matter in The Real World TM. I can't ever make a career as a writer if I don't ever sell a book. And my books aren't getting written because I spend all my writing time here.
Bad Lucy. No biscuit.
So, I'm limiting myself. Wednesdays and Sundays, that's when I'll be on from here on out until I feel I've made sufficient progress. Wednesdays and Sundays only. I still intend to hold up my editorial duties as best I can within those limitations.