I am celebrating today! My sweet story about love and fight against prejudice has surpassed 1000 reads on Wattpad. I could hardly believe my eyes when the counter reached 999. My heart was racing; I was so excited and I just couldn’t contain it. I kept on refreshing the page hoping someone (anyone!) would open the book that so needed extra time. I don’t even know how long it was, but it can’t have been that long then BOOM! The counter changed to 1K!
I was dancing around like a little girl and when I showed it to my daughter she hugged me so tight, with a huge smile on her face, that I could see very clearly how much it meant to her as well.
It’s still far from the most successful books that have millions of views and votes and I don’t know if it will ever get there, but it’s the first step. The story has found a few faithful readers, who have embraced the characters, their quirks and beliefs and for the first time I found myself being asked for updates.
If you don’t know how Wattpad works, anyone can create a free account and have instant access to the thousands of stories published there. There are some classics too – the ones that have become public domain, like my favourite book of all time, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte – but it’s mostly stories written by the users, covering all genres imaginable. They even had to create a category called RANDOM to fit a number of works that were not covered by the standard categories.
Of course with it being so open, the quality varies greatly. There is a lot of rubbish, vast amounts of cliché and plain bad writing, but there are also beautiful stories, fun shorts, a lot of creativity and very promising young writers. I say young and I mean it: the average age is 20 and I feel very old sometimes and don’t instantly reveal my age. If I’m asked, I don’t lie. I also have to keep that in mind when I’m critiquing the works of a 17 year old writing teen fiction. I try to be honest, but take into account they will not have the same maturity as me, who’s old enough to be their mother! You have to carefully separate the teenage mind from the shitty writing.
For example: this author private messaged me asking me to read her book. We all get requests like this and, as courtesy, we often comply and agree to ‘exchange reads’. I go to her profile and , God help me, the blurb describes a story about a maid in love with a prince (cue Disney top cliché); OK, I sigh deeply and power through in the hopes the writing will at least be fun and flow.
The Prologue that follows leaves me extremely uncomfortable, with the said prince basically attacking the maid girl. She’s trying to get away from him, who’s apparently engaged to some other royal. He says (quote) “I don’t want her. I’m going to fuck you right now.” Those who read my blog know I’m not squeamish; I drink, I swear, I have sex and talk about it, but that screamed ‘rape’ to me. I carefully worded my comment to warn the writer and get this response: “Haha, it’s not rape. They love each other very much!” No, honey! My characters love each other very much. They respect each other! Your mind is just fucked-up! I removed said book from my library never to be seen again. Sorted!
Sorry for rambling about that, but I really had to let it out! Anyway, I had to adapt to Wattpad ‘customs’ to get here: shorter chapters, posted once or twice a week – very much like a blog – follow people, get followers and, above all, INTERACT! If you don’t read and comment or other people’s work, the chances of your work getting noticed are very slim. There are 100.000 story uploads every day! Granted, with 35 million unique visitors per month, someone is bound to like your style of writing and your story. You just have to work really hard at finding them!
Shameless plug: my book is called ‘Make Love Your Goal’. It’s a love story told in a place where sexuality and sexual orientation still carry many taboos (basically anywhere in this world). The fight against prejudice and for acceptance is the main drive. If you like my blog, nothing will be unusual or offensive as I make my views very clear here. If you have some time, check it out!