The other side of ‘The Sheriff ‘ . . .
Writing The Sheriff, as I’ve said on the introduction to its page, is enormous fun. I mentioned the joy I have at being able to work on something that is just a first draft, where I am not as bound by the rules as when I get down to second, third, fourth and a million other edits.
This story comes completely from the heart at this stage. That’s not to say that my more ‘official’ work isn’t loved. But this piece isn’t bound by writerly convention. I’ve barely researched anything either as you can probably tell without looking very hard. Better writers than I are probably shaking their heads in horror by now. So I probably need to defend the story a little.
It began as a mere blog-piece, something I thought up in a silly moment. As it developed, I was encouraged by fans of Guy of Gisborne
(from BBC TV series Robin Hood ) to upload it as a free e-book to Wattpad which I did for a little while. But as I also placed it on my blog, I felt I was using valuable time that could be spent on my real WIP’s.
Then something happened. The story began to inveigle itself into a deeper creative consciousness and I began to see that with significant historical research the plot could have even better legs, that it might grow into a real manuscript . . .
I now have a relationship with Ysabel of Moncrieff and Guy of Gisborne and with each upload to Mesmered, the decision to keep writing and stop uploading draws ever closer. I’m just wondering at what point I stop uploading . . . how far do I dare take the readers before ceasing? Or do I throw caution to the wind and keep uploading to the end? Do I not bother at all with editing and polishing, with researching and ironing out the inconsistencies? Leave it as a spontaneous piece of writing.
That thought alone is so tempting. The readers of the story on both Mesmered and Wattpad have been either intentionally or unintentionally forgiving. Each time I upload, I can find holes big enough for a trebuchet to shoot through and yet the fans read and comment and stick loyally by Guy and Ysabel.
That very fact on its own brings me to a really interesting point.
As I work on edits of my (hopefully) mainstream work, I am forced to be meticulous, to scour the text with a microscope and excise the smallest problem. Ideally the end result will be something a publisher or agent will feel needs little work.
And yet . . .
And yet . . . there is a whole bevy of stories on Wattpad of varying quality and style that readers devour with little interest in the dotted ‘i’s’ and crossed ‘t’s’. For most it is free literature that enables them to read from their phones whenever they have a moment.
In that instance, I then ask myself what is most important . . . to be read by many in an open forum that is less bound by rule and regulation, or to be honed to the best possible level of story-writing and be published mainstream? I tried to explain it to one of The Sheriff’s fans today on Twitter and thought I gave a very unsatisfactory answer.
I wonder if anyone reading this has any ideas of what they think I should do?
Great questions that I have no idea how to answer…only to say that I’ve been consistently impressed not only with your writing but your willingness to post and share. Best!
Rowenna! So good to see you on mesmered. And your compliments mean a lot . . .
In respect of sharing on the blog, I think I share as much as you and Jane of all Trades (aka Clare) whom I miss. It’s all about the odd lives we lead as writers, isn’t it? It’s not all sitting in a gloomy garrett.
I really enjoy following your story – so I’m all in favour of your
“throwing caution to the wind and keep uploading to the end” to quote from your own post.
Not being an author myself I cannot really comment on any possible need to polish the story to perfection – as a reader I just want the story to continue.
Thanks for sharing the story so far.
Thanks Suseng for your support. I think you’ll probably find I end up taking the story to the end on the blog, rather for the reasons that Pat Sweet has said. I doubt I can stop it. Like the worst kind of ‘Affaire’, it has a momentum all its own.
You seem to be caught in the crux of analog/digital literature. It’s easy to say ‘Write what you love’, but love is sometimes a lot of work. I’d call your WIPs your marriage, and The Sheriff your secret lover.
There is so much that’s Freudian in what you say!!!!
Oh! What a difficult question, Prue. The rational, meticolous teacher I am suggests ” Stop uploading, work on its editing as book and publish it”, but the Guy fan I am shouts “No, Prue, please, follow your heart and go on! Who bothers the holes here and there? Your readers are not so demanding!”
I’d love to read it as a book. Really. But I’m quite involved, I can’t give you a detached, usuful piece of advice. Waiting for your choice. Whatever it is, my friend. MG
Oh MG . . . I had made up my mind to continue it on the blog whilst I was out on the boat today. And then tonight, I thought how much more detailed it could be, how much more nuanced the relationship between Ysabel and Guy could be if it were longer. Online, I try to keep it short and serial-like . . . encouraging readers by an tag-line at the end.
Different to an actual book. Haven’t a clue what to do!
What can I say, after having read 20 parts of this story and already care a lot for Ysabel and Guy I’m glad you’ve decided to post it online until the end.
Couldn’t it be an option to post it all way to the end and then polish it/rewrite it, not change the story, just as you said, so “the end result will be something a publisher or agent will feel needs little work” and become a book.
Just a thought.
This is definitely an option. What I had thought I could do was finish the Guy/Ysabel story online and then use that as a framework for a new story. Change the names, the timezone (I have a penchant for the Renaissance) and indeed change the adventure. The similarities could be the characters themselves, beyond that, something different entirely. The only people who will recognise anything are those that grew to love Ysabel and Guy.
I really want to thank those who have been commenting thus far on this post. It’s a marvellous sort of brainstorming and hot-housing of ideas for me, sparking moves into areas that I may not have thought about otherwise.
This sort of involvement by readers is what gives any writer the legs, energy and enthusiasm to take a piece to its conclusion.
Thank you so much.
I think you should finish it as is, then if you’re still fascinated by it and want to edit and research, go for it. Maybe a new story will pop out. Knowing your story will probably help with a refined research (not random). Maybe you’ll end up with similar stories, maybe not.
I think being published the traditional way is not the only option anymore – thank God us authors have many more chances nowadays than ten years ago. As long as you have fun doing it, anything goes. If it becomes a chore, quit! 😉
Perfect advice, Barb. Thanks for your input.