I begin with a confession: not all of the words to follow spring forth spontaneously, emerging fresh and new in this moment. No, I have been considering what I would write here since I first saw Jim post the idea, as I knew I’d be unable to resist the urge to join in at some point. And then Jim himself requested that I post and, well, you don’t say no to The River Talker.
And why did I feel the need to ponder and ruminate on what I would write on your pages? Well, to make sure that I express myself fully, include all the really important thoughts and to ensure that my contribution between your lovingly hand-crafted covers is worthy.
Diary, I suppose it says a lot about me, both as a writer and a person, that I feel the need to impress you with my words.
But let me get on with things, lest you snap shut on my fingers out of sheer boredom.
It has been just over four months since I joined Protagonize; I did so after several days of hemming and hawing, trying to decide what I would contribute to first. As someone who was painfully shy throughout school, and is only moderately shy now, the decision to share my words with a vast array of people I did not know was… mortifying, on some level. And thrilling, on another. I’m so glad I went with the voices on the thrilling level.
Has my writing improved since then? Most assuredly, even I will admit that. Does it still have a long, long way to go? Undoubtedly, I agree all too readily. But the encouragement I have received in this little cyber world of ours is something I hold dear, like a child holds his most precious toy. You will not get it out my hands, I don’t care how many chocolate chip cookies you offer.
And I look forward to the challenge of continuing to improve. I can’t wait to collaborate with the brilliant authors who reside here, who drop by occasionally, and who have yet to arrive. And I want to do my part to help this community continue to thrive.
So, Diary, let me offer some thoughts to carry forward through this year of promise and endless possibilities - I trust you will do your best to remind me of them, no matter how stubbornly I plug my ears and hum really, really loudly.
Things to remember:
People love having their stories added to, it’s not just me. So I will no longer be intimidated by brilliant opening chapters that are left standing in the rain because no one dare sully it by following it with their own, supposedly lesser chapter. I saw Archi tell Ganga that he was the first person to ever add to any of her stories and I thought, no way is that true. But it is - I was… gob smacked. That sort of thing just shouldn’t happen here.
Comments are far more important than ratings. I have shared select comments with my girlfriend that really moved me… but I have never told her about a single 5 I’ve received. So I will comment more. I know I’m horrible at properly expressing how much I like certain works, but that will get better the more I do it.
I will stop obsessing over whether or not people are reading my latest chapter or branch or whatever. There are literally thousands of them on Protag - it’s not personal, stuff sometimes just gets buried. I will accept this and not check the site every ten (or five… or three, sigh) minutes after I post something to see if anyone has commented on it.
I should probably print that last one out and tape it to my monitor.
I will collaborate with the authors I respect and treasure the most. I will stop thinking, ‘oh they’re already busy enough with all they have to keep up with to want to write a story with me.’ I will ask, and if they are, they can tell me so. And I will accept it. But maybe, just maybe, they’ll be game. And maybe the end result will be amazing. There’s only one way to find out.
Diary, here’s to another year of writing, of encouragement and useful feedback.
Yours in good faith,