The Fiction with Friends “Manifesto”

About three and half years ago, I opened up a new Microsoft Word document and after a few days of writing out some miscellaneous, inter-connected scenes about a character that had been living in my head for many years, I scrolled to the top of the document and wrote these lines:

“I am writing this story for me, and no one else. It doesn’t matter if it’s any good, it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work out because it is just for me.”

I found those lines liberating because, see, I had just been coming out of a years-long hiatus from creative writing, and I was nervous.  What if I didn’t have any creative ideas left in me? What if I didn’t know how to do this anymore? What if I had fooled myself into thinking I ever did? What if all I could write was utter drivel? Rubbish?

That’s when I stopped, and wrote those lines at the top, because I reminded myself, who cares? I honestly hadn’t started writing for any other purpose than I just missed it and that I just really needed that creative outlet back in my life.

After that, my miscellaneous scenes grew, and then they actually turned into SOMETHING, which gave me hope and a tiny bit of confidence.

A few months into that “nothing” turning into “something”, I discovered fan fiction. Now, if you are a writer who scoffs at the whole idea of fan fiction, then you might have just found your stopping point in this post, even though this blog won’t ever host fan fiction. And that’s totally cool. If you have read or written it, then you have found a kindred spirit, as Anne Shirley would say, and you will understand the rest of this “manifesto” even better.

The day I decided to publish the first chapter of my first fan fiction story, I thought I would pass out from hyperventilating after realizing what I just did. Holy shi– crap. People could SEE what I just posted. What if they laughed? What if they thought it was stupid? Poorly written? Or maybe the worst, what if no one even read it at all?

While I have always recognized that fan fiction is not some paragon of publishing (copyright law not even being the most obvious issue), I saw in it a unique opportunity to get experience with writing for a public audience, which proved extremely valuable as I continued to pursue broader aspirations with my own, original writing. Not only that, but it helped me discover that a lot of fan fiction writers were just like me in that they were learning and practicing the craft. They were experimenting.

Perhaps now you can see where this is all leading.

Maybe you are that kind of writer. Maybe you are thinking of publishing a major work some day – or maybe you aren’t. Maybe you’d like to just experiment with original characters and original ideas in a small, non-competitive venue. Maybe this small venue is a chance to share without judgment.

Fiction with Friends is my vision for just such writers and experimentation. 50-100 word flash fiction story? Share it here. 2,000 word story? That’s welcome here, too. What makes this site different than others? To be honest, not a whole lot. There are many places to post your original fiction. But for now – and maybe for always, who knows? – we are small. This isn’t a place for me (I already have my own blog, yo), it’s for you and others. We will be promotion-free and review-free (ie: no comments on stories).

Why no comments on stories? If I am appealing to you as a new writer or even a writer who has published on community forums before, then you might be able to understand the following: reviews and comments on our writing are AWESOME, no doubt about it. Feedback is the lifeblood of writing for the public. On the other hand, it’s remarkably easy to feed self-doubt when we don’t get the quality or more importantly, the quantity of feedback that we hope for or expect. My friends, writing can be hard enough on the self-esteem and publishing our writing can be a difficult enough obstacle as it is without adding the pressure of “is it popular” or “is it good enough”. If you need the feedback, then this site might not be for you, and that’s okay. There are lots of other great sites for that kind of thing. But if you’re looking for a safe place to share and experiment, then this might be just the venue for you.

Check out the “Prompts” link if you are stuck for something to write (and feel free to share possible prompts that I can add as we go, too). Got a little something ready to go? Check out the submissions link for both general guidelines and the submission form. If your story fits within the guidelines, it will be accepted and published in the order it was received. This is not a contest or a juried periodical.

Questions? Use the contact form or tweet me @FictionWFriends. I hope to see your work here soon!

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