Skip to content

What is my writing worth?

June 11, 2011

Today’s piece is more of a question than an actual article. I hope it will get us thinking and produce some discussion. Behind this question lies an experience which happened to me twice in a very short time.

Occasionally, I write a piece of flash fiction on my blog which I consider little more than playing around. These pieces are usually dashed off quite quickly and I’ve never really considered them as serious fiction. So imagine my surprise that two such pieces (Blundering Into Someone Else’s Story and Literary Pastiche) have been the ones that have received the largest number of comments on my new blog, actually getting into double figures. Which leads me to the first question:

  • Is there a relationship between the number of comments on a blog post and the quality of the post?

Last year Jodi published two excellent series of articles on beta reading and on editing. Armed with these anyone can begin to take their first small steps into helping other people improve their writing (to be confirmed by those for whom I’ve beta read over the past year). But most blog comments are just marks of appreciation intended to express appreciation and encourage each other into continuing. They’re certainly not meant to provide the kind of analysis a beta reader or an editor would. So, to my second question:

  • How can we comment in such a way that the reader knows what is really of value and what is better put aside?

I often ask myself, which of my flash fiction pieces are worth developing into something more substantial? I feel I may not always be the best judge of that. But honestly, no one has ever mentioned this to me in their comments. I hope no one feels I’m getting at them here. That’s not my purpose. I appreciate every single comment I receive and like everyone else, I’m flattered when people make positive remarks. Besides, let me be the first to raise my little finger and admit, I’ve never really helped discover this either. And so to the third question:

  • What is this piece really worth?

Not so much, how it could be improved, but is this something that is worth pursuing? I doubt that all my work is. But I dare to hope that in amongst the dust and coal, the occasional sparkle of a diamond might be discerned. And surely, there’s no better place than this community to share with each other, where we think that diamond might be.

  1. June 11, 2011 5:11 pm

    That’s a good question, and one I wonder about constantly. Is it comments or subscriptions that show my writing is valued? Is it when my eight books sell more than usual? Is it hits to my blogs? I just don’t know. I had a NYT best-selling author subscribe to my tweets and decided, that, surely, meant I’d made it.

    Or did it? Hmmm….

  2. June 12, 2011 6:48 am

    I think every piece of writing has value. What that value is may differ from reader to reader or from author to author, but no words are ever wasted.

    Assigning a measurable value to an individual piece of writing is near impossible, though. Is it dollars and cents in revenue to the publisher? Is it only the income to the author that counts? Is it units sold? Is it hits or comments to the free stuff on the author’s blog? Is every book that has made a bazillion dollars “worth it?” Probably not. But it certainly was worth a lot to its author.

    But if you’re looking to determine which piece or pieces are ready to be taken to the next step of expanded versions, novelization or submission to anthologies, it’s not so much about how many hits or comments you get. This is, in my opinion, really where beta readers can be helpful. When you post a story on your blog, you’re posting it to share it with a wide variety of people in hopes that they will enjoy it. Comments will be light and breezy at most. But if you send it to a handful of people and specifically ask for direct feedback about strengths, weaknesses, areas for improvment or expansion, things to cut, etc… well, that’s where you’re going to get the most impactful, insightful and helpful comments..

    At least that’s my opinion.

  3. Matt permalink
    June 13, 2011 5:26 am

    I had an experience in college during a creative writing class; a time when I didn’t consider myself a writer and therefore didn’t take writing as serious as I do today. I banged out a lightly-revised, short poem in ten minutes. To me, it was adequate for the assignment. For the instructor, it was worth an A+ and resulted in a request to have my work broadcast aloud on a weekend radio program that covered much of the NJ, USA area. From what i was told, it indeed was recited on the radio program, but I didn’t tune in to listen.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: