However, several days ago I scrolled passed a tweet that irked me. While it irked me, I continued to scroll, deciding to do my usual mantra of 'ignore the dickheads out there'. However, since that day I have seen that countless others have responded to this irksome tweet, so much so as to even start a trend about it.
The tweet was by Tom Harlock, in response to another tweeters message of finishing their book. Tom's tweet was simple:
"alife, fanfic on wattpad isnt a book"
The backlash from said tweet has resulted in the growing #WattpadBooksAreBooksToo campaign.
Now, admittedly, I have NO idea who Tom Harlock is. And I couldnt care less. Not from a bitter, angry place, but from a place of 'there are too many people with narrow minds to worry myself with all of them.'
Since his tweet, countless Wattpad community members, writers and readers have taken to the now frequently noticed on my timeline #WattpadBooksAreRealBooksToo. In response to this, let me go over my own writing process.
1) Usually, before I even start writing, I have an idea floating around in my head. This could be for a few weeks, sometimes (as in the case of Through the Dark) months. Its not usually a whole story line with dialogue, descriptive scenes and all that. Mostly, its a scene here. A comment there. Very general with no real meat to the proverbial bones just yet.
2) Once I finally feel like I have enough of these little one liners and scenes to compile them to a book, it doesnt mean I start writing yet. Oh, no. The next step is to make plot plan, or at least that is what I refer to them as. I outline the main aspects of the book that I have so far, to see how it will play out. I go over this for several days, sometimes weeks, filling in more detail as it comes to me, making changes, moving things around. Again, no actual writing yet, and its probably already been a month. This plot plan is then shown to my closest group of friends via Whatsapp. The purpose of this is to get immediate and honest responses on the overall concept, and most important aspects of the book. If they dont feel it, I either scrap it, or make changes based on their responses. They are my first round of editors, in a way.
3) Now, I get to writing. Usually, I try and write a chapter a night, depending on my work schedule and life. During the day, the chapters form in my head, dialogue, progression etc, and at night, I write. I have to write at night, in my bed, as I am right now. I simply cannot be creative in any form before the noon hour, and even then it takes me a while to feel confident in what I am about to put on paper. The writing process itself is like running an obstacle course. At times it is all going smooth, things are flowing, you're on a roll. Then, sometimes, you hit a wall. A complete uphill climb that you just cant seem to see over. This is usually when I take a break, step back for a day or so, and let the story come back to me. Forcing this writers block will only result in chapters you end up hating, and could effect the rest of the book. Once on level ground again, you're off and running. But it is work, things change, the plot plan is sometimes completely abandoned, and other times things come to you as you are writing that you never considered before. This entire process could take a month, to six months, depending on your dedication, time and progress.
4) Once I'm done, it is like a wave of relief. I can feel it physically, emotionally, mentally. I put my laptop aside, and ignore it for days afterwards. I need to step away from the entire process once it is complete, to clear my mind.
5) Now, the most hated part of any writers process: editing. I will admit, even though it probably isnt necessary, that I dont edit chapters before posting them on Wattpad. I write, then post. I dont edit for spelling or grammar, and therefore have plenty of errors. When I say I edit my work, it is after printing a standard manuscript version, and going over it with a red pen. I do this, because once I have finished a book, I like to have a printed copy, just for myself. Something tangible and in my hands. For alot of authors, they do this editing process before even posting their chapters, or maybe afterwards by going through it all online. Everyone has a different way, but this process is even longer than the writing process in some cases, because you have to be much more focused and meticulous.
And that is it. All of this, usually, takes about two to six months, hundreds of hours, countless sleepless nights of jumping up to write down another idea or line. It is listening to the reactions and comments of your readers, and trying to give them what they want. It is literally putting a part of yourself on a page, baring yourself vulnerably, then posting it online for others to read, review and critique.
My books are a part of me, and I am very proud of them. Even if they never make it to the shelves of Barnes and Noble, no one can take away the time, effort and creativity I have put in them.
There may have only been a few success stories from the fanfic world: 50 Shades of Grey, After, etc. But let me point out, that these are two of the most popular and world renowned books of the last few years. Grossing millions in sales and becoming anticipated and successful films. There are even more still within the depths of Wattpad, gathering reads, fans and attention, which are just as good, just as captivating and have just as much potential just waiting to be shown to the world. Yes, they may star Harry Styles or Dylan O'Brien, but that does not diminish their quality and impact.
So, allow me to respectfully correct you Tom Harlock: Fanfictions are most definitely books. Because a book, in its most basic form, a collection of words, printed, to be shared with others.
And that is what Wattpad, and the works feature on it, is.