HAVING A BLAST AT FANSTORY.COM
Hey, kids, want to have some writing fun? I have spent four days now having a blast and I want to tell you about it. I haven't had this much fun since roller skating round and round with the big Hammond organ playing, and my favorite boy of the hour holding my hand. I have been hanging out all day every day at one of Writer's Digest "101 Best Websites 2008 for Writers" and it's called FanStory.com. What can you do there? What can't you? You can submit a story, essay, script, novel chapter or poem and have it instantly reviewed by other writers. They will rate it on a six-star rating system plus review it in a few sentences or more. If there are any SPAG (spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors, an acronym I learned there pretty quickly), they will fill you in on these. Everyone is a writer and everyone is a reviewer. There are lots of prizes for writers and even prizes for best reviewers. I submitted a poem on day two that won "recognized status". The next day it won "all time best status". I will include the poem after the post so you can see for yourself if they are honoring just any old thing or not. They have monthly prizes and yearly prizes. Everyone works to keep up their numerical ranking on a one to six score. There are a bunch of contests, most with $100 prizes. Some are free to enter and some cost "member dollars" which you earn by reviewing the writing of others. And, dig this, if you want to you can even make up your own contest and run it complete with prize money. And, yes, you can enter you're own contest, but no, you don't get to be the judge. The voting peers are the judge and you might win the prize pool of money collected for entries. It is so exciting! I am wasting whole days over there writing and reviewing. Round and round I go reading my reviews, replying to the the feedback, reading the replies to my reviews and sometimes replying to that. Then I have to check my e-mail box there to see what's come up. I have become a fan of several people and they might have posted something new. And today I learned one of my short stories has received special recognition. Wheeee! I may not be earning any freelance money, but the kind of writing I'm doing is personal and from the heart--just what I wanted to do before I started resorting to counting keywords or some damn thing that I don't consider real writing. And I'm in a writers' group communicating and sharing with real people who do what I love. You sort of have the feeling that you're at the rink and everyone knows everyone. They all stop by to welcome you when you're new. The people there are anxious to see what new tricks and steps you've brought to display and to show you some of their steps--their new tricks and some of their old standards. So it's one big happy family show and tell at the ol' roller rink and it's as exciting as hell. Oh, yeah, all the writing is not brilliant and ready for prime time. Don't ruin it for yourself by bringing your pretensions. A whole lot of it is poetry. Poetry is the majority in fact. Short stories and novel chapters are next. But you'd be surprised. Not all of the poetry is as bad as you might suspect, and some of it is very, very good. Some of the short stories and novel chapters will also delight and surprise you. Some of the writing is written by published authors who show off their ISBN numbers and book covers. Other stuff is written by writers dreaming of getting published for the first time and even some high school kids are in there trying. It's all happening at the writing/roller skate rink where anything can and does happen. The writers are all ages and all backgrounds. Some are retired professional people, some are working people, some are students. There are farmers, C.P.A.'s, English professors, and waitresses. It is an unbelievable mix of strange bedfellows united by the common bond of a love for writing. Here's the poem I submitted that got all the attention despite the fact that I gather quite a few were not used to free verse and some rated it highly while calling it "more of a story than a poem": Bunny Boy My son, the semi-grown man-child, memorizes rap music and says fuck too much. He wanted something to love, never having had a girlfriend and his Dad died. Now he has a tiny, baby, long-eared, softer than baby hair, white and brown rabbit That follows him wherever he goes. It eats bright green, crunchy lettuce from his hand. He makes little cardboard houses for it to crawl in and out of. I was there the first time the little bunny let him pet her with two extended fingers. His touch was barely there, almost above her, as though he were petting her aura. His smile was so gentle and loving as he petted her, the door to his heart was left wide open. Anyone could have walked right in. I sure did.