I can't remember the source, but a few years ago I read this famous author's account of how it felt to have his first book come out, and he mentioned buying a copy himself because he was afraid no one would take an interest. Now this is a guy who managed to get not only an agency but a publisher (which is a whole pile of people who were like yesplz), and he's still afraid readers won't care. I was like, 'whoa mind blown.'
But anyway, the fact is that we are all strangers on the Internet and, by default, there is no reason for you to read my stuff or vice-versa. If you went and stood in Times Square with copies of your latest story, how many people would give you more than a passing glance? And how many of those people would get to the end of your work, and how many of those would offer critical feedback?
And, if you were one of the passersby, whom would you stop for?
I had this long-ass spiel planned (and drafted, even), but honestly it all just boils down to respect.
Don't try to lord your cleverness over them, or expect them to automatically be as invested in your work as you are (did they spend twenty hours every week agonising over writing it? No they did not). Keep in mind that these are people with lives, and it's quite possible they have just as much of their own material to freak out over.
So how do you get them past that? By a) being a good writer and b) taking an interest in their lives.
Don't expect everything to fall into your lap. Communication goes both ways. I mean, how many times have you left a great critique that someone really appreciated and then did nothing with? It's happened to me more than once, and each successive time has soured me on bothering with more of that person's work. I still leave Goodreads reviews without expecting a pat on the head, so a well-done piece of work does outrank a 'wah wah this person was a jerk,' but unless you are 100% sure that you are that talented genius, don't be a dick.
FYI, it's never a 100% thing.
Everyone learns how to write in school.
Everyone learns how to write for school in school.
You may be one of those lucky bastards with a creative writing elective or even majoring in the field, but that's the exception, not the rule.
Creative writing is its own discipline, and getting an A in English class has little to do with it. I don't get how so many people equate being okay at writing essays or reading analysis with writing stories, but yeah. Stop doing that.
Yes, you can translate skills from one side to the other, and being able to analyse what you're reading is always important, but respect the fact that creative writing is as much an art form as drawing, and that if holding a pencil doesn't make you a master of drawing, being able to type words isn't going to toss creative writing into your lap, either.
Aside from this, you need to want to improve. I mentioned 'being a good writer' above, so it's even tied into respecting your audience, but if you really care about this being a thing that defines you, you have to be willing to do your own research. No excuses. Learn to use Google. Listen to good advice even if it feels like a slap on the bum.
Your words don't define you as a person, okay? Me telling you that your story is flawed shouldn't make you feel bad, it should make you want to do better. There's nothing wrong with caring about your work, but there is something wrong with treating every word of criticism like a stab wound. And with thinking that you're hopeless, the fact that you weren't a child genius is going to screw you over, you can never be awesome, blah blah blah.
(I want my writing to be perfect so it reflects well on me. Why? Because my ego is the size of a fucking mountain.)
You're not ink on paper. You're a person. Words are your medium of choice to showcase yourself, your ideas, and/or your views. There's no way it's going to be perfect from the beginning, and when someone tells you where you've gone wrong, pay close attention. Not because they're somehow better than you, but because wanting to be the best you can be means hunting down all your weaknesses.
Get your chin up and make your writing as awesome as your self.
The Alternate Universe ContestWith a tip of the hat to all the people who came up with alternate universes as a way to explore awesome, impossible ideas...I bring you the alternate universe contest for original literature!This contest is open from January 18-February 18 (PST, aka dA time). No extensions. The process is simple. Start with one of your own stories. It doesn't have to be super-fleshed out, but it does need to be written down in some form, even if it's as simple as a series of character sketches and the world they live in.Change something important. There's a lot of options. Ask yourself 'what if X had happened differently' and go from there. Aside from changing key plot points, you may want to significantly alter a character (yes, genderbending is acceptable). Write it down! Not completely willy-nilly; there will be guidelines, of course. Oh my stars and garters, what a convenient segue.