I've started writing a new story, set in the same 'verse, with the same characters as the short story I just finished. I have a basic plot outline, and I think that, if I manage to keep going with it, this could end up novel-length.
So far, I've really been enjoying working on it. I'm enjoying spending time with these characters. I'm learning
about them -- they're revealing new things about themselves to me that I didn't originally plan, but just work in perfectly with what I've already planned. Or sometimes those new things don't work in perfectly, and I have to change things to accomodate this new information. Feeling this thing coming to life is great, and that's something I'll have even if no one ever reads the story.
However, at some point, I DO want people to read this story, and that is where all the self-doubt creeps in. I'm under no illusions that what I'm writing will be a great work of literature. If the short story that introduces this world gets published in the Dreamspinner anthology, then I will probably try to submit this story to Dreamspinner too. However, I am not counting on that happening, and if that's the case, I want to do something akin to the Extribulum process that copperbadge
uses when producing his original fiction -- that is, putting the work up here on my journal, asking my readers to provide concrit and then edit with that concrit in mind -- with a view to eventual self publishing, if everything all works out.
The thing is, I have this nagging little voice in the back of my head telling me that I don't have the right
to do that. After all, my fanfiction isn't wildly popular. It's appreciated by a small core group in one or two fandoms, and I don't think it's bad at all -- but I'm hardly one of the writers that one HAS to read in order to feel at home in my particular fandoms. And the reason that that core group of people reads my fic is because I'm building on something that other people have created -- I'm asking them to take a chance on an extension of something that they're already familiar with. But with original fiction -- I'm asking them to take a chance on something that doesn't have that basic groundwork already in place.
Now, of course, with ANY fiction, we're always building on things that other people have done; all fiction exists in an intertextual space. And, indeed, this story I'm working on now was originally something that I intended to write as an AU Torchwood story -- although I abandoned that idea when I realised that the characters were doing their own things. This story didn't WANT to be limited by a broader canon, and it's a better story for that. But at the same time -- it makes asking people to read this story a completely different thing. There's less in the way of familiar territory. If I ask people to read this, I'm asking them to invest their time in something that's less certain, something that isn't limited by the boundaries that are present when they read my fanfiction.
And this nagging voice inside my head? This voice tells me that I shouldn't be asking people to do that. It's telling me that I'll look silly for making the presumption that anyone would want to take the time to review my work, to offer criticism ... let alone consider buying a published copy of anything. Even now, I'm feeling doubt about whether or not I should post this -- but I WILL post it. And I will post my fiction here too. (If not the story I'm working on now, then something else.)
While I know that everyone experiences self-doubt, I have the feeling that this sense of presumptuousness in WANTING to put one's work out there is something that bothers a lot of women in particular, due to the fear of appearing arrogant. There is, I suppose, a certain degree of arrogance in putting any of one's work out there, and I need to learn not to fear that.
After all, if I fail, I've lost nothing.