August 09, 2015

Fun things about Wattpad

Note here that all the @ links take you to It’s a free site that if you are a literary snob—stop reading right now. 

Otherwise, keep reading. For the links, you do need to join. But all that’s needed is: a moniker (anything you like), a password and an e-mail address. No spam ever comes from the site and only folks you follow will be able to send you alerts. It’s safe and it’s full of discoveries.

 Click  ➾➾ Why I am on Wattpad for more information about the site and why, I—a literary fiction and memoir writer—decided to join.

I was lucky to be included in the Wattpad Block Party-Summer Edition. My entry was entitled click  ➾➾ Mary Interviews Herself --See below.

For all of you who entered the Wattpad Block Party-Summer Edition Giveaway: The Giveaways have been randomly chosen (Rafflecopter did it for us.). And the winner of the version of my novel Who by Fire is the lovely @SmeraGoel who lives in India. She now has the novel, narrated by me. She will received from me a written note and my signature postcard.

designed by ZAARA

The biggest fan winner of the party is cheer_tyme01  I will write her and send her a post card for her use.

See what she wrote and the lovely words of two runners up: Tusli107  and AprilDanfields 

Why Wattpad? More on this question

Wattpad is a glimpse into the digital future. Sure you’ll find vampires and fan fiction. You’ll find chick lit and rants. But here’s the thing, if you want to read me for free, you may here—including the opening of the new novel that I’m now writing offline--now close to finished. The novel’s title is Dangerous Love.

Here’s the bigger thing: You will find gems that you can read for free and that you’d never have expected.

Here are just a few examples: 

@barry205 is a Brit who now lives in Qatar and spent many years in the military, Iraq and Afghanistan: He writes about his experiences as a male nurse, soldier and leader of his medical team in Afghanistan. His poetry soars, his prose bleeds on the page. Unforgettable writing.

I posted this comment on When You’re Wounded and Left on Afghanistan’s Plains: “The backstory here about your move up the ranks, your work as a nurse and your sense of being a parent to those younger than you when you at 35 reach this point in Afghanistan sets the stage here for what comes. Then you with no sentimentality you chronicle what you see. This, sir, is the art of writing. Voted big time.”

Yes, you get to vote on Wattpad and comment and engage with the writer. If you find a writer like me, you’ll find someone who responds to every single comment and you’ll make a connection that might change that writer’s life or yours. I’ve been in conversation with all my readers and my life has indeed been changed by this experience.

On Wattpad, I met Thomas Bonnick. He’s @5ifthproject on Wattpad, Thomas lives in Canada, was born in Jamaica and came up with the generous idea he entitled, click on 5Qi to see and read after you join Wattpad. Thomas asked writers of all ilk, the fantasy writers, the vampire worshippers, poets and others to tell why they write.

First: Here’s what Thomas says about himself—and yes, you will be charmed: “My journey started many years ago, far away from Canada where I now call home. Four and a half hours in the sky, over the open sea. Somewhere warm, friendly and colorful. A place where the change of seasons doesn't require a change of wardrobe, a place where flowers bloom and robins sing all year round. A place where our motto is: ‘Out of many, one people.’ I'm from the beautiful Island of Jamaica.”

He presented to me and many others FIVE interview questions (of course, 5ifth project is his moniker!) and each of us could add a sixth, bonus q.

I mentioned these other writers: discoveries you wouldn’t expect because Wattpad is just that: Not What You Expect. These were my high fives to writers who have inspired me with the risks they take on the page and for the fact that they shoot for the moon:

@AlanSkinner raises the Young Adult novel to a level of literary writing, intrigue, and gives us his love of a female heroine. Don’t miss his articulate essays. They soar with savvy commentary on actors, the arts and more. Alan now writes a column for Click  ➾➾  Facts and ArtsHe’s so worth reading.

@grapher writes stunning poetry that feels as if she’s drawing with words.

@tamoja may be the most generous reader I’ve encountered here: When she loves you, she reads you straight through. Check out her Snippets: a gift in itself.

@Lisaner we've lost to illness, but she rocks with Rock Poetry that will knock your socks off and she’s a generous and dear woman.

I want you to consider this:

Why a literary writer should be on Wattpad: 

The future is here and it’s digital. Think about the way you discover music today, songs you find on the Internet first and then buy the album. Of course I want readers to buy my published three books, hold them in their hands, an yes I want folks to discover the new novel Passing Through that I’m writing live on Wattpad. I do. But here’s the thing: I’ve been in the literary world for the biggest and best part of my life, published stories in literary journals, won literary contests. On Wattpad I’m flourishing in a way I don't think possible anywhere else. I have readers, writers, community, feedback—it’s constant, encouraging and often brilliantly insightful –and all this from folks I would never otherwise know.

I see potential on Wattpad for both literacy and writing, serious writing that matters. Let’s talk for a minute about literacy and art: Think of a child paints a painting and you love it and hang it above your piano as I have. A child writes a poem and you save it and read it at their bat mitzvah or confirmation as I did. Literacy and art hold hands like children in a circle. They dance together. To think that Wattpad is not literate enough because young people are trying out writing, risking is to not understand the relationship of art to life from the get-go. From birth to death. Art emerges on Wattpad. Writers on Wattpad of all ages and languages and countries all across the world are taking risks here, bleeding on the page.

Invention comes only when the writer is willing to risk. When you find that on the page here on Wattpad, you know it. You see it. I can’t help but comment if you are already reading and studying literature. And if you’re really lucky, you’ll find a mentor/teacher who will tell you when you “hit” it but who won’t throw the invention out with the bath water. When I see that glimmer of invention in work here, I want more than anything to comment, to say so—to say, I see it, go for it!

Here’s my self interview (in full :))

Q: Why would anyone want to do a self-interview? Isn’t that the height of naval gazing?

I got the idea from a cool site entitled The Nervous Breakdown. I think most writers—and I’m no exception—think they’re on the verge of one. So here goes.

Q. But you didn’t answer the question about naval gazing? Do you think you’re self-absorbed?

Writers are regularly accused of being selfish because they openly admit to being interested in their own thoughts—as if no one else has that so-called problem. The real self-absorption would be concern about others being interested in what I have to say. Why should you be interested in me or my writing? If I’m continually asking myself that question, that would count as self-absorption. I never ask myself that question.

Q. Okay, how about this one: Do you think self-revelation is part of the process of writing?

Any writer who denies it, lies. I agree with David Shields who argues in Reality Hunger and he actually says this one—in case you don’t know that book and you should, he quotes mercilessly without formal attribution: “So: no more master, no more masterpieces. What I want (instead of God the novelist) is self-portrait in a convex mirror.”

Q. Did you achieve that in your novel Who by Fire, the one you’ve NOT posted on Wattpad?

Hard to say. Achievement is a big word. But I would say this: The writer needs to be fearless to be worth reading. That means all subterfuge about who you are must come off when you write either fiction or memoir. What’s in this book is closer to the emotional truth of my own process of self-discovery than anything I could tell you in this interview.

Q. Give me an example.

I was in Whiting, Iowa, when the fire occurred, a controlled burn. It was a long, long time ago and when I saw it I knew I would write about it some day. I didn’t know why. So now I had the burn.

And then I found an article in the newspaper about a baby that had been found in an attic in a house on Veazey Street in DC and I saved it.

Now that I’ve read the novel aloud—I’m the narrator for the version that is my giveaway for the block party—I could see it anew by hearing myself read. It was as if I heard the novel for the first time. Here’s one of the things that happened:

I see my sister who lost a baby, a baby that died after 23 hours, bubbling up in the book. I didn’t know I was hitting that memory when I was writing the book. I was 16 when this happened and I saw the baby with her flash of black hair in the nursery. My face was pressed against the glass. How could that not have something to do with me? It did. It still does.

Q. So isn’t that navel gazing?

One of my biggest worries in the novel is that it’s highly interior. I’m inside the narrator Robert’s head all through the book. He tells the story.

Because I was so worried about his self-reflection, his navel gazing, I worked hard on the plot to move the book forward and get the reader in real time as soon as I could manage. That means two married couples, a partner in each couple cheating on the other. The narrator Robert discovers after Lena his wife dies that she’s cheated on him. Robert discovers how all that happened through memory and through what he finds out after his wife’s death.

But truly, only the reader can answer this question: Is this navel gazing? And was it worth the read and the ride?

Q: Are you obsessed with heroes? Your narrator certainly is.

I want to understand what the word hero means. One could argue that we have few if any modern books in literature that folks would identify with a hero, the kind we find more in film than in books, unless we go to the romance novel or supernatural stuff. I think that’s one of the reasons Wattpadders are driven to the supernatural.

I actually think Wattpadders obsessed with vampires and other supernatural heroes are raising the philosophical and literary question: Is heroism possible in reality-based writing? Are heroes in real life possible?

I explore that last question all the way through the book.

Q: You kill your main character on page one of this novel. If you’re in the book in some way, doesn’t that mean you plotted your own death?

Golly, I hope I didn’t plot my own death. But of course I did think about it. In a sense, if I’m in any way Robert’s wife, I do kill Lena on page one, arguably in the first sentence. So I guess you could argue that’s what I’m doing. But at the time of the writing of the book, I was losing my husband—see (Re)Making Love right here on Wattpad.

I now realize that Who by Fire is a love letter to him, that I wrote it in the hope that I would get him back.

I wrote in Robert’s voice, a man’s voice, because I was trying to understand the man who left me, the man I loved.

More key, though, is this: I don’t think anyone who is thoughtfully alive and human can avoid considering his own death.

Q.: Why would anyone want to read about that?

Because the book is about love, not death. You know that love is the answer.

Q: But what, pray tell, is the question?

Now that’s what Who by Fire is really about: Love is the answer. Now, what was the question? Read it to see if I ask and answer. Then let me know.

Other links, other folks—no, not all literary—so if you’re a snob, don’t read on. If you want a glimpse, do and join Wattpad and skulk around—you may be surprised. After all I found Alan Skinner and Barry205 there!

My PS with help from the poet William Carlos Williams:

Wattpad is rich with the undiscovered, the voice that waits to be heard.

Here’s why: As William Carlos Williams said in his poem "Asphodel, that Greeny Flower", with word poem here think of invention, of art.

                        It is difficult

to get the news from poems

            yet men die miserably every day

                        for lack

of what is found there. 

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