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Fantasy Friday: Leaves and Leave-taking

I read somewhere on the internet this week that it’s a bad idea to use my own fiction as a blog post. And since it’s written on the internet, it must be true, right?

Their theory is that as I query agents for my WIP, they will Google my name and find said snippets of fiction and…I’m not sure what horrible thing is supposed to happen then. But something. Perhaps I’ll never be published? Or perhaps they will see my writing style here and hate it?

What say you? Is it bad to put short stories or snippets of fantasy on my blog?

While I’m waiting for your answer and advice, here’s another snippet for your amusement.

A cold wind brushed the leaves on the sidewalk as Christa stood next to the fence and waited. The leaves danced and rustled at her. “Come play” they whispered.

Play. Right. How long had it been? Decades? She’d lost joy a long time ago.

She looked over the fence into the yard beyond. A small tricycle, rusted brown, held dead flower stalks. A deflated basketball lay next to it. Beyond that, a tattered curtain fluttered through a hole in a window of what had once been a cheerful yellow cottage. Her heart felt as deflated as the ball. Empty. Alone.

A giggle just behind her left ear startled her. She jumped, whirled around. Leaves along the empty sidewalk greeted her. Another giggle tickled her earlobe.  She spun to find the flowers on the tricycle upended on the ground. Her pulse quickened. She broke out in a sweat. The cold breeze played across it and sent shivers down her spine.

Another gust of wind scattered the yellowish-brown leaves like confetti before her. A memory brushed up against her mind: herself as a child, skipping through a pile of leaves. She took a step into them, trying to clutch at details which eluded her. A giggle in her ear made her stop and turn. Nothing but the house there. Dead. Useless. Just like her.

She turned back to the trail of leaves.  A small child, maybe six or seven years old, stood where a moment before the sidewalk lay empty. Laughter danced in the child’s eyes, even though her cheeks were pale. Crimson leaves formed her dress, and her hair seemed made of ivy.

“Come play!” The girl giggled, and played with her skirt.

Christa shook her head. “I’m too old.”

“You’re not. You’re never too old to play.”

The little girl reached out and took her hand. Christa looked in wonder at their hands pressed palm to palm. Where she expected to see an old woman’s wrinkled, age-spotted, arthritic appendage she found her hand matched that of the girl. She looked up into the sparkling eyes. She was afraid to ask, but she had to. She had to know.

“I can’t go back, can I?”

“Why would you want to?” The girl tilted her head to the side. “It’s more fun to go forward. Look at the leaves, they don’t go back. They never go back. They begin again, instead. Come on!”

Christa let the girl pull her down the sidewalk. Her heart lifted as they kicked at the leaves. It was, after all, more fun to move forward.

17 comments on… “Fantasy Friday: Leaves and Leave-taking”

  1. Wow – I LOVED that story.

    I think the recommendation behind not posting your work online is more related to projects you are specifically querying. I don’t think small snippets can hurt you. If an agent does Google you and doesn’t like what you wrote, they’re not going to like it in a submission either. But what if they see it and DO like it? That’s where luck meets opportunity, IMHO.

    • Thanks! I’m glad you liked the story. I swear, the Philly area has the best spots for story inspiration. Now that we’ve moved I may have to go back from time to time just to soak up the atmosphere.

  2. What Julie said.
    A) In business terms, wonderful little tales like this can help gain you an audience, building your platform to aid in future publication.
    B) In life terms–this is your life. You yourself are not defined by anyone’s business needs. You’re a writer, which implies that there are readers. This story now has readers, while before it didn’t. You have communicated to me and provided value.
    I will now check your blog regularly. This does lead back to (A). But the value you’ve given me has nothing to do with a third party either approving or not approving that you provided this for me to read.
    Thank you, Melinda.

  3. Thanks ya’ll! That’s exactly what I was thinking. These aren’t snippets from my WIP. Most of these are just little jaunts inspired by the photo I took; sort of the 1000 words that go along with the picture :-). There are a couple here that have inspired another WIP but said story has not been written yet.

    It’s very hard to sift through all of the conflicting bits of advice to arrive in what’s best for me sometimes. I appreciate your insights!

  4. Also: you don’t want to have parts of your story read out of context. Your novel is a tapestry, and you’d be letting people see just a patch or a few strands. My 2 cents.

  5. What they all said. I love reading your stories. I now click the link without hesitation when I see “Fantasy Friday.” You would have to worry if you were posting large amounts of your MS on your blog, which you’re not. You are selling your writing style and gaining readers. That can only be working to your benefit.

  6. Melinda, Kristen Lamb had some advice on this issue that was related to building your platform. I’m not sure I recall her reasoning exactly, but what I got out of it was that posting our fiction doesn’t help us to build a platform as much as posting high concept stuff does. As always, she had a good explanation for this. My mind’s a sieve …..

  7. I think it has to do with legal reasons. If it’s online a publisher won’t want it because it’s already broken rules of the contract. I don’t pretend to understand what that means. I just know as a reader I come to blogs for the high concept narrative non-fiction stuff that is similar to reading a magazine. If it’s fiction I don’t follow the link, but that’s just me. You should do what’s right for you as long as it doesn’t ruin your chances of publication.

    • Funny how I tend to be the opposite. If it’s too intimate or emotional of a topic I tend to not click the link. I’m much more interested in escaping reality than wallowing in it. I guess it’s different strokes and all that. Even my rambling non-fiction posts are more of a look at the humor of a situation. /shrug. Hopefully that doesn’t hurt anything in the long run.

  8. Hey Melinda,

    In the end it’s your blog post so whose to say what you should write or not write.

    I personally like what you’ve written. And sharing a small amount of your work may help you over the fear of putting yourself out there that so many of us face when the time comes. 🙂

    • That is sort of what I was trying to do :-). Just get in the habit of letting people see what I write. It gets easier the more I do it. Hopefully it gets better too 😉

  9. Coleen Patrick

    I agree with what Julie said and for those snippets of work that you are not actively querying…then they will allow readers that find your blog to see your writing and know that your blog is a place that they want to revisit! 🙂

  10. This is kind of going along with what Emma and some of the other folks were mentioning but I think the big bother about posting your work on line really just depends on whether you’re aiming to publish it outside of blog land and how much of the original work you post. If you are posting a snippet of a larger work or planning to just go the self-publishing route, I don’t think it matters. But if you post all of a story/novel anywhere online, it can make it harder to get it published by someone else. I sort of learned this the hard way. I submitted a short story to a magazine and, after not hearing back for a long while, posted my story online. Then when the magazine editor later informed me they were interested in using it, I needed to ask the dreaded question: “Does it matter that I’ve posted the story on my blog?” The answer unfortunately was that it did matter (because it was then considered previously published). It ended up being a $50 lesson learned. Still, if you’re just putting portions of a work online, I don’t think an actual publisher or whatnot would care much. Going back to self-publishing as a solution, I’ve heard quite a few folks mentioning good things about that going that route recently.

    By the way, I stumbled upon your blog w/the trusty topic search in WordPress – glad I did. Great stories! 🙂

  11. Thanks for your thoughts, Julie! You know, I think I could see myself publishing these little bits of flash fiction, along with the photos that inspired them, as a self-pubbed thing. I doubt any traditional publisher would ever be interested in them unless I somehow become rich and famous over night. There are two stories here which will become a novel, I hope, at some point so I’ll stop putting them up here (heeding some of the advice ya’ll have been so kind to give me). Just in case. I’ll keep it just flash fiction inspired by the pictures I take as I roam around. It’s fun for me, and usually spurs more writing on my WIP so I figure that can’t be all bad, right?

    I’m glad you found me! I need to try a topic search, I haven’t done that yet.

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