As any Wattpader can attest, the opportunity to meet other writers, readers and lovers of the Wattpad community is a sort of dream come true. To be able to meet, talk, and exchange ideas with those who not only love the written word, but all things Wattpad, is something many of us would love. Add on the fact that such a meeting is held at Wattpad’s Toronto headquarters….well, that is just squee-worthy.
Sunday, August 23 a group of lucky (and excited) Toronto area Wattpaders had the opportunity to do just that. An invite to tour Wattpad HQ turned into interviews, endless chatter, and discussions that went much deeper than just writing. We had the chance to meet each other face to face after months of online friendships, and solidify the belief that Wattpad is more than just a writing forum…it is a community based in the love of writing, reading, and friendships.
We have already posted an exclusive interview with these awesome writers, but when the questions ended, the discussion had only just begun.
Giving you more insight into the Toronto Wattpad Crew, we are featuring a continuation of the discussions in a revised transcript.
Again, thank you to @FallonDemornay, @joflower, @TaliaArcher, @LaviniaLeigh, @MichelleJoQuinn and @theorangutan for taking part, and being so candid about what makes Wattpad unique and unmatched within the online writing world.
*discussion begins with hopes for our writing futures, and the pressures of ‘real jobs’*
Talia: I am starting young, in the hopes that when Im older and need to get a job I will have experience to be able to get in to writing.
Fallon: You are me, when I was your age, but with way more confidence. Writing is such an isolating hobby. Growing up I always equated it with writing in my closet because nobody could understand or got it.
Talia: The thing about writing is that nobody really does it anymore. When your younger, no one in schools really write or read.
Lylla: They read, but only for school.
Fallon: See, I was the opposite. I was devouring books.
Talia: I think that is the good thing about Wattpad. Everyone around you doesn’t understand writing like you do. But then you look down at your phone and there is this app with people that get it.
Jo: And they cry with you, and they scream with you
Fallon: And you can talk about these characters like they are real, and for us they are. We are invested in them.
Lylla: When you’re reading a book, you become that main character. You got through everything with them, every emotion.
Michelle: I love the comments, because it is like they are challenging you. I remember one specifically, and I know she read all my stuff. She made one comment, and I was like ‘why do you hate me?’ So after that I was like how do I convince you…it took me two weeks, but the next chapter, I pushed the publish button and I felt so good.
Fallon: Wattpad really is a virtual playground because you can try so many things that traditionally people say that doesn’t work. But you make it work, and the comments are crack *laughter*
Jo: the comments really are, because I was expressing my discomfort and uncertainty about writing my first erotica scene, and they were like ‘don’t worry about it, Wattpad is a playground, they wont care’.
Talia: If I get one comment on my book, I like freak out. Because you guys are like these big authors, with thousands of comments.
Fallon: I remember getting my first.
Talia: But when you’re first starting out, you cant just get all these votes and comments. The first hundred reads, or whatever. It is so exciting.
Kristi: I have one reader who has read one trilogy (Afterlife) four or five times. And she has told me that when she finished reading it, she actually missed the characters. The connection was that deep, and it made me feel so good to know that she could relate to these characters from my head at that kind of level.
Jo: I had a time where I couldn’t post for a while due to family obligations, so when I finally did post I had one girl say ‘I couldn’t sleep waiting for this!’
Gavin: I think one thing about Wattpad is you never know who is going to read your work. There is one reader, she is a lady in her 70’s she is in an old peoples home, she is quite restricted with what she can do. But she started learning to use a computer. This lovely woman leaving comments of ‘I really enjoyed this, thank you very much dear, that was lovely.” She is just lovely. And there is another lady, she is eighty-odd, and she used to write for Mills and Boon, and she worked there when she was in her twenties. And she started writing again because of Wattpad. She said she never thought she would do that again, and she writes these knight in shining armor romances. We really do encompass everyone from the younger ones, and right through to eighty year old women. One of my ambassadors is a sixty-six year old man from the UK who is an incredible poet.
Lylla: The thing about Wattpad is you don’t have to get satisfaction with just writing. Just reading gives you the satisfaction too. Sure you will read books by some of these big authors, but you don’t have to write to have the fun in Wattpad. Because when you start, you start by looking at all these books. And sure you may start writing. But maybe you will write and not read, or maybe you will read and not write.
Talia: That is the thing about Wattpad, too, the readers are as important as the writers.
Fallon: Exactly, you couldn’t have the platform without them. I’ve been floored by the amount of talent that is on this site. Like, there is some people…one of the first girls I ever read, I read her stuff and I am like…what are words? How do I even write? She is so brilliant. Another is a sixteen year old, and I am like I am so jealous! It is staggering to see, to be able to tap in to and have access to this amount of talent that is out there in the world.
Gavin: I didn’t start writing until I was in my late thirties. Before that I was in construction. And it just kind of happened. And suddenly you are featured, you’re a star. What do you have to lose? Nothing.
Kristi: Look at Anna (Todd). She started writing After because all the stories she was reading hadn’t updated.
Gavin: She was on a panel here at one of the conferences. A guy asked her ‘how would you describe your writing’ and she said ‘rough’. My first draft of After was horrible. In the first chapter the car was white, the fifth was silver. I learned to write on Wattpad because my readers came along with me and pointed things like that out. She is so fabulously honest about her journey of writing.
Lylla: The thing about Wattpad is its fun. I never thought I would read for fun, but here I am and I cannot stop reading!
*discussion moves to the new Wattpad Futures program*
Kristi: I just got that email this week
Fallon: I think its great that Wattpad is trying to diversify itself and to find ways to maintain the best thing about it which is this free access platform for all, but still find a way to carve out something for their authors and support them. Because you know, we all have bills, adulting sucks.
*discussion moves to #NYCWattcon*
Lylla: I really want to go, because now that I met you guys, I really want to meet more people. Because you guys are fun, and these are like friends you can relate to.
Fallon: That’s like when I met Michelle at RWA I was like ‘You’re a real person!’. Because interacting online you kind of have to fill in the gaps in your head of how they sound, how they look, then you meet them…
*discussion moves to questions from Wattpad Squad Facebook group*
Q: Will there be any Wattcons in Toronto/Boston/others cities?
Gavin: We are reliant on our users to set up conventions. In fact, we help out where we can, but they are conventions for Wattpad users, and not Wattpad conventions. I know it is a subtle difference. I would love to see a conference in every major city in the world, especially if I get to go to them. Because it is amazing when you see these collections of people of getting together. That is the whole point of the day is that you get to meet people and hang out with them. And New York is going to be similar, I expect.
Fallon: The best friends I have now, I met through Wattpad, like through other writers. It is crazy about the community and the positivity and the support. And then you meet these people in person, I am so grateful to this platform. Like, one of my good friends is Leigh Crichton who wrote Before Sunday, and we got connected because of the So You Think You Can Write contest. And she reached out to me, because she said I was so supportive and was supporting everyone. I was like OMG this really popular writer wants to be friends with me. Then I advanced to the next round and she didn’t, but then not even an hour later she reached out and was like ‘Okay, what are we going to do, how are we going to get you to the next phase, what do you need me to do?’ She started making me all this promo material, and I was like ‘Wow, you are doing more for me than people I actually know’
*discussion moves to editing pitfalls*
Kristi: I just finished editing my first trilogy, and I completely redid it. I removed the villain from the final book and cut the first one in half, moved everything around, and it was exhausting. I hate editing.
Fallon: I find that if I stop at any point to go back and edit, I get sucked into analysis paralysis and I never get out. I have to pump out that draft and I cant divide my focus on anything else. If anything, I have a second project that gets minimal attention.
Kristi: See, I find that I cant even really read too much because it comes in to what Im writing. I can only do one thing at a time.
Fallon: I always read before I start, because especially with the Sisterhood, I was so used to writing romance, and with this one I had to figure out the core elements of how to tell a story this way. Which was why I was trying to find all these friendship books. I always read heavily in the beginning, then I write.
Gavin: Have you ever written the last scene, then worked forward?
*round of yes*
Gavin: That’s weird.
Gavin: I find that odd. Because I write short stories and bang, they are out. This one, I wrote the last paragraph first then I was like ‘how the hell am I going to do this’
Kristi: I have a notebook of all my ideas
Fallon: I keep my notes on my phone because I wake up at three in the morning over one sentence, so I learn that writing it down I can go back to sleep. The few times that I didn’t, my subconscious is like “HOW DID YOU FORGET THAT”
*talking about drafts*
Fallon: First drafts are allowed to suck. Because so many people get caught up in ‘oh this sucks’ and they never finish. But every time you hit the end, it teaches you something about the process. Because every part of the story is different. So if you only get to the first third, you never really know how to get to the last. You have to pull yourself all the way through, even if its bad. But you learn how to tell its bad through that process.
Of course, there were tangents and randomness scattered throughout our conversation, but the main premise remained the same: the platform of Wattpad is more than just reading, or writing. It is a true community of friends with a common mindset, the love of the written word, and it has the ability to bring together all ages, all groups, with that simple goal.
So, thank you Wattpad. Not only for the tour of HQ, for the platform you have allowed us all, but for the connections and friendships that I am sure the Toronto Wattpad Crew and others all over the world can agree…is unlike any other in our lives.
A final thank you to Gavin at HQ for letting us take over the Wattpad space, for the chips (not enough apples) and the candid insights. To Fallon, Keri, Jo, Talia, Lylla and Michelle for the conversation.