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Random Collection of Thoughts

Wednesday's question at ushobwri was "How do you feel about challenges?" - and I talked about how, given that I haven't finished a fic in 7 years, in spite of an H/C Bingo table and an SG-1 prompt table and the Pros Big Bang, they obviously don't help me. And I talked a little ablout how much I worry about whether anyone but me wants to read what I write and whether I'm good enough. (Given that several of my "waffling about my ideas" posts here have led to people telling me they have no interest in reading *that* e.g. kid-fic (I worked with kids for 15 years in voluntary programs, schools, church, Boys Brigade - I may be shit at teaching, but I *know* kids), main character with acquired disablility etc, I think I have a valid concern.)

And I was told: "Well, there's the problem. You're thinking too much. You have to write like nobody's reading, write just for you and forget everyone else."

I can see how that works for first drafts and journals - but surely, if you are posting/publishing, the audience matters and you have to think about the readers?

And then I brought up... that email. That two page email on my first (and consequently only) SG-1 fic, which was the only feedback I got on it. Which said that I had no idea about story, conflict, plot or structure. Which used the words "rehashing" and "trite" and "pointless". And the *other* person, who, when I said, "Can I really be all that crap. Look! Faves and nice comments on my other stuff on ff.net!" said, "It's alled the Pit for a reason. They'll like *anything* there."

And bunn asked me the obvious question, which is, "Do you really want to let people like that win?"

Which I don't of course. But. BUT. BIG BUT. I have mental health problems. I have triggers. A fic, a comment exchange, something someone says, or writes (some of you may remember the time the Chairman of a church committee I was on wrote to tell me that if I was that useless I ought to be in sheltered housing, not the community) can push me out of "living with mental illness" and into breakdown and not coping in the slightest.

All my available resources are already spoken for, dealing with my body, my brain and my meds. Add in LIFE - bad news, the death of a friend, my Dad's PSA taking a jump, or him having another TIA etc... and I honestly don't feel able to take the chance, the RISK, of leaving myself open, again, to being told, "You suck!"

And I feel pathetic and weak because of it, when being bullied in school and university, work and online, I've always in the past stood up for myself and fought my corner, even when my headmistress told me that if I "insisted on being eccentric" I had to expect to get bullied (like it was my fault I was short, wore glasses and my breasts didn't develop until I was 16?), even when it was my *Dad* saying stuff (Dad believed in the principle that if you tease your kids about the stuff the bullies might pick on, it will harden them up and mean they won't get hurt), I got in his face and told him that I didn't have to take being spoken to like that.

I always fought. Everything. But that takes a lot of energy, when you are fighting mental illness and pain and disability every minute of every day. I don't have that energy any longer.

But that's the thing, isn't it? If I can't take that risk - the risk that no one might read something or no one might *like* something, or someone might *hate* something and send feedback that cuts me off at the knees and utterly destroys my writing-confidence... I can't post, can I? Any fic. Ever.

And if I know I will never get the guts to post it, why the HELL am I writing it in the first place?

So I'm back to what I said about giving up.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 22nd, 2016 08:39 pm (UTC)
To me it looks like your eloquent posts in your LJ prove your ability to communicate effectively in writing.

Also, I might not read most kid!fic, but yours would interest me because you have actual kid-experience, and I def would read about main characters with acquired disability. (Additionally, I never leave comments that are mean and negative on anyone's fic.)
Jan. 22nd, 2016 10:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :)

That's partly *why* I'm drawn to writing kid-fic - when you've spent both your working life (I've been a Special Needs assistant, I have a Psychology degree with a final year specialism in dyslexia and autism, and I'm a qualified teacher... if I hadn't had the accident when I was 25 I would have gone back to Master or DPsych in Developmental or Educational Psychology) and your free time working with kids - Writing What You Know means *kids*. Heh.

Equally, the Biggest Thing ever to happen to me was the accident and becoming disabled. I *need* to write about it. Especially given the sheer number of "disability" fics which either have a *cure* (because you can't have a happy ending if you are still disabled?) or have *nothing* to do with life as I know it. Or have ablist terms. Or ablist *author's notes*. (One fic, having detailed all through the fic the things the disabled character does *out* of his wheelchair, had the author refer to him as "wheelchair-bound" in the notes. I think steam came out of my ears. Wheelchair users are not necessarily wheelchair bound - and it's an important distinction when there is an internet site where candid snapshots of wheelchair users getting out of their chairs are posted with "FAKER!" banners.

I can stand (as long as it's not for too long - I've physically collapsed in queues before, when my leg decided it had had enough). I can walk *short* distances. I use crutches most of the time. But I use a wheelchair when I have to travel longer than I comfortably can, to make my life just that *little* bit easier and reduce my chances of ending up on the ground in a heap. Calling me a "faker" because I *can* move independent of a wheelchair is not particularly helpful. Or sympathetic. You know? It's the ablist assumption that wheelchair = paralysis.)
Jan. 22nd, 2016 09:38 pm (UTC)

Seriously, it took two pages to tell you that they didn't like your writing style? If that's what they did, then that's not feedback - that's trolling.

I point out that a 'feedback sandwich' should work something like this:
1: This is what you achieved overall
2: These are some things you could have done better
3: This is something you can take away and build on as having done well

FF.net has a lousy reputation, but that's because it has so much bad stuff. It has so much bad stuff because it's the first thing on Google when you type 'fanfiction'. Therefore it is full of first timers, teenagers, people writing in their not-so-hot second language etc. etc.

These people should have somewhere to write - who says you have to be Rembrandt to put paint to paper?

My first stories there aren't as good as they could have been. I have contributed to the 'voleness'.

But there are also some stonkingly good stories there, you just have to rummage a bit. I put up thirty-one days of things that caught my imagination over December 2015 - a number of them were FF.net. I still read there. I still find good stuff there.

Have you thought about trying something short, like a drabble, and only posting to your friends? Just to get your confidence back?

Oh, and I do write for myself, but I also consider the audience. I think it's fine to consider your audience.

People can be astoundingly insensitive to disability. It's not always easy to live with that. No prejudice is. That's not much help, I know. But it is a prejudice, exactly like racism and homophobia. Unfortunately some people just need to be nasty to make themselves feel good.
Jan. 22nd, 2016 09:59 pm (UTC)
This email was not trolling. It took far too much effort on the part of the commenter.

(1) Hi there! Welcome to the fandom! It's always nice to have new people, especially if they have good spelling and grammar;
(2) But this is what is wrong with your fic - paragraph by paragraph, in great detail, with examples and "If you read Robert McKee's "Story" you will see that...", "I don't think you really decided what story you were telling" etc etc "pointless" scene, "rehashing" this theme, "trite" conflict such as... etc, etc;
(3) I hope you don't mind me saying that. Looking forward to seeing more from you in the future.

(Since I spent several months being completely unable to write *anything*...)

In your "sandwich" her comments could be distilled as:

(1) This fic failed to achieve anything - in fact it wasn't even really a *fic* because it lacked unity;
(2) Detailed explanation as to why;
(3) But hey, at least it was grammatically accurate!


Posting fic only to friends is self-defeating for me - I end up thinking, "Well, of course, so-and-so would say that - she likes me and knows I'm depressive and doesn't want me cutting my wrists."

And me and "short" aren't good friends. You've seen a bit of my style. I'm WORDY.
Jan. 22nd, 2016 10:37 pm (UTC)
Wordy is not a bad thing in a writer!
But I appreciate the 'they're only saying that so I don't throw myself under a bus' thing. That's where I find anonymity helps, although I get my best mate to read some stuff. She's clueless about fannish things, but is an avid reader and I can trust her to be honest. (Hilariously, unknown to me, my elderly Mother read some of my M and above stuff - not great for feedback, but it made for interesting conversation at Christmas!)

So, as far as your e-mail -

1) She'd have lost me there - I don't get on with the grammar police, I know the rules, but I like to play with them. But hey, a welcome is always nice - so I'd have probably read on...

2)It sounds as if much of that should have been posed as questions to get you thinking - i.e. what led you to use that device/theme/approach etc. She's not writing your story, you are. If she thinks you need to think some things through then she needs to lead you there. I'm sure you had good reasons for everything you wrote, I've run across very few examples of folk putting no thought whatsoever into their writing.

3)The classic passive aggressive defence! Of course you're going to mind her trashing your work - was this unsolicited feedback? 'Cos it's a bit full on, even if you let yourself in for it.

And yes I have read your work, not like mine at all and absolutely fine for that. A lot of people write differently to me, BSL leaps immediately to mind as someone currently active and not at all like my style. It's not about us all writing with the same voice it's about us finding our own voice.

Elmey is another writer who writes things I want to read in a way I couldn't write them.

If I just wanted to read things like mine I'd live in a pit and only read my own stuff! (As perhaps your e-mail writer should!)

Edited at 2016-01-22 10:38 pm (UTC)
Jan. 22nd, 2016 09:53 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry if my comment made you feel worse. I was trying to be supportive, but it's so easy to do that wrong. :-(
Jan. 22nd, 2016 10:02 pm (UTC)
No. No! You *were* supportive! And very kind. (Seriously, if I'd thought I was dissing you I wouldn't have linked your name or even identified you!)

It's just... if the fear is that bad... What DO I hope to achieve? You know?
Feb. 2nd, 2016 05:42 am (UTC)
Is this that SG fic you showed me that i really liked?
Mar. 9th, 2016 02:48 am (UTC)
No, it was the one you Google-searched and liked. But please see my previous comment about, "Well, yes, but she's my friend so she's not going to say it sucked balls." :)

(Don't know how I missed replying to this. Sorry!)
Mar. 9th, 2016 03:05 am (UTC)
:) Well, yeah, but I also won't say I really really loved it unless I really really did. I'll always aim to be supportive, but I won't outright lie. :D
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )


Dee Natsuko

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