Remember Twisted Autumn, that fanfic you dogpiled on me for not listening to you oh so wise ladies when you said Raphael was an asshole and how dare I not treat your constructive criticism as points to make changes in my own damn narrative? Because obviously I am a bitch and an obsessive diva who should change to fit other people’s ideas and opinions.
It’s been translated. Into Italian. At least one fan liked it enough to put in that kind of work, and other fans enjoyed her translation.
I’ve thought about this a long time. Obviously I’ve been carrying this grudge for quite awhile, and it’s made me wonder if I really am an obsessive neurotic. And while I’ll to being obsessive and neurotic, I also think that the burn and the hurt I felt is genuine, and that having a good portion of the old fen suddenly attack me is a legitimate wound. I pretty much abandoned the fandom then, and I never went into another.
A long time ago, back when I was going from high school and settling into college, I was writing in nearly a vacuum. I found the most camaraderie in the Vampire Chronicles fandom (before Rice bombed it) and a notice about one of my TMNT stories being up for an award…kinda threw me. I didn’t really know about fandom then. And for awhile, I ignored fandom. Only slowly did I start to meet other fans, get to know people… I met douchebags, but they were usually courteous enough to be upfront about their douchebaggery.
So when I received the comment from a BNF that Raphael was being an asshole, I said what I always said to jerks—-I didn’t care about her opinion, and if she didn’t like it, she could gtfo. In the resultant mess that followed, it must have been at least five or six BNFs with a handful of fanpoodles that then told me what a hack I was, that I couldn’t handle criticism, that I wasn’t a serious writer, that I was a horrible person. And the one I remember vividly: that she always thought that I listened to her opinions, so clearly if I didn’t listen to reader responses, she would no longer continue reading.
Of all the insults, that one hurt the most. Not because I was a bad person for not listening, ‘cause by that point I’d heard that a few dozen times.
She only read my work because she thought she could influence how I wrote?
So I hid the whole mess before it got blown up on fandom wank (reported by a damn friend no less) and left fandom. Sure, I still write, but participate? I started slowing down then, too. Work picked up, and the mess left a real sour note. I got told repeatedly that if I didn’t want to receive “constructive criticism,” then I shouldn’t post stories online. I should just keep them to myself.
And I can’t help but think that there’s some truth in that. Stories don’t receive jackasses telling you how to change your story…when you don’t post them. And that reviews can be quite seductive.
I now have a few stories that aren’t posted. I don’t talk to nearly anyone in fandom anymore. And on tumblr, I can just watch pretty pictures dropping down the dashboard all day. If I read someone else’s fanfic, which I rarely do anymore, I try to leave a note about how good it was and why. But that’s it. Me and fandom are pretty much done.
But then…someone says my work was good, and they translate it, and people respond to it. I know how hard translation is. I saw people doing it at my university.
I’m done with fandom forever. But going back to what I was before, throwing stories onto ff.net without much of any other presence, is a good thing. I just wish I could write faster and with less restraint, without that constant flinch that I’m a horrible writer and a baseless diva. Part of the reason I slowed down so much is because I doubt and doubt and doubt the way I write the story, and the internal editor nags at me incessantly. Usually in a loud BNF voice.
There was one good outcome of being dogpiled, though. It taught me to temper my own reactions and to recognize bullying when it’s couched in terms of the bully’s own sense of being offended. It’s a lesson well worth it when I critique my students’ writing and edit their more basic skills.
And when I tell my brats to just write, to put something down because it’s so much easier to edit than face a blank page, to not worry about editing to make it perfect first time through and just try, just try, I’m also hoping that one day I can take my own advice again.
So thank you, BNFs. You were a lesson. And I’m glad you’re not around much anymore, because you’re a lesson I wouldn’t wish on anyone else.