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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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kind of being vaguely meta, but not really
waiting
seperis
Hmm.

You know, this actually has nothing to do with rageprufrock's entry last week--er, two weeks ago? My time sense is so screwed being off so long. I just had epiphanical moment here. Well, okay, lets' try a clearing of mind, since I reserve epiphanies for new coffee discoveries and John/Rodney sex.

A close friend was blocked on a story due to a critique she'd received and see, I'm of the critique is your friend mindset of writers, so I had to skid to a stop before saying something that would be comforting and terribly, terribly wrong. I can say that with a straight face, too, despite the fact I have, on occassion, thrown a diva-fit on AIM when I read something critical. It's not that I don't appreciate it. I mean, it *is* that I don't appreciate it. I can't ever appreciate it until I stop reacting and start thinking, which frankly, is a process that involves epic coffee and at least three AIM people to audience my endless rage and pain.

Seriously, that's the most fun you can have online, wallowing in artistic pain.

But right. That's not what I'm talking about.

Here's my question--you, the writer, how do *you* deal? You just had your story cut into tiny bite-sized pieces, with or without malice aforethought.

So, I read her post and sat there staring at it for a second and thinking about that One True Feedback--or let's say, that One True Messageboard That One Day Where I Was Convinced Everyone Hated Me--and wow, was that a night that I was seriously on the biggest OMG I WILL NEVER WRITE AGAIN high of my *life*, which lasted about long enough for me to stare at porn and think, ooh, pretty, but still. Pain. Right, I had a subject that wasn't me here. I was thinking what I do, and I thought some more, and then I thought about the fact that I couldn't even tell a really good lie, which I am totally prepared to do for the sake of a friend, because seriously, she'd know in a week that I was lying through my teeth. You don't get over it. You don't suck it up. You don't move on. You just get through it, and it's a messy process and usually hurts about as much as reading the comments. You never see yourself, the writer, the same way. You never see what you write the same way. You never quite forget.

Hmm. It's like--for me? I never stop hearing, metaphorically speaking, every comment. I've brought them from Voyager and X-Men and Smallville and QaF and most recently, from SGA, from the fannish hate threads, from the flame wars, from the personal wars, from the most *bizarre* feedback, from--well, everyone. It's kind of like having a chorus, but a lot less interesting, and sometimes, it's quieter, but it's never silent. Negative comments have a half-life of infinity.

I believe in constructive criticism, open, public criticism, as I believe in very few fannish concepts. I ran a group once that did nothing *but* critique fanfic, and I've never been able since then to so much as *frown* at the concept because wow, the sheer hypocricy would be overwhelming. I can sympathize, because again, the chorus is *always there*, but that's the thing. It's *always there*. There are few in fandom who don't have their own very special internal buddies who remind them, mid paragraph, of that Certain Comment. It's never been a matter of a choice to figure out what happens after you read something negative. It's more of a forced march.

And that went longer than expected for a comforting post to a friend. So yeah. That's how I deal.


I don't really have these issues with rage and pain and whatnot. Once I post a story, I'm pretty much open to hearing anything anyone has to say about it; nothing says I have to agree. *g* I've posted some clunkers, and some that just didn't work well, and I've had work of varying quality dissected in a half dozen different fandoms and forums, and it's like water off a duck for the most part. It wasn't at first -- god, no; I had to get used to it, and that was a difficult process for a tender young writer, but eventually I grew some rhino hide, you know? Ad hominem attacks are not cool, of course, but if a discussion of over 100 comments broke out on a story I wrote, I'd be thrilled because something I wrote provoked reaction and interaction.

I get derailed by critique from betas or others on unfinished stories; that's because I haven't distanced myself from the story. I can take tough beta on *finished* stories because I disengage from the text. That was a hard lesson for me to learn -- there's a period of detachment necessary for me to be open about public discussion of my work. It's why I no longer show people unfinished stories.


Ad hominem attacks are not cool, of course, but if a discussion of over 100 comments broke out on a story I wrote, I'd be thrilled because something I wrote provoked reaction and interaction.

I will never deny my ego has a split field day when that happens. *grins*

I can take tough beta on *finished* stories because I disengage from the text. That was a hard lesson for me to learn -- there's a period of detachment necessary for me to be open about public discussion of my work. It's why I no longer show people unfinished stories.

Oddly, the beta process at any stage almost never tosses me anymore. It used to, but since I tend to have betas I trust a lot, there's a sort of instinctive recognition there of it not being personal. Hmm. I need to think about that, actually.

I'm assumming that rage prufrock is the same as prufrock on SSA. And as such I should tell you, I reread "This, Too" By both you and prufrock for i believe the 4th or 5th time. I'm not kidding that fic is just so beautiful that i had to keep reading and going back to it to just get the feel of it all over again. (hope that makes sense) Anyways what I'm trying to say is if someone has told Pru or you that basically your work sucks or if you feel that you should never write again, God, are they wrong! I believe I have read every single one of your SV stories and probably all of Prufrock's as well at least twice. So yes not only am I saying that you shouldn't feel bad because someone gives you criticism that isn't constructive but a flame. I am saying and begging you and pru to please, write more. I truly do love your work and wish that you would return to SV, if not I guess I'll have to follow you to SGA just to keep reading. And RagePrufrock's stuff is just.. there are no words. I know this isn't all that constructive as far as criticism goes but it's all I got. Please tell Prufrick how much I love their work. bye for now,
-Lishel

I think for me, it depends on the day. I have such a pot of mixed feelings on this as I am pro-critique yet know my own insecurities too; I still can cry at beta comments when I have a bad day, but you just have to let it go and more on. Highlander's the only universe where I have had stories dissected, and I think I did a pretty good job of it, but you never know. Some days, I think there should be like a '2 week rule' on fanfic critique, so that the author has some time to live their squee, but at the same time, I know as a reader I want to talk about the story now, now, now! You're right that there's no way out but through.

It's a weird dichotomy to live in. Most of us are dual action--we write and we read, squee and critique. And we want to do all of it NOW NOW NOW. God knows, a story gets like, five seconds after I finish before I'm talking about it to *someone*, good or bad.

Honestly, I've been thinking for a few weeks now that I would kill for a comment that is something other than mild amusement, just to prove I have ideas worth arguing over.

I've received two pieces of negative feedback: an unspecified fangirl reaction and a correction to a major factual error I made. I asked the fangirl to be more specific and was ignored. I corrected the error. I don't receive negative feedback because I'm a great writer, but because I'm a completely bland writer easily ignored.

My stories don't get picked over because they're not worth picking over, and I can't help but envy people who have that kind of talent to provoke discussion, no matter how much it may hurt their writerly feelings.

There are few things worse in any creative endeavour than being spectacularly mediocre.

Honestly, I've been thinking for a few weeks now that I would kill for a comment that is something other than mild amusement, just to prove I have ideas worth arguing over.

Hmm. I think that too, sometimes. Then flinch immediately. It's very--well, contradictory almost. It's somethign I want badly and something I'm terrified of.

My stories don't get picked over because they're not worth picking over, and I can't help but envy people who have that kind of talent to provoke discussion, no matter how much it may hurt their writerly feelings.

There are few things worse in any creative endeavour than being spectacularly mediocre.


Just to toss this out, and I totally know you aren't asking for praise here, but you are anything *but* medicore, in the good way.

It's--sometimes, it's a mystery to me what stories get discussion. It seems almsot random.

I was writing this HP story and it was just *pouring* out of me. I couldn't stop it. I couldn't write anything else. It was all there was for months. Only the thing was that all the feedback I was getting was from like 14 year old girls and it was driving me a little nuts so I joined a critiquing group who didn't seem particularly malicious and they just fucking hated my story. Ripped it. Read one chapter and said they couldn't stand to read even a single chapter more. I... didn't get upset. I didn't rend sack cloth. I just have never had a single desire to even open the file again. I didn't even read HP fic from anyone, even stuff I was right in the middle of for months. It just didn't seem apealing in the slightest. I still haven't opened the file. I don't even know if I will. Probably not.

just have never had a single desire to even open the file again. I didn't even read HP fic from anyone, even stuff I was right in the middle of for months. It just didn't seem apealing in the slightest. I still haven't opened the file. I don't even know if I will. Probably not.

It can cut like that sometimes, can't it? Was it your first story in that fandom?

I do adore concrit, even though it often hurts to hear it. I want to improve with regard to writing, and as such I really appreciate people who take the time to tell me what works for them and what doesn't. I don't always agree with them, but I do consider what they have said.

My reaction to it tends to vary. Usually I am positive, although there have been a few times in beta sessions where I have argued the point. It always stings a little, but never to the point that I feel like I never want to write again. Usually I stew for a few minutes/hours and then figure out how to fix it, or if I want to fix it.

I will say that while concrit is useful to me, flames are not. Those actually bother me more than I'm comfortable admitting. That somebody would randomly decide to say something cruel/rude/derogatory about ME over a story just... I don't understand that at all. Nobody is required to read my fic, and certainly nobody is required to like it. If you do, great. That makes me happy. If you don't and you feel so inclined, I'd like to hear why.

I think for me criticism of fic will always be a good thing as long as it doesn't cross that line into assumptions/personal attacks.

Yes. And yes again.

Though--no, I'll think about the fine line of author criticism and story criticism more later, when I can clarify. But yeah. What you said.

In nearly nine years in fandom and about seven writing, though not prolifically, I have never ever been roughly or even firmly treated by people making comments. Not a thing more negative than pointing out a typo or grammatical error. Or that once I used 'trousers' instead of 'pants'.

Is it a function of how many people read your stories (I've written in big fandoms, I know lots of people have read my stories) or the length of stories (it does seem that longer, plottier stories are more apt to make people think about them) or quality of stories (the reader has a more passionate opinion the more deeply the story engages them)?

This is just an aside, I guess. I've always been pro all kinds of story discussion but that opinion has never been tested in the crucible or even the the bubble bath of critical public opinion of anything I've written.

I've always been pro all kinds of story discussion but that opinion has never been tested in the crucible or even the the bubble bath of critical public opinion of anything I've written.

You know, it scared me until it actually happened to me. And it sucked, no way around that, but--I walked out of it and after, I could honestly say to myself, it really *can't* be worse than that. It just can't be. And I was mostly right.

Personally, I have to say that when someone beta or audiences a fic of mine, I'm never hurt or upset by anything they say whether it works for them or not. At that point I still have time to fix things, tweak things, and make large changes, and usually when someone doesn't like something I've done, it's something that I wasn't absolutely sure about before hand.

Once the fic is posted... well, I've only ever received one comment that was in any way negative, and that was... god, probably two years ago now. It does say something that I still remember it, but at the same time I have to say that I appreciate the fact that they did it. It gave me an idea of what I was doing that didn't work for them, and even if I had disagreed (I didn't), it was still good to know.

While I love it when people have encouraging things to say about my writing, it's the criticism and the harsh betas that make my writing better.

Hmmm. I think as a newer and much less prolific writer (or a writer who lives mainly in a teeny-tiny fandom where it's barely more than three degrees of seperation from each fan), I'm a little behind this whole thing.

I've *never* received a harsh or particularly critical response to any of my stories. Seriously. The most I get in feedback is that I misused a word (a constant concern when writing characters who live in another frickin' country to yourself).

The closest I've come was a critical beta for a WW fic (um, Five Things That Weren't Comforting) which floored me. I mean, on the one hand, the beta was carefully considered and was done by an author I respected dearly. Also, it was *right*.

But I was a bit too stuck in the wounded ego reaction ("Oh, my god. Argh!") to see that at the time. I ended up fixing the weaknesses that were obvious and not worrying about the other ones. Now, a few years later when I've improved my writing greatly, I almost wish that I'd stuck to the beta and *attempted* to re-write and fix the problems.

I don't know. I tend to stratosphere authors. I have an inner-ranking of who's Great, who's Good, who's Fun, and who's A Little Dodgy But Still Entertaining. I assume that other fans do, too, and I think it's the Shining Stars of fandom that get the critique. People have to *care* about the story -- they have to be moved by it, swept away -- to be bothered critiquing it, and I think the problem is that people see the talent and forget that on the other end of the keyboard is just another fan. We get so caught up in the fannish excitement of talking to others about something we liked, that we don't stop to consider the authors feelings.

A lot like the way that so many fans have very, very *definitive* (and personal) views on the creators of fannish shows, and we say things about them that we'd never consider saying to their faces (because it's *rude*). I think it's a weird leak-effect from that.

Hm. I do feel more sensitive if my fic is still ongoing, but otherwise, when I read comments, I feel like I'm literally beside myself: I talk to my metaphorical past self and 'we' try to decide if the criticism is unfair, or just wanky. The process usually amuses me. If I feel that the criticism is unfair, more often than not I end up thinking, 'can I write another fic that deals with that?'

I've had a few reviews via email that took apart my fic piece by piece, and it was interesting in that I felt awkward and annoyed that my 'arteest' vision had been questioned, but at the same time I thought, "Aha! My next fic is going to beat your socks off! So there!" and instead of feeling hurt I'd be incredibly happy, because I felt really motivated to keep writing.

The only things that really mortify me are being called on typos, or obvious mistakes, or knowingly posting fic that I knew wasn't good enough.

I think this is because I regard writing as a serious, time-consuming, fascinating and ultimately, fun hobby. It's not like I point to my 'ouevre' or something when I introduce myself, say, in new communities.

I do get hurt a few times, but no point in playing in the pond if you can't take a few knocks, right? And I know that even if no one ever reads my fic one day, I'd still keep writing (maybe not post it). No one can take that away.

I grew up, fannishly, in environments where nurturing criticism was the norm. Even the harshest critiques were given with the best intentions, and I was able to take them in that vein. Consequently, story critique doesn't inspire any fear or insecurity in me, and I can genuinely appreciate 99% of it as something that took time and effort and involvement in the story.

(I'm actually surprised by people thinking story critique is something that only happens to a select few writers. It hadn't occured to me that things have changed since I was an idiot newbie, which admittedly was mailing list days, but I was on half a dozen lists that encouraged critical feedback, and I got plenty of it, and gave a huge amount as well. I don't know what happened, but I know I don't give much crit any more.)

What gets me ranting wildly into IM windows is the malicious and personal stuff, things said about me as a person alongside discussion of my stories, or to shut down discussion, etc. Fortunately that's been fairly rare (or I've been blissfully ignorant) but when it does happen, it sucks mightily. If it's the truth, I can generally stay calm, but seeing lies spread about me makes me insane. The only thing to do is grit your teeth and cope as best you can while you wait for it to blow over, which isn't fun. The melodrama of it all is funny, weeks later, though. *g*

What gets me ranting wildly into IM windows is the malicious and personal stuff, things said about me as a person alongside discussion of my stories, or to shut down discussion, etc. Fortunately that's been fairly rare (or I've been blissfully ignorant) but when it does happen, it sucks mightily. If it's the truth, I can generally stay calm, but seeing lies spread about me makes me insane. The only thing to do is grit your teeth and cope as best you can while you wait for it to blow over, which isn't fun. The melodrama of it all is funny, weeks later, though. *g*

*grinds teeth* Oh. Yes. Because that's not--I don't have words for how much that pisses me off. Epically.

You don't get over it. You don't suck it up. You don't move on. You just get through it, and it's a messy process and usually hurts about as much as reading the comments. You never see yourself, the writer, the same way. You never see what you write the same way. You never quite forget.

That's the complete truth, right there. Well, at least it is for me. It might not even be part of a larger critique. The feedbacker might not have meant it *as* critique. It doesn't matter -- it's always with me. I've ingested it, and it's lodged in my *soul*.

And it's... hmm. In the end? For all that it hurts, for all that it'll knock me out of a writing groove if That Certain Comment comes back to me as I'm writing one new story or another... I like it that way. I *like* it that way.

It makes me a better writer. And I think that's part and parcel of why I get so cranky with people who urge people to be 'nicer' with their critique, or to not offer it in the first place to newbies, or people having a bad day, or whatever.

I *know* that all of that horribly painful critique has improved my work, and I don't see why I should let other writers... off the hook? If I "have to" do my best even when I'm writing porny fluff, then dammit, so should other people.

If *I'm* busting my balls to give fandom Good Stuff as a writer, then I want to be *given* Good Stuff as a reader -- or told flat out, before I waste my time, that Writer X doesn't give a shit.

Yes. And I get very cranky with writers who are of the, "it's free, it's fun; why should I care about spelling, grammar or characterization" persuasion. Why the hell do they write at all, if that's how they feel?

I don't do fannish critique because the fallout is just too dramatic. Having said that, I've belonged to a number of rl writers' groups, in which public critique is the raison d'etre. It provides a lot of insight, and better perspective than a writer can possibly get on his own. The problem arises when the critique oozes over from critique of the story, to critique of the writer. Writers, in my experience, and especially (though certainly not exclusively) amateur writers, tend to identify very, very strongly with their work (as, I suppose, do creative artists of all types). And it's hard not to take it personally when (as happened in one of my rl groups before the moderator stopped it) someone criticizes a bedroom scene by asking, "God, have you ever even HAD sex?!?" I'm pretty sure the writer in question never HAD had sex, and probably never WILL have sex, after that.

Commentary, positive or negative, is no more than someone else's opinion. We should probably take our good press with the same grain of salt as our bad press.

By the time I finish a story I generally hate it. Literally hate the damn thing. (Not drabbles, not anything that's super-short and I write it in one day and don't get it beta-read at all, but anything that takes a few weeks to finish.) I re-read it a zillion times, trying to remember what the hell I was planning to do next and correcting grammar and spelling errors as I go. Eventually I send it to beta, and hate it even more when they point out all the stupid things I did, and then I try to fix them, in half-assed and hateful ways, and then I put it up somewhere. (In my own lj 'doesn't count' to me -- putting a WiP in my own lj isn't any worse than a drabble or anything else really short, and ffnet is hardly any worse, but I always try to have something that actually holds together and makes something resembling sense if I'm putting it up at Level 3 or the equivalent.) I get a sprinkling of comments, and a few of them are negative, but by then I'm all "Yes, you're quite right; the story sucked. Thanks for your input!" LOL! Then when I go back and read the story months or years later I can sort of enjoy it again.

I should probably find a different hobby. :-D

Here via metafandom

How do I deal with negative feedback? I ignore it. Completely and totally ignore it. I couldn't care less. If someone wants to cut up one of my stories into tiny pieces and swallow it with their coffee, they can do so, and I hope they like the taste. But if they send me an email telling me what they did, I'll delete it, and pretend I never got it.