My day yesterday ended pretty well. Just so everyone knows.
I'm really intrigued by the concept behind the SPN comm nostairway.
Quoted from the nostairway:
No Stairway - an introduction & overview
You know how it goes. You turn on a classic rock station, and they are guaranteed to play Stairway to Heaven at least 23 times a day. Everybody loves Stairway, but there are some amazing songs that you only hear once in a great while; songs that are buried on the b-side of out-of-print platters, songs that weren't deemed commercial or hits. Why hasn't anyone put together a radio station to play all those great songs, songs that you might love if only given the opportunity?
This project is to showcase stories that you might not otherwise see and to offer classic examples of literary fiction in the Supernatural fandom. No Stairway is not a greatest hits collection, but an anthology of work that values both style and substance, and a chance for readers to discover those unrenowned b-sides that might become dear favorites, or replay an old favorite that they lost four moves and five cars ago.
Please note that 'literary' in this instance refers to form and function and not to genre. Romances, science fiction, fantasy and all other so-called "genre" forms are welcome here. What, after all, is Supernatural if not a genre story? We are looking to share your best work with our readers. Be it prosaic or experimental, sexy or plain, featuring dragons, robots, or just two boys on the road, we want to give your songs a chance to be heard.
winterlive started the discussion here on the general concept of a comm based somewhat on objective quality standards. There are links going from there.
esorlehcar weighs in here on the subject.
I started having a moment of significant cognitive dissonance when I realized I kinda completely agree with them both. But it's complicated.
One of the things its very hard for most fangirls--not people, but fangirls--is to express these three true things*:
1.) Wanting to write popular fic.
2.) Wanting to be *acknowledged* as an awesome author.
3.) Wanting lots of feedback.
*to disclaim that. Yes, there are exceptions. Hence the use of 'most', not 'all'
I actually don't think it comes from a self-denigration place, but more from a wary place of generalized equality; there's also the blank terror of being called elitist, snobby, attention whore, bully, but you know, not so much. The big thing I think sometimes comes from inside; we can be hard on each other, but I don't think anyone, anywhere, is as hard on us as we are on ourselves. If we walk around with a little voice saying "your writing sucks", we also have an extra one muttering whatever specific social failure we worry about seeing in ourselves.
The concept of objective quality is one of the things everyone flinches on kneejerk. We are all married to the "I" statement in a very big way when discussing fic we liked. "I liked". "I think". "I enjoyed". "I consider this the best story ever in the history of the world". And seriously, you forget to make the "I" explicit--well, don't forget that. You will be taken as literally as a piece of paper. Actually, it's kind of weird like that; in the textual medium, the explicit is chosen over even the most overt implicit. I have no idea why. Probably because in the right mood, we can raise deliberate misunderstanding to an art form.
Most of us can say "I didn't care for that fic for xyz reason" but rarely do we say "Wow, that was incredibly bad; why did you do that? Please stop writing like that." anywhere we think it'll be seen by more than our flock as the gods of fanfic intended (and whoever gets emailed the entries; we are totally not above that sometimes when it's just too interesting to leave alone). It's kind of a good way to plausibly deny, to be honest; you really don't want that kind of crap to haunt you later if you change fandoms and become really close to someone who is Sucky Writer's BFF. Yes, I'm sure we are all honest. Except when we are totally not. And few of us really want to go to bed at night after having like, five people tell us we destroyed someone's soul with our critique. Seriously, we could have been writing porn with that time. A lot of it.
On one hand: quality control. Fic that is betaed, grammar checked, spell checked, might have known the basic rules of the English language; has a solid plot; is at least to those people canon-compliant (if they go that way) or pairing-etc, or yes. Various tests to see if a fic complies. Awesome. I love this.
And then I love esorlehcar's reasons why not. It could be discouraging. It could lead to a style stultification in writers trying to copy the styles in the community as the only ones acceptable. It can be intimidating to new writers.
So here's the thing. I loathe quality fanfiction communities. I hate pretty much everything about them -- the attempts of a limited group of people to pretend their subjective taste is an objective barometer of "good" writing; the solidification of a fandom class system with "worthy" writers set apart from the rest of the riffraff; the cookie-cutter fiction they tend to inspire, once writers get a handle on how this particular comm is defining "good" and, if a comm succeeds the way it's intended to, the choking out of authors who are deemed unworthy or choose not to participate.
The comments on both sides are fascinating; compare and contrast a community to a rec list; compare and contrast the community to elitism; how will new writers feel; what will happen to diversity; what are the objective standards. It's kind of a lot, and seriously, read all comments, this is some very thoughtful stuff.
I don't know. Well, that's lie, I do know, but that's changed eighty time since I started writing this and it'll change eighty more while I read. It's interesting from both sides, though, in that way that makes me want to nail down what I believe philosophically compared to what I think practically and where the two mesh.