In fanfiction as in original fiction, it’s vital to have standards – and my standards are high. They’re also enforced by a pit of sharks who like to chew through unsuspecting writers in an orgy of violent, bloody criticism.
I love them so, and here is what I told them today.
When I get criticism, I don’t expect people to defend me, and I don’t really defend myself, because I don’t see criticism and discussion as an attack. I find it interesting to see how people react to what I write, whether positive or negative.
I also find it interesting that readers see things that I may not have intended consciously, but that are still present in the story. I don’t think readers realize how important it is for me to know this, because it leads me to a greater understanding of what and how I write.
Can we have a talk for a minute, just me and you? Have a seat over here, and let me get you a beer.
Your reactions to, and your expectations of, a story are just as valuable as in-depth criticism, because ultimately… I do this for you. I do it for me too, but if it were just for me, I’d keep it all on my hard drive. But I don’t. I post it, or I publish it, and that means I have an obligation – to listen to criticism, to process every response, to tell a good story, and to finish what I start. I’ll ask for a little of your trust that I know what I’m doing, but I expect you to be hard on me regardless – and I’ll not blame you if you don’t want to give me the benefit of the doubt. Sturgeon’s Law and all that…
Because I do it for you. I always do it for you. There are a few other places I can go for praise, if I want my ego stroked, but what I need to become a better writer is honesty.
I don’t say it much, but I do believe this: a writer can’t write for money, because we might lose our artistic soul. We can’t write for ourselves, because we might become self-indulgent and narcissistic. We can’t write to some literary ideal or construct, because the world isn’t perfect.
So we write for the reader sitting beside us, for the fans who want to know how the story ends.
May Thor have mercy on me if I ever forget this, no matter how high I rise.