hoo boy, here comes some serious talk about fandom mentality.
I feel like there’s a huge failing on readers’ parts to communicate to fic authors how much they appreciate their works or how much it affects them, unless the fic is “fandom famous” for some reason. sometimes it gets translated into demands (which are awful literally do not demand updates from an author ever).
more often than not, it gets translated into silence, and coming from a writer, the silence is probably the worst. you never know if they like it, you never know what the reader actually thinks about it. or even if they read it at all. and it’s… heartwrenching, and nervewracking and you start constantly questioning yourself and wondering if you’re actually good enough or if you belong. and you start comparing yourself. to the people who are popular, to the people with huge followings, to the people who get questions and art and compliments up the wazoo. and you start wondering if you should have bothered writing at all. in some cases you start begging. and in some cases, you do worse.
and it’s terrible. a writer shouldn’t have to beg. a writer shouldn’t have to only get attention when they’re frustrated or upset. a writer shouldn’t have to doubt themselves every time they pick up a pen or open their laptop. a writer should never feel so unimportant that they consider deleting their work–and do. and then be subjected to questions of why they deleted it.
(which, by the way, is kind of a rude thing to do. it’s their content, and they can do with it whatever makes them comfortable. and more than that–why wait until it’s gone to just suddenly unleash your appreciation for it?)
if, at this point, you are thinking, “well, writers shouldn’t write for attention anyway! writers should be writing for themselves!” then you are missing a Very Huge Point about the intricacies of and emotions behind creating art. of course art comes from the self, but art is meant to be shared. with people. like you. art is created for people to talk back to, to engage with, to live alongside–and yes, that in turn bolsters the creator’s own securities and motivation. it’s also a sad testament to the fact that we as a people have come to condemn the notion that anyone, especially content creators, should want attention at all.
and that’s toxic, and an awful mentality to have. (it’s also atrocious marketing. but, that’s another discussion for another time.)
what I’m trying to say here is this: a lot of this could be prevented by one simple thing. if you read a fic you like, *speak up about it.* make some kind of sign. about whether you like somebody’s work, or whether it excites you. reblog it to share with other people, gush in the tags, leave a comment/review if it’s on ao3 or ffn. (authors read tags as much as artists do, trust me.) kudos and likes are fine too, but like with any other kind of art, they’re very invisible. be vocal, y’all. spread the love.
and above all, *tell the author directly.* send them an ask, write a comment, tag them in an appreciation post. I can’t stress that enough. you’d be making someone’s day, relieving some securities, visible or not, instead of being complacent in this system, this mass way of thinking, that only popular writers deserve attention, that it has to be earned through working yourself raw instead of asked for. it causes these cliques and hierarchies and ultimately people start or keep maintaining this idea that people who are at the top deserve to be at the top, and people who get ignored deserve to be ignored. (which I have, in fact, heard people say, and that’s… I don’t even have a word for that.)
I just. something has to give, you guys. we have to stop doing this. we have to stop letting this happen. we have to be kind to our writers before they disappear.
and yes, you can reblog this post. in fact, I’d highly encourage it.
As someone who has been ficcing online since 1999, I can confirm that feedback is incredible for us. We like to know if there’s something you especially like or dislike. Kudos are nice and all, but is our characterisation okay? What about the dialogue? Did you find the plot slow/fast-paced?
I’ve been lucky lately, in that I have a solid core of people who tend to review a lot, but for nearly 7 years, I was in tiny, tiny, tiny fandoms where you were lucky if you got even one or two comments.
It’s encouraging when people do say something. Even if it’s just to say “i like when character X said Y, because it felt in character”. How do we know if we’re doing something right if no one tells us?
Fun fact: I realized that if I have time to send a text to my bff, I have time to leave a one line comment on fanfics
And yeah okay most of these wind up being something like “this was adorable, I love the way you showed [X] character’s conflict with [Y] by use of [Z]”
But hey if it’s the choice between that or nothing at all…
I’m not much of a fic reader these days, but I have to remember to give feedback on what I do read. I’ve settled into a pattern of saving blog posts and articles to read offline, which adds the extra step of remembering to come back later to comment. It might be efficient, but it keeps me quieter than I should be.