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09 May 2010 @ 05:25 pm
[Rant]: Professional Writers vs. The People Who Love Their Work, Round Umpty-Snout  
(I realize right now fandom is rightly and deeply upset about a whole other issue. I live in the past, okay? But I know for a fact that this particular one is comin' around again, so. Also, warning: possible triggers.)

Okay. I am really, really tired of professional writers - or maybe I should say published writers, since professional behavior is not these people's long suit, generally speaking - posting rants about how they don't like fan fiction and here are their random reasons why. (If they would just say, "It feels wrong. I don't have a reason - it just feels wrong," I still wouldn't agree, but at least I wouldn't have to question their maturity. It's when they try to justify their feeling that they start to sound like a seven-year-old explaining why his cousin shouldn't be allowed to come near his toys.)

So, I'm going to help you out, oh hater of fan fiction! No more do you have to embarrass yourself (and piss off rape survivors everywhere) with the inevitable reference to rape! (Please, someone, make a new internet law that reads: Here is what is just like being raped: being raped. Describing something that is not rape as rape indicates either a) the kind of irrationality where the flecks of foam are visible through the monitor or b) a total failure to understand what rape is. In either case, everyone should politely look away until you calm down. And buy a fucking dictionary.) No more do you have to issue legal proclamations that make it very clear that you don't understand what copyright is and, in fact, think of copyright as Captain Copyright, Defender of Whatever Rights You Feel You Should Have! (Note: Captain Copyright is totally fictional. Feel free to write stories about him defeating evil writers of fan fiction. Um, warning, though: that will be fan fiction.)

Sadly, this won't address my least favorite rant elements:
  1. Rants in which a published author makes it clear that she believes millions of people are writing fan fiction about her characters, when in fact there are four stories total in her universe, which makes me all hot with vicarious embarrassment, because she's just exposed her own screaming It's All About Me neurosis and made it clear she has no idea what she's talking about. It's a horrible two-for-one special in the embarrassment aisle.
  2. Rants in which a published fan fiction writer - someone who writes primarily tie-in novels in someone else's universe - announces that fan fiction is evil, because doing it for love is wrong, but doing it for money is right. This makes me make a frowny face, because that isn't what they said in Sex Ed.
But, well. One thing at a time.

Good Reasons for a Professional Fiction Writer to Fear Fan Fiction
  1. Fan fiction folks might not like you anymore. People who are into fan fiction read a lot, and I do mean a lot, of stories at all levels of quality, from Holy Shit Pulitzer to Holy Fuck My Eyes My Eyes I See the Reaper Coming for Meeeeeee. Many of us also write. And when you do that, when you read and write a lot, you learn things. (Unless there's a baseline competence issue, and some of us do have those, but yay! Mostly not.)

    So we've all gotten better at reading, and reading critically, and at interacting with the story. And, yes, that means we might not like you anymore. We might now be painfully aware of how you suck or how you fail, in ways that we wouldn't have been before our time in fandom. And that's scary - readers who are now judging your work and maybe finding it wanting. If you want to rant about that, I will have sympathy.

  2. Fan fiction folks don't need you anymore. I mean, we still might like you, but the fact is, we can probably get better than you for free. Because, okay, yes, most fan fiction is crap, but so is most published fiction. (Anyone who wants to refute that has to read ten books selected by me first.) And the ten percent of fan fiction that is worth dying for is not just good, and in fact not just great: it's great and it's for us. It's written for our community, with our community standards in mind, by someone who shares at least some interests and probably some beliefs with us. So it's not just that we can get stories for free; it's that those stories are written to appeal directly to us. You can't write for us and you almost certainly don't want to.

    That's readers - a lot of readers, depending on what you write - who may not be shelling out for your next book, or who may be waiting for a library copy or the paperback. That sucks for you, and if you rant about that, seriously, I will have sympathy. (And I will try to refrain from pointing out that if you're good to your fans, we're your paycheck. We'll buy your hardcovers forever just because twenty years ago you created one character we love. We'll buy your merchandise. We'll go to cons to see you. We'll buy more hardcovers for you to sign. And so on.)

  3. Fan fiction folks took your power away. It used to be that the Anointed Few stood at the front of the room - sometimes a tiny classroom, sometimes a giant lecture hall with video cameras catching each golden word for those not lucky enough to hear it in person - and spoke. And everyone else was just audience: the listeners, the readers, the passively entertained. Fandom has turned your lectures into seminars. We keep speaking up. We keep having our own ideas. We don't even have the courtesy to raise our hands and ask to speak. And sometimes we lock you out of the room altogether.

    That isn't what you signed up for. I understand that. You want the podium back, you want the breathless admiration back, you want the silent, receptive audience back. You want the exchange to be: I entertain, and you applaud, and that's it. I can understand why you'd want that, and if you want to complain about it, I will sympathize. (I won't promise to fix it or anything, because it's better for me this way, but I understand that loss of power can be painful, and I swear if you want to complain about it I will feel sorry for you.)

  4. Fan fiction folks are better at the internet then you are. Oh, not all of you (or, for that matter, all of us), but, um. I don't know how to put this gently. A lot of professional writers (and editors, and others associated with the publishing industry) appear to lose their brains and their ability to write (and to understand what they've written) when they're online. It's sad, and it's pathetic, and it's hideously painful for those of us with an embarrassment squick. Meanwhile, fandom is organized, fandom knows the rules (fandom even codified many of the rules), and fandom is - well. If you're making an ass of yourself on the internet ("You're interrogating the text from the wrong perspective!" "You're RAPING ME by writing fan fiction about my characters!"), fandom is mocking you. If you're proving that you're an ass in real life ("There's no racism! It's all classism!" "But there aren't any female writers of SF. I mean, I don't know any, so..."), we're probably pointing that out to you fairly loudly. (And we are not watching our tone.)

    And I do see that that sucks, that you think the internet is your playground and it turns out there are actual real people watching you and calling you on your bullshit. I think you could probably solve this problem (either have less bullshit or limit your audience, your choice), but I will still understand if you just want to complain about it.
But if you're going to tell me, yet again, that fan fiction is illegal! Immoral! Dirty! Wrong! EVIL! ASSAULT! RAAAAAAAAAAPE!, well, I cannot promise to have sympathy. I can't promise to care. I can't even promise to read your rant, or indeed anything you write.

I'll just read some fan fiction instead.

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
Tags: [meta]
.: so prettyhackthis on May 10th, 2010 01:28 am (UTC)
Can you hear me applauding from my spaceship orbiting the earth where I grow my super plants?* I know it's kind of far of way, but, yeah, I am. LOUDLY. The plants like it when I'm noisy like this.

*You started it. I wasn't telling people where I lived, but you know, hey. I like you, it's all good.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV bluethefourthvine on May 10th, 2010 04:11 pm (UTC)
I KNEW IT. When will the superplant army invade? I welcome our leafy overlords, of course. (Which is not to imply that I don't also welcome the ferns.)

Thank you, Plantmistress! (Or do you prefer a different title?)

like the boy who cried wolf, but with lesbianssequinedfairy on May 10th, 2010 01:38 am (UTC)
you are so amazing, seriously. thank you so much.

also, just to add on to it, because i have been needing to

dear writer who over-identifies with their characters: your characters are not real people. they are fictional, and they do not have feelings. they do not exist outside of your fictional universe. they cannot be hurt by fanfic, because they are not in this world. i understand being attached to and loving your characters! i have original characters i love with a crazy and intense passion! i understand that when you find porn about your characters (hint: don't read it. you can report it to publishers/whatever without reading it! it's possible! fics are generally labelled!), it feels icky and awful to you.

but please, please, please, do not compare it to someone receiving actual harm. because, hint, no one did. you might feel like you did (i have read things that scarred me, too. they're gross. i know how you feel), but you really, really have not. and your characters have definitely not been actually harmed, because, as stated above, they are not real people. relax, okay?

...yeah, i needed that.
laurajacquez on May 10th, 2010 03:10 am (UTC)
Hey, do you remember that extremely whackadoodle thread about fanfic where someone purporting to be Bella from Twilight (having fallen through from another universe, apparently) was objecting to fanfic?

That was some quality good times.

(eta because I CANNOT SPELL)

Edited at 2010-05-10 03:10 am (UTC)
(no subject) - sequinedfairy on May 10th, 2010 03:21 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - jacquez on May 10th, 2010 03:34 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - insane_duckfish on May 22nd, 2010 01:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - jacquez on May 22nd, 2010 03:26 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - insane_duckfish on May 23rd, 2010 01:03 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on May 10th, 2010 04:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV dogtagsthefourthvine on May 11th, 2010 03:58 am (UTC)
*beams* Thank you!
kimboosan on May 10th, 2010 01:59 am (UTC)
I like this. A lot.

Thank you! ♥

tried to eat the safe banana: TFV flowersthefourthvine on May 11th, 2010 03:58 am (UTC)
I'm happy to hear that. Thanks back at you!
Seperisseperis on May 10th, 2010 02:02 am (UTC)
*very loud frantic applause*

Ouch. My hands hurt now.

Point four needs to be put up somewhere because yeah.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV glowythefourthvine on May 11th, 2010 04:01 am (UTC)
Thank you! But, um, let me get you some ice for your hands.

I actually have a whole separate rant written about How Not to Alienate Your Readers on the internet. (Remember that one thing in, um, Slate, I think? About things a reader wanted an author to know? I read that and was like, YES YES YES, and then they were about plot and characterization and stuff. And what I really wanted was Things You Should Know About the Internet, from a reader to a writer. So I wrote it.)
(no subject) - (Anonymous) on May 11th, 2010 09:57 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - lizey on May 11th, 2010 09:57 am (UTC) (Expand)
Malmalnpudl on May 10th, 2010 02:03 am (UTC)
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV Katamari Damacythefourthvine on May 11th, 2010 06:23 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Barb: DH - secure code?yarnaddict on May 10th, 2010 02:05 am (UTC)
Yup. This. Exactly, perfectly this.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV lettersthefourthvine on May 11th, 2010 06:24 pm (UTC)
*beams* Thank you!
forsweatervestsforsweatervests on May 10th, 2010 02:09 am (UTC)
Big, giant thumbs up to this.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV menorahthefourthvine on May 12th, 2010 04:04 am (UTC)
Thank you!
(no subject) - forsweatervests on May 13th, 2010 03:44 am (UTC) (Expand)
Pet: STR Spock I Don't Evenapetslife on May 10th, 2010 02:13 am (UTC)
As someone who has a nearly crippling case of Oversensitive Embarrassment Squick (seriously, sometimes I just want to hide my face in my hands and rock back and forth, it's THAT BAD), may I just say, thank you so, so very much for this? Because, really, YES. Yes. I wish publishers would print this out and make all staff and authors keep a copy hanging by their computer, just for reference, before anyone hits "post."

It's number four that kills me the most, because, these people WRITE FOR A LIVING. How the hell do they have this massive failure of communicating via the written word when the medium is the internet? I just don't get it at ALL.
laurajacquez on May 10th, 2010 03:11 am (UTC)
I was going to say "they have editors" and then I remembered massive fail ovah at Making Light.

So I got nuthin.
(no subject) - apetslife on May 10th, 2010 03:49 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on May 12th, 2010 04:09 am (UTC) (Expand)
That's Lay-day Snackpants to you, buster.amand_r on May 10th, 2010 02:20 am (UTC)
tried to eat the safe banana: Yay!thefourthvine on May 12th, 2010 04:10 am (UTC)
(no subject) - amand_r on May 12th, 2010 04:11 am (UTC) (Expand)
Gwen Egweneiriol on May 10th, 2010 02:20 am (UTC)
I agree with you 3000% on this post.

Tho, when I read this Holy Fuck My Eyes My Eyes I See the Reaper Coming for Meeeeeee I was giggling SO hard! *tries not to think of those fics as flashbacks are hell*
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV shoesthefourthvine on May 12th, 2010 04:11 am (UTC)
Yikes. I am sorry to have caused any flashbacks, because - yeah, I have a few scars of my own, there. (AIEEEE NOOOOO MUST THINK OF SOMETHING ELSE.)

Thank you!
Sally M: writing 4sallymn on May 10th, 2010 02:27 am (UTC)
so is most published fiction. (Anyone who wants to refute that has to read ten books selected by me first.) Never mind books... I'll make 'em read women's magazine short stories or those little Western/war booklets you can buy (there was an Australian writer who swore she was told she was too good for the westerns, and had to dumb down to make sales). It won't take more than a day before they're begging for mercy...
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV umbrellathefourthvine on May 12th, 2010 04:13 am (UTC)
Oh, man, have you read Gun in Cheek and Son of Gun in Cheek and Six Gun in Cheek? They're compilations of the worst horrors of the pulp era, and - maaaaaaaan. They simultaneously make you laugh your ass off and claw your eyes out. It's awesome.

I particularly like Six Gun in Cheek, which is about westerns. Awesome. Seriously.
(no subject) - sallymn on May 12th, 2010 05:42 am (UTC) (Expand)
Jen Atheneathenejen on May 10th, 2010 02:33 am (UTC)
I do not have hearts big enough for how I feel about this post.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV bluethefourthvine on May 13th, 2010 05:01 am (UTC)
Awww, thank you. *beams and blushes*
mizsharmae on May 10th, 2010 02:34 am (UTC)
\O/ You perfectly expressed pretty much exactly what I've been thinking regarding this whole situation. Brava and thank you!
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV brownthefourthvine on May 13th, 2010 05:02 am (UTC)
Oh, thank you! I'm glad to know others were thinking it, too.
cattrainecattraine on May 10th, 2010 02:34 am (UTC)
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV dogtagsthefourthvine on May 13th, 2010 05:03 am (UTC)
Thank you!