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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]
 
 
 
julii_wolfe: buffy fandom lovejulii_wolfe on May 10th, 2010 02:41 am (UTC)
you = awesome. And here is my favorite line:

"(Unless there's a baseline competence issue, and some of us do have those, but yay! Mostly not.)"


New quote from the silly published authors: "Oh God, someone has taken my work and CHANGED it. Now the sky will fall from the HEAVENS."

Don't get me wrong, writing anything is a lot of work, but you're completely right about the specific audience that fanfic addresses, and can address, simply by nature of being fanfic.

The really cool, fun, intriguing, weird story lines? DON'T OFTEN GET PUBLISHED.

Here's to fandom, breaking the mold, and author's brains, one fanfic at a time.

tried to eat the safe banana: TFV flowersthefourthvine on May 13th, 2010 05:05 am (UTC)
Thank you!

Here's to fandom, breaking the mold, and author's brains, one fanfic at a time.

I agree! And the thing is, there are many authors (and other copyright owners) who are fine with fan fiction, or at least tolerate it, and who are not, you know, DEAD OF FAN FICTION. You'd think the fan fiction haters would notice that.
the grey-eyed: heartkouredios on May 10th, 2010 03:00 am (UTC)
I really, really love your brain. :D
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV Katamari Damacythefourthvine on May 13th, 2010 05:05 am (UTC)
Thank you! It loves you, too. *g*
Cesperanzacesperanza on May 10th, 2010 03:02 am (UTC)
Favorite line that I will be quoting:

"Fandom has turned your lectures into seminars."
[will fuck for sex]: shiny thingsanatsuno on May 10th, 2010 02:50 pm (UTC)
hee, that's the first one I CP'd also. :D
(no subject) - thefourthvine on May 13th, 2010 05:07 am (UTC) (Expand)
Denise Raymond: bookshop - by sagenessrattlecatcher on May 10th, 2010 03:20 am (UTC)
I just cut my long-winded statement about how the crap-to-good ratio in fandom is on par with what you find in a bookstore. I think I'd rather just applaud and nod at you.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV menorahthefourthvine on May 13th, 2010 05:08 am (UTC)
Thank you! (And, yeah, I agree. There are things that published fiction does better than fan fiction, and things that fan fiction does better than published, but basically the crap:good:great is about the same.)
cathalincathalin on May 10th, 2010 03:29 am (UTC)
I'm sorry, I kind of stopped at the part where you mentioned that pro writers are equating fanfic with rape. I... WHAT. Though I've followed some of this a little, I haven't come across that one yet. This week seems to be sexual assault Fail week or something. :(

I do feel kind of sorry for writers who haven't been exposed to fandom, because it's like a huge, huge change has happened without them being aware of it, if so. But you would think that these people, who theoretically should be educated and smart, would stop to do some research/thinking before they start spewing random words all over.

I have personal experience in a fandom where the original writer went nuts on people with Cease and Desist letters, and it... was very sad for fandom.
(Anonymous) on May 10th, 2010 04:23 am (UTC)
"That one" was at GRRM's Not A Blog, unless it's also occurring somewhere else I haven't seen. I was a bit taken aback by his several recent posts on the subject of fan fiction, and suddenly less eager to see the next book in his series. =(
(no subject) - deepfishy on May 10th, 2010 02:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - juliet316 on May 14th, 2010 02:59 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cathalin on May 14th, 2010 03:04 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - juliet316 on May 14th, 2010 03:11 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cathalin on May 14th, 2010 03:20 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - juliet316 on May 14th, 2010 03:31 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cathalin on May 14th, 2010 03:37 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - juliet316 on May 14th, 2010 03:42 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cathalin on May 14th, 2010 04:17 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - juliet316 on May 14th, 2010 04:32 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on May 15th, 2010 05:47 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cathalin on May 15th, 2010 05:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
cranberryink: 0: bunny earscranberryink on May 10th, 2010 03:35 am (UTC)
I need a "like" button for this entry.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV bluethefourthvine on May 16th, 2010 03:11 am (UTC)
LJ: too old school for your new-fangled LIKING.
Seadreamer: DUDE!  WTF?seadreamer on May 10th, 2010 03:40 am (UTC)
HELLO!! Thank god for you, the woman who can say what I think (since I don't have your talent with the written word.) I've been saying for such a long time, "These fic-writers kick AZZ. Why aren't they publishing?????" Published authors had better get with the program. Good fic /inspires/ book sales, but honestly, I, too have lost all kinds of respect for authors who are showing their collective asses.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV brownthefourthvine on May 16th, 2010 09:52 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I mean, I love many many pro writers (including some who also write fan fiction!), but I'm growing increasingly depressed by the contingent following the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Guide to Success on the Internet:

1. Log on.
2. Show your ass.
3. ????
4. Profit!
Sidrin: ivanovasidrin on May 10th, 2010 03:44 am (UTC)
This is by far one of the most intelligent, thought out, and generally smart and rational replies to this issue I've seen, this includes my failed attempt for an essay workshop (To be fair there's always that awkward part where you have to stop and ask "Wait you know what fan fiction is right? No? Well, hell now I have to start from the beginning."). You hit all the points that are likely right on the head, and if I was a published author would make me fear fan fiction. Of course even then I'd probably still read it.

But wait, there's some other issue I should be upset about? Really? I'm so bad at fandom. This though, I agree with wholeheartedly. You rock.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV dogtagsthefourthvine on May 16th, 2010 09:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you! And, yeah, an essay workshop on this would be challenging if your audience might not know fan fiction.

But wait, there's some other issue I should be upset about? Really? I'm so bad at fandom.

You probably know it by now - I am SO SLOW and SO BAD at answering comments - but it's the SPN Wincon consent imbroglio, and it is sad and upsetting.
(no subject) - pslasher on May 18th, 2010 12:30 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on May 18th, 2010 01:46 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - pslasher on May 18th, 2010 01:52 am (UTC) (Expand)
celliacellia on May 10th, 2010 04:22 am (UTC)
<3

I love this post.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV flowersthefourthvine on May 16th, 2010 09:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
(Deleted comment)
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV glowythefourthvine on May 16th, 2010 09:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
(Deleted comment)
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV Katamari Damacythefourthvine on May 16th, 2010 10:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
zee on May 10th, 2010 04:43 am (UTC)
And this is why you're my favorite.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV lettersthefourthvine on May 16th, 2010 10:02 pm (UTC)
*preens* *basks* *preens some more*

(Apparently I am your favorite cat. Hmmm.)
fryadvocategirl_wonder on May 10th, 2010 04:45 am (UTC)
YES. This. Forever.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV menorahthefourthvine on May 16th, 2010 10:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
puckling on May 10th, 2010 05:21 am (UTC)
*applauds* BRAVA, BRAVA.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV shoesthefourthvine on May 16th, 2010 10:10 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
(no subject) - thefourthvine on May 16th, 2010 10:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Jo: Squeeanimeartistjo on May 10th, 2010 05:31 am (UTC)
*applauds liek whoah*

Because fandom exists purely on the internetz and if you're ranting about us on your BLOG (the creation of which was to encourage more online interest in your books), you've pretty much made enemies of people who have their own blogs with their own readers and yes, linking is oh so easy!

Then, most often, they try to delete and we have screen caps, or they try to refute, and we laugh because the damage has been done.

I lol at the "when in fact there are four stories total in her universe" because it is so. True. ^___________^
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV shoesthefourthvine on May 16th, 2010 10:42 pm (UTC)
Then, most often, they try to delete and we have screen caps, or they try to refute, and we laugh because the damage has been done.

YES. One of the points on my unposted How Not to Make an Ass of Yourself on the Internet (Oh God Please I'm Begging You) is: do not delete something after it has comments (or after it's been up for more than a couple of minutes), because DELETION WILL NOT MAKE IT GO AWAY. (For the love of god, people, surely you have heard of screencapping?) It will just underscore what an ass you are.