Yesterday I introduced this week’s topic, “What I’ve Learned About Writing from Writing Fan Fiction”, with the first lesson that anyone with a talent for writing will have to eventually convince themselves: Fan Fiction writing is real writing. While we don’t produce material that can be bought and sold, it is writing all the same. Anyone who’s writing fan fiction should consider their pieces to be their novellas, their novels, their short stories and be as proud of them as if they were being bound and printed. Today’s Lesson can be a hard pill to swallow.
Lesson #2: How to Take Your Lumps, and I’m not talking about the Lady kind.
They say we are our own worst critic, and that adage applies to every writer I know. The pages of this blog are full of whining and moaning about my writing not being as good/deep/prolific/magical/life changing as I’d like it to be. Once I’ve edited a piece to the nth degree, there is nothing so nerve-wracking as putting it up for public consumption and hoping that people don’t hate it.
What If They Hate It?
I always try to measure negative reviews against positive but the lone dissenting opinion can weigh heavily, especially if you don’t really get a reason as to why they don’t like your latest work. If readers hate your work and are so bold as to tell you so, what do you do?
I’ve read post after post about what to do about negative reviews. The answer is NOT to fly off the handle and get into a comment war. My personal rule is that a negative review has to have merit. This sucks and so do you doesn’t tell me much. If they don’t expound upon why they think it (or I) sucks, I delete it. Criticism should be constructive, otherwise it’s simply childish meanness that I have no use for. Help me get better or shut it.
Or go into further detail about the suckage… exactly what part inhales wind?
What If They Like It?
But what if they don’t hate it? What if they ooh and aaah and swoon and you sit back and *squint* your eyes and say ‘Really? Because… I mean, it’s totally weak from here to here and I obviously flubbed this and that and I can’t believe you actually like the ending…’
Well. Don’t do that. A few lives ago, for a very short time I was a Personal Assistant for a fledgling Christian Music group. And yes, even Christian groups have groupies. One of the first thing that group members are taught is to not downplay themselves in front of fans. When fans fawn, don’t insist that you’re not like, totally awesome and you don’t like, totally rock. Say thank you. Smile. Express your appreciation. Sign whatever they want you to sign. Don’t make them feel stupid for thinking you’re great.
I think this is a lesson that any artist or writer could take to heart. It’s tough when we’re so supercritical of ourselves. And we want to stay humble– no one wants to be the pompous ass who thinks s/he is the greatest in the world. Trust me– if you were a pompous ass, it would have become apparent long before you wrote a great story/book/ chapter.
Bottom Line: Try to take something from everything, the good AND the bad. You never know when ‘this sucks because…’ might help you in the future.