rockinhamburger: (Blaaaaaine)
[personal profile] rockinhamburger
I am so lucky.

I really have some amazing friends in the Glee fandom, and by god if I don't feel part of a giant family. Which is interesting, because sometimes families fight (that was some epic fighting last night over the leak of the c-sides from the Struck By Lightning script), but most of the time we're true friends to each other; we build each other up, create inside jokes and laugh ourselves hoarse. We welcome new family members and support them, too. We meet up in 'real life'. We enjoy each other's company, and we do all of this because of one specific shared interest. For us, it's Glee, but it could be anything. I've participated in the Harry Potter, Psych, Star Trek XI, and American Idol fandoms. And those are just the ones I participated in; I've lurked in about a dozen more, wishing I could jump in and join the fun but feeling out of my depths.

But please don't think I'm exaggerating at all when I say that this fandom, while also the wankiest apart from HP, has been the most amazing fandom experience of my ten years online. I'm not just saying that, I am truly excited every day to log on and see what my online family is up to. I'm excited to read your fics, bookmark and drool over your artwork, watch your fanvids, look at your icons and graphics, and to squeal excitedly over every piece of Glee news with you that we can get our hands on. I love that we snark about the show's epic fails and then write satirical, thoughtful comments and essays, and I love that we can just collectively love these adorable boys who love each other and are not real but inspire us all the same.

And I just woke up, so I apologize if none of this makes sense. I'm also really shakily emotional as well, because I've been getting comments to the Synchronization companion fic I posted at k_b yesterday. And these are not just any comments, but truly heartwarming ones that make me feel like a capable writer. You'll know, if you're a writer yourself, how important validation can be. I think we like to pretend that we don't post our fics and then nervously check our inboxes when we have a chance, sitting in front of our computers with our breath held tight as the 'Reply to your entry...' email loads, and then squealing over every one. I think we like to pretend we don't require validation, but the truth is we do. Or maybe that's just me. Maybe I'm the only one who feels self-conscious about my writing and proceeds to feel held up when people actually enjoy it.

It's funny. I was fifteen when I first started posting my fanfiction in the Harry Potter fandom. My fics were hosted at FF.Net, and I wrote Harry/Draco fanfiction for the most part and some gen pieces that were a little odd. But I had a small, generous group of people who read my fics and commented regularly, and to this day there are still people who favourite my stories. Which is beyond me, as they're pretty terrible. I still have access to those fics (but you don't, ha!), so I occasionally go back and peruse them to laugh hysterically at my horrible writing. I'm being an asshole to myself when I say that, though, because I genuinely felt then like I do now about it. I smiled over every comment I got, I boggled when someone said that my story was one of their favourites. I was shocked, but mostly it made me want to write more.

When I was in the Psych fandom (for the very funny television show; check it out), I wrote an eighteen-thousand word mystery-slash-love-story. I worked on it for about four-five months (nowadays it only takes a few weeks to write that much :D), agonizing all the while over small details and trying to craft this story I cared about immensely. And when I was nearing the end of the writing process, I told a real-life friend of mine about it, and I'll never forget what she said to me. She said, "Is this a big fandom you're writing for?" I told her no, that it was pretty small in terms of, like, Harry Potter or bandom. And then she said, "Well, how many people are going to read this story you're writing? How many people are actually going to read this story you've put so much time into?" I told her that it didn't really matter because I just had to get the story out of me. I told her I didn't care who read it because the point was that this story had grabbed me and made me write it. I told myself that I didn't need validation because that's not what writing is about.

But then I finished editing it and posted it online. And then I checked my inbox for comments, and in the end I got about... ten, I think? And this was a small fandom, but not that small.

And I won't lie, it was a really shitty feeling. My friend's words came back to me. "How many people are going to read this story you're writing?" In other words, "How many people even give a shit?" And I realized that I do need and want validation, and that's not a failing. Hell, writing is about sharing it with other people. It's about getting inside a person's head and making them think. It's about agonizing over a scene with trembling hands, trying to translate the images in your head to the paper or computer in front of you. It's about getting your reader to stop, just for a second, and question. And that means you're not just writing for yourself. You're writing for other people all the time, and validation is part of that. You want people to feel all that, to think about it, and then like that experience. You're giving your work up for a new interpretation, and that is terrifying. So of course we wait for the reaction with bated breath. This is our soul we're sharing (even with the silliest of pieces). We want our time and effort and work to be validated.

The reason I'm saying all this is that I've been writing... pretty much since I was able. One of the first stories I wrote was a murder mystery about a serial killer. I was 7. How weird and fucked-up is that? Anyway, I've been writing for a long time. And at first I didn't care what people thought of my writing, because I was a kid and I was just writing for myself and for the purposes of getting the (weird, fucked-up) story down. Then school started, and I loved writing so I did it all the time, even when I was supposed to be doing something else.

I can't tell you how and when the insecurity started up. I have no idea when I started doubting my abilities, but all of a sudden everything I wrote was crap. It sounded stupid and young and trite and boring, and why was I doing something I sucked so much at?

Honest to Grilled Cheesus, I cried this morning when I opened my inbox and saw the comments I'd gotten I'm trying not to sob right now, because I've received some seriously amazing comments on my latest story, and I'm just realizing again how much this fandom and all of you who read my fics whenever I post them and speak kindly of the words I string together, how much you all mean to me. Those of you who build me up have not only helped me improve my writing, but have in small increments made me feel less incapable. But more than that, you've helped me to see that I'm not writing crap, that my words are something people actually want to read; or even that my stories are anticipated. And that is just so valuable. I do need validation, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. But I'm starting to feel like I deserve those nice comments. I'm starting to feel like I deserve you as my friends, and that is just something I am so fucking grateful for.

So, thank you. Truly. I never know who reads this journal, but if you're one of the people I'm talking about, who encourage and support me, thank you. My feelings for you are not fake just because we haven't met in 'real life'. You are true friends. And from the bottom of my heart, thank you for being my friend, for reading my words, and for making me feel like they're important.

I can't tell you how invaluable you are to me.

Date: 2011-07-07 07:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Whoa, this post just about sums up my feelings exactly. Every comment I get makes me feel so giddy and happy and sometimes I can't help but cry a bit over an extremely positive comment, the validation feels amazing and fulfilling. I actually love your writing so, sooo much (I have probably read Details like 9318312 times) and I think that you deserve a million-gazillion *positive* comments!!

Date: 2011-07-09 04:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Comments are the most amazing thing! When you get them, and they're positive and flail-y, there's very little that measures up in terms of inspiration and expanding your heart.

AWW! I'm glad you like Details so much! That one's very special to me, because it was the first story I wrote in this fandom that was longer and detailed and from the heart, so it always warms me up when I find people who liked it. Thank you!

I don't think I've ever read your fics! It's on my to-do list for Monday, when I'll have some quality computer time! :D

Date: 2011-07-10 02:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I remember it was probably a while back when I read all of your fic in the order posted and just fell in love with your writing. I love Details the most because it's just so realistic and so heartfelt and I would just like to praise you forever, okay? Okay.

I haven't posted much because I find I'm never totally satisfied with my writing, and I only have the one short fic I'm proud of...
It's also written in second person, which I guess is kinda rarely used, so I hope you give it a chance!! -flails- ajksd;askda;'sd

Date: 2011-07-08 02:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I forgot to comment on your fic, which is really stupid and I should really get to that, but I thought it was really, really good. Makes me afraid to post anything because really, how could I compare to that?

That being said, I really do enjoy the Glee fandom, which is saying something because this is the first time I've actively participated in it despite being online for nearly ten yeas now. You guys are awesome and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Date: 2011-07-09 04:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you, hon!

But please don't hold back from posting your fic! Please don't! I'm really excited to read the story you told me about. I understand the fear about not measuring up, but you can't let that stop you! [ profile] pushplaytobegin just said something very smart about this sort of thing in the comment below yours, about how there's an audience out there for everybody. As she wisely said, your fic is going to be exactly what someone needs to read, so you don't want to deprive us of that opportunity!

POST! POST! I'll just pester you 'til you do, and that's a promise! ♥

Date: 2011-07-08 03:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm excited to read your fics, bookmark and drool over your artwork, watch your fanvids, look at your icons and graphics, and to squeal excitedly over every piece of Glee news with you that we can get our hands on. I love that we snark about the show's epic fails and then write satirical, thoughtful comments and essays, and I love that we can just collectively love these adorable boys who love each other and are not real but inspire us all the same. YES to all of this. It's wonderful.

Validation as a writer is incredibly important. Writers want to know that somebody connected; that a story affected another human being in some way. That the work mattered. Validation is the energy, the battery that keeps writers all juiced up and running. I've come to the conclusion that praise is more valuable than criticism. If a writer is serious about their craft, they are always going to be striving to improve. Having juice for that journey is essential.

One of the most valuable pieces of advice I ever got about writing came from my optometrist. I was getting fitted for contact lenses, and I'd been through I don't know how many pairs, without success, and one day I said, "Maybe I just can't wear them." And he said, quite confidently, "Oh, no. There's a lens out there for everybody."

I've come to believe there's a reader out there for every story. I have to be confident that something I write is exactly what someone needs in their life at that moment. I may never hear from them. That's why the validation from people who do comment is so precious. It keeps me going.

It's so interesting to hear about your writing journey, how young you started, how enthusiastic you were for awhile, and how your insecurity diminished your work for awhile. I'm proud to be part of a community that values positive feedback, because it encourages productivity, and without that? We never improve craft. I'm thrilled you're becoming more confident in your writing and in yourself.

So much joy for you, bb. May this experience lift you up on those dark days when you only get ten comments, and may it help you trust that if you've changed just one life, it's worth it. ♥

Date: 2011-07-09 04:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh my! What nice words!

Now, you. You're something else, I'll tell you that. Your fics are some of the most compelling, fascinating works in this fandom, honestly. I remember your first fic, in fact, and I'll never forget how impressed I was with your attention to detail, and your staggering narrative. I adore your fics, especially the one with dear Dan and his gorgeous heart. I'll never get that scene out of my head, where he's standing behind Kurt in front of the mirror and showing Kurt just how amazing he is. Short-circuited my brain. And your pinball fic! Hnnnng. And then, of course, Simplicity, which set the bar so high in terms of quality writing in this fandom. I'm still reeling from that, and I have plans to read the whole thing again when I have an afternoon to kill.

Basically, I count myself really lucky to have someone whose writing I'm so incredibly fond of celebrating my writing. It's very heartening.

"Oh, no. There's a lens out there for everybody."

Love that!! ♥

Date: 2011-07-09 02:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Can I just say you were my first fandom friend and will always be my favorite person and one of my favorite writers? Seriously. I praise you all the time because I think you need to hear how talented you are, bb. I know we don't even talk that much anymore these days (*cough, get on skype, cough*) but you are honestly one of the best Klaine writers and I'm not just saying that because I'm incredibly biased.

There's something about you... I don't know. You're such a wonderful person. You're not just a talented writer but a caring friend and I just feel like HOW IS SHE EVEN REAL SHE'S TOO AWESOME all the time with you.

This went from being a somewhat coherent comment to flailing. Okay then. Excuse me.

ilu. ♥ You deserve every single good comment you get about your writing and more.

Date: 2011-07-09 03:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, sweetie pie! You're so freaking nice, thank you.

You're one of MY favourite people. You were MY first friend in this fandom, and the Skype conversations we had were really special. And I WILL go on Skype more often. I had a job lined up, but that doesn't seem to be working out, so I should have a lot more time to chat. When are you usually on, during the day/evening?

You're such a special person, bb. I can't thank you enough for your unwavering, kind support of me and my writing. And also for being the catalyst for my serious attempts at writing Klaine. Before your cheerleader!Kurt future!fic prompt, I was writing short fics with not a great deal of substance to them, and then you inspired me to start writing more tender, detailed and lengthy stories about these boys. And for that, I am TRULY grateful, my darling!


Date: 2011-07-09 04:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I work really random times and days but I'm pretty much on skype whenever I'm online. I never know if YOU are because you're usually invisible. :P

Seeing how much more confident you seem of your writing these days (even though you're still surprised when other people love it — never lose that) makes me really happy, because I remember when you were all ~unsure and I was just like NO BUT YOU'RE FANTASTIC WHY CAN'T YOU SEE.

And then you wrote all these amazing, 8000 word fics and I was so happy and saved them all in my computer and I still have them saved and I read them when I'm craving fics I know are good and I'll enjoy.

Every time you post, I do a happy dance. Which reminds me, I never commented on your new fic and I need to do that~

Date: 2011-07-09 09:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I love this post. You're so honest.

I'm the one who read Synchronization three times, and I want you to know that wanting validation is totally normal. Do we write in a vacuum, not concerned that our story ever sees the light of day? No. We write because we have to, because we love it, because we want to move, inspire and entertain people.

I make my living from writing (narrative nonfiction) and I can tell you that you absolutely deserve all of the kudos sent your way. Take it from a professional, why don't ya?

I only just started writing fanfiction, and I decided to do it because I don't write fiction, and I wanted to try it out in a safe, anonymous environment. The K/B community just seemed so open and kind and encouraging, and I do love those boys, so here I am. Reading this post today confirms that I was right to try this out.

Can't wait for your next fic!

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