Jul. 7th, 2011

rockinhamburger: (Blaaaaaine)
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.

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