October 28th, 2004

A Pocket Full of Murder

I don't normally read LiveJournal, but...

I received a piece of feedback this morning beginning with the words: I don't read [this particular subgenre] in fanfiction, I really don't, and then going on to repeat the same sentiment in a different way, before adding some words of slightly bemused, I-still-can't-believe-I-enjoyed-this praise.

Now, I know that some fanfic authors resent this type of approach. I've seen people become quite offended and indignant about feedback of this nature, because what they see in the feedback isn't so much your story is outstandingly good as your subgenre sucks. And if you're already feeling that your subgenre is maligned and misunderstood, you're not going to like the reminder that a lot of people who might otherwise have enjoyed your stories and given you great feedback will never even read them, because they are Of That Kind.

Well, I've written in a number of not-so-well-regarded subgenres. And yeah, it does get on my nerves at times that some people just dismiss my work out of prejudice, sight unseen, because of the ship or the presence of an OC or the fact that I'm archived on a site they hate or whatever. I also feel badly for other authors in the same subgenre whose work is superb, not at all cliched, and deserves wider attention.

Still, when I get a piece of feedback that says I don't usually like X at all, but..., I really can't take it as an insult. Quite the opposite, in fact -- I consider it a triumph.

Because if one person who doesn't normally read X got so far as to at least try my fic, and if they actually enjoyed it (however much that surprised them), then not only does that tell me my fic appeals to a wider and more critical audience than I'd feared, but there's always the chance that this person will be a little more open to giving other fics of the same kind a chance next time around, and perhaps even encourage their friends to do likewise.

In any case, I have to ask myself, what point is the feedbacker really trying to make? Do they mean their remarks to be in any way insulting or belittling of my tastes or my abilities as a writer? As far as I can see, that's not their intention at all -- in fact they're trying to offer what is, in their view, a particularly high compliment. I had some strong prejudices against this subgenre, but I enjoyed your writing so much that I forgot those prejudices. I wish I knew of more stories like yours. That sure doesn't sound like an insult to me.

Anyway, I don't know if the person who sent that particular bit of feedback is on my flist or not, but if you are, thank you again, very much indeed. As I said in e-mail, I'm touched and I'm honoured.