I posted a while back about how I’m a Terrible Writer. In that post, I was talking in a more technical sense. I’m not the best at grammar and I have a shit ton of things I need to work on as a writer. And I’m aware of that. That was basically the point of that post. I wasn’t putting myself down with it because understanding that you need to improve is a part of life. That was kind of the point I was trying to illustrate then.
As someone who has a bit of a history reviewing and commenting on what is basically amateur writing, though, I feel that I need to get one thing very clearly across. One deep-rooted belief of mine: your enjoyment dictates how good you are.
I read a lot of fan fiction, as you know. And fan fiction is great because… If you’ve read enough of it, you’ve seen it all. All types of skillsets, genres, points of view. Variety exists in fan fiction where, sadly, it doesn’t anywhere else in the writing world. And that’s because there is a lot less pressure to conform in the fan fiction community. At least, as an outsider, that’s how I perceive it. When you think ‘fan fiction’ you don’t think of a particular writing style. Certain tropes might come to mind, sure, you may immediately envision come self-insert OC that has no business in whatever fandom the fic refers to and fails miserably at just being a character, because… That does happen plenty, but if you’re a seasoned fic reader like I am, you’ll know there is much more beyond that.
As someone who’s seen a lot of what the fan fiction world has to offer, I can safely say that a lot of my favorite fics weren’t the best-written things ever. A lot of the time I actually have to put in some effort into reading a fic because the author’s English skills aren’t great or they don’t do paragraph breaks or, freaking, put a new line of dialogue in an actual new line and then I have to try and decipher who the heck is saying what.
But I do it. I do it because sometimes it is worth doing when you can tell the person is actually trying. I spent hours reading a Sonic fan comic the other day that had some of the worst English translation I’ve ever seen, but the plot was actually well thought out and the writer was so excited about putting up a new chapter. Their ANs always said something like “wow, next chapter is my favorite chapter. You don’t wanna miss it!” and I was like “Oh, well, if you think so…” *clicks next* >.>
And, you know, I was actually a little sad when it ended. It was a pretty good story at its core. There was genuine love put into it. And I don’t know about the rest of the world, but that speaks volumes to me. If someone writes a story for the love of it, trust me when I say, it shows. It counts for something. Even if I don’t like it, I can respect a genuine attempt; real effort. Because I can relate to it.
So here’s the question: should you put yourself out there or not?
First and foremost: Do you want to? Are you committed to your story? Do you need to write it? Do you need it to be read? If yes to all. Then absolutely.
Your writing isn’t perfect? Welp, you’re going to be met with criticism sometimes. It is going to put people off from finishing even your first paragraph. Yeah, you’re gonna get a lot of ‘textbook’ writing advice on all the little writing rules you need to follow to meet standards of ‘real writing’. Assuming a lot of people read it, that’s guaranteed to happen.
Support isn’t. Support isn’t guaranteed. It may never happen. People might not read, they might never say anything if they do read; even if they like it and keep coming back. And you might continuously wonder if whatever views you’re getting are because your writing is good or because some line you put in somewhere keeps showing up on Google searches a lot. These are things I wonder a lot about this blog. Because I’ve become so inconsistent with posting, but I keep getting views on my fan fiction posts daily. The other day I got an email saying that my stats were booming. If you’re all keeping track, it’s been a while since I last posted anything. So, again, it’s not guaranteed and what you get might not tell you much about whether you’re doing the right thing or not.
Still, the title of this post suggests that my advice is to go through with it… Why?
Because these are all possibilities. And the reality of the situation, for you, is that if you never do it you’ll simply never know. I… I’ve been surprised in the past year and am constantly surprised with the amount of interest and support I received considering how little of Shadows Rise I’ve actively shared with people who weren’t beta reading it. The previews I posted on my deviant art are outdated at this point, even, but… Just the fact I’m on a computer writing this right now is proof that there were people out there who cared enough to put money into keeping me going.
And, let me tell you, even if we do have things like Patreon in the works for this when it launches, that was never something I expected. Even when I posted asking for donations I wasn’t expecting it to do anything, because why would it? I haven’t put out anything yet. There’s no payoff to any of this other than the promise you’ll be able to read something eventually. Still, apparently, people do want to read it. And that in itself is a pretty amazing incentive.
Do I still get criticism? Yes. I do. Plenty of it. Some of it was hurtful only because I’m aware of my limitations and I know that reaching the next level of skill might take me a little while. Simply put: I know this is the best I can offer right now. So when someone says they don’t even want to finish a chapter because it doesn’t meet their standards, that stings. It stays with you. And, at the end of the day, it’s not for me to say that just the possibility of support is worth putting yourself through it. That’s for you to decide.
My personal experience has been that yes. Yes, it is worth it. My take away from all of this is that people can and will surprise you if you let them. And maybe one day, enough people will tell me I don’t suck that I just might start believing it too. >.>