Friday, December 28, 2012

Anonymous Reviews

Okay, confession time.

I really, really hate anonymous reviews.

And no, it's not because they are banal, those anonymous reviews I can deal with, but I rarely get banal reviews, as my story My Sister Rosalie (MSR) seems to demand from reviewers that somehow they have to step up their game if they want to dare to leave a review, even anonymously.

That's probably why I'm not 1K+ reviews by now. People are scared to review my story, even anonymously, so I applaud every person who does leave a review. It shows they have moxie and guts.

My kind of person. The kind of person I like to hang with. The kind of person I wish I were at times when I know I'm no such.

No, the primary reason I hate anonymous reviews, is that they ask questions, or implore in a request, or in some other way reach out to me.

And when a person reaches out to me, am I like other fanfiction author(ess)es (primarly), and simply say to myself, 'Huh, that's nice,' and leave that as that?

No, I've responded to every review, every PM, every 'favorite' marking, every 'following' marking. And surprised quite a few people. "geophf, why do you answer me when I've never received an answer from anybody else here?"

Oh, just because you've grown used to slights and rejection, you see that now as the norm? and you now expect that I'll be a callous bastard, too?

Oh, and I can be quite the callous bastard with jerks, vicious, even, just ask around. You give me or my characters any shit, and I'll give it back to you, doubled, and in spades.

But with an anonymous review, I don't get shit. Quite the opposite: I get insights and entreaties ... and. I. can't. answer. them!

So an anonymous reviewer said, 'please, please, please let Bella and Rosalie reconcile; it'd be a perfect birthday present for me!' and I do do that, but in two chapters, not instantly in one, so her next review for the interim chapter is 'WTF! I quit this shit fic!' and the very next chapter, if she had waited, would've given her the reconciliation she wanted, and then, even much more than that, and if she had had a ffn account, I could have explained that this would be coming in two chapters, and please be patient.

So now I've lost a reader, because she implores me to do something, and I do, but not in an instant coffee kind of 'and they magically lived happily ever after, because stupid fanfics provide instant gratification like that' way, but in a 'this is MSR, and you, and the characters have to earn every step forward that they dare to take, and sometimes these steps are hard, and sometimes people stumble, taking them,' slow brewed coffee kind of way.

That's MSR for ya, not all sugary lightness caramel macchiato coffee drink that costs you seven bucks and gives you stomach cancer and brain rot and kidney failure, but a strong triple espresso, that only the strong can drink, and then, in tiny sips, savoring the coffee, even in its bitterness.

Huh. Don't you put a slice of lime in espresso ... or lemon?


Or I get another kind of anonymous review that said ffn is all bad fics (yes), a few barely tolerable mediocre fics (yes), a handful of good ones (yes), a couple of greats (and more than a couple), and then there's MSR, that transcends greatness.

Okay. A couple of things. This reviewer felt shy leaving this review because they felt they were too unsophisticated to leave it?

How can I respond to this person and say that I'm not looking for sophistication; I'm looking for honesty, and heartfelt-ness helps, too.

And why do I have to have other people tell me how great, or how not, my writing is? Why do I need these reviews to determine what my self-worth is, to help to look forward, or to dread, writing that next chapter? After three years of silence, one of my readers, a self-proclaimed 'greatest fan,' wrote me a furious PM and asked what the fvck my problem was, and she said she wasn't calling me a liar, but three years, and no update for Book I, and a Book I title implies a Book II so where are the goods, asshat?

Why did it take the devotion of a fan for me to pick up my pen again, after three years of silence, when this story is in me, has been in me, complete from day one, and I knew it was good, and I knew it could touch people's hearts, but did I write? No. Why? Because I'm a little chicken sh-t, and at the end of chapter 55 ("Beautiful") I knew exactly where the story headed, and I couldn't afford the thought of publishing something that scares me, 'cause it gets dark for a whole book length before anything hopeful comes out of it.

But there was Rosalie, and there was Bella, and they decided to move forward with their own development, even without my consent. But they needed me to write and to write and to write for them to tell me, 'no, we're going our way, not your way, Mr. Control Freak.'

But I wouldn't write, not for three years, because I'm a scared little chicken-sh-t Bella.

But Bella is a scared little chicken-sh-t, dumb as a doornail about the world and its ways, but she tries, and cries, and tries again, and gives up, then finds the strength to move forward, even a tiny little step forward, which she immediately takes back, and falls back even further, because her self-worth is such that she doesn't believe that she deserves her advance toward her own happiness.

And the hilarious thing is, her happiness is in the happiness of others, and she takes it away from herself because she thinks she doesn't deserve it, and in doing that, she takes it away from everybody else in her life.

There's a lesson in there for me, I'm sure. And there's a lesson in there for you, too, if you're willing to take it on, and that is: step forward. Put yourself out there, and take that tiny little risk of reaching out, and letting others reach back to you. It'll hurt, a lot, when you get back not a cloak or a loaf of bread, but a spitting snake, but for every snake in the grass, there are one hundred people's lives better because you reached out, and they and their hearts are thanking you. And out of those one hundred, there are one, or two, or five people who dare to reach back, who dare to thank you. 'Tak' 'Danke' 'Merci' sometimes in languages you don't even know existed, but they are thanking you for reaching out and for letting them reach back to you.

You reach out to me in your review or your PM or your follow, but if you leave an anonymous review, I cannot reach back to you to thank you or to reassure you or to commiserate with you. And I am sadder for it. It makes it harder for me 'update soon' with a next chapter, that is hard enough to write in and of itself, when I'm sad that I've lost a reader because I can't reach back to her to tell her, 'not this chapter, but the next chapter, please be patient' or I can't thank a reader from changing my fic, in my mind, to a good BellaRose fic, to something that's transcendent for them, so doesn't that make my story intrinsically transcendent? And I walk around, all day, with this epiphany, and I can't thank you enough, nor even at all, because I can't reach back to do that.

Okay, back to writing. Good night, my sweet princes and princesses.

1 comment:

Diane said...

I'm a fan of your writing process. I'm not a fan of your stories. I'm a fan of your journey. I'm not a fan of your language. I'm a fan of your courage. I'm not a fan of your ... oh ok. I'm a fan who prefers that you just tell me your stories while on a car ride. I'm also your number 1 fan.