machshefa: (tree pose)
[personal profile] machshefa
What follows is my attempt to make sense of some currently shapeless thoughts and feelings by thinking 'out loud', so to speak. Feel free to skip the navel gazing and wandering in circles and go right to the questions at the end. I'd LOVE to have lots and lots of discussion here if people are interested in the topic. Or, skip the whole thing and enjoy your evening. :)


So, I'm beginning to detect a pattern.

I finish a big story (this time, my SSHG Exchange Story), dip my toe back into reading other people's words, and, inevitably, begin to wonder about why I do this writing thing, anyway. I wonder what compels me to spend hours and hours each week struggling with images and voices and story, especially when there is no lack of absolutely brilliant stuff out there already (and being posted all the time). When I'm in the middle of a story, every spare block of time is mentally given over to writing. It's difficult for me to put it aside and do other things that need doing. When a story is finished, it feels odd to not have the story pulling at my attention and filling my schedule.

I never planned to write fiction. I've never taken a writing class or pursued creative writing in any structured fashion. In fact, I don't think I ever wrote a story until four years ago. I do remember having vague notions of one day writing SF/F when I was a kid. Not that I had a specific story to tell, mind you. I just remember that powerful desire to be able to DO what my favorite writers could do. (To transport, to emotionally move the reader in some important way, to transform. Oh, man. How egocentric is that? Argh.)

The desire faded in the face of my academic ambitions and clinical training and never really emerged again until I got poked to write a story instead of doing (mediocre) art (that was decidedly not going well) for an exchange.

So what's the issue? Well. Hmm. First is the 'why?'

I still don't really understand why I write, and am aggravated that there is still a very old voice that insists I am either BIG or SMALL and taunts me with my shortcomings as a writer. Of course, that voice also taunts me about all manner of shortcomings. It's not unique to writing. But writing is my hobby, not something I must do. Not like parenting or work or keeping my life and family basically on track.

Until I began to read in the Sherlock fandom, I had never, ever written a story that wasn't spurred by a prompt. Mostly I wrote for exchanges and fests, or at least began a story in response to some sort of structured request. I was relieved to be reading without also writing in my shiny new fandom. It was pure pleasure to read and not have any internal voice comparing my work to what I was enjoying from others.

Imagine my surprise when Sherlock's voice began whispering in my ear. Voice and a story (and a title) had never arrived in my head this way, basically fully formed. It was fascinating to me, and did make the experience of writing that series different. It felt less like trying to make the story happen and more like being a conduit to something outside of myself or, perhaps, deeper inside myself. I'm not sure.

So, then, I wonder whether my writing is more about self-expression or communication. I wonder how much audience matters. I consider what it would feel like if everything I wrote was seen only by me or perhaps by my closest writing friends.

As the 'why' sits and spins, I come to the 'how?' One of the most interesting parts of fandom for me has been observing the range of styles and approaches to storytelling. I've learned so much over the last few years and become very familiar with my own strengths and weaknesses.

I'm aware that learning to write and to tell a compelling story is developmental. Everybody learns and grows and hones their craft. I get this. I'm okay with this. I know that some writers I adore have been writing for decades. I know that many writers I adore have always considered themselves writers, always felt the urge and need to tell a story and to shape words into worlds and transport their readers there. I'm a baby (okay, maybe a preschooler) compared to those writers. :)

There are a number of writers in the Sherlock fandom and in HP whose stories I'll read and then think, "I'll never write again. Why bother?" It's not self-flagellation or a cry for reassurance. It's a measure of the way the story moves me, of the magic in the style, to the way those stories make me think or how they define the characters in ways that transform my understanding of the characters and myself.

There are stories and storytellers who cast such long shadows because of the power of their work that it feels self-indulgent to try to reach for those same heights. This makes me contemplate the way stories impact me (and others, I imagine). It makes me think about how transformative stories are and how much they change me and always have.

Words. Powerful things, words. I use them in my work. I hear them in all their cacophony and melody. In a clinical setting, I need to be able to join with people through their words (and other ways of showing me what is going on under the surface). I need to recognize the rhythms and, often, help people to change them. I can do this (well enough, usually) face to face with people. I hope I can sometimes do this in a story, but I don't think I do it consistently enough. Not powerfully enough. Just not enough.

I did warn you that this was a whole lot of navel gazing.

*rereads what I've written

Oh.

It's all about identity for me.

Big surprise. It's always all about identity (for me). ;)


So. Why do you write?

How did you learn to write? What do you feel you're still learning to do?

How much is your identity wrapped up in your writing and storytelling?

How much does audience play into what you do and how you do it?

What makes certain stories shine (yours or others) in your eyes? What do you look for in a story? What draws you to read certain stories or certain writers?

Does anybody else get this crash after finishing a big or otherwise important (to you) story? Does anybody know why it happens? LOL

Does anybody else wonder why they do this and feel like they've just ripped off their skin and are waiting for the world's approval/approvation/rejection/indifference every time they post something?

Just wondering. ;)

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Date: 2011-08-29 01:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thisprettywren.livejournal.com
Oh, this post is so perfectly-timed; I've been doing some navel-gazing of my own lately, ha. Oh dear.

I absolutely believe in the post-story crash. I get it with long stories AND short ones - usually if there's any sort of emotional investment in it whatsoever.

I'm in grad school for not-writing right now, though I have done a bit of creative writing in a formal setting and actually have a book of poetry that was published a few years ago. (What I write outside of fandom is very different from what I write inside of it, ha.) I realized a year or so ago that the reason I wanted to go into academia isn't because I actually want to go into academia, but because that seemed like the closest I could get to being paid to write.

I don't think we really need any justification to write, do we? We write because we can (or have to), or because we can't see ourselves doing anything else. That's part of what I love about it. :D

Date: 2011-08-29 01:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] machshefa.livejournal.com
Ah, well-timed navel gazing ftw. :)

I agree that we don't need any justification to write. I'm just wondering out loud why I do it. I also have written (and published) outside of fandom and it's completely different for me, too. It's a different urge, a different need, and certainly a different audience. :)

The need to write is something I've only recently acquired, and at times like this -- lulls between stories, moments when I can step back and look at what I'm doing -- I wonder about it. Where did it come from? What does it do for me? With me? Is it about self-expression or about wanting to impact others?

*continues to navel gaze, apparently ;)

Date: 2011-08-29 01:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sabrebabe.livejournal.com
Well, I don't write, but I am always making something, whether I am drawing, painting, scuplting, crocheting, knitting, emroidering, sewing, spinning, fixing parts of my house... you get the idea.

MIne is a compulsion, not unlike OCD. I am completely incapable of *not* making something. Oh, I can go without making something for a week or so, back in the days when we still had televison. I would literally obsess over one or two shows and saturate myself with them, but inevitabley, I would find my that I couldn't sit still and have to make something while I was watching the idiot box. With the tv gone these last few years, I have been making things at an alarming rate. The fun part is trying to sit at the computer desk and read fanfic while I'm trying to spin yarn on the spinning wheel. It's... tricky, but can be done. :D

The sad part is, I don't wrap my identity up in them (except for a few art pieces that I spent a lot of time and deliberate effort on for, like Exchange pieces) because I have been crushed when I didn't ge the support or approval I expected from my surrounding family and friends as a child. It was just Something I Did All the Time and it was simply brushed off. So I learned to disassociate myself from the majority of stuff I make. But I still make things. And I am embarrassed to say I have several plastic storage bins full of things I've made that have never sold anywhere, but I can't throw them away, so I squirreled them away. :P

Although, I think I'll dig up the big basket of crocheted fruit and vegetables for the grandsons to play with. I think they'll appreciate them more than the dust bunnies.

Date: 2011-08-29 02:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] machshefa.livejournal.com
It makes me so sad that your family didn't admire and appreciate what you created. I've seen your work and it's incredible. I realize that you don't do it for the appreciation or admiration. You do it because you must.

I hope that fandom has given you back some of what you missed out on growing up. People who appreciate and value what you create. :)

I'm betting the grandsons will adore the crocheted fruit and veggies! *grins

Date: 2011-08-29 02:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] irishredlass69.livejournal.com
I first started writing as an adolescent way of self expression. There was a lot bottled up warring to get out so, I wrote poetry. It allowed me to disassociate from my feelings. I could pour them out on paper and they were no longer mine. I have notebook full of poems.

What floored me is when I screwed up the courage to submit some of my scribblings and found people actually liked what I had to say. I have had poetry published. This was not done under my real name because my family would not appreciate me even remotely "airing the dirty laundry."

I did not get into fan fiction until about five years ago and I have never had a burning desire to write original fiction.

Date: 2011-08-29 02:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] machshefa.livejournal.com
Self-expression. Beautiful. Isn't it nice when you show your work to an audience and they get it? *happy sigh

*hugs

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Date: 2011-08-29 02:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] drinkingcocoa.livejournal.com
The first several answers I thought of to your questions were shameful and self-revealing, but I'll try to answer honestly. There's a ton of my identity wrapped up in my writing. That's why I specialize in heavily defended writing, arguments with evidence, appeals to universal and hopefully undeniable truths. There are times when I cannot write at all because I don't think I can survive having the writing be judged without feeling like I live or die by that judgment.

I write to win an ancient argument about my right to exist and to defend the legitimacy of my hunger for love. Part of why I don't feel much pull toward writing fiction is that nonfiction does this job more directly for me. Point of view, characterization, dialect...all that feels like a lot of work just to prove a point. I guess those things don't sound like fun to me, though I know they're tremendously fun for some people, or they are the point for some people. So my reasons for writing are quite different from my reasons for glorying in other people's fiction.

I like reaching for truth. I think that's a worthwhile and noble pursuit for a being and I think writing is one worthwhile way to engage in it and have something recorded so the experience can be shared and repeated.

I'm drawn to authors and stories that are reaching for truth. I like stories that make my brain light up with new connections that feel instantly right; that's a thrill. I like stories that make repairs and grant mercy and justify love, and authors who write as though these things are important. I like reading stories through which authors have worked through their own transformations and exerted themselves so I can come along and feel those changes, too. I'd rather read a less technically skilled writer who can do these things than a superb technician whose themes don't speak to me.

TBC.

Date: 2011-08-29 02:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] machshefa.livejournal.com
Shameful and self-revealing? What is this? Haz no familiarity with such things. ;)

*hugs you

The ancient argument about your right to exist and the legitimacy of your hunger for love. Oh, yes. I get that.

Reaching for truth. This also resonates. New connections, repairs, mercy, love... Yes! It's the transformations that do it for me, too. Maybe the personal transformation of the author as shown through the writing is part of the power. Maybe that's why sometimes a technically skilled piece doesn't resonate and a less skilled one can be more powerful, emotionally.

I know that when I first started writing, I was terrified of my own words and feelings. I took forever to say anything b/c I was probably afraid of exposing myself, emotionally, and also of being criticized for doing "it" (whatever the heck "it" is) wrong. Finding that balance between learning the technical skills and finding the unconscious and emotional flow has been challenging for me...

*eager to see more thinky thoughts from you :)

Date: 2011-08-29 02:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] droxy.livejournal.com
I will classify what I do as fandom. I moderate, organize, i sew, i "model", i act, I make fan art, and occassionally write. Like you this is my hobby. If all ended tomorrow, I can walk away with my idenity in tact. Why? My hobbies change as I do, my interests shift like sand dunes in the wind.

I use to motorcycle a lot more. It was a hobby. I fixed up my bike, I traveled to places as an exuse to ride the bike. This doesnt involve an audience, yet motorcycling and fandom give me pleasure.

In fandom audience or "community service" come into more play, it is the nature of this particular beast.

I do not "crash" after a big project. I feel accomplishement, and sometimes relief. WHat happens to me is I sometimes crash after a convention. I think it is a drop in adrenalin, and missing my friends. It's also coming off busy schedule for work and heading into busy schedule for con. =)

I know exactly why I do what I do. It doesnt feel like I ripped my skin off. However, I hope that in what I do, that I do it justice.

Those voices are simply your muse or imagination. Most alternative fandoms do not offer me the flexibility potter does. These newere fandoms are tv or movie base. The creative imagery is alreadty established and the expectation is mimicry of the illusion. It's not mine, I find reproduction dull. Writers don't have the vsual constraint.

I dont write, not because i dislike writing. I dislike typing. My typing only gets worse too, I discover. I type all day, and I found that if I continue typing as my hobby I begin to hate it. It does not give me joy. I wait for the day until a truely functional voice interface exists, then I will get back to story telling (not typing).



Date: 2011-08-29 02:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] machshefa.livejournal.com
I shouldn't be surprised that my writing identity has become intertwined with other aspects of my identity. Whatever I do, I do with my whole self. You do, too. That's really clear from watching you. :) Maybe the difference with me is that performance anxiety and the old wishes about who I want to be in the world get stirred up with writing just like they used to with other parts of my life.

Maybe it has to do with being a beginner at something.

Hm.

I take it you don't like "Dragon Speaking Naturally" as a voice to text interface?

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Date: 2011-08-29 03:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] drinkingcocoa.livejournal.com
I took a class or two in creative writing, which taught me that academic and journalistic writing bring much quicker gratification to me. :-) Ahh. Audience is everything. Audience is why we have words. Your questions drew me to the somewhat embarrassing realization that my writing is just a slightly matured form of a baby's cry: I'm not hungry. I'm not wet. I just want to be picked up and held. If there's nobody reading, I will not write. I can quilt or read or cook.

I have become accustomed to the post-writing crash in which I am convinced that I have written the most revolting, belly-crawling garbage and have perpetrated a violence against humankind in releasing it publicly. I've learned to expect and ignore it. :-P Whatever. There's also the fear of a mob coming to beat me to death for having been grossly obvious in my writing, which is rather more alarming. I am certain that these discomforts would be exponentially greater if I wrote fiction, which leads to my policy of bludgeoning plot bunnies without mercy. I do have a bunny or two who is so insistent that I may join the cult of "I wanted to read this story, so I had to write it," and if that happens, I expect full-blown neurosis as I realize I must learn humiliatingly basic fiction skills and cannot aspire to more than mediocrity. I don't know why you fiction writers keep grinning maniacally and urging the rest of us to give it a try.

Date: 2011-08-29 01:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] machshefa.livejournal.com
I can appreciate the need for audience. It's so much work to get it just right (until I read it later and decide it sucks, of course ;)). Doing all of that and having nobody to share it with just wouldn't work for me. I can read or hang out with friends instead.

I think the wibbling about being too "obvious" is interesting. But I think we each have our areas of vulnerability and ideas about what makes something worth writing and reading. For me, if I can't move the reader, emotionally, or shift a perception or two, it hardly seems worth it, you know? I wish I could write comedy, actually, but I don't seem to have the knack.

*hugs

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Date: 2011-08-29 03:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] juniperus.livejournal.com
So. Why do you write?

I don't know. I've always had stories in my head... usually I would draw, as a child, but I read like crazy (poetry and prose). In my early 20s I dabbled in poetry, largely to sort out my emotions. Strange for someone who, from adolescence on, was too shy to attempt to tell their stories in front of an audience... the series of accidents that lead to my having to take a leadership role in a religious community was one that lead to my having to face my anxieties about being seen and deal with some of those inner voices... which I faced again in academic and with academiblogging. And eventually, not that many years ago, I finally decided that I needed to pull a story--words, feelings, thoughts--from my head. I was petrified. But the stories didn't stop bubbling up (whether prompted or unbidden)--although stress certainly mutes them considerably, and keeps me from accessing the images I'm describing (I'm primarily visual... that's why I write vignettes, I'm actually recording what I see and hear in the story as it unfolds) or the words to describe them--and honestly... after the grief of losing the academic identity I'd had, I don't think I had enough energy to be afraid or being seen, anymore.

So, I write sometimes. It's a different creative process than when I'm working in clay. I've decided that I don't need to know the answer to 'Why?' ...it's the sort of self-doubting torture I've subjected myself to for years. I'm pretty sick of it.

How did you learn to write? What do you feel you're still learning to do?

I didn't. Rather, not fiction. I took a writing class as an undergrad, but I focused on poetry (and the instructor was... let's just say, I stopped writing for years as a result). I was an English Lit/History double major, so academic papers were non-stop - but those aren't storytelling, at least... they shouldn't be, right?

I have always learned from reading others' work, whether published or fanfic. I can tell you with certainty that I wasn't comfortable enough in my own head to take what I read and let it develop into something that was me until my mid-30s.

How much is your identity wrapped up in your writing and storytelling?

All of it and none of it. Rather... after losing myself once, I can't put myself in the position to be so broken again. I don't define myself by one thing, anymore, because I know what it feels to be bereft when that one thing is snatched away.

How much does audience play into what you do and how you do it?

I don't get read much, besides friends and the captive audience that is the Exchange. So not as much as for others, I suspect. I write primarily for me, even when I'm writing to prompt.

What makes certain stories shine (yours or others) in your eyes?

Reaching a point in characterization, a level of understanding I didn't have before I started the story, that feels like progress, or a journey taken, or... I don't know that I can put into words, honestly.



I'm tired and need to go to bed - so I'll finish tomorrow morning. :)

Date: 2011-08-29 01:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] machshefa.livejournal.com
I realize in reading responses here that I neglected to navel gaze on my experience as a reader and how that impacted my writing. I can totally relate to the voracious reader you describe here. I learn a ton from reading others' work.

I think it's amazing that you have two modalities (three, really) in which to express your inner stuff. Words, clay and drawing. Makes sense not to over-invest in any one of them, of course, but sometimes it's hard to disengage identity from what we produce, especially when it has an emotional core.

*hugs

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Date: 2011-08-29 03:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ferporcel.livejournal.com
Why do I write...? I don't know. Sometimes I think I know, but then I don't anymore. I have no idea where I learned to write, since I never had classes or even read much. It makes writing anything a learning experience of huge proportions. Maybe I do it for the learning.

I don't think I get the identity question. I'm not sure who I am, what's mine, what's not. It's hard to understand where the stories come from. They're not related to me, although I'm the one writing them. Okay, I'll be honest, I don't think the stories I write are mine at all. Maybe that's why fantasy is the genre I chose.

Audience was not a part of writing at first, but as the audience grew, I felt responsible for their reaction to my writing. I really feel responsible for the emotions my stories bring up for the readers, which became somehow a burden at some point. I write very carefully these days, very conscious of the eyes on me. I don't think I like all the responsibility I feel. I don't know if I'd still be writing if it wasn't for the commitment I made to myself and the respect I have for the readers. As you can see, this reader-writer relationship is all very complicated for me.

The best part of a story for me is the characters and the impossible situations they get themselves in. That's why I enjoy Severus so much. It's all about the impossible situations he can get into. Everything is a challenge for him, from romance to family to friendship to the mundane. The talent in the storytelling, then, is in making it all believable and honest and complex and...

When I finish a project, I want to to share my joy of having made it to my satisfaction. I don't really expect feedback, although it's nice to know what others feel when they see or read what I've drawn or wrote. I get serious feedback as a learning opportunity, so I end up giving more attention to criticism than to praise. I don't know what will happen when I finish writing my main story, though. It think it'll be very different from finishing the other projects. I hope I don't get too sad...

I know why I started writing, but I don't know why I keep doing this. Besides the one story, all the rest was to join in fandom activities, to be a part of it, and not really for the writing or drawing experience. Nathan's story is the exception, and I write it because I felt it was a story I could tell. It existed (in a way) before the fandom. It could be my first and last attempt at writing (because all the other stories I've written are not really important to me), or it could be the starting of something bigger.

Bigger is scary, though. Fandom is big enough already. A writer is not made of a single story, right? That's a big problem, then.

Aren't we contemplative today? LOL

Date: 2011-08-29 01:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] machshefa.livejournal.com
I've heard other writers talk about the experience of "channeling" a story... that it doesn't feel like 'theirs.' I've had moments like that in a story, but not all-encompassing. With a long story and a WIP like NoaG, I can imagine the reader pressure on you... meep. It must be wonderful to know that readers care about the characters you've drawn and want to know what happens to them, but at the same time, it complicates the process for you!

I started writing for largely the same reasons you did... it was a way to join in and participate. I didn't really expect it to mean as much to me as it does. I haven't had a WIP that was as closely followed as NoaG, so I haven't experienced reader expectation or pressure. And I certainly don't change what I'm doing b/c of any imagined idea of what readers might want. But I do want people to read and to care about what I wrote. I want it to matter that I wrote it.

I think that it comes down to the various ways in which I try to be a force for change or impact in the world... I need to get over that. ;)

*hugs

Date: 2011-08-29 03:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anonymous-plume.livejournal.com
There are a number of writers in the Sherlock fandom and in HP whose stories I'll read and then think, "I'll never write again. Why bother?"

This. Like, every day.

Does anybody else get this crash after finishing a big or otherwise important (to you) story? Does anybody know why it happens? YES. Very much so. It's like, a pattern. Hope when you go into it, thinking you've learned more since "the last one" and "I can do it!" And then it'll start out promising, and I'll think "Hey, not bad." Then I'll re-read it and just... sink. Because it's not like I had imagined at. all., and then there's the a quick self-doubt, and I'll pull myself back up and think, "I'll get it later, or polish more. Get the bones and move on." Repeat, repeat until the end. Flail and agonize when I'm "done" because omfg how could I ever think any of this was any good? But, it still feels good while in the moment, and writing and thinking, and forcing myself to do a thing and finish. (finishing is always touch and go with me. big surprise.) Then, yeah, I'll read others and do that "Oh, God, I'll never write again."

And yet, I still have the urge to, regardless. :/

Does anybody else wonder why they do this and feel like they've just ripped off their skin and are waiting for the world's approval/approvation/rejection/indifference every time they post something? *sigh* Yes. Yes. And yes.
Edited Date: 2011-08-29 03:48 am (UTC)

Date: 2011-08-29 01:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] machshefa.livejournal.com
*hugs hugs hugs

I think you're doing it exactly the way you need to. Do it, get the bones down, go over it and over it. I wish I could do humor like you do. I'd be a disaster if I tried...

*hugs

Date: 2011-08-29 04:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] voxangelus.livejournal.com
So. Why do you write?
The easier question would be why wouldn't I write? I have a desire to see my words on paper. To engage in a relatively harmless form of fantasy fulfillment. I have things to say, stories to tell, how can I not write? Much of it doesn't make it to the light of day, admittedly - but as it says on my TPP profile, writing helps keep me sane.

How did you learn to write? What do you feel you're still learning to do?
I don't know that I ever did learn to write. I took a year of creative writing my senior year of high school since I needed a class and it's what was available in my schedule, but I'd been writing, drawing, telling and making up stories since I was a small child. My freshman year of high school, two of my friends and I wrote TWO epic novels together. I found one of them recently and they were atrocious, LOL! But gosh, we had fun. We based the characters in one of them on our group of friends, and the other was original, based on the lives of a cast of characters in a production of Phantom of the Opera. I'm still learning how to plot, and pace, and make whole characters and not abuse commas. I'm sure I'll be learning that forever!

How much is your identity wrapped up in your writing and storytelling?
Well, let me put it this way. I have never, ever, NOT thought of myself as a writer.

How much does audience play into what you do and how you do it?
Oh, I'd like my audience to like the stuff I put into the public eye! I'd love to finish the novel I'm working on and submit it for publication and have it sell like gangbusters. But the writing that never sees the light of day? That's for me. Nobody else needs to see it, or like it, or approve of it.

What makes certain stories shine (yours or others) in your eyes? What do you look for in a story? What draws you to read certain stories or certain writers?
I just want to stay interested. Sometimes it's the setting that gets me. Sometimes I've read an entire awful series b/c I fell in love with a minor character and must know what happened to them. I can cope with trite prose if the plot and story suck me in. I am NOT a book snob. I read Twilight. I liked it for what it was.

Does anybody else get this crash after finishing a big or otherwise important (to you) story? Does anybody know why it happens? LOL
I've never finished a big story yet, sigh.

Does anybody else wonder why they do this and feel like they've just ripped off their skin and are waiting for the world's approval/approvation/rejection/indifference every time they post something?
Yes. Yes. A thousand times, yes.

Date: 2011-08-29 05:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] blueartemis07.livejournal.com
I was a reader then a reader and reviewer here in fanfiction. But I've always written. I have dozens of unfinished stories and outlines. My college roommate and I were going to write a series of Harlequin Novels based on an acapella group at a university after they left and grew up... Yeah. We plotted them out on the drive from Los Angeles to Stanford every vacation.

I'm writing because of Annie. She kept encouraging me. All those Crookshanks drabbles? Yeah.

I was writing for me for the most part. I made friends here, and it was a big part of keeping sane and not depressed. But some people liked my writing.

This is interesting because today I had two different reviewers, those who had not reviewed before (I was offering a drabble and it got people to answer me) tell me that they were giving me a very broad prompt because they really liked my writing. I felt validated.

Yes, there is a crash. Maybe it is a lot like post-partum depression. This big thing you were creating and is part of you is gone, out there for the word to judge.

I have found that I like reading my reviews... but they don't matter to me as much as I thought. I am pleased that people like what I write, but I don't know that my identity is tied up in it.

The stories that shine for me? They have something unique to offer, their characters grow even if it is completely against canon. (I love redeeming those Slytherins). As for published fiction, again it has to draw me in. Recently I read the Hunger Games Trilogy and was in one of those "reading, don't talk to me" modes. I haven't done that in a while.

I like to see someone's take on an idea, whether it is dystopia, Marriage Law, etc. I prefer a happy or hopeful ending, because life is difficult enough.

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Date: 2011-08-29 06:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kribu.livejournal.com
What a fascinating topic - and one that I keep coming back to, myself, and wonder.

I wrote stories as a child - not often, but when we had to write something in class, I'd find my imagination soaring and that I could come up with wonderful, imaginative, absurd, fantastical tales, be it an epic poem about an olympic hero who gets torn to pieces by the adoring crowds, or a story about an alien melting away in a hot tram, or a poem dedicated to the awesomeness of mathematics (that one won me things, books and prizes and stuff). I even had my first poem published in the national children's magazine when I was seven.

But that was then, and then I grew up, and life happened. And I didn't write a single word of fiction for a very long time - 15 years, I think, between my last bit of creative writing (which was an angsty and very personal short story about unrequited love, which I never showed anyone), and my first drabble in the SSHG fandom.

Why do I do it? It's a good question. In the SSHG fandom, I think it was a mixture of wanting to write again (wanting, not necessarily being driven to) and wanting to belong, wanting to be a bigger part of this community, and I didn't feel like "just" reading was enough. I'd read so much awesome stuff - I wanted to try my hand at it, too. But it was scary, and hard, and ... well, scary. I think it's why I stuck strictly to drabbles for a long time - it gave me boundaries, restrictions; having the 100 word limit to stick to (even in drabble series) gave me a safety net of sorts. Which I don't think I've ever really put to words before now, and I'm not even sure it makes sense...

I suppose a lot of my SSHG writing still has to do with wanting to be a part of the community - apart from a handful of drabbles and a couple of shorter things, everything SSHG that I've written has been written to prompts (gifts or otherwise) or challenges. I wonder sometimes if it's because I've read hundreds if not thousands of fics in this fandom and therefore find it difficult to come up with anything remotely original myself, or if it's just that I write SSHG to share, to an audience, not just because I need to.

And that - not being able to write other than to other people's prompts - has bothered me. Could I only come up with words, but not the ideas? It's something I've spent quite a bit of time wondering about.

So in that sense, after all those years in SSHG, falling head first into another fandom (sort of; not much fandom in a community sense to speak of with Skulduggery Pleasant), was eye-opening. Liberating. I realised I wanted to write. I had to write. There was little out there to draw upon, and there's not nearly the audience that there is with SSHG (not that I've ever had a huge audience outside my LJ circle of friends and the exchange, but that's huge compared to all of the SP fandom), but I've needed to write. Without prompts. Without challenges. All my SP fic has been written because I've not been able to not write it. Because there are stories I've wanted to see happen, and no one else has written them, or not in such a way, and so I've had no choice but to write them myself.

So ... er, long comment is long enough already, isn't it?

I still don't know why I really write. It's excruciatingly difficult at times. I hate my writing. I can't read it after I've written something. I wibble (oh god do I wibble). I want acceptance, but I'm afraid of it, too. I need to get it out there, away from me, as soon as I can, and then I wibble some more. I want comments, and I don't want them, because I'm scared of what they'll say.

Although I have to say that this need for acceptance has decreased a bit over the years ... and it seems to be fandom-dependant, too - I don't need it nearly the same way with my SP fic, which I write largely for myself, as I do with SSHG. It's odd, really, now that I think about it.

And yeah, there is a post-story crash, especially after the longer ones, such as the SSHG exchange fics. I've found it very hard to get back into writing something else after finishing each of my exchange fics, so I've tried to at least write a few random drabbles at some point just to avoid getting another six month block.

Date: 2011-08-29 01:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] machshefa.livejournal.com
I totally get what you're saying about drabble writing, Kribu. I think my writing really started to gel when I started writing drabbles. The structured format felt safe, and I began to play with rhythm and white space in different ways. It was fun! I also remember trying to figure out what made other people's stories sing and to find that in my own work.

Writing to prompts. I told Annie that I wasn't a real writer b/c I didn't have my own ideas but only responded to prompts. *hides from Annie... She was unpleased, shall we say. ;) She was right. But it was part of figuring out my identity as a writer, I think. Since then, like you, I've begun to write without prompts. And, interestingly, out of my first fandom.

I'm so glad you found SP! (Must read that series). It's so different to feel the urge to write and tell the story rather than the pressure to complete the work and struggling to find the story.

What are you afraid of in terms of acceptance? What do you imagine will happen when people admire your work? Or are you more afraid you won't find it when you put yourself out there?

I signed up for a short fic community in Sherlock in order to avoid a block or a crash after finishing my SSHG story... Seems we think alike. :)

*hugs

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Date: 2011-08-29 09:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] irisbleufic.livejournal.com
The story of how I began writing is a huge joke, really: from toddlerhood through my mid-teens, I was under the delusion I was going to be an artist (no, really). I could sketch a little bit more than competently, but when it came to applying color to anything - paint, pastels, you name it - I had no knack whatsoever. I consistently ruined everything and only just got mediocre grades on my art projects in school. I recognized that many of my peers were far more talented than I was, so I actually made the conscious decision to stop wasting my time on visual art and try writing. I didn't even attempt writing as such till I was fourteen, and even then, it was all poetry up until I was about eighteen (I started writing prose relatively late). I learned to write by reading, I think, which I did voraciously. Reading a wide variety of books and genres and forms is a better training battery than any creative writing course (at the university level, by which time I had a pretty good idea that my grasp on writing in terms of having defined my own style was, if not more than decent, certainly reasonably good, I took a couple of creative writing courses and they did nothing but frustrate me to no end; they didn't teach me anything about myself or my process that I didn't already know).

I wonder what compels me to spend hours and hours each week struggling with images and voices and story, especially when there is no lack of absolutely brilliant stuff out there already

Please don't laugh when I say this, but: I do know the feeling. There are two or three fandoms in which I might have ended up writing over the years (Due South and Kevin Smith's Askewniverse in particular) if I had not found the kind of fiction I wanted to see, but there were so many excellent things already there that I considered spot-on that I was actually content not to write. It's a rare treat for me to want to just sit back and do nothing but read. Sherlock is an exceptional fandom in that, if I had come to it later than I did (I think I was in the first wave of people who started writing as the show aired, so there was nothing to scare me off the attempt), I might've wondered what the fuck the point was. However, the good news here is that we have so many question marks to work with that I don't think backing down is the right decision; there's much more room for interpretation than usual.

Date: 2011-08-29 01:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] machshefa.livejournal.com
*grins

Well, like I said, I was sure the only thing I could contribute to fandom was art... and mediocre art, at that. I whined enough to my art 'beta' that she poked me to go back to my prompts (this was for an exchange) and see if there was a story to write. I told her I didn't (couldn't) write fiction.

I realize that I neglected in all my navel gazing to reflect on my experience as a reader. Like you, I'm voracious and have learned a ton by reading others' work. I can't be without a book (or, more accurately, a pile of books or open tabs) and become completely absorbed. My parents used to say that a bomb could go off when I was reading and I wouldn't notice. :)

When I found the Sherlock fandom (well, when Scoffy dragged me in there by sending me crack, I mean, fic, every day), I was SO happy not to be writing for Sherlock. It was a huge relief. But I fell madly in love with the characters, and when Sherlock began whispering in my ear, it was all over.

My first reaction was that there was nothing new to say and that anything I wrote would be derivative of the fantastic fanfiction I'd already read. I'm not sure that I was wrong, actually. :)

Date: 2011-08-29 11:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sunnythirty3.livejournal.com
You raise some interesting questions. Reading the replies leaves me feeling rather lightweight LOL.


Why do you write? No deep and meaningful reason. I've always made up stories in my head, and it's fun sharing them and seeing what people think, good or bad.


How did you learn to write?

Writing referral letters about people to specialists for 25 years is a bit like telling little stories. You need to convey all the important bits succinctly without wandering off topic. That was good practice. Reading a large variety of genres helped, and Karelia taught me the rest.

What do you feel you're still learning to do?

I'm still at the simple linear story stage. Weaving together something more complex and multifaceted than I've done before would be cool.

How much is your identity wrapped up in your writing and storytelling?

Not much, really. My personality tends to show through in the dialogue and the humour.

How much does audience play into what you do and how you do it?

A huge amount. I write to entertain people, make them laugh, occasionally make them cry, or even make them melt. I like to leave readers wanting to know what happens next. I need no catharsis, self-therapy, or validation. I never write without showing someone. To me, that would be like performing in a play to an empty theatre.

On the other hand, if someone doesn't like something I write, I don't get all bent out of shape. Everyone's taste is different, after all. I love reading/writing reviews and receiving/replying to reviews. It's all about the interaction with other people. I saw the way reviewers and authors interacted on TPP, and I just wanted in on the party!

What makes certain stories shine (yours or others) in your eyes?

Some people write the most beautiful prose. I am in absolute awe of their skill, but, to be honest, I read this style only occasionally. My job involves a lot of serious stuff and the constant need to make decisions which potentially could be life-threatening if incorrect. I want my reading to have enough depth to be a decent plot, but not take itself too seriously. So the stories that shine are those with a captivating plot, good characterisation, and at least a little humour.

What do you look for in a story? Above, good writing, and reasonable SPaG. Karelia has spoiled me by teaching me grammar and punctuation! :P Poorly edited stories annoy the crap out of me.

What draws you to read certain stories or certain writers?

Previous experience with that writer. Knowing the writer. Recommendations from others.

Does anybody else get this crash after finishing a big or otherwise important (to you) story? Does anybody know why it happens?

I just feel relieved! Time to think up the next one.

Does anybody else wonder why they do this and feel like they've just ripped off their skin and are waiting for the world's approval/approvation/rejection/indifference every time they post something?

Er... no. My stories are just stories. :D

Date: 2011-08-29 02:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] machshefa.livejournal.com
It's nice to hear from people who have so much fun writing. :) It's something I experience a lot, but not nearly as much as you describe. How liberating it would be!

I know what you mean about SPaG and good writing. When I first found fanfic, I'd read anything. I go back now to some of those early stories and wonder how the heck I got through them. LOL

Date: 2011-08-29 11:30 am (UTC)
ext_22302: (Default)
From: [identity profile] ivyblossom.livejournal.com
So. Why do you write?
I write because I enjoy it. I'm happiest when I'm writing, as it turns out. I'm fine when I'm not writing too, because I also really love my work and throw myself into it body and soul, but I'm definitely happiest when there's some writing in there too. Not exclusively though (I think having nothing to do but writing sounds good at first, but after a few weeks it would drive me mad).

How did you learn to write?
I've been writing as long as I can remember. I've always been into words. I guess I always figured I would write something eventually, without giving it a ton of thought. So I learned a bit that way. But I learned the most through fandom. I learned how to punctuate dialogue through the feedback on my very first (TERRIBLE) fic in my first fandom (HP). I learned a ton through fandom, I don't think I can even articulate how much I learned from fandom, really. Everything I write, I learn something.

What do you feel you're still learning to do?
Everything. I feel like I'm at the beginning of a process that will last the rest of my life. I've learned so much from fandom, so now I'm learning from writing novels that very few people will ever see. I didn't think working in such relative isolation would be as satisfying as writing in fandom, but it actually is, strangely. I don't really know why, but I'm enjoying myself.

How much is your identity wrapped up in your writing and storytelling?
I'm not sure it is, at the moment. I'm kind of afraid of that, because I know how fickle it is. Mostly I identify as a librarian, and I like to write, but I don't tend to think of myself as a writer. I don't like the word "writer," it feels too...prescriptive, somehow. And I know too many people who will only accept the term "writer" if what you're writing is something that gets published. I don't know if I'll ever publish anything or not. Maybe I will, eventually. Once I iron out all the details and learn how to do this well. Then the identity question might get more difficult, because more people I know would expect it of me and associate me with it. At the moment I talk about it as a my hobby and I like it that way.

How much does audience play into what you do and how you do it?
It doesn't, really. Well, not deliberately, anyway. As I said, I can only write things that I love. Otherwise I get bored and frustrated. I can't really write to order. So I avoid prompts, though I can see how prompt culture could be very useful. Ideas are rarely something I lack (I generally have an array of ideas to choose from without looking to the ideas of others). I love having an audience though, it's fun and motivating for me, and I love the conversations that arise from it. I've learned a lot from people's reactions. I think I'm like a golden retriever that way: I learn mostly from positive reinforcement, what clearly resonates with other people, and gently guess what people like less and why. I'm probably gravitating toward what works best without thinking about it much at all. I love people and I love meeting people and finding out about them and their opinions. Fandom's great that way. Feedback is great, I've learned tons from it, but I can't quite bring myself to consciously write based on what I think an audience will enjoy. I've been accused of being "mainstream" in the past, and while that hurt the intellectual special snowflake in me at first, I accept that it's pretty true. The things that resonate deeply with me are not unique or unusual, but I write things like that because it resonates with me, not because I think it will be popular. I fear extreme fandom popularity, actually. Bit of a fine line: I like getting feedback, but I don't like being under the microscope of BNFdom. I thought I would miss the audience while writing original fiction, and in a way I did. But surprisingly, a handful of friends reading along had generally the same effect. Who knew!

More..

Edited Date: 2011-08-29 11:36 am (UTC)

Date: 2011-08-29 02:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] machshefa.livejournal.com
It is interesting to look at my professional identity (and identity as a mother and a person in the world) with my writerly identity. I certainly have a solid sense of self in other areas of my life (for the most part). I definitely don't write with an idea of what the audience will enjoy. It doesn't really occur to me and I haven't had reader "pressure" in that regard.

I do hope that people read and that my stories (form and content) linger. That they matter in some way--have some impact. *pauses to reflect* I think I know why that is. It's old. *sighs*

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Date: 2011-08-29 11:30 am (UTC)
ext_22302: (Default)
From: [identity profile] ivyblossom.livejournal.com
[cont, I ran over the comment word limit, oops]

What makes certain stories shine (yours or others) in your eyes? What do you look for in a story? What draws you to read certain stories or certain writers?
Emotional authenticity, I think. It's the "write what you know" thing, but on an emotional level. People who connect back to the characters on an emotional level, so that reactions feel like they're coming from a real place. I'm also a fan of straight-up good writing, simple word choices, a light touch. I don't have a light touch myself, I know that, I have the touch of a million hammers, so I admire lightly-written but powerful work. Spareness.

Does anybody else get this crash after finishing a big or otherwise important (to you) story? Does anybody know why it happens? LOL
YES. So far I've felt this mostly with fanfiction. I didn't feel it so much when I finished my original first draft, not as much. SO now I wonder if it's related to writing serially in public for me. I don't know! I feel it terribly with fanfiction. I mourn a story when I'm done with it, because I can never go back. Maybe because so few people have seen the original fiction first draft, and because I know I have to go back to it and learn how to edit properly, and I know I will go back, but I don't feel it noticeably at all with original fiction. I don't feel like I'm saying goodbye to those people yet. Probably because I do in fact have a ton more work to do there. I guess I don't really have first drafts in fanfiction. I just write and post. It feels great to do that, but it's really DONE once it's posted like that. There's no going back.

Does anybody else wonder why they do this and feel like they've just ripped off their skin and are waiting for the world's approval/approvation/rejection/indifference every time they post something?
Hahaha! Hmmmm not really. I mean, I'm curious about reaction when I post, and I love to see reaction (as a human being, kind of inevitable), but I don't think I feel as vulnerable about it as some people do. But that's probably related to the identity question. At the moment, honestly, if I write something that I really love, and it goes out into the world and other people love it too, that's gratifying, but I have written other things that have been far less loved and I'm okay with that too. I enjoy the process too much to wish those stories away. I learned from them, I enjoyed them. Mostly that's enough, frankly.

I used to be terrified of concrit though. Truly terrified. It made my stomach turn. I think I had too many eggs in that basket, like my value as a human being was caught up in that particular piece of writing. I've been breaking through that in recent years, partially because I'm just older, I suspect, and because I love my job and I'm pretty good at it, and because I've come back around to writing again not because I need it to fulfill me or justify my existence, but because I just honestly enjoy it.

Interesting questions!!

Date: 2011-08-29 02:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] machshefa.livejournal.com
I'm so impressed that you can write such polished fanfic "drafts!" Wow. It takes me forever and many iterations to have a chapter or story ready to post. I layer when I write.

Makes sense that you wouldn't yet feel a crash or separation from your ofic... you're not done yet! :)

I love getting feedback from betas. It's not always easy, but I appreciate the input. I had a fantastic co-writing experience for my non-fiction book and I suspect that had a lot to do with my current feeling about concrit.

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Date: 2011-08-29 01:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] morganstuart.livejournal.com
I tend to agree with J.R.R. Tolkien's assessment in his essay "On Fairy-Stories" that humans are hard-wired to be creators or sub-creators, and we're at our best when we're in the act of creation. Writing seems like a fundamental part of that, for those so inclined. It's in our nature.

There are a number of writers in the Sherlock fandom and in HP whose stories I'll read and then think, "I'll never write again. Why bother?"

Having heard two of my favorite living professional authors admit to the same kinds of self-doubt when reading their favorite authors, I assume that's something most writers never outgrow. (Or maybe I'm just telling myself that because I suffer the very same pangs, and I can't seem to overcome them!) I do know this, though: even the very best writer can only convey what's in her/his head. The best writers I know are also voracious readers, because they crave the stories that live in other people's heads. They already know theirs, backwards and forwards. So you or I might not be able to write the same tales as Person X, but Person X couldn't write what you or I do. I think we undervalue what's in our own imagination, because it tends to feel obvious or self-evident to us. It's not to anyone else, though. That's the joy of it all.

The question of audience is a really interesting one. I write different things for different reasons, but fanfic has always been for me about either "fixing" things I'd like changed/completed/seen through to their conclusions or, more often than not, exploring the ellipses between the canonical scenes. I've loved many series/franchises, but I've only been moved to write in a few, and then I couldn't help myself from wanting to tinker (a bit like seeing a wall where 90% of the paint is up, and you're just compelled to finish that bare spot). For example, before Sherlock, I went nine years without writing fanfic at all, though I did write/publish other non-fiction and fiction. When I did feel moved to write Sherlock, I had to think a long time before deciding to share any of my stories.

I'm so old and decrepit (ha!) that I wrote fanfic back in the days of print 'zines, for which feedback was colossally slow if it came at all. The internet has changed that landscape in a remarkable way and made feedback almost instantaneous and plentiful, and this certainly is rewarding and exciting (not to mention supremely helpful - invaluable, really - for those of us who want to improve our storytelling, to know what works for readers), but I don't know that it affects/changes the original impulse to write.

Wow, I'm uncertain if any of that was on-topic or not. Thanks for initiating this discussion, though. It's wonderfully thought-provoking.
Edited Date: 2011-08-29 01:12 pm (UTC)

Date: 2011-08-29 02:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] machshefa.livejournal.com
*considers Tolkien quote...

I think that before I wrote, my acts of creation were in parenting and in therapeutic settings. So interesting...

What a relief to hear that professional authors also feel this self-doubt at times. But you're so right - nobody will write your story the way you do. I remember when my coauthor and I were working on our book (over 7 years). There would be other books published in the meantime and I'd have a moment of panic. "Someone else published 'our' book." But, no. Nobody did what WE were doing, and even if they'd tried (and some did), nobody did it the way we did. :)

Fanfic for me has been partly about repair and partly about filling in more of what I want to read and experience. I haven't been drawn to write in any other fandom other than HP and Sherlock. I think that reading fanfic did it for me, actually. I haven't read much fanfic outside of HP and Sherlock, either, actually. Hmmm.

You're totally on topic! Yay!

*hugs

Date: 2011-08-29 04:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bloodcult.livejournal.com
For me, it works like this; I always have a little voice in my ear narrating or telling me stories about strangers. So I write.Have written. Will continue to write.

Identity is a mixed bag for me.
I get pretty upset when people write their biases into their fiction without realizing it because I work really hard to be aware of how far I am writing outside my culture and experience. So when people take their own baggage for granted and get applauded it makes my blood boil. This was in the end, why I gave up on HP Fanfic. My skin just wasn't thick enough.

Date: 2011-08-29 07:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bloodcult.livejournal.com
I readily admit my attitude isn't helpful or healthy but it is my attitude just the same.

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Date: 2011-08-29 07:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pokeystar.livejournal.com
The crash - Oh, yes. Usually, right after I finish a story, I HATE it. Like it killed a puppy while I had to watch. PJ can back me up on this. I have pmed her many a time upon finishing something, vowing eternal dislike.

And then I get feedback or clarity a few days later, and I like it again.

I said usually because things changed for the last two stories I've written. In both cases, I had moments of frustration, but never wavered in my enthusiasm for the work. And I find this unsettling. I worry, just a bit, that I am delusional about my abilities.

What I'm striving for these days, as a person, is balance. The writing, combined with other activities, feeds me in a way that keeps me in balance.

I love that feeling.

Date: 2011-08-31 01:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] machshefa.livejournal.com
Annie says that when I hate my story, that means it's nearly done.

I'm going to have to take her word for it.

It's cool that you didn't feel hatred these last times! Maybe the balance is happening?!

<3

Date: 2011-08-29 07:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fengirl88.livejournal.com
Why do you write?

Because I want to. Because I'm not happy when I'm not writing. Because I spent nearly three decades being unhappy about not writing and I don't want to go back to that ever. Because a particular idea grabs me and won't let go.

How did you learn to write? What do you feel you're still learning to do?

I learned to write from reading and being told stories. I made up stories from a very young age until my late teens. That was all pretty instinctive and a lot of the time it still is. Now I learn by doing: I feel I've been learning to do all sorts of things, writing (mostly Sherlock fic) this last year – structure, point of view, voice, pace. Still learning how to do plot, which is the thing I find hardest so far.

How much is your identity wrapped up in your writing and storytelling?

A lot (see answers to first question). Having an online identity that is not the same as my RL one has been immensely freeing, but the writing also feeds into a much happier and richer sense of self in RL.

How much does audience play into what you do and how you do it?

It didn't at all, at first, because I didn't think I had one; now it sometimes makes me self-conscious or hesitant about posting a particular thing, but I don't think it determines what I write. I've written a couple of anonymous kinkmeme fills, one of which I de-anoned for and one of which I still haven't, and that was quite helpful in getting away from any expectations when I wanted to try something new.

What makes certain stories shine (yours or others) in your eyes? What do you look for in a story? What draws you to read certain stories or certain writers?

Emotional truth and a sense of complexity, more than anything, I think. It's what I want from my reading and what I want to do in my writing. In my fanfic reading I love stories that mix humour and sexiness (doesn't have to be explicit); I'm not good with unrelieved angst or hopelessness. I can enjoy beautiful writing or elegant structure, but what I want to know is who these people are to each other, how they behave to each other, where their boundaries are, what they will do and what they won't. I read voraciously when I first got into the fandom and now I tend to read because of recs or because I already know and like the author's work.

Does anybody else get this crash after finishing a big or otherwise important (to you) story? Does anybody know why it happens? LOL

Yes, absolutely. Big crash after Invasion (not surprising because that took months, on and off) and slightly smaller ones after other long fics. I think if you live that intensely with a story there's bound to be a sense of loss when it ends. The only cure is writing the next one... *grins*

Does anybody else wonder why they do this and feel like they've just ripped off their skin and are waiting for the world's approval/approvation/rejection/indifference every time they post something?

I get the skinless feeling but I don't wonder why I do it (see answers to first question). The buzz of getting feedback is amazing, but the need to write was there even when I thought nobody was reading, and I hope it always will be. It still surprises me that I felt so sure about doing this, but I'm not sorry.

Date: 2011-08-31 02:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] machshefa.livejournal.com
I so admire the certainty about needing and wanting to write. It's all so new to me. I'm not there yet. I also find plot the most difficult part. My writing is more impressionistic, I think. More about emotional moments...

Emotional truth. Yes. That's a lot of it for me, too.

<3

Date: 2011-08-29 09:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dacian-goddess.livejournal.com
Oh, but what a lovely navel it is. I think it's an important thread to follow in the quest for self-discovery and -understanding. Besides, everything leads back to identity somehow, in the end...

I write because I can't fathom not doing so. Because I still remember myself at a tender age, absorbing the world around me whilst shaping still others in my head; because I remember being maybe three years old and putting myself to sleep by setting off on journeys I built up in my own mind. Because I remember being five years old and lulling my little brother to sleep with fairy tales I tailor-made on the spot, just for him. I think I don't know how not to imagine settings and characters and situations in my head, how not to branch off into what-ifs and musings. Mostly, I write because in my most idealised picture of my life and future, writing is the way I make my living. (Obvs I still have to translate that into reality, but I am working at dealing with the blocks that have been pushing the brakes on my wants.)

I think the crash comes into being because you've poured yourself entirely into your project; just like with everything, an empty tank leads to a little bit of flatlining before you can get things going again. I don't know, there are some big projects where, the harder I worked and the more of myself that I put into them, the more it recharged me right back. I guess it's all relative to the who and the what.

Big yes on the wait for a reaction -- but let's face it, we wouldn't drop our things out there if we didn't want to see the waves or hear the splash. ;)

Date: 2011-08-31 02:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] machshefa.livejournal.com
Everything does lead back to identity...

So cool that you were weaving stories from such a young age. Wow. I can relate to the "pouring yourself into a project." I do that completely...

The audience reaction/reflection is important to me and I do wish it weren't. But I suppose that's part of a realistic need. Like you said, if we didn't want to see the waves, why put it out there?

Date: 2011-08-29 10:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dreamy-dragon73.livejournal.com
That's a fascinating topic!

Why do you write?
I'm not sure I really know. I've always loved to write, but until I found the Potterverse I'd never written anything fictional. I suppose I write because a character or the dynamic between characters intrigue me. Or because there is a story that wants to be told, and I know I'd miss something if I wouldn't write.
Snape was the reason I became involved in fandom in the first place and I wrote my first story because I wanted to see him happy.


How did you learn to write? What do you feel you're still learning to do?
I didn't. Not about story-writing. When I wrote my first story I had no ideas about the technicalities of writing at least not from the perspective of actually producing fic.

To me learning to write is like a journey. I still feel very much like I've just set out and I'm fine with that.
However, the biggest thing I've yet to learn has got nothing to do with the technical apects of writing, but to trust myself that yes I can be a half-decent writer one day. At the moment I think too much about my inadequacies and fears and not about what I'm writing.

How much is your identity wrapped up in your writing and storytelling?
More than I'd like to admit, and I'm not sure that's a good thing. Fandom used to be my escape from RL and in a way it still is, but the more I learn about writing the more my writing gets tangled with other aspects of me. Basically, if I'm happy and feeling good about things I can write better than when I'm unhappy and can't get my mind away from RL problems.

How much does audience play into what you do and how you do it?
I'm tempted to say it doesn't matter as long as I'm happy with my stories, but that isn't true. I wouldn't make things public if I wouldn't want people to read them. Every time I post something I'm wibbling like mad.

And audience also in the sense of beta/alpha readers. I depend on feedback on a story before it goes public. And the occasional handholding is also nice.

What makes certain stories shine (yours or others) in your eyes? What do you look for in a story? What draws you to read certain stories or certain writers?
Something that makes the story resonate with me. Also good writing. I'm drawn to stories and writers who tell their stories in interesting ways, who know how to handle language, imagery, and how to come up with an imaginative plot. Also interpretations of the characters that I find plausible and likeable

Does anybody else get this crash after finishing a big or otherwise important (to you) story? Does anybody know why it happens? LOL
Totally. And know I've no idea why other than that it's probably exhaustion mixed with a bit of sadness because something has occupied our imagination so intensely.

Does anybody else wonder why they do this and feel like they've just ripped off their skin and are waiting for the world's approval/approvation/rejection/indifference every time they post something?
Yes, every single time. What if nobody likes it? What if my fandom friends turn away from me because it's so embarrassing. What if nobody comments?

Date: 2011-08-31 02:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] machshefa.livejournal.com
Oh, yeah. Trusting yourself in your writing and storytelling... I'm right there with you, DD.

That feeling of exposure is both terrifying and wonderful (only if the response is good, I think ;)). You craft something and put it out there and hope that the risk was worth it. The process is valuable in and of itself, but wondering if anybody else feels the impact of the story and its form is always a big question before I hit "post."

What you said reminds me that I think I have two audiences. My alpha/beta village and then the wider readers... I couldn't do it without the village. No way.

Date: 2011-08-30 01:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] averygoodun.livejournal.com
Why do I write? Because it's the way I can reliably access words. I speak through the keyboard in a way I cannot in person. Perhaps it's because I am wired to be very, very visual, but for some reason, I cannot communicate orally the way I can through writing. Some wire trips when I try to talk in-depth about something and words are no longer there. With writing, the wires don't get tripped nearly as often.

So I write to communicate. To express myself. To be heard. To be as important as everyone else who is making their voice heard.

As such, audience does not really play into my writing. It does to a degree, of course, just as I filter my behavior to what is appropriate in whatever situation. (Or the nearest approximation thereof.) However, I find the words do not come when I am trying to pander. They only come if I'm writing for myself first, and whoever else second.

I'll have to think about the shining question. I know it when I see it, but I don't have a ready answer. If I were pressed, though, I'd say naturalness. Characters who are real.

Crash? Oh yeah. It happens when I finish an important story, painting, project... anything intensely creative. I think the reason why is because it's a form of letting go and experiencing the grief that accompanies it, even if it's overall a happy thing. A bit of my soul goes into my art (writing, sewing, painting, etc.), and acknowledging that it is finished, that it is complete unto itself and no longer needs me... it's difficult. It is me, but is no longer part of me... Ya know?

Date: 2011-08-31 02:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] machshefa.livejournal.com
Words are powerful. And authentic words are luminous.

That experience of putting part of your essence into your work and letting it go... oh, yes, I know. :)

<3

Date: 2011-08-30 02:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ariadne1.livejournal.com
I was thinking about this entry while teaching today, and found myself asking, aloud, "Why did Hemingway write? Why does anyone write? What does it mean that we reach for immortality or creation or truth in such an unstable medium?" The students seemed to like these questions.

With the caveat that this post is public, some thoughts on your questions...

So. Why do you write?

Initially I thought it a spiffy challenge and that it looked like fun. Now - because it's a spiffy challenge and it can be fun. Also because I have a tendency to start stories and then I want to finish them. :)

How did you learn to write? What do you feel you're still learning to do?

By doing...

As for "still learning" - *tilts head* - my take on this spins the question, a bit; with each story, you learn how to write that story.

How much is your identity wrapped up in your writing and storytelling?

I'm not sure. Entirely? Not at all? Depends on the day?

How much does audience play into what you do and how you do it?

Fic writing? Not at all - unless it's for an exchange, in which case I'll take into account what I know of a recipient and check my impulses against that, because I always hope that a recipient will like a gift.

What makes certain stories shine (yours or others) in your eyes? What do you look for in a story? What draws you to read certain stories or certain writers?

Writing that's so good that I forget that I'm reading.

Does anybody else get this crash after finishing a big or otherwise important (to you) story? Does anybody know why it happens? LOL

LOL yes. That's why I make "Finite Incantetem" banners. :) As for why... sheeyit, woman, ain't it obvious? *takes off bifocals and stares at you*

Does anybody else wonder why they do this and feel like they've just ripped off their skin and are waiting for the world's approval/approvation/rejection/indifference every time they post something?

*smiles* Depends on the chapter, I think... I didn't expect anyone to read anything I wrote, really, so initially I was more surprised that people were reading it at all. I got nervous when I posted my first scene with hotness (because would anyone else find it hot? LOL) and again when I posted Chapter 25 of Walking Shadow (clearly traumatized; I still remember the number) because of how it ends (by that time, I'd sort of figured out people were reading, and I expected that someone would come after me with an axe [SnarkyRoxy's review was "Run. Now."). But now? Not so much now.

When I'm fretting at you in IMs about "I don't want to break my story!" it's more about whether or not the story that exists as a whole in my head will make it to the readers through the sometimes inadequate, unstable medium of language.

Date: 2011-08-31 02:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] machshefa.livejournal.com
Learning how to write each story. Yes. That resonates. It's like learning to parent each individual child (for me). :)

I don't know the shape of my story, usually, until it's done or close to done. I've only ever posted one WIP, but the process of sending chapters or unfinished drafts to readers is similar in some ways... Audience for me is less about whether readers will chase after me for a cliffhanger and more about whether what I've written will resonate at all. The worse possible response (for me) is resounding silence or neutral response.

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Date: 2011-08-30 06:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aurette.livejournal.com
I have to laugh at my own foolishness. I sat down and composed my thoughts on this and then found it was too big to put in a reply. I'm lost as to how to cull it down to the pith so it will fit. This was a pretty good metaphor for my experience with writing. Basically, I think I write to keep from going crazy, and writing makes me crazy. It's a vicious circle.

I thank you for this post, and all the insights I have gleaned from everyone's replies.

Date: 2011-08-31 02:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] machshefa.livejournal.com
*grins

Love it.

Wonderful, wonderful. I'm so glad this thread has been so rich and engaging for everybody! :D

Date: 2011-08-30 12:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lady-rhian.livejournal.com
Why do you write?
Let me think about this and get back to you.


How did you learn to write? What do you feel you're still learning to do?
How? I've no idea. I wrote my first story when I was six years old, probably with a good deal of help from my mom, and I've been doing it ever since.

What am I still learning to do? Gosh, everything.


How much is your identity wrapped up in your writing and storytelling?
The answer to this question seems to rear its ugly head when I'm not writing more than when I'm writing, for when I'm not writing, there is the self-flagellation, the wonder at will I ever have another story worth telling?, etc. etc. etc. When I'm writing, even when it's hard, it feels like the most natural thing in the world, like I'm in my favorite zone and am functioning at my highest personal level. In fact, this is part of why writing for *prompts* is so gosh darn stressful for me - I yearn for - crave - that peak of writing where there are no boundaries, where I'm flying off a building and weaving my own safety net at the same time, and I do not like being constrained by someone else's desires, by having to check my creative impulses within someone else's cage. I still do exchanges for the community, for the prompts even, but goodness, in those instances it takes a freaking village to get me through a story (as you well know). When I'm writing just for me, something completely out of my brain (or, alternately, something for a friend who gave me an exceptionally open-ended prompt - Lyonesse is for Ari, after all), well, then I'm not a writer, I'm just writing, and that's the best place to be. It's when I'm worried about being a Real Serious Writer that my head and pride get all out of joint.


How much does audience play into what you do and how you do it?
Honestly, I don't think about them when I'm writing. When I'm not writing, maybe (certainly when reviewers don't like things, you think about them!). And when I'm doing an exchange, then yes, there's that consideration.

The audience I really care about pleasing are my first readers - friends with critical eyes who check my grammar and tell me if something is unbelievable. And in that case, it's not so much that I'm writing with an eye to please them as it is that when I'm done writing, I bite my fingernails as the "sent" button is pressed ... there's definitely that desire for appreciation, but it's not in my mind as I write (and if it is, then it's crippling and I am probably not writing that day).


What makes certain stories shine (yours or others) in your eyes? What do you look for in a story? What draws you to read certain stories or certain writers?
I want to lose myself in a story. I want to feel what they feel, see what they see, hear what they say. I want to forget I'm reading.


Does anybody else wonder why they do this and feel like they've just ripped off their skin and are waiting for the world's approval/approvation/rejection/indifference every time they post something?
When I get this feeling, it's with original work, not fanfiction. Fanfiction is so comfortable; it's an old glove, an old friend, and I feel like I can just slip in and be totally emotionally honest, but behind this veil of the Harry Potter world. It's not even "me" writing - most people in my life do not know about this fanfiction, about these successes and failures. I use a pseudonym and hope it's enough to mask the real me. Original fiction - all of the things that have allowed me to explore creatively over these last few years (community, anonymity) ... those are gone. Submitting my original work is terrifying, especially since it's like you're submitting it into an empty void where there is no immediate feedback ... and that's perhaps worse than flaming reviews - the possibility that you've written something and no one has noticed it.


And on that warm thought, I must refill my coffee. ~hugs you tight~

Date: 2011-08-30 12:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lady-rhian.livejournal.com
Holy Mother of God, I did not mean to write that much. ~iz embarrassed~

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