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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

An Experiment

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet




"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

An Experiment

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cliffhanger
Over on heartofoshun's journal, Oshun, pandemonium_213, and I have been talking about the experience that is posting to Fanfiction.net. I haven't posted there in years. Once upon a time, the ability to reach a very broad audience (who might not be inclined to read on a Silm-only archive like the SWG or even a Tolkien-only archive like MPTT or HASA) appealed to me. I quickly discovered, though, that I found the company of those of us nerdy enough to want Silm- and Tolkien-only archives more enjoyable than the company of those who have written 13 stories in 13 different fandoms without ever having an interest in exploring a community that focuses on just one of those fandoms. That's probably snobbish of me, but that's been my experience.

Although I haven't posted on ff.net in years, I have left up the stories that I had already posted, so I occasionally still get reviews on them. The reviews I get have the unfortunate effect of reminding me why I don't still post on ff.net. Most of them are sweet and encouraging, but then there are those that are so boneheaded as to make me want to drive my head through the monitor, which is not how I like to spend my admittedly limited "fun time" these days. For example, I once received a series of encouraging comments on Another Man's Cage from a reader on ff.net. Now AMC is a character-driven story. The plot certainly isn't original or particularly exciting. Most reviewers on ff.net praise the writing style, but flowery prose alone will not sustain the reading of a 350,000-word novel; it's an interest in the lives of the characters that causes people to devote hours of the lives to such a hefty chunk of text.

This particular commenter got all the way through AMC before she decided that she was doing me a disfavor by not providing me with "concrit." (That is another of ff.net's mores: that every story is posted with an eye toward improving or revising it, so concrit is a gift. Whereas I am so done with AMC at this point and don't care to ever revise it again.) Anyway, this reader--who had fawned over my story in multiple reviews--proceeded to pick apart how I developed just about every major character, basically advocating for a more canatic interpretation. For example, Carnistir was "too weird"; never mind that removing that "weirdness" would completely change his function in the story. But this person didn't get this. She thought she was enjoying pretty writing and my interpretations of the characters were irritants to be endured when, in fact, it must have been the other way around. As noted above, I don't believe that anyone will sit through 350,000 words for prettiness alone.

Anyway, these kinds of comments are the norm, I've found, as of late, and my satisfaction with posting there has diminished as a result. But every now and then, I'm seized with guilt that I'm taking the easy way out; that I'm blaming ff.net as an entity for its shortcomings without being willing to make even the minimal effort of posting my work there to "be the change" I want to see. After all, many very thought-provoking writers I know don't want to post there because they view it as the shallow end of the pool or just plain intolerant (often with very good reason; I don't mean to criticize anyone's choices but my own).

So I've decided to try an experiment. Although it seemed very cutting-edge at the time, AMC is a relatively tame story; I would certainly make different choices if I were to write it now (beginning with less adherence to L&C as a "canon" text). I think Hastaina is probably my most heretical story at the moment: It both directly challenges the "canon" and is likely to piss off the holy-rollers as well. So I'm going to post "Hastaina" on ff.net and see what happens. Will it get comments? What kinds of comments will it get? Will it be flamed? Will anyone "get" it? (It was well-received and many certainly "got" it on the SWG.)

Here it is. We'll see!



This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

http://dawn-felagund.dreamwidth.org/282354.html
  • I've never posted at ff.net. When I first started posting fic, I attempted to at first, and had technical problems. Once I got accepted at SoA, I didn't even bother to try again, though having an account is good for giving an occasional review.

    I know a lot of good writers DO post there, that there are some gems amidst the dross, and sometimes wonder if I should try again after all this time. Then I read about someone getting strange reviews, or about the difficulties posting there, and think "better leave it be".

    I'll be curious as to the results of your experiment...
    • ff.net has always had such a terrible reputation as a wellspring of crapfic, but I've always found the reviewers there to be the real reason it deserves its moniker, Pit of Voles. The site has tolerated the worst possible behavior from reviewers. I don't know how it is now; rumor had it that they were cracking down on the lovely folks who did things like tell young writers that they were so bad at writing that they should throw themselves off a bridge.

      It is annoying to post there too. You have to first upload a story as a "document," then fix all the mistakes that happen during that process (it took me about 10 minutes to find and fix the mistakes made while uploading my 6,000-word story), then post the document as a story. I'm spoiled by our eFiction sites, admittedly. ;)
  • I post at ff.net, because when I became interested in posting anime fanfiction online, I discovered that there weren't really very many communities and archives available...despite the fact that the animes I was interested in were extremely mainstream and popular ones. Sure, there are communities here at livejournal, but most people merely post a link to the story on ff.net in those communities.

    Perhaps for this reason (lack of alternatives), there are some brilliant and well-admired fics in the anime archives at ff.net. Lots of dross, too, I hasten to add, but my point is that the well-liked authors in any fandom are archiving their stories there. The majority of feedback you get is along the lines of 'awesome! please update!' (even if you just did post that chapter 5 min. previously), but I have gotten into more involved discussions with readers...and been the reader who has left a lengthy review that began a conversation. In other words...I feel that the anime archives at ff.net lend themselves to building the types of communities you find at other single-fandom archives. I'm lj friends with some of the authors, artwork and requests for translation happen (and then linked in the author's profile), etc. Typical fan community stuff.

    *shrugs*

    Depends what you are looking for, I guess. With SWG in existence, I'm not sure I'd see the need to use the Silmarillion archive on ff.net. I haven't yet, anyway.

    As for concrit, I'm the type of person who will offer it unsolicited (in all aspects of life, not just fanfic - I'm the person who will jump into your conversation while you're waiting in the checkout line), but I generally try not to assume the author is interested in hearing about it...unless she specifically requested feedback in that area. I mean, if I know someone just posted something, and I catch a typo, I don't see any harm pointing it out (some people would want to know). And if a character does something ridiculously out of character, I might say that, you know, this just didn't sit right with me for these reasons...but it's always up to the author to decide what to do with whatever I give them. Sometimes I'm probably obnoxious or annoying about it, but I try to always be polite.
    • Your experience with the anime fandoms definitely illustrates why ff.net can be a good thing. :) I've also met people on ff.net who have become friends (and I only post in Silmarillion), and I've certainly had good conversations with people. The first fanfic I read, many years ago, was on ff.net.

      The Tolkien fandom is a large and steady one: We have a long history, lots of people involved, and aren't going anywhere anytime soon. From reading on groups like metafandom, I get the impression that the loyalty (and multiple archives!) of the Tolkien fandom is rather the exception than the norm.

      As for concrit, I'm the type of person who will offer it unsolicited (in all aspects of life, not just fanfic - I'm the person who will jump into your conversation while you're waiting in the checkout line), but I generally try not to assume the author is interested in hearing about it

      As a writer, I definitely believe that readers are not only allowed to have but also to share whatever thoughts they have on my story! :) I certainly get my share of concrit here on LJ, when I post a story. The tone of it on ff.net tends to be different, however, in my experience. Readers tend to assume something they don't understand is my mistake rather than asking, and the assumption often seems to be that any publicly posted story is undergoing constant and endless revision, so I'm willing to do major rewrites on a character seven years after publishing the story, simply because one reader disagreed with me. I can't say, of course, whether that is universal on the site itself or just the Tolkien sections.
  • I cannot even remember if I have anything posted on there. I better check.
  • You and I met of ffnet; there are other nice people I met there, so I'll never regret my time there. :) But yes, it's true, it is not a nice place. I started posting on ffnet, and for a long time I posted only there, only because I didn't know of anything else. It was a long time before I discovered other archives. :(
    I still post there, and if I have any bad experience, I simply ignore idiots. :p
    • I've certainly met friends there too and had good conversations--of course, you're one of the best examples of that! :)

      I would probably fare much better if I could ignore more on that site. But someone makes a stupid comment, I feel the need to respond ... it's just not a good use of my time! :)
  • Than the company of those who have written 13 stories in 13 different fandoms without ever having an interest in exploring a community that focuses on just one of those fandoms.

    I am not sure if that is an appt reflection of the majority of members there. Then again I might fall in that category after I pulled my Tolkien stuff many years ago when the admin refused to do something about the hurtfull bashers and sporkers once upon a time. ;) Just the fact that I have 10 stories written for 7 fandoms doesn't say a single thing about fannish involvement. I did find that I have gotten very nice and warm comments from certain fandoms (non-tolkien) there that I never got elsewhere. I am involved elsewhere as well when I have time, so eh, yeah. Just sayin'.

    Best of luck with Hastaina though *fetches the popcorn grin*
    • You're right that there are many reasons why a ff.net member might have involvement spread thin over many fandoms. However, I don't think you'd leave a comment indicating a lack of familiarity with the texts, so I don't think your stats would bias me into thinking that you weren't well-informed about Tolkien either. ;)

      Similar to you, my ff.net profile would show me to be relatively uninvolved in the Tolkien fandom because I've only posted a few stories there ... but that certainly isn't true, so yeah, a ff.net profile is only part of any person's story. :)

      When someone adds me or one of my stories to their Favorites, or when someone writes me a review, I generally go and read their profile. What I've noticed lately is that I'm getting read more by people who have written for multiple fandoms and, based on their Favorites lists, are also reading in multiple fandoms.

      Of course, that doesn't in itself mean that they aren't heavily involved with or knowledgeable about Tolkien. The comments they tend to leave more reveal than anything that they aren't, for example, familiar with the HoMe. This has pretty much characterized my readership lately, although, of course, I can't generalize that to all readers in the Tolkien section and certainly don't mean to impugn those who play in multiple sandboxes (which would describe many of my favorite writers). But some of the readers I'm getting lately does lead to me feeling like that site doesn't provide the same satisfaction as posting to SWG or even MPTT.
  • I deleted everything from my ff.net profile about five years ago, if not longer (apart from one story), because those muppets at the PPC annoyed me.
  • Ff.net! Haven't thought about it for years! I did start posting some stuff there and it was interesting to read the different reviews. Maybe I'll give it a revisit. :) I've been thinking of rereading and perhaps rewriting some of the stories I wrote 5 or 6 years ago. Might be painful, though. :/

    I don't know, I think now that comments like this are so personal for the reviewer and also in-the-moment. If the same person left a new comment a few years later it might be completely different because so much depends on the person's mood at the time and their personal life experiences.

    I hate canon. Always have. I much prefer to change canon or the 'meaning behind what the deceased-now writer was thinking' (I mean, how arrogant) and allow my own views to take precedence. I think every one of us sees what we read in our own unique and personal way. I believe that all fan fiction writers should change canon to suit their own beliefs or comprehension of stories written by others. This type of fan fiction is MUCH more interesting to read. ;)
  • So I've decided to try an experiment. Although it seemed very cutting-edge at the time, AMC is a relatively tame story; I would certainly make different choices if I were to write it now (beginning with less adherence to L&C as a "canon" text). I think Hastaina is probably my most heretical story at the moment: It both directly challenges the "canon" and is likely to piss off the holy-rollers as well. So I'm going to post "Hastaina" on ff.net and see what happens. Will it get comments? What kinds of comments will it get? Will it be flamed? Will anyone "get" it? (It was well-received and many certainly "got" it on the SWG.)

    Here it is. We'll see!


    Ah! So the experiment begins! No nibbles yet, I see, but then you just posted it. I have to say, it's interesting to scroll down the list and see the other company Hastaina keeps. I see a few familiar names, e.g., kenaz, Gadira. I also see what I'd call "exploratory" fan fic that may just be written by young writers. Not that there's anything wrong with that. AT ALL. But I'll put my judgy-pants on: the titles alone seem to reflect the maturity of the writer (and maturity is not judged by age alone).

    On FFN, my first exposure to it was not through Tolkien-related stories, but Harry Potter. I was not writing such, but my then 12 year old daughter was. Being a nosy mother (also having a weird combination of being protective but wanting my kids to explore), I found FFN where she was posting her stories (nicely written, too; she's writing "Lost" fan fiction these days). I continued to monitor the site, and overall, came away with the impression that the majority of writers on FFN were, well, quite young. I also saw some bad behavior on the part of those who should know better.

    Now at that time, I never dreamed I would become ensorcelled by Tolkien fan fiction. But once that happened, the first place I looked was FFN. Again, other than a few exceptions, the majority of stories fit into that exploratory type. And again, I saw lots of bad behavior and some pretty narrow-minded viewpoints. Given that my major motivation for writing Tolkien fan fiction was critique of Tolkien himself (rather than sticking to non-fiction essays), I thus sought a more mature milieu. Also, I know myself. I would quickly jump into the mud and wallow with the pigs if snarky comments ensued upon my participation in FFN. That's not the best use of my time and energy.

    Edited at 2011-10-16 01:16 pm (UTC)
  • There was a general exodus happening from ff.net more or less as I started thinking of writing Tolkien, so I signed up there and promptly went away and forgot my password. I dunno, it's just never appealed. Strange reviews and flaming don't bother me at all - I have an inappropriate sense of humour for such things - but I write fan fiction because doing so makes me happy (when it works) and I'd rather stay in my little corner of the internet and post at SWG or OEAM. Having said that, I love your experiment and can't wait to hear how it turns out!
  • I wrote a long comment and LJ ate it. Anyway, what I meant to say was that writing in many fandoms is not sure sign that you are not a good writer. It can be read both ways. A friend in the old Vamp Chron fandom told me that if I was a good writer I would get over vampires at some moment. We were in a large community, read each other's fics and even had a vampire board where we talked to our "vampires". We even had a family, with a king and a queen. It was fun, but it died like all fandoms do eventually. The best writers there migrated to other fandoms.

    Anyway, ffnn is not the best place to have a community. It's just a place where you can find fiction to read.
    • Quick note to say ... of course writing in multiple fandoms doesn't mean one is a bad writer! :) But when a reader has written 13 stories in 13 different fandoms and has 45 favorites in 45 different fandoms, it can explain why that person isn't familiar with the finer points of JRRT's "canon."
  • (no subject) - pink_siamese
    • I was reading a definite NC17 story on FFN in another fandom, Pink. I've read writers bio's on there (authors who write for the Tolkien fandom) say they will not post their adult work on FFN because it was pulled once due to being too adult. Why it's overlooked in one fandom and not in another, I don't know, save that the fandom I read was based on a series with heavy adult BDSM tones, so possibly the readers wanted and expected to read adult fanfic with BDSM.

      My choice is M-NC17, and I don't read it on FFN. Clicking on the site makes me feel itchy. I know there are some gems on there, but if I saw diamonds in a gutter I would fish them out, not let them float on the tide. The real problem though is not the stories (every-one has a right to post stories be they 11 or 80) but the culture of bashing and bitching, and the snotty canonites. (And that peculiar double standard which allows Adult in one fandom, but pulls it in others)
      And how many ways can you stress AU? If I am reading something that is not canon, I *feel* whether an author means it or is completely clueless.

      Edited at 2011-10-16 08:01 pm (UTC)
  • I've never posted at FF.net and I must have read at most a dozen stories in there from beginning to end, usually linked from the MEFAs. I found I spent too long when I discovered fanfic looking for stories to read and pressing the Back button. I'm happier in smaller archives like SWG.

    I'll be interested to see what comes out of your experiment. I love Hastaina, and wonder what reactions it might provoke. Keep us posted!
  • I guess my perspective of FFN is a little different that the rest of y'all.

    When I first started writing and publicly posting fanfiction - over ten years ago for The Pretender under another author name - FFN was all there was for that particular fandom. Yes, the vast majority of the fics were obviously written BY tweenies and twits FOR tweenies and twits: poorly edited, not beta'ed, often songfics that were little other than plagiarism with a teenie bit of original text. And yes, the reviews were often little more than "I like this. More please."

    But over time it helped what little fandom community there was to develop. I ended up having conversations with my readers, which turned into good friendships many of which endure even to this day. Eventually - about the time I pulled out of that fandom for a number of reasons - a new e-fiction archive was being established.

    In the Tolkien fandom, I've posted to other archives - HASA, SWG, OS, Faerie, AO3, LOTRFF (pulled stuff during ManderFail to move to AO3 and Faerie) and never got much more than maybe one or two "Nice. More please." reviews at any of them - even when cajoled to post to SWG to reach folks who supposedly enjoyed canon-challenging stuff based on the Silm (altho Pandë wrote a wonderful review there that I'll treasure forever, nobody else said a word.) Frankly, I get more responses here on LJ than I do from any of the dedicated Tolkien archive sites.

    On FFN, however, I have met and made friends with several really neat people. I've had coversations with other writers, even unofficially collaborated with one in a rollicking spoof of an advice column that set Elrond (her) and Thranduil (me) at odds with each other and competing in the art of snark via email.

    Mind you, I'm not normally review-oriented. When I left FFN over software issues during my first authorname iteration in the middle of posting a huge novel getting many reviews per week, I understood clearly that I was leaving behind the idea I was writing to get reviews. But overall, my experience with FFN has been a positive one: I've had more numerous, more fulfilling interactions with my readers starting from their comments to FFN than I've had from any other archive - up to and including even my own personal sites.

    I've also had much less spewage when I've thumbed my nose at or deliberately strayed from canon from readers at FFN, whether the reason for that be because the tweenies aren't that informed about canon or thy're reading for enjoyment not critique. I only rarely participate in forums there - and never have I created any of my own - so I don't get into the dogfights that tend to litter that end of things.

    So good luck with your experiment. It will be interesting to hear the upshot of your experiences there. I guess the kernel of my post is that you get out of posting to FFN what you expect to. If you expect FFN to be a "Pit of Voles", it will be. If you expect a large number of one to five word "Nice" reviews, you may get them. But if you know that, every once in a while, you'll get a review that will end up in a friendship, it makes a lot of the other stuff worth enduring.
    • I also get more comments on my writing on LJ than on any other site. Beyond that, I generally get a few comments per story on the SWG. I probably get more comments per story on ff.net than the SWG. I've never gotten many comments on any of the other Tolkien archives, even though I continue to post to some of them just to support them.

      It's interesting how everyone has different experiences in different places. It's just a matter of figuring out what works for you, I guess.

      I've also made friends through ff.net that I otherwise would not have met. And had great conversations with very smart people. I suppose my discomfort with the site originated with the collective shrug from site management regarding minimally civil behavior from reviewers.

      I do find it very interesting that you don't share the experience that ff.net readers tend to be more "canatic" than on other sites.

      But if you know that, every once in a while, you'll get a review that will end up in a friendship, it makes a lot of the other stuff worth enduring.

      For me, it really came down to an issue of time, when I started back to school and had less time for fandom. It takes a lot more time and effort to post to ff.net than any other site I've ever used. And I wasn't getting much of a return. As noted above, I did make friends and have some good conversations with people ... but these were really few and far between. And when I started posting there, I figured ff.net would be one of the sites where I'd meet the most friends, since I'd spent so much time there in my early days reading and enjoyed it so much. But, again, LJ seemed to be where it's at, as far as meeting people went. :)

      ff.net wasn't the only site to get chopped from my posting routine. It wasn't even the one that disappointed me the most (in terms of reviews. In terms of management, it will always be the most disappointing, I suspect.) But despite great expectations, it really wasn't worth the headache of finagling their posting system on a regular basis.
  • I quickly discovered, though, that I found the company of those of us nerdy enough to want Silm- and Tolkien-only archives more enjoyable than the company of those who have written 13 stories in 13 different fandoms without ever having an interest in exploring a community that focuses on just one of those fandoms.

    It's the community that matters, doesn't it? I'm managing to be bifandom this time around, but I think a large reason why I'm participating in Doctor Who instead of just keeping stories on my harddrive is because I managed to stumble across a small group of like-minded fans. (DW fandom scares me-- there's a ton of hate out there, even worse than Tolkien.) But when people bounce from fandom to fandom, I have to wonder why. I get one-off ideas, but as a habit I don't understand it. I'm in fandom so I can talk about interests people around me don't have.

    That is another of ff.net's mores: that every story is posted with an eye toward improving or revising it, so concrit is a gift.

    Ditto. Someone felt RAFA's Maglor wasn't angsty enough, and wanted me to fix it. I told her I wasn't going to rewrite it for a third time, and that wasn't counting the fantastic beta job it went through. (I remain convinced that once she stops being a teenager, she'll understand his behavior better and why he didn't whine.)

    The comments are a large part of the reason that I'm not going to post there after my thralls story. The other reason is that I hate the document uploading process. The fact that you have to reupload the document after 60 days so you can overwrite the original posting if there's a mistake is a pain. There's a reason I've never bothered to go back and reinsert page breaks when my preffered character became unsupported (again). But mostly, ff.net isn't my target audience-- I expect mature behavior and ability to click the back button.

    And it isn't the fact that I've got a ton of good comments there-- it's that the bad ones stick in my mind and color everything. If relatively inoffensive RAFA gets flames… *shakes head* I wouldn't want to be a new writer on that site. Yeah, good things and friendships can be made there, but the risk is far too great that you'll end up hurt.

    So, good luck!
  • I still post there and have quite a lot of readers. I even met my best friend there. I've only had half a dozen flames in over 100 stories. I'm glad if people find mistakes I can fix as they sometimes escape me.

    I agree there is a lot of rubbish there and I'm glad I can post at other archives, but I've met some great readers and writers there. I agree posting is a pain.
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