I’ve always wanted to talk a bit lenghtily about my opinions on fic, fic writing and the general writer-fic-reader culture and I just saw an extremely unpleasant “article” on ao3 that righeously attacks a certain genre of fanfic that I personally don’t read, nor like, but the existence of which really doesn’t bother me.
First things first, to me the positives of fanfiction vastly outnumber the negatives. I am used to living in absolute certainty that anytime I want to have fun, escape or get a little hot and bothered, there will always be fic to provide that for me. I will always, always find a fic I love. Notice I am saying fic *I* love, not, “fic that is good”. And having this certainty, I become entirely unbothered by the automatically existing other group, aka fics I don’t love.
Despite commenting on fics as much as I can, and participating in the fandom, there is still something utterly personal about fanfiction to me. It’s reading it on my phone as I’m shaky and queasy on my way to an exam, to a job interview, to an annoying doctor’s appointment. It’s loading up fics to my kindle and reading them at 3am on the plane when it kind of seems like neither time nor space are real anymore. It’s checking my ao3 subscription emails right after my alarm goes off because finding out a fave WIP updated might actually wake my brain up in a pleasant manner. I’m not exaggerating when I say I go through my life non-stop reading fics bit by bit.
What each and every one of the writers responsible for those fics gives me is priceless. And they are not even asking for a price! Just some damn decency.
The phrase “don’t like don’t read” might seem simplistic and in a way, almost illogical - except with the existence of meticulous tagging system, it becomes reality. Tags are there to warn and to entire. Writers, use them. Readers, read them. But it doesn’t stop there. It is, in fact, entirely possible to open a fic and find it wanting and still follow that directive. How? Close the damn tab. If you want to nitpick it, the phrase becomes “i have read, i haven’t liked, i have stopped reading”.
Now, we are people. We get passionate about fandoms, characters, ships, so I get that not everyone - not all the time - is capable of being so chill about being faced with something they seriously didn’t like.
Don’t inflict it on the author. And - and this is a peeve of mine - don’t passively aggresively inflict it on all the authors who might read your vague, public rant and think “is this me?” or who will add it to that ever growing list of mental barriers and doubts that we seem to be soaking up like sponges. Just tell it to a friend. Punch a pillow. Go and find a fic you love.
Remember that even though it seems your taste might be objective, or “common sense” - and this is easy to fall into especially when things like basic grammar are involved - it’s just not. Not in these cases. That description of my daily fic consumption I wrote above? That has been going on for years and years. Somewhat recently I decided to look up fics for an old ship of mine, remembering how deeply I loved them, how I reread them many times, and I was so giddy about getting to enjoy myself like that again. My reaction was a little “oh”. It was not only me whose tastes have changed, but also fandom and fic writing that has evolved, however, that doesn’t at all alter my past enjoyment. And for every fic you scoff at, there might be a reader who is at an entirely different place than you are, and is loving it. Don’t undo their support by your selfish lash out.
Bottom line, just focus on what you do. Focus on finding what you like. Support what you like. It’s not like “bad” and “good” fic are fighting for their place on the interwebs and only one can get the spot. This is not a limited space library.
If you need a more candid conversation about things like ships, characterizations and so on, turn to meta. Meta is there for people to disagree on, because meta should follow rules of logic and analysis. Fanfiction doesn’t have to.
“ I think the secret to a happy life is to keep moving, to
keep trying to do the things you love. And maybe -just maybe, if you are
really lucky- while you’re out there flying and flapping for years and
years, you’ll see some pretty incredible things.” ~
“It was for her I sinned, and that is why God forgives me. I shall feel this benediction when Cosette comes, I shall gaze upon her; the sight of her innocence will do me good. She knows nothing of it all. She is an angel, you see, my Sisters. At her age the wings have not yet fallen.”
Vax totally used to sing “You are My Sunshine” to Vex when they were little. He isn’t much of a singer, but it’s a simple tune, and he sings it with all the love in his heart.
And when she dies, he sings it softly as the ritual to bring her back is prepared. “…please don’t take my sunshine away,” he whispers as Keyleth tells him it’s time to begin.
He teases her when she becomes Pelor’s champion. “The song wasn’t literal, Stubby,” he says with his ever present grin.
And when he leaves them for the final time, Vex thinks she’ll never hear the song again. Until one night, she hears a low baritone: “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when times are gray…” She goes sprinting down the hall and stops in the doorway to find Percy singing it to their first child. He doesn’t notice her as her eyes well up with tears. When he finally notices her, he panics and apologizes and she just walks over and hugs him tight, thanking him. He’s not sure what she’s thanking him for, but he’s glad she’s not angry.
And when they’re older, Vex tells her children about their Uncle Vax and the only song he ever sang, and teaches them the words. And they sing it to each other, as a raven stands watch above them.
“…you’ll never know dear, how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away.”