If someone invited you, O readers, to pursue a profession in which it was an ordinary part of business for anonymous strangers to casually walk up and gut-punch you or kick your teeth in, I think your response would probably be similar to the title of this post. No. Just no. Why should any sane person allow themselves to be hurt like that?
I have this feeling frequently, although the punches and kicks in my line of work tend to be verbal, not physical. Such as long-winded, critical anonymous reviews. This one, from someone signing themselves "Overanalyzing Fan", ran so very long that it actually maxed out the review function on fanfiction.net and had to be continued in a second review.
I won't reproduce most of this person's criticisms here, because despite the self-righteous bracketing -- they began with something along the lines of "I don't feel right not letting you know how I feel about your writing" and ended with "Even if all you do is come up with reasons why I'm wrong, this will have been worth it" -- really, everything they had to say added up to the same thing: how dare I write my story in a way that didn't match their vision?
From OF's point of view, I'm sure their every criticism is valid and justified. The later books of the Dangerverse were so convoluted as to be dreadful... for them. A lot of the relationships among Pack and Pride were badly or incompletely developed... for them. There was too much focus on characters other than Harry... for them. I'm not going to bother coming up with reasons why they're wrong, because in their own head, they'll always be right, and nothing I could say here would change their mind.
But am I going to change how I write, based on the criticism of someone who wasn't even brave enough to sign their name to their endless ramble of "this is what I didn't like"? Am I going to revert to the way I wrote in 2006, which is when, according to them, my writing started going off the rails? Let me point you once again to the title of this post. No. No, I am not.
I have deleted the reviews of Overanalyzing Fan, for the simple reason that they are taking advantage of a quirk in the system to short-circuit the process of giving feedback. They have chosen to respond, at length, to my writing, but they have given me no way, other than public forums like this one, to respond to their response. That's not a conversation, that's a lecture, and I've been out of school since... well, since 2006!
Am I certain that the way I'm handling this is the right one? Am I now filled with confidence and renewed energy, ready to charge back into the fray of writing? Once again, the finger points to the top of the page, to the title of this post. No. No, I'm not. I fear very much that OF speaks for a large number of people, that the last several years have made me a worse writer instead of a better one. And I'm feeling bruised and battered by such a relentless verbal pounding, with nowhere to hide from the endless strings of "and then you did THIS wrong".
But that title is also the answer to a far more important question. Am I going to give up because of this? Am I going to cower back and whimper, crawl away and hide, lick my wounds and swear never to write again, since it opens me up to this kind of pain?
No. No, I am not.
Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers, since I won't be posting again until after the holiday. I will try to get a Fiction Friday post out this week, but can't guarantee anything. It's you I'm thankful for more than anything this year, O readers. Yes, even the ones who hurt me. I'm not going to stand here and say "Thank you sir, may I have another", but sometimes pain teaches lessons that can't be learned any other way. (Such as how it feels to want, deeply and fervently, to go find somebody and kick their teeth in.)
Thank you for reading, and have a good rest of the week!