i was just watching an older sarah z video about jk r*wling and this bit:
“When instead of thinking critically about the books and generating your own interpretations, you're instead encouraged to just ask the author what's 'true' or not, that renders so much of fan communities' work meaningless.”
really, really made me think of the IF community
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I've been thinking about interactive fiction and the ridiculous word counts these works have compared to traditional novels and the entitlement of fandom
these are not very coherent thoughts but like... an author of traditional novels takes years to write a 100k-200k book and nobody bats an eye
IF authors crank that out multiple times over, in an amount of time that is frankly unbelievable to me
and I don't think people appreciate that enough
I wanna ask every IF author if they're okay tbh
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I am once again rambling about writing because I was looking at my ao3 stats the other day and it really got me thinking about a few things.
You wouldn't be able to tell from looking at the stats (I'll get to that), but last year I was pushing myself absurdly hard to write and post things. And there were a few reasons for that—I've talked before about the need to feel in control of something during the pandemic; being a little dazzled due to being in a shiny new fandom (that was friendly and welcoming and inspiring and just the right size), and then there was also the part where I was surrounding myself with other fic writers. Fic writers who, for the most part, had far more experience than I did. I hadn't written anything in years, had never actually published fic before, but here I was somehow regularly chatting to people who were writing these amazingly nuanced, fascinating stories and they saw me as one of them? I felt like I had to keep up. (And I've never thought of myself as a bad writer, not in terms of technique and language, but I do struggle with ideas and discipline and speed). So I pushed myself. A lot.
I wrote some things I still really like during that time period, but also some things that now leave me going 'so what was the point of this?' and I know the point was that I was scrambling to write as much as I could every day. I pushed far more than was reasonable, because I'm a perfectionist and an overachiever and I'm used to being good at things so it didn't register that it was more than just okay, it was normal and expected that I didn't have the technical proficiency to keep up with some of the people I was comparing myself to. Not through any fault of my own (I am a good writer and I stand by that, I will not put myself down) but simply because I wasn't as practiced as them.
I ended up exhausted. Fucking drained. Not only because of that (there's also the topic of fandom interaction and how much of myself I poured into it for similar reasons, but that's another can of worms I refuse to touch), but it was a pretty strong contributor. I wish I'd understood earlier that I didn't have to do that.
The pushing (awful as it was for my mental health, and I do wish I hadn't done it) did help in a lot of ways, though. I got a lot of practice. I'm able to do things now with my writing that were completely out of my reach last year. I can write more and better things with far, far less effort: I've been busier with life things this year, have had a lot less time to write, I don't put as much of my energy into it and yet I've tripled the amount of words I've posted on ao3 compared to last year. I can write dialogue far more easily than I could only a few months ago. I've gotten better at 'just writing', letting the words flow onto the page. I have a multichapter that's at 10k! I wrote a 1.4k oneshot in three hours! Those things would have been literally, literally impossible for me last year. And maybe for some people that's not very impressive, but for me it is. It's visible, measurable progress.
And I've stopped writing things because I feel like I have to write, to constantly share snippets and previews and say 'hey look at me I'm writing I'm still worth paying attention to'. I'm still not at the point where I can say I don't worry about the pressure to post or about reception or those things most of us care about, but at least I can say I'm writing what I want to write, ideas that I find interesting and worth exploring and that I want to see written. I'm writing mostly for me, and I'm happy with that.
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