mjj (flemmings) wrote,

On feedback

I was going to leave a comment on this but I figured I'd be talking off-topic a bit. So I do it here.

I was struck by one person's remark that the fanfic she writes is her personal response to something in the series- her meditation on whatever point it may be. That indeed is what the best of my fic has been- well, maybe not the 'best' by objective standards, but the most satisfying to me personally, to write and to have written.

If you look at fic as a form of commentary, not leaving feedback makes very good sense. It's exactly like an lj entry. I don't expect everyone who reads my journal entries to comment on them; to do so would be taking self-importance to ludicrous extremes. People reply if something strikes them particularly, or if they want to continue discussing some point I've raised. But who'd want to have their whole FL saying 'Interesting comment' or 'Good point' to each entry of theirs? much less to have your readers flog themselves into coming up with a new and innovative remark each time they dutifully comment on one of your posts.

Equally with fic. If someone is utterly bowled over by what I wrote and *has* to tell me, I'm quite happy to hear it. If it provokes some particular thought in them I suppose I'm happy to discuss that as well, so long as the discussion doesn't start edging out the fic-writing as it's wont to do with lazy writers like, y'know, me. (The parallel being when lj posts spark private email responses that are fine as far as they go, but not what a lj is essentially for IMO. Ljs are public, hence I want public discussions in them.)

But the feeling that one *must* say something in response to a fic- and that the writer must then say something back to you- ignores the reality of reading as I at least experience it. Most fics and most lj entries provoke mild and brief-lived interest. Which is fine- I don't want to be stirred to my bowels or struck dumb with admiration every time I look at what someone else has posted in their blog or their fic site. But that perfectly natural response of indifference isn't going to spark heartfelt and meaningful feedback. So why insist that it should?

I don't mind if people's response is the old APA acronym RAEBNC: 'Read and enjoyed but no comment.' Neither do I see any reason why they should bother to tell me that. What does put my teeth on edge is the pat on the head remarks I used to get on MLs- 'fine work', 'good story', 'very nice'- that I can't help feeling come more from someone's desire to appear polite (or even worse, to encourage 'our fine writers' quote-unquote growl) than from any particular belief that it *was* a fine work or very nice. My FL may consider themselves exempt from this for the most part: I generally know whose 'fine work' means exactly that. But from strangers- no. Don't bother. As with ljs, I feel one should only reply to a fic when there's something that needs saying: and that there's nothing wrong or even unusual in having nothing to say to what is, after all, a private meditation.
Tags: fandom, writing
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