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Cats' Corners: the little HOUSE in the woods....
Where House is NEVER safe...
A Note To My Fellow Writers--and my wonderful reviewers [personal entry] 
7th-Dec-2007 03:33 pm
I've  recently had the opportunity to have a variation of the same conversation with three different people, all of whom contribute in some way to either the House fandom, or another fandom.  One of these people hates House, but we're friends  anyway ;).  And hey--there's no accounting for tastes, right?

Anyway, our discussions have centered around reviews and comments [or the lack thereof] and the power these words have--not just the effect on us, but also on our work.  I believe we've all been guilty--I know I have--of reading or viewing something that's moved us, or amused us, or impressed us in some other way, and then telling ourselves we haven't the time to compose a thoughtful comment.  Maybe we even tell ourselves we'll come back to it "later."  And we rationalize this by saying, Oh, it's such a great piece; I'm sure s/he will get plenty of praise.

Not always.  I've noticed, especially at the Pit of Voles [aka FanFiction.net], that the general rule is that the more thought-provoking a piece is, the more skillfully it's written, the smaller the chance it'll receive the number of reviews it deserves, much less the quality of a thoughtful, appreciative, insightful comment.   Sad, but proven over there time and again.

And reviews and comments can make a huge difference--not only to the author, artist, iconist, whatever--but also to whatever they're creating.  I know that on several occasions, I've changed the intended direction of a story, or given a scene more depth, or even continued something I'd been ready to abandon, based solely on something someone took the time to say.  And this is true with both honest praise and with valid criticism--I'm equally appreciative of both because both are valuable to me--as a writer who's always striving to improve, and who wishes to have an active, involved fanbase who feel appreciated.

I guess my point is--those two or three minutes you choose to take [or not take] can wind up meaning a lot to the creator of the work you've just enjoyed, or learned from, or felt you might help improve.  Of course, there might actually be creative types out there who have such healthy self-esteem, such confidence in their own talent, that they don't need the feedback.  But--if such people even exist--I'm certain they're in the minority.

So what I'm saying is this: to the reviewers--a heartfelt thank you; your words can make as much of a difference to us as our creations make to you.  And to my fellow creative-types--I hope you're more diligent than I at supporting and encouraging our peers.  I know that I'd never have gotten through my own most recent "crisis of confidence" had several of my peers not stepped up and said, Knock it off; you're good at what you do.  So I resolve to take that few minutes myself, on a more regular basis, to try to say a few meaningful words when affected by someone's creation.   I thank everyone who's ever done it for me--and I strongly encourage all of us to do it for one another.  We're a talented group, and I believe we owe it to one another to cheerlead for each other as appreciatively as our amazing reviewers do.

Okay, too introspective today, done now, sorry! 

7th-Dec-2007 10:39 pm (UTC)
I got invited to join a Dr Who fan art comm (never knew such a thing existed!) and post my drawing links. Because I'd just read this, I left some feedback for another artist there. She has already gotten back to me with much appreciation, and made me smile.

It's worth doing. Truly it is. I'll try and be a bit better about it myself.

7th-Dec-2007 11:05 pm (UTC)
we forget. we get lazy. we're human.

but--as creative types ourselves--we know best what those few words mean!!! so yeah--i've already got my new year's resolution, and this is it.

and congrats on your very-well-deserved recognition in WhoVille; they're lucky to get you. [your icon makes me smile, btw--he is intriguing]
7th-Dec-2007 11:38 pm (UTC)
Too true. It can be easy to forget this every now and then as we get wrapped up in the madness of life.
On another note, regarding that crisis of confidence, it seems fortunately to be over, but just in case you're considering another: You, my dear, are absolutely wonderful at what you do. I can honestly say that I've not only enjoyed your stories, but they and you have helped me get through some tough and stressful times with more of my ever-waning sanity intact. The fandom and my own little world, are definitely better for having you and your writing a part of them.
By the way, don't think I've forgotten that you mentioned there's a piece in hiding (aside from the longer one in the works). I expect it to make an appearance soon. :)
8th-Dec-2007 12:59 am (UTC)
you mentioned there's a piece in hiding (aside from the longer one in the works)

okay--i get that the baclofen has screwed with my brain in varied and deeply disturbing ways, but... am i missing a story? because i recall SDE... and that covers what i recall....

edited because that screwed-up brain is... screwing up. badly. bedtime. now.

Edited at 2007-12-08 01:33 am (UTC)
8th-Dec-2007 02:45 am (UTC)
Nope, no stories missed. I was referring to SDE, and the long awaited sequel to TMTC. I wouldn't blame the baclofen. This is probably more the result of my brain being under the influence of the alcohol. What can I say? 'tis Friday night. :)
8th-Dec-2007 11:51 am (UTC)
I wouldn't blame the baclofen.

i would. i do. when i am forced to take it, it keeps me from remembering. it disrupts my thought processes. it keeps me from writing. i mean, can you see house taking something that decreases his intellect? and all i've got is my brain. so i won't take it unless i have to, and i resent the bloody hell out of every cognizant moment it steals from me.

you used the dreaded 's' word, which i've conveniently blocked out [and no, can't blame that on the bac--much]. i'll... get there. eventually. i hope.

a glass of wine sounds lovely! but, as it's 6:49am, i'll have to settle for coffee. because now, it's saturday morning! ;)
8th-Dec-2007 12:13 am (UTC)

*wide, wide grin*

Alas, this was before you came along, but the Pit of Voles used to be the premier site for fanfiction. This was around 1999, when I was the same age as most of the fangirls are there now. Back then, early on, reviews were given freely and abundantly. Not so, anymore. It saddens me. *sighs* But you knew that. Still, I do get quite a lot of feedback here. It's very nice. *brightens again*

*edited because 'premiere' and 'premier' are homophones, damn it*

Edited at 2007-12-08 12:16 am (UTC)
8th-Dec-2007 12:17 am (UTC)

I will admit to doing this. I actually had a discussion once about whether the worth of a piece to an audience could be judged based on feedback or on the amount of people who favorited it/story alerted it. If I go straight off of the amount of feedback I get then the obvious thought would be my stories aren't having any impact, but based on the fact that I have quite a few people who favorite story/story alert my pieces then I have to think that someone likes it. I do find the more multi-chaptered a story is the less likely I am to respond to it. There has to be something about that particular chapter that will make me shake off the reply funk and send a review. Otherwise, I am reading and eagerly awaiting the next chapter. Is it right? Maybe not Is it fair? Maybe not as well, but it is true. To be really honest, if I want to depress myself I will go look at the fact that a story like Lifeline has over 11K hits and just over 100 feedback comments.
8th-Dec-2007 12:45 am (UTC)
if I want to depress myself I will go look at the fact that a story like Lifeline has over 11K hits and just over 100 feedback comments

that's interesting; there's a way to track the number of hits a story gets on LiveJournal? i'd love to know how to do that! how did you find it?

based on the fact that I have quite a few people who favorite story/story alert my pieces then I have to think that someone likes it

does it ever upset you that they favorite it, and yet don't review?
because that bothers me...

8th-Dec-2007 03:22 am (UTC)
that's interesting; there's a way to track the number of hits a story gets on LiveJournal? i'd love to know how to do that! how did you find it?

Actually I stopped posting on LJ because of the fact that my stories got less attention here than over at the Pit. I wish LJ had a way to count the hits then i would know if it was worth it to post here. I find LJ to be more insular, you are likely to find people who search out and read and authors work or not. IMO they don't seem as open to lesser known authors here.

does it ever upset you that they favorite it, and yet don't review?
because that bothers me...

Sometimes, but if theya re favotiting it then at least they like it enough to want to read it more or again. I personally would take ten really well thought out pieces of feedback than 100 this is great ones. For some reason I don't seem to get that sort of feedback from my readers. I do it get from my betas and that is great, but usually it is more along the lines of this is good, more plase. So for me, since I don't really get conscrutive feedback I take the alerts/favorited as a better mark of how people are receiving my story.

8th-Dec-2007 01:03 am (UTC)
I agree with this. Feedback is both a help (if constructive) and a nice ego stroke (if positive). There are times though where I have to force myself a bit. It's not always easy to write good feedback either. I think a lot of readers feel that they'll look foolish for just writing 'I liked this' or something like that. People who're not used to posting and commenting might be scared away.

There's also another issue. I always have a negative knee-jerk reaction to 'why don't people comment more?!' type statements. It's not the case here, but sometimes the issue seems to be that the writer feel entitled to feedback because they've spent time and effort on something. I couldn't disagree more. Feedback is nice and useful and 1,342 other things, but it's not a right. I suppose that's also why I find it distasteful when author-persons demand feedback – although that mainly happens at ff.net.
8th-Dec-2007 01:09 am (UTC)
this isn't an 'i demand feedback' post; it's quite the opposite. it's an 'i don't leave feedback the way i should' post. however, i'm with you--ordering me to leave feedback will result not only in no feedback, but in one less reader, as well. because i figure if the author feels that the story is strong enough to post, then the author shouldn't be insecure enough to make feedback a prerequisite! [but i'm feeling really cynical tonight; don't mind me]
8th-Dec-2007 01:13 am (UTC)
*pst* I did write 'it's not the case here' but yes, I also put on my cynical shoes today so I'm with you there.

Heh, I have something that might make you peak right up. I went to a panto (of sorts) today. It turns out there are clips of previous shows floating around youtube: Enjoy! (warnings for nearly naked flabby men.
8th-Dec-2007 07:08 pm (UTC)
This is completely random, but is connected to fanfic: to my utter surprise, I wrote a short, fluffy H/W fic this morning (it's gen). As you are the only Housefic author I "know," would you be willing to look it over for me and tell me if posting it to house_wilson would result in my utter embarrasment?
8th-Dec-2007 07:16 pm (UTC)
sweetie, i can't. and i mean that quite literally; i've got real thought-process-problems due to my meds, and i've found out the hard way that i cannot read any fics when i'm writing. it screws me up completely. that's the bad news.

the good news is, i've forwarded your request to my wonderful friend--and writer extraordinaire--blackmare, and she's graciously agreed to read it in my stead! so, if you're comfortable with that, reply back, or send her a pm via lj, and we'll get it worked out!
8th-Dec-2007 07:23 pm (UTC)
Oh yaay! Wonderful, as I love her work too. I'll PM her my e-mail address and if she can reply with an e-mail addy of her I'll shoot it off (can't do attachments on this LJ inbox thingamyjig).
8th-Dec-2007 11:44 pm (UTC)
*huggles* but there is no way someone could read your work and not comment on it. Your just too good!

Lmao, Pit of Voles. Where was I when we changed the name?

8th-Dec-2007 11:53 pm (UTC)
there is no way someone could read your work and not comment on it

yeah, they do--in large numbers, every day at the pit. that's the joy of stats. but that isn't the point; the point is that we're all guilty of not commenting when we should, and that in my opinion, it's important for writers and artists and vidists and iconists and all the other 'ists' to support one another with praise, critique, encouragement. because it means something special, coming from your peers. it does to me, at least.

Pit of Voles. Where was I when

dunno; about a year ago, i read a post wherein ff.net was referred to as the pit, and i've been calling it that ever since. i believe the term is quite popular on LJ. and it's certainly appropriate, no? ;)
9th-Dec-2007 02:33 am (UTC)
I admit that I don't comment everything I read. But really, who does? I remember I used to, but now... my reviews are reserved for the most well written fics. That's a bit pointless though, isn't it? Reviewing/critiquing stories that aren't in grave need of it and abandoning the ones who are.

Very. Though half the reviews I get are less intelligent than one from an illiterate lobotomized chimp.

You have made me see the error of my ways. Now I must go read the first fic I find and review the crap out of it. XD

9th-Dec-2007 02:00 am (UTC)
That's one of the habits I have that I'm trying to get better at. I tend to read a lot of fics offline, then get distracted when I get back on and end up not leaving a comment. (Or I read just before leaving for work and have to shut down before I can leave a comment.) Sometimes I do feel guilty for only being able to leave "I enjoyed this- thanks for sharing" but I figure the least I can do is to let them know someone did read the piece and enjoyed it. I tend not to get many reviews myself so I know what it's like to wonder if anyone has even looked (or listened) to a piece I've done, so I'm trying my best to be a better fan-- cause it can only help to help bringing about more of what I enjoy!
9th-Dec-2007 02:26 am (UTC)
I'm trying my best to be a better fan-- cause it can only help to help bringing about more of what I enjoy

i'd not even considered that angle--but it's so true! another wonderful reason to support each other--we all wind up benefiting!
17th-Dec-2007 06:58 pm (UTC)
You know, I never considered the whole "leave a comment" thing by the author's angle.
I never thought writers did need our comments. I really thought that they were sure about their skills and didn't need feedback. I love leaving comments because I love being moved, or surprised, or finding stories that makes me think. In those cases, I leave a comment because I need to say thanks to the person who made me feel that way, and never considered the contrary! It turns out I am a little egotistic... watching all this only by my side! :-)
Besides, I have to admit I should take some more time to leave a comment instead of thinking "That's good, but I'll reply later" (which in general barely happens).
In the end, I am kind of MIA in these times just because Christmas time is the busiest period for my job, so I am not commenting only because I am not reading!
17th-Dec-2007 09:45 pm (UTC)
I really thought that they were sure about their skills and didn't need feedback.

i'm so sorry... as soon as i can quit gasping with hysterical laughter i'll be right back with ya.....

okay. better now. *smothers one last giggle* speaking only for myself--no. no. that feedback tells me i'm doing something worthwhile, something that you're enjoying, and not just killing a few hours on a keyboard. perhaps there are those who are so confident in their skills that the feedback's just gravy--nice, but not necessary. and if such writers exist, i envy them. and i know that many people, for whatever reason, don't comment. and that's okay; it's just a fact of life as a fanfic writer. but that knowledge makes the comments we do receive all the more valuable!! :)
19th-Dec-2007 08:49 am (UTC)

Following your advice. :-D

This is wonderfully stated, as ever. You have a no-nonsense way of getting to the heart of a matter w/o falling over the line into preachy that I really like.

Thank you for reminding me of why we need to do this. As someone who is a newish writer to this fandom, I know how it feels to be comment-starved. So, yes, the best way to get is to give.

And thank you, in general, for making me think. From your fiction to your personal essays, you've really helped me along my Journey this six-month, and for that I most humbly thank you. :-)