My name is Mooncalf, I'm a thirty-year-old fangirl from Ohio, and this is my weblog. Right now you're either somewhere in the archives or reading comments or something like that. To return to the main page, click here.

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01/31/2002 Entry: "Love Me! Love My Fanfiction! Please?"

WARNING: Honest.

I'm pretty sure that somewhere in every blog-keeping fanfiction writer's contract, it states very clearly that said writer must produce an essay on Why I Write Fanfiction. And, you know, far be it from me to deny my contract.

Note that I don't plan to talk about what inspires me to write fanfic. Because, you know, I've done that already, and the short answer is that either my sense of humor or my libido suggests something and I become their bitch for however long it takes to pry the idea off my hindbrain.
No, what I intend to attempt to talk about is why I actually bother to write my ideas down and post the resulting fics on my website, instead of smirking, telling Boyfriend the joke, and then getting on with my life.
It's very simple, really.
My first attempts at fanfiction were silly parodies. Completely OOC, no real attempt at characterization or even plot, just a series of silly and lame jokes. And when I went to write them down, the thought in my mind was 'Boy, this is stupid, but kind of funny. I wonder if other people will think so? I think I'll put them up on the web so that other people can laugh at them too.'
And then when I made more forays into actual non-parodic fanfiction, the general thought in my mind was 'I think this idea is neat. I hope other people do too. I'll write it down so that I can share it with everyone.'

That's right. If you strip the above examples of all the mealy-mouthed words that might soften the bluntness: why do I, Mooncalf, write fanfiction? Because I want you to love me.

Okay, so maybe it's good writing practice, and maybe I do enjoy the process of getting an idea from my head to turn into words, and maybe even if I never wrote down another fanword again I'd still be writing fanfics in my head. But those are all secondary motivations.
Maybe I take pride in my work. Maybe I enjoy rereading the finished product and getting the glow of 'I did that'. Maybe I revel in the successful creation of the image that was so nebulous in my head. Maybe I'm all too aware that, as writers go, I'm not too damn bad, and I enjoy proving that to myself. Again, that is secondary.

I write fanfiction because I want you to love me and my product.

Note that I didn't say I want honest critique, or commentary, or literary criticism, or mere feedback. I want love. I want worship. I want you to cringingly validate my sense of humor and my creativity. I want you to proclaim me your minor deity of fanworks. I want you to look upon my works, o ye mighty, and despair!
I bet you think I'm kidding.
I'm not even exaggerating.
Much.

And it's not even that my fanworks are that good. There are multitudes of fanfiction writers who are better than I am. In some cases, a thousand times better than I can ever hope to be. I insist that that is not germane to my point! Whether there exist better writers or not, I still want you to love me and my works!
I am desperate! Please! Validate my existence! Throw me the lifeline of your love before it's too late! I need you! Without you I'm nothing!

... ahem. Excuse me. Got a little carried away there.

But, you know, as horrible - as vain, as needy, as loony - as the above sounds, I must admit that it's more or less true. If I didn't get positive feedback, I probably wouldn't write as much as I do.
And I would like to submit to you that most fanfiction writers, whether they consciously realize it or not, are motivated at least in part by that same desire for love and acceptance. Probably not as much as I am, because I'm an attention whore.
But whether wholly or just in part, I bet that if they were completely honest about their motivations, 'impressing others' would be somewhere on that list. Probably not first, or even second or third... but somewhere. Even if it masquerades as 'entertaining people' or 'contributing to my fandom'.
Or maybe I'm just deluded and I'm down here in the gutter by myself.
But somehow, I don't think so.

Replies: add your comment: currently 22 comments

Most people are probably like you are as far as craving validation goes; I realize that now. While I may not like it, I do respect you for having the honesty to admit it. (Myself, I don't write because of that, but it is kind of nice to be loved.) To each his own, I guess.

Posted by Juunigou @ 01/31/2002 08:52 PM EST

My question is this: Doesn't all art stem, at least in part, from the desire for "people to love me"? I mean, art without an audience has failed as art; it's designed to provoke a response (even if that response is apathy, however at that point we get into pointy-headed modern art arguments, which are boring and/or insane. So moving right along...). However, most artists either aren't particularly good at distancing themselves from their work or aren't particularly interested in intellectualizing the process, so more often than not, art becomes a physical representation of the artist's soul/sense of humor/libido/etc. So when people judge a piece of art, especially a work with great personal meaning to the artist, surely the audience is, at least in part, judging the artist as well. If they love the art, they love the artist by implication; if they hate the art, they hate the artist by implication...(This is something that one sees a lot in giggly little fangirl art/fic circles - a particularly good artist/writer will start to attract a lot of friends, just on the basis of adoration/envy)The intrinsic artistic quality of fanfiction doesn't matter - it's still the product of an act of creation, and it's an intensely personal product, especially since the writers are generally amateurs who have absolutely no experience in removing themselves from their work.So, er, I agreed with your point, and public approbation is sure as hell the reason I write fanfiction, but I think that the "validation of self" thing is a factor in all elements of creation. w00t.

Posted by Adobe Scribe @ 01/31/2002 11:53 PM EST

I also like to claim to be an artist, but I don't feel like being "serious" right now.

Some art is produced so people react to the artist in some way. Praise, adoration, flames, or, preferably, payment in cash or tradable goods. (Or in Ikuhara Kunihiko's case, so he can sleep with all the adolescent girls he wants.)

However, some art is produced for a far more noble reason, comprised of three magic words.

Shits and giggles.

^_^

(Okay, I was kidding about the "noble" part.)

Posted by Carlos @ 02/01/2002 01:51 AM EST

Um. On second thought, my last sentence should read "...I think that the 'validation of self' thing is a factor in all elements of creation that are shared with an audience", because, after all, there's stuff that one creates that one doesn't particularly want or need to share with other people, and I'd assume that other motivations are coming into play there (personal aesthetic appreciation?)

I don't know, I'd be interested in seeing how the Internet has affected this "love my work, love meee!" tendancy. Does the crowded anonymity of the Internet encourage us to promote our "personalities" (the only element of ourselves that we're able to project online) through interesting, distinct pieces of accessible art (i.e. fanfiction)?

I have a distinct feeling that I'm not making any sense, so I should probably go to bed...

Posted by Adobe Scribe @ 02/01/2002 02:08 AM EST

I actually do have a "love me" motivation, a great "love me" motivation for showing other people the stuff I write (non-fanfic). And I beat myself up over having that motivations, so I've learned to put the writing away for a few years, and THEN show it to others, and then I don't care what they think of it.

Posted by TamZa @ 02/01/2002 02:42 AM EST

To paraphrase some past blogmeme elsewhere in the world, even JRR Tolkien can be easily contrued to be Norse Mythology reconstituted into fiction with liberal doses of Mary Sue. (Who do *you* think Beren and Luthien were?)

A lot of why people write what they write is to live out personal fantasies or let out feelings they could not otherwise vent in the day-to-day existence they have. That holds pretty true whether it's fanfic or originalfic, or extend that further, to art in general. Paintings. Movies. Music. Anime.

Certainly the cult of self-personality that we're seeing feeds onto this, and therefore people are going to be very defensive about what they have to offer because of the fear of rejection, but do what they do (writing fanfic, drawing fanart) because they're even more afraid of being ignored. Especially when it's so easy to connect with perfect strangers this way, even on a casual basis.

Instant gratification, made much more "instant" via the Internet and the speed of light (or at least signals through copper).

At the same time, the risk of rejection (and the infliction of mental and psychic pain) is raised drastically simply by the ease of accessed one's work via the Internet. And with the "anonymity" the Internet affords, people are more likely to be negative and rude because they feel they can get away with it easier.

I damn sure hope that made *any* sense.

Posted by Carlos (aka ComeOnBunny's Husband) @ 02/01/2002 04:18 AM EST

Aaawwww....Well, don't worry, Moon, because we DO love you and your products!! :3 Really! You have a strong following here!!
And I understand what you mean. I feel the same way about my own works. I guess I want people to love me and love my work too...Unfortunately, not a lot of people do see my work, and as far as love goes....that doesn't really work either. But I'm aiming for it. I understand perfectly. I think all or most creators want this, whether they admit or not. I mean, they create and put out these things because they want people to read and enjoy them, and I think in this way, this means they also want people to like them too. Now granted, you could say to someone "I think you're a complete asshole, but man, you're a great artist and writer!!". I'm sure that can happen. But I don't think creators generally want that to happen. Whether they admit it or not, whether they care or not, or admit they care or not.

Hey, I remember ComeOnBunny from Vera's board!! Hellooo!! And hello Carlos, her husband!

Posted by Wolf @ 02/01/2002 02:28 PM EST

Gah!!

*Prostrates himself before you, lightly kissing your shoelaces*

You...you are the Grand Pooh-Bah-lady of fanfics! *grovel* The Empress of verbal delineation! *cower* The Deity of fictional tales! *awe*

You and Lex are the only ones in the fanfic world that has gotten me in trouble at work.

Evil siblings you must be!

Demonesses of involuntary evil you must be!

And because of this, I am drawn to your digital rantings, angst and blogness. I require a daily dose of it. I need it. Yearn for it. More!! Gah!! MORE FICS!! *drool* Need more!! No life without Moonie stories!! *Snarl*
AAUUGH!!

...uh...but I digress.

Posted by Squeeker @ 02/01/2002 03:55 PM EST

Quite honest. Honest is good. And with people like Wolf and Squeeker around, I trust it's been a successful venture so far. [would put a winking-smilie or other "that was a bit facetious" shorthand there, but would probably be taken as an idiot if she did so]

Posted by StB @ 02/01/2002 04:29 PM EST

Moonie, *I* love you. But, I love Adobe even better.

Seriously, yes, yes and, ur, yes. When you create fanfiction you often put a whole lot of yourself into it. This doesn't mean that you necessarily self-insert in the purest, most loathsome sense of the word; it means that you put your ideas on paper and you want people to enjoy reading them as much as YOU enjoyed writing them. One of my favorite parts of having written fanfiction is when someone would say to me 'I really like this and that scene/character/relationship', and then I would go and read it over to look at what they liked again and feel pleased that they were pleased with what I wrote. In fact, whenever I would write scenes I myself liked I would feel pleased at thinking at how others would like it. And that's the narcissistic part of the whole deal; when others like your writing, you feel good, because, having put so much of yourself into your work, in the most abstract sense of the word, it's almost like they like YOU.

I think I'm just repeating what Moonie said in one sentence, so I'll quit now.

Posted by Tamerine @ 02/01/2002 04:52 PM EST

The narcissistic part to creation is actually why I don't upload fanfiction anymore. I still write it, of course-- but my audience consists of Numero Uno, me. Which is great, 'cause then I can shamelessly pander to my own lowest common denomination. Heheh.

There's nothing wrong with writing and creating for attention, of course, and I actually admire people that can take the risk to get their stuff out there to be -seen- and -responded- to. I'm both too cowardly and too skeptical to seek worship from total strangers. The one time that I had a "fan", I just couldn't get used to it... kept thinking of it as insincere or manipulative, like he was buttering me up for something.

That probably implies I have self-esteem issues, though. :P
BUT-- from what little I know of you, Moonk, you do rock greatly. And then some.

Posted by Piper @ 02/01/2002 11:51 PM EST

[points] What Tams and Adobe said.

Of course, I'd point to you too, Moonie, but I've run out of arms :)

I dunno. I sorta operate on the "if it feels good, do it" motto, which is probably horribly self-destructive, but at least I'll bite the bullet happy with life, as opposed to being another victim of high blood pressure and job related stress. So many people like to cripple any source of amusement or pleasure or happiness they derive from their work or their hobbies or their art, on the guilty assumption that if they're enjoying themselves they *must* be doing something wrong, usually on a moral "God is watching me!" level. Cripes! If feedback makes you happy, then have fun with it for what it's worth, even if its worth is only about two ounces of mouse pee. You can enjoy something *without* taking it to the extremes of overindulgence, you know, and you hardly seem the type whose ego is suddenly going to swell to vast, Jennifer Lopez proportions on account of some good praise :).

Posted by Lex @ 02/02/2002 02:25 AM EST

I think that peopel feel vaugely guilty at craving "worship" through art because only God is supposed to be worshipped and thus they feel it's somehow "wrong". This is why we love humble geniuses and loath narcissistic artists.

Posted by Tamerine @ 02/02/2002 10:55 AM EST

Actually, Tamerine, I have a problem with arrogance and narcissism in general. Demanding that you be worshipped as a godlet is just a facet of that problem (what I see as a problem). It's not religious at all. I just don't think ANYONE is that perfect. Good point though.

Posted by StB @ 02/02/2002 02:04 PM EST

You know, looong time ago... Like, when I was 3 or 4, I was drawing all day. It really wasn't 'love meeee, see how I draw' thing; in fact, I hid my drawings from the eyes of others. I still loved drawing so much.

But in third grade, I found out that I drew 'better' than other kids in my class. My classmates loved me because I'd draw them many pictures. I thoroughly basked in this newly discovered happiness. Still it was all innocent and fluffy, I think; at least compared to now, it seems.

So yeah, I got my art site up and was happy. Didn't get so many visitors, and was sometimes envious of art sites that did, but still it was alright. I felt that the site was such an accomplishment or something, and was intoxicated with that exaggerated sense of accomplishment for some time. Gradually the toxin left my heart ... and I think as that happened, attention crave slipped into me. I'm really bad at receiving criticisms, too.

I admit that now, *half* the reason I draw is that love meee thing.

I'm not sure if this is exactly an evil thing. Except when I really don't want to finish a picture. Then I start forcing myself, and it becomes a waste of time unless I get them praises. Sometimes I want to go back to the old days and keep sketching my ideas out, but really, it's a double-edged sword... Without the impurity of motivation, there would be very little challenge for me. That's just my way of art; I don't *thoroughly* enjoy doing overly time consuming coloring jobs and such. But without the challenge and hastened improvement, there is that purity... and again, is the purity such a good thing? ._.;

Posted by Keiiii @ 02/02/2002 06:51 PM EST

I'd like to be worshiped. AS A GODDESS.

But don't we all?

Posted by Tamerine @ 02/03/2002 03:35 PM EST

I dunno. My wife would look at me really funny if I was a goddess tomorrow. In fact, that might constitute grounds for divorce, or something.

So, no, I would not like to be worshipped as a goddess. ^_^

Posted by Carlos @ 02/04/2002 09:35 PM EST

The fact that you have an opinion and can actually express it with some degree of success should be enough reason for people to love you. Writing excercise or no, at least you are using the brain that will eventually let out the thing which has never been before. This is all preparation Miss Mooncalf. I like to think that by letting us see the workings of your mind you are opening yourself to your audience, letting them see your ruminations. When this field that you have been tending with your fanfiction writing suddenly changes colour around harvest time we will see something that we have never seen before, the original yield. Of course that's just my opinion...

Posted by cHRiS @ 02/04/2002 10:47 PM EST

Woohoo~ Praise whores and review whores of the world, unite! XD No worries, Moon...I will always be a bigger whore than you, and will always love you. *nuzzles*

Posted by Meriko @ 02/05/2002 11:06 AM EST

It's all academic anyway, Moo! Don't you remember? You were absorbed into the Technomancy Hive Mind. You're all my minions now.

</sarcasm>

Posted by D @ 02/06/2002 03:22 PM EST

I think that producing art and putting it up is a way of sharing a part of yourself.
It is natural to want that part of yourself to be loved. My drawings I just realized lately aren't that great. I do well with black&white media, but I suck at colours... I only let a selective audience see my work though, so I am assured of their approval! ;)

Posted by sheerlyEvil @ 02/09/2002 08:52 AM EST

You know, I actually like getting flames for my writing more than praise. I like arguing with people about my literary jewels/pieces of crap to validate it. I mean, that's better than being ignored. YES, I WANT TO BE LOVED! Or hated. Take your pick.

Posted by angrynorris @ 02/10/2002 04:36 PM EST

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