merricatk: (Bell of Freedom)
[personal profile] merricatk
[Note: I saved this so I would never forget, and so no-one could ever persuade me I was remembering incorrectly. I'm posting it now (6/16/10) because I'm cleaning off my desktop, and because I'm no longer afraid to post it. But this is the post--this is the issue--that finally got it through my head that I'm not a part of fandom. All names redacted.]

Some are posting this under lock. I'm so, so not.
NO. Fucking. Way.

[lj username redacted] has posted an entry in which she asks fans to each send her the cost of a book, in cash, so she can quit her job and write novels. Oh, and the reason you should do this? Because hey, she's got all those WIPs you want her to finish and if she can quit her job, you'll get the fanfiction you've been clamoring for!

I suggest we let her know what we think of this idea. In strong language.

I clearly need a stronger icon than my "WTF", "CLUE!" and "HULK SMASH!" icons; none of these do my current reaction justice. Perhaps a FUCK YOU YOU FUCKING FUCK, AND BE SURE TO HAVE A SIDE HELPING OF ANAL RAPE icon....

ETA: She's made a second post, with comments open, explaining that *prayer* helped her come to the decision to ask strangers for money so she can quit her job. Well, I guess that makes it all right, then! Can't argue with that - you'd be going against God's will! I better send money!

Interestingly, the other people on my flist who posted about this . . . well, the posts are gone. Or gone from my sight, anyway. So is the one I quoted above, at least as far as I can tell. But the others disappeared very quickly.

I have to say that my feelings about asking for money for fan fiction have changed. I understand that it puts the author in a more precarious legal position, though I don't think it endangers fandom at large. And I understand the asking for money, not because times are hard, but because so often writers are getting nothing in return for their hard work and talent. In the zine days, I wrote to support my fan fiction reading habit. Write a story, get a zine, have something to read you didn't have to pay money for. Life was good.

Now I don't know why to write. To connect with other fans, only I seem to have developed attachment issues. I've watched people find Wiseguy fandom, then wander off after the new big thing. They'll happily read your stories--and happily pillory you for saying you need some human contact. (Not that I handle human contact well anymore; again, attachment issues.) It isn't any prettier if you post saying you can't keep writing if no one will talk to you--the same over the top anger will be spewed forth upon you. So I say, fuck it. Ask for money, because when fandom dumps you for the next shiny, new thing, maybe you'll walk away with at least the price of a hamburger.

And besides all that (see? I warned you I'd been thinking about this!) where is all the moral outrage regarding people who make their livings off fandom? They drown one poor girl in anger and ugliness, but do they use any of that against someone like [name redacted], who is apparently living off her zine sales? Of course not! And you know why not? Because she's one of their suppliers, because she publishes their friends, because they have a use for her. If any of this outrage against making money off fandom was real, there'd be a hue and cry at every con she attended, instead of just nasty snarking behind her back. But too many people want what she's selling.

I've become very cynical.

The original post--the whole lj--is gone. She had disappeared by noon the day she made the post. I think she drowned under a torrent of just plain meanness. I wrote her a private email, telling her (before the shit hit the fan) that she was going to want to duck and cover.

It was suggested that sexual assault would be an appropriate response, though I'm unsure as to just what this was supposed to teach her. I'm assuming that the reason this suggestion was met with such glee was that the suggestion did not come from a man. In fact, I'm assuming that if it had come from a man, there wouldn't have been much glee at all, that those standing on their soapboxes would have switched topics, and those whose soapboxes hadn't been in evidence would have got them out.

I am so tired.

For all of the holier-than-thou attitude fans possess, the truth is we're just like mundanes. If you're a small-time crook, you'll be punished, and harshly. If you're big-time, you'll be rewarded.

Date: 2010-06-16 08:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Know what I quit Wiseguy fandom for? I quit it for nothing. I just quit fandom. I walked away from any participation for ten years. I quit because people (other writers) treated me like crap because I wrote something. I quit because one of my oldest friends was one of those people.

I quit fandom. I never did go back to cons. I am no longer a part of fandom, but fandom is a part of me. I participate because I want to.

I have no problem whatsoever with other people wanting reactions to their work. You deserve it. Anyone who wants responses should receive it. The people I have a problem with are those who spawn multiple IDs to fake themselves an audience. This isn't any "newbie." She does this in lots of fandoms They're the same ones who get the wobbly chins because people don't pay attention to them. You are NOT doing that. You are stating your opinions outright. Those are two entirely different things. The other is manipulation. I have as much right to speak out against that as others do to speak out against anything else. I'm not sending flying monkeys after her. In fact, I did what I did with WG -- I got out of fandom. I did what the young writer did in your case.

I'm sorry the young writer was pounced on. I'd have been among the first to urge the bullies to shut the fuck up. Fandom online is filled with people who love to "club up" into packs and beat up on someone who is doing something that doesn't harm anyone but which they don't like for some odd reason. I defend my work against a dumb attack, and I get the fan pack coming at me. Then everyone gets dragged onto fandom wank -- oh, not the dumb reviewer who made the stupid criticism but me for daring to defend myself.

Fandom loves a bully pack. Online, it's been invaded by a bunch of sociopaths. The best thing to do is do what I did -- get out. Have your own fandom of one
Edited Date: 2010-06-16 09:17 pm (UTC)

Date: 2010-06-17 07:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Like Melody in the first "reply" I left fandom for ten years too, back in 1999. I was in Trek fandom mostly, and Blake's 7. I was never in Wiseguy fandom so I can't say I left it because I was never in it. Now there is no Wiseguy fandom left and that's what I want now and the ONLY reason I'm back. But really I'm content to be writing for myself only now, and not an audience. My stories are there because I wanted them to be, and not because anyone demanded it. I have a new zine and post my newer stuff on LJ to very little feedback. I have felt a tad lonely over that, but perhaps I am far luckier than I realize. Because having been in fandom from my teen years in the 70s all the way to 1999, I know how mean and hypocritical they can be, with a mob-mentality. I learned to keep my mouth shut shut shut. Now here I am ten years later babbling again...and I ask myself have I learned nothing?

But I do feel very very strongly about the relative non-issue of writers asking for money...or zine editors making money. That has never mattered to me. If someone wants to charge, privately, for a zine or story, I have a choice to buy or not to buy. I don't care if they do it at all. If there are legal issues, they aren't mine, they are the issue of the companies that own the rights to the characters or franchise or whatever it's called. And the fan base is rather insignificant to those companies who are so huge they can't be bothered to even care themselves. So I ask, who made individual fans the policemen/women all of a sudden? And why IS it okay for artists to make money and not writers or editors? Who decided on the rule "We should not make money off fandom?" When did that become some commandment? I made money off fandom. Back in the 80s I had a business where I sold new and used zines, photos, collectibles, new and used books, buttons, and whatever else anyone would buy at Star Trek conventions. Sometimes I did very very well. Shoot me, then. I made money off fandom. Ohmigod. I'm evil! I still do it to some extent only now it's Renaissance Faires where die-hard "fans" of that will spend lots of money buying fantasy costuming and accessories. Ohmigod. I'm making money off more fans. Shoot me again!

If the issue really is about the morality of copyright infringement, then perhaps no fanfic, fanart, photomanipulations or anything else related to a copyrighted TV or Movie universe should ever be posted or, even, written (except maybe under the pillow with a flashlight and shown to no one not ever under pain of Merricatk's enemies' pillory.) Seriously, this is a non-issue. Rudely, savagely picking on people and suggesting they should be raped is the more serious issue.

Date: 2010-06-22 04:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's all just so baffling, the "rules," and who gets to break them. Mysti Frank is known to make her living selling reprints of zines that the original publishers are no longer interested in dealing with, and she is talked about. But because she's big business, and in the end, there are too many fans who want her product, you don't hear the BNFs releasing the hounds on her.

So much of life is about who you are, but nobody wants to admit that.

And I want to apologize for all my silence. It is not you, you deserve better than I've been able to give. I'm trying to climb out of this slough of despond, but it's slow-going. Thank you for being so patient with me.

Date: 2010-06-22 08:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
No apologies necessary, but thank you for your words.

I know of Mysti Frank. In fact she took 3 copies of my WG zine to Mediawest for me. I don't know if she sold any. I've only sold 3 copies myself. matter what people think or say of her, they cannot deny she provides a service that is needed for people who want to collect zines, or not have their zines forgotten. Without her, there would be a hole, a great loss. As for her making money off it, or a living, for those who protest why not think of it this way: She is making money off the time she spends organizing, cataloguing, traveling and selling. That should not be required to be done on a volunteer basis. So look at it as if she is, say, making an hourly wage for her time spent in making available collectible zines, and not necessarily on the zines themselves. On the other hand, I don't care if she makes money off the zines themselves. But if she spends full time making zines available to people who want them, she should be compensated. Also, people don't realize the expenses involved: travel, hotel, booth space, hiring help, etc. Ya want the service? Ya gotta pay for it! Been there. Done that.

Date: 2010-06-22 03:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think that's what I'm doing now--I'm writing for a small handful of people, and making my stories available only to people I "know." They're not flung out into the world because I know that for me, that way lies madness.

I also think online fandom has encouraged people's inner sociopaths. They're fannish fundamentalists, where any behavior is acceptable because what they're defending is the Way, the Truth, and the Light.

I am having more fun since I removed these people from my life.

Date: 2010-06-16 09:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
What's truly interesting is that asking people to pay for fanfiction is Not Okay, but asking people to pay for fanart is common and accepted. Excuse me, but it's the same thing, IMO. Fanart is a piece of art using someone else's characters to tell a story and then selling it for money (so very common at cons and on DeviantArt). Yet, writing fanfiction and asking people to pay for it is a sin worthy of being ostracized from fandom, worthy of cruel, harsh things said, and worthy of being told you're a Bad Person.

Either both are wrong or neither are.

Personally, from the standpoint of a professional writer and publisher, I would discourage the sale of fanfiction and fanart and encourage the production of original works that one could write and sell. That's just me. I didn't find it that difficult to shift from fanfiction to original fiction, so maybe that colors my perception.

I still don't think anyone should be run out of fandom, though, over this. I see 'auction' type posts all the time where fanworks -- from fiction to art to icons -- are sold to 'help' people who are deemed truly in trouble and worthy of the effort and money. *shakes head* The hypocrisy in fandom is why I left it years ago.

It hurts my heart too much to be in fandom, honestly. There's so much nastiness, it just makes me tired.

Date: 2010-06-16 10:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm also a professional writer and publisher. I like writing both fan fic and money fic. The creator of one of the biggest cult shows on TV right now is a full-fledged fan fiction writer. She's also an old friend of mine. The crap I've heard about the TV industry makes fandom seem like a haven of gentle souls by comparison. Anywhere that people are, there will be politics. It's part of the system.

Date: 2010-06-16 10:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, I'm very much aware of that. In the professional publishing work there's plenty of politics, policing, and wank, but at least I receive a check for my trudging through that. Fanfiction doesn't offer me that, and I'm sorry, there's no amount of satisfaction I gained from writing fanfiction that was worth the abuse heaped upon me while I was part of fandom. Nope, I'll happily stick where I am.

And I never want to venture into the television or movie industries.

Date: 2010-06-16 10:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Trust me, I understand it. What little I do fannishly, I don't look for any feedback on. If just write it and post it If you're bad to mediocre, you'll be met with garlands. If you're better than mediocre, you're liable to be shot at sunup. lol

Merricatk is a braver woman than I am. I don't go near "those fan people" beyond my few friends. They are barracuda ... and not smiley ones.

Do you mind if I friend you? I don't know many other publishing pros online.

Date: 2010-06-16 10:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I don't mind at all. :) I'm always happy to meet other people in the publishing world. I'm just starting. I created my own press at the beginning of the year, and we have three releases coming out (one in August, one in October, and one in December), but I do post a lot about writing and publishing and costs and the like. ^_^ Among other things. *chuckles*

Date: 2010-06-16 11:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I started mine in October. Ah, the joys of Createspace. lol But this has unleashed the next wave of publishing. The old publishing houses are on their last legs.

I friended back.

Date: 2010-06-16 11:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I actually didn't go with Lulu or Createspace, but created an LLC and use a printer. More expense and work, but I'm learning a lot. ^_^ I hope to get to know you more!

Date: 2010-06-22 04:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It hurts my heart too much to be in fandom, honestly. There's so much nastiness, it just makes me tired.

I couldn't agree more.


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