September 4th, 2014

Saiun - technicolor Reishin

100 Things #017: Creative Community and Trust

By 'creative community' I mean something like what we used to have here on LJ - a group of friends all writing about the same thing (Fire Emblem, Suikoden, whatever) and talking about the source material, inspiration, blah blah. Fandom was my writing community for twelve years. Without it, I find I write less often, with less devotion, and in general have a harder time finding motivation for anything.

I thought when I left that I didn't need fandom to drive my work. I've always written my originals alone, usually without showing them to anybody, so why would I need other people to egg me on? It's worth noting, at this point, that even when I was still involved in fandom, all it inspired me to write was fan fiction; original work didn't benefit by that sense of community at all. Measuring and I tried to jump start our original writing with the gauntlet challenge, but at the time I think we both pretty much ignored the orig-fic prompts (or at least didn't talk about what we were working on in response), and focused on the fanfic lists. It's what I wanted to write; it's what I felt inspired for. It's all I thought about.

Part of my motivation problem is obvious: I don't spend as much time thinking about my own stories as I did about the games I wrote fic for. The epic Summer Chronicle lasted as long as it did because the story was almost all I thought about. My pairing obsessions lasted as long as they did for the same reasons. When I walked to the bus stop, I thought about the Chronicle plot. When I stared out the train window, on the way to school, I thought about new ways to make a pairing work. When I sat around in the doctor's office waiting for my appointments (and there were a lot of those), I wondered what Tellius steampunk would look like and immediately tried to convert the game plot to the new universe.

I don't do that with original work, so it's no wonder I'm not burning to finish stories or write new scenes. No mystery here.

But: would I have thought so much about Fire Emblem and my related fics if I hadn't talked about them every night on AIM? Maybe for a while. Four years, though? Would I have pursued Summer Chronicle for years, tried to make it work even when I knew I had made a wrong turn at chapter fifteen-- all if I hadn't had someone to bounce ideas off of and encourage me? Considering the fate of my Elrond fic (not dead, but unlikely to move), I think the answer is 'no.'

Communication keeps me interested in my own stories. Or, at least, it helps me over the difficult areas of the process, where I might otherwise be tempted to abandon the project, or put it off. Talking to someone about what I'm working on keeps me thinking and moving. And you'd think this wouldn't be a big deal, that everybody knows this, that I should have known this... but it's difficult for me to trust people with my work, so for a long time I haven't bothered. This post isn't about "realizing" that I need a community; that has been clear to me for some time. Writing is a lonely process without one. You do need other eyes to examine your work and help you see what you missed. I even knew, without really thinking about it, that it was always easier to write with other people. The problem that needs solving isn't just finding that company; it's being able to trust them.

Yes, I do have that cliche fear that someone will rip off my work. I'm not the only one. I frankly don't care how realistic it is; fear isn't reasonable. But I have such a hard time trusting people at all. Take away the possibility of being ripped off and I still won't trust you! There are so many ways you can cause damage once you have the story: you can be the sort of reader/critic that tries to change everything based on what you like, instead of what the story needs; you might be the type to give only praise (which is no help, since I want so badly to believe you), or go the other way and cut everything down, under the erroneous assumption that the only useful feedback is the sort that finds problems without trying to solve them. You could be that poisonous friend who seems like she's rooting for you on the surface, but who actually harbors some negative feelings for you, and often only gives feedback that supplies unfavorable comparisons to herself; i.e. "Well, I made it, so you should be able to if you work hard! Do let me know if you need my advice, because I'm so far ahead of you I should know how to answer all of your beginner questions..." The only kind of praise I get from my family is backhanded, when I get it at all, so I'm pretty good at detecting that bullshit.

Don't even get me started on how people deliver their critiques. Or on the very important things people always seem to miss-- that stuff I actually need to know, since I think I've got the typos covered, thanks.

In short: I don't trust you. And if I don't trust you, how do I build - or find - a community?

My trust issues are epic, and in horrible need of therapy. Believe me, I know. But it's a chicken-and-egg problem, since, in order to get those taken care of, I need to start out with a bit of trust for the person who's going to do the fixing...


I'm really sorry I've missed replying to so many comments. I always intend to, and then time passes, and it seems too late. :/

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