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Tanuki Racoon

Why I get discouraged....

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I got an update on a story from an author I wrote. I'm funny -- I write authors from time to time to let them know I'm reading their story. This author, like me, sends out notifications.

I read this sentence. Last time I posted a chapter, I wrote to 60 of you. Today, I am writing to 170. In just the four days since I posted Chapter 7, I received almost 200 emails with about 50 still left to answer.

On AWMS, by far my most popular serial, I got at most 5 or 6 e-mails after a chapter. On my newer novel, I'm getting around 4 or 5. My one-off "The Point" got nearly 20. I think all my emails added together don't get to 200.

My stuff is good. Definitely better than this guy's. I like his story. Poorly edited, but good characters. I'm a sucker for characters. And I don't want to name him because there's no reason to do so.

I just want to rant because I get insanely frustrated that I spend all this time and effort writing and get very little appreciation for it. It's why I just don't want to post my writing any more. The only reason I do is once or twice I've gotten a letter making it all worth while. Quality, I suppose, over quantity.

Still, I don't know what to say. When I posted at Nifty I did get more emails but not of the variety I care about. I'd post there still but their Terms & Conditions are too onerous now.

Anyway, I'm not done ranting but this is just a tip-off....

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I don't know if it helps, but there seems to be some correlation between literary quality and appreciation thereof. It's an inverse proportion. As your literary quality rises, your readership diminishes. There are stories on Nifty that have no quality at all, or redeeming characteristics, for that matter, and in the next chapter the author comments he got so much mail he can't possibly acknowledge it all. And the story he is writing is basically stomach-turning garbage that no one of any taste whatsoever would read. If you want that sort of praise, if you want to write that sort of tripe, you certainly are capable of it, and you'd find your audience. There are many devotees of this stuff.

But you write to a higher level, and so lose readers accordingly. Therefore, the choice is simple. What do you want? If it's lots of readers and lots of praise, write to that level. If you want to be able to feel good about what you've written, to be proud of it in fact, if you have, gasp, standards, then you have to be satisfied with a smaller, if more astute and critical, audience.

Your choice, I guess.

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I suspect that the readership of Playboy is much higher than National Geographic, and the National Enquirer even higher. There is a reason for them to be called the common masses.

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Excellent topic, thanks WBMS.

I guess 'If you want a friend you need to be a friend'.

I generally drop a line off to the author of a story I've just read to say thanks, and to highlight what, particularly, I liked about it. On the other hand if I didn't enjoy the story I don't send a comment. Perhaps I should, but I know how hard I find it when I get negative criticism so I refrain.

I've been advised not to write for the feedback, but to write for myself. That's all very well but there's no point uploading stories to, for instance, AD, if I'm not interested in other people reading my work. And if, as I certainly am, I want others to read it, I need feedback so I know they've read it, and what they thought. So feedback is important to me.

And I'm VERY grateful to you guys who have sent me feedback, either through e-mail or by contributing to the Readers Rule forum.

If as happens sometimes I'm beginning to feel neglected - my stories are out there and no-one seems to be reading them, or if they are they aren't letting me know, I pull myself together and go and read something someone else has written, and then e-mail them with a comment. I might even mention in the e-mail that I write too - and include a link. It has happened that I get a new reader that way, and he/she will return the favour by e-mailing me with comments.

My two penn'orth

Bruin

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All good points guys, but I would add that I soon found, I needed to adopt a laid back attitude to feedback.

I tried sitting and waiting for the accolades and soon realised it would destroy me and my writings if I did not ignore the fact I was getting no comments to either my poems and stories, or my posts.

At one time I think I offered myself as a person who could bring any topic to a screaming halt, as every time I posted, nobody else ever posted in that thread again.

I reasoned I was being overly precious and just decided to cautiously contribute as best I could to topics in which I wanted to comment.

I have learned to be thankful for a handful of friends and the odd email for my stories and poems.

One thing I do notice is that I have less time to read than before I started writing.

Sending a quick note to someone in gratitude for their work is never a problem for me.

I find it more difficult to comment on a poem or story that is outside my range of interest.

So in that case I say nothing, because I don't feel qualified to contribute a positive comment.

In real terms people are shy to write an appreciation to authors. They also mistrust the Internet.

There are all sorts of reasons people do not respond to good work.

No one has written to me to tell me my stuff stinks. Even that would be welcome some days.

I warn you all, ignoring me will not work, I will keep writing. :icon_geek:

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No one has written to me to tell me my stuff stinks. Even that would be welcome some days.

All right, Des, you asked for it: Your stuff...

(No I couldn't possibly be so cruel)

I warn you all, ignoring me will not work, I will keep writing. :icon_geek:

That's the spirit!

Seriously, I just finished Doors of Love which is just splendid. It's great fun, and a genre I can't remember ever reading before - gay humour. I've read gay romance, gay erotica, gay mystery, gay supernatural, gay s/f, gay dark drama, gay historical, gay all sorts of stuff but gay humour is new to me. I don't mean I've never read gay jokes, of course, but a well-written story, with interesting characterisation and a real plot an humour too is a rarity. And Des, you've got it beat.

The story is a real treat so thanks for writing it.

And yes, I know, this ought to be in Readers Rule so I'll maybe post there as well.

You're one of the good guys, Des, don't ever forget it.

Bruin

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Seriously, I just finished Doors of Love which is just splendid...

...You're one of the good guys, Des, don't ever forget it.

Bruin

Awww gee! Thanks Bruin.

::blushes::

:icon_geek:

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It's hard write to someone and tell them how much you enjoy their writing.

I know just how you feel, Res.

I've had cause to give this subject quite a bit of thought recently. I'm reminded of when I first read The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien was still alive at the time and I knew someone who'd written to him and got a reply but I would never have dared to do such a thing. Authors were remote, other-worldly inhabitants of Olympus that mere mortals like me could only support with our money.

The internet has changed all that. It is truly wonderful that reading good stories can now be an interactive experience - I've written to quite a number of authors to say thanks for writing their stories, and actually made friends with these wonderful creative people. So my life has been immeasureably enriched, firstly by reading stories I've enjoyed and been influenced by, and then by correspondence with the author, broadening my horizons in the process.

So if you feel reluctant to send an author feedback, just grit your teeth, grab your mouse and go for it. Trust me, an author will be delighted to get just 'Read your story, enjoyed it, thank you'. In fact many authors will be satisfied with 'Read your story, not bad but...'

Judging from your excellent contributions here in the forums, you don't really find it difficult to communicate - you're eloquent!

Bruin

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I've definitely had a hard time writing to authors. Knowing my own capabilities, I felt like a schmuck. Is a compliment from a plebe really worth anything, especially to a prolific and/or excellent writer? Not in my mind. In a way, I end up thinking I'm almost being insulting. Sort of like the fat couch potato offering compliments about how fine an athlete some Olympian might be.

I wonder if having simple hit counters on each chapter (hidden from the public but visible by the author) might work. You would at least know how many are looking. If it could track IP addresses, even better, as you can see if they are moving from chapter one to two to three, etc.

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I've definitely had a hard time writing to authors. Knowing my own capabilities, I felt like a schmuck. Is a compliment from a plebe really worth anything, especially to a prolific and/or excellent writer? Not in my mind. In a way, I end up thinking I'm almost being insulting. Sort of like the fat couch potato offering compliments about how fine an athlete some Olympian might be.

I wonder if having simple hit counters on each chapter (hidden from the public but visible by the author) might work. You would at least know how many are looking. If it could track IP addresses, even better, as you can see if they are moving from chapter one to two to three, etc.

Trab, you are definitely not a 'plebe'. I would value and welcome anything you had to say about my writing.

As for the athlete being admired by the couch potato, I knew a body builder who didn't want another body-builder for a boy friend because he didn't want the competition. So he had a an almost geeky (but cute face) boyfriend.

A compliment from anyone is worthwhile if it is as CWHS (Codey would have said), "from the heart."

A criticism from you would be worth far more than one from a know-it-all professional reviewer. :icon_geek:

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God you're sweet, Des. If I could afford that plane ticket...

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I just want to rant because I get insanely frustrated that I spend all this time and effort writing and get very little appreciation for it.

I'm sympathetic. I think the sad reality is that (as said above) the stories with the most erotic content are going to get more feedback than the thoughtful, character-driven stories without as much sex (or none at all).

The bottom line is that you have to write for yourself first, and not expect any feedback at all.

That having been said: I always, always, will send a quick email to a Net author whose work I enjoyed. Even if it's just "hey, I just caught your story and thought it was terrific," I figure that's something to help them keep writing.

Don't get discouraged. Remember that the journey is its own reward, and sometimes that's the only solace you can get.

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I'm sympathetic. I think the sad reality is that (as said above) the stories with the most erotic content are going to get more feedback than the thoughtful, character-driven stories without as much sex (or none at all).

The bottom line is that you have to write for yourself first, and not expect any feedback at all.

That having been said: I always, always, will send a quick email to a Net author whose work I enjoyed. Even if it's just "hey, I just caught your story and thought it was terrific," I figure that's something to help them keep writing.

Don't get discouraged. Remember that the journey is its own reward, and sometimes that's the only solace you can get.

Oh yes! So true. :hug:

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The Great Story/Poem Reply Mystery!

A writes pulpy steamers and gets tons of steamy emails and tons more offering things your father should've warned you about.

B writes exciting, thoughtful stories and poems and gets almost no feedback, leading him to consider giving up.

C also writes exciting, thoughtful stories and poems and gets lots of feedback on some and none on others. Why did readers respond to some and not others?

D writes literary quality work and either gets no feedback or gets told "you suck" or gets told how much the reader wanted what amounts to rewriting the story as worse than those pulpy steamers.

E writes good work and is a teenager. But forum bullcrap and email freakiness lead him to give up writing online and just lurk. Oh yeah, and the police investigation for the stalker was pretty memorable too. So was the therapy bill.

F writes OK stories, and gets feedback on some chapters. He's well liked and responsive.

G is a really neat fan and writes fair criticism and is friendly to authors.

H thinks he could never have anything good enough to say to the godlike authors and never tries, even though his comments would be dearly appreciated.

I is always eager to tell writers how they should've written their stories, but he won't ever write his own.

J has some good ideas and is so encouraged by corresponding with a few writers that he finally tries to write and submits it, to become Writer J.

K is a teen who's not out, and has to sneak onto the web, just to read about what sounds so wonderful but so unattainable. He'll never try to reply in an email or forum post, until he's finally living on his own in college.

L is a teen who is out, but is made to feel so bad by forum gossip and emails that he gives up.

M is a hothead who drives people away whenever he goes on another rant.

I am quite sure that each of those have occurred more than once online. None of them are exaggerations.

I don't really know why some writers get good feedback and others don't. I have no idea why a very few readers think they are entitled to do some of the things they do, while other readers are fantastic fans, and other readers never reply.

The truth is, you'll find all sorts on the web. There are many people who are good and a few people who really are pains.

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I'm one of the pains, blue: your J is an endless loop. Ooopps. :hug:

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Yes, please those who don't write. ONE SENTENCE is enough: "Hey, I'm reading and enjoying."

And unlike most of you, I love intelligent criticism.

Most authors don't, though there are few I've been sorely tempted to write and ask them never to post in public again (none from AD to be clear). I won't. But I fantasize :)

Yeah, I'm not big on sex scenes, so I don't get mail. I get it. I do write for myself but I just like to know someone's reading. That's all.

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You're not a pain, Trab. More like, you don't always recognize your own talents.

Some writers need reassurance that they aren't fooling themselves. They may have talent out the wazoo, but they aren't sure they do.

Others want critiques that'll tear up what they write so they know what to fix.

I think, in reality, most writers are a little of both: They know they have talent, but they aren't sure if their audience likes or understands what they write, and writers do want that.

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I don't know about anyone else here, but when my only reaction to a story is "Pretty good, I liked it, I'd be happy to read more if you feel like writing more of the same"...that doesn't seem like it's worth posting as a comment.

It is a positive reaction, just not an extremely positive one. And I think most good stories provoke just that kind of response from the reader. It's not "meh", not at all, but if I type it and send it, it feels like I'm essentially writing "Good, but in a meh sort of way".

You see what I'm getting at here?

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I don't know about anyone else here, but when my only reaction to a story is "Pretty good, I liked it, I'd be happy to read more if you feel like writing more of the same"...that doesn't seem like it's worth posting as a comment.

It is a positive reaction, just not an extremely positive one. And I think most good stories provoke just that kind of response from the reader. It's not "meh", not at all, but if I type it and send it, it feels like I'm essentially writing "Good, but in a meh sort of way".

You see what I'm getting at here?

I understand what you saying Kapitano, but think of the poor author who doesn't even know anyone read his work.

I for one would be glad to get a "Pretty good, I liked it, I'd be happy to read more if you feel like writing more of the same"...

Kind of email.

A published author may not get any correspondence about his work either, you know, but at least they have an audited book sales from the distributor, (or should have.)

It is just that an email of, " read you story, I liked it, thanks, signed Buffy" is the ONLY way we know it is being read. That is why some of us live in hope of even a critical email.

Also no one is asking for serious reviews. If you like a character or a particular scene, you could mention that.

I have read stories with astounding research and accuracy with a lot of sex scenes that were overly descriptive for my taste.

But at least I could compliment the authors on the things I liked.

"Great story"- anonymous.

is better than nothing and also lets me stop writing them to myself. :hug:

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Yeah. I'm with Des on this.

I'm ridiculously delighted when I get an e-mail from a reader. Any e-mail. That way and only that way, I know someone's read what I toiled over.

I wish I didn't feel quite so strongly about this, but I NEED feedback. I have made enormous emotional investment in my stories and I want to know people read them - and what they think about them.

For NaNoWriMo last November I wrote a 50,000 word novel (with a lot of encouragement from the great and very wonderful Camy) and it turned out to be entirely appropriate to show to family and friends. So I did. One friend, and his wife, and his two sons, read it and enthused with specific comments about what they liked and why. And I glowed. My immediate family? Two of them read it, commented briefly, perhaps slightly embarrassed, and that was it. My nearest and dearest hasn't even bothered to pick it up. I'm trying not to hurt too bad.

When I read a story that I think is okay but nothing special, I'm trying to be consistent and send a brief thank you e-mail to the author. I won't say what was mediocre about it, but I will try to say something nice about it. There's usually something that stands out as good. The exception is when a story made me uncomfortable for some reason, such that I don't want to have anything to do with the author. Then I won't send an e-mail. It goes without saying that that doesn't apply to anyone here at AD!!

Bruin

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I write to pretty nearly every author I read, but being who I am, I cannot really help but also send along any typos or outright errors I may spot. Since it is easier to criticise than write, I make sure to mention why I liked the story, or at least that I did like it, before apologetically offering my list of 'trouble areas'. Those are never involving the creativity and direction of a story, just technical issues. I don't feel it is my place, or anyone's place to tell an author what or how he/she should be writing. There is one thing, however, that bugs me, and that is an author who writes back to say he/she is not interested in hearing about any typos, or other technical errors (and I'm not talking about commas and such). That type of reaction, to what from my perspective is an open handed offer to help a bit, causes me to simply stop reading that author's works. I feel that if someone doesn't want to hear about something actually wrong (as opposed to just opinion) I also don't need to invest my time in reading their stuff. There are lots of wonderful works out there, with authors who don't mind hearing that they spelled "hear" as "here", and correcting it in future versions.

Sometimes I think that the relationship between writers and readers is more like a collaboration, albeit very one sided. The author does most of the work, and the reader gets most of the benefit. However, unlike an outright purchase in which money changes hands, online writers can only get their side of the benefit by getting response, and the reader can only contribute with a nice comment and mentioning anything he/she sees to be wrong. Without providing that feedback, you're really not much better than a shoplifter. Okay, maybe too harsh: a store shelf magazine reader.

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