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Feelings hurt at lack of response to fanfiction


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I've never posted in this forum before so idk if it's okay for me to make this post here or if it would work better as a status update but I don't have anywhere else really to talk about this so okay here we go.

I write fanfiction. I've been a writer my whole life, literally since before I could hold a pen, and I've been writing specifically fanfiction since I was eleven, way back in 2004/05. I made my first online account for fic when I was fourteen, summer of 2008, and I never looked back. My ex and I used to write a lot of original works together and we had a bunch of OCs (original characters) that we'd created together over the years but as it's doubtful I'll ever speak to her again the likelihood of me ever writing something that's not purely fanfiction is pretty slim now. Not that it matters, because fanfic is my life blood and the one thing I've always consistently enjoyed doing, and known I was good at. People tend to look down on it as a lesser art because I guess it's stereotypically full of preteen girls who write about their fav male characters or celebrities hooking up with them in random, unrealistic scenarios, and the writing is usually really cringeworthy. Not that there's anything wrong with that particular type of writing as we all start somewhere and I know I wrote a fair amount of it back in the day. But the fic I read and write nowadays is often better than most traditionally published novels. 

Anyway, onto the point: after my ex left me the fifth time, back in February, I spiraled just as hard as I did the first four times. You'd think I'd have learned by now, but I'm a slow learner. The first two times she left me we went low contact so she wasn't totally out of my life and I was like, okay, I'll just write my way out of these feelings. It was really easy, especially the second time. I always turn to writing first when I need something. The third time she left we went no contact for six months and this was in 2020 so you can imagine on top of every other fucking fuck-awful thing going on in the world, dealing with my depression over not having her in my life at all for the first time in seven years was... impossible to deal with. I spiraled so bad I had a mental breakdown. My OCD and anxiety both got well out of my control and I ended up damaging my relationship with my parents, brother, and sister-in-law pretty badly before I finally caved and got a therapist, and then a psychiatrist. During that time my ex came back unexpectedly and I was beyond thrilled, but while she was gone and my OCD was overtaking my life I lost the ability to write. I became scrupulous with religion and I thought if I wrote God would punish me, my family, and the whole world. I had heavy serious debates with myself about whether I should just delete all my accounts, as well as all the files on my computer. Maybe even get rid of the computer entirely. I was looking into becoming a nun. I was so miserable. It was a shitty, lonely time. So when my ex returned I was happy to have her but I still couldn't write. It took almost two months to work my way back into being able to write again, and I had to do it in stages: I remember reading all my old works, essentially in chronological order, and when nothing happened I'd move on to the next "era" of my writing career. Eventually I got over not cursing (I had to write curse words in code, like first I said 'f off' and then 'fk off' and so on) and once I was there I figured I could write like before. 

And I did. And it was spectacular. From very late August 2020 to Feb. 2021, things were back to normal, plus I was mentally better off, my ex and I were communicating more clearly, etc. Then like I said she left again, second time going no contact, and I spiraled. But I hit the brakes this time. I didn't want to go back into that sheltered, scrupulous, pious, terrified life. I physically and mentally didn't think I'd be able to handle it a second time. And with my medication and my therapy I was able to rationalize to myself that I didn't have to, and now I'm here almost five months later, still mostly functioning, listening to the music I want, reading the fics I want, writing, etc. Things are fine except that my ex isn't here, but things are fine other than that. Certainly better than last year at this same time. What an utter fucking disaster. 

But without my ex I have very little confidence in my writing. This year was our eighth year of knowing each other, and essentially since we met everything I wrote went to her first. We met because of writing, and more specifically because of my writing, so it was a major topic of conversation between us, even when things were falling apart and at their worst we always had writing to fall back on. A few weeks ago I did try to tell myself that I wrote without her for the first twenty years of my life, and the only reason her presence gave me confidence was because I'd write something, hate it, send it to her, get her feedback that she loved it, and then decide it was fine. So really my writing has always been fine, I just liked having the confidence boost. 

Once I figured that out, I wrote a little more. I've published two things to AO3 since she left (well, really I've published three things since she left, but I wrote one at the very beginning of the year before she was gone, so that's two things I've written and published since she left). I like both, one more than the other, but I do like both, I know they're both good, not to sound pretentious or cocky but I am a good writer and I know I'm a good writer. I always have been. I don't bang out as many little private short fics as I did before because I have no one to share them with but aside from the two longfics I published to AO3 I've also written multiple angry freeverse poems (about her, obviously) which I've posted on Reddit, as well as a few short fics for Tumblr. The poems don't get much interaction but I didn't expect them to, so it's fine. The short fics don't either and that's also fine, they're for a small fandom. The longfics on AO3, though? They should've gotten more interaction. One is in the Batman fandom, and the other is in the Captain America fandom. And they're both kind of niche, and one is for a rarepair, but I've posted about them on other forums before and people acted interested, especially wrt the Capt. America one. Like, I've made I think four posts on Reddit asking for advice on that fic and people have responded big time and acted interested in the topic. And because I'm moving this week and also am very impatient, I decided to start posting said fic before I was done writing it, just to get it out there. 

Nothing. I posted it yesterday, over 24 hours ago at this point. Literally nothing. It's gotten five kudos, which is a shitty turnout for this amount of time, at least in my experience. It has well over a hundred hits, though, which means it's been looked at and ignored by fifty times the amount of people who have interacted with it. No bookmarks. No comments. None. Not even one of those pathetic comments people leave sometimes where they're like "good so far!" Just... zilch. And it's the same with the Batman fic. That one's about a really niche kink (not omo) but the pairing is popular, and people tend to like BDSM type stuff so I thought it would get traction, but I posted it about two weeks ago and it has 17 kudos. For comparison, the best reaction on AO3 I've ever gotten was when I posted Kylux, both times I got over 100 kudos in under 24 hours, and the number climbed steadily over the next few days until it hit about 400 on both. My other Batman fics have 222 kudos over the course of four months, and 81 kudos in three months (that's the omo one). And the last time I wrote anything Marvel-related was almost ten years ago, but back then I got a good turnout, and my writing was fucking shitty! I was writing for a more popular pairing but it wasn't even the most popular, and you can definitely tell I was eighteen/nineteen when I wrote it. But it still got a good-ass viewing. 

Idk my feelings are just really hurt. I tried to push past that uncertainty I felt about my ex not being here to support me and reassure me and just post stuff and get attention anyway, because on Reddit I've gotten a relative amount of attention on most of my posts (I've been much more active on there since she left), so I thought maybe people were paying attention to me. And like I said people expressed interest even in my niche Capt. America fic, but as soon as it went up they all vanished. I just... never know what to do when this stuff happens, especially because it doesn't happen to me very often. I'm going to be 28 in less than three months so you'd think I'd have my shit together by now and wouldn't get so hung up on whether people are paying attention to my writing or not, but I'm an unemployed fuck-up still living in her parents' home and they're literally forcing me to move out because they can't get rid of me otherwise, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised. 

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I hope this doesn’t come across as really dumb, but until an author here pointed it out to me that authors expect/enjoy the positive feedback, I honestly thought writers write just for the enjoyment of it. I still feel like I have to remind myself to ‘like’ things I read on the fiction section of this site. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that maybe people read it and enjoyed it, but (like me lots of times), just didn’t think to give an official reaction. I’m trying to get better at that, but I still forget. 

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Sadly, there is not much I can say or write that can make you feel better. I understand that writing is very difficult, but don't give up. I know empty words, but just like you said, use your writing skills to lift yourself up. Write for yourself, to yourself using the characters. As for your Ex....This is where I can speak from experience. Please move on from them. They are only coming back to you when their life is not going as planned. Trust me on this. I am definitely not a therapist in any way shape or form. Just want you to know that a complete stranger has read your post and is hoping for the best....

Keep writing.... don't quit.

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14 minutes ago, PrincessPeeach said:

I hope this doesn’t come across as really dumb, but until an author here pointed it out to me that authors expect/enjoy the positive feedback, I honestly thought writers write just for the enjoyment of it. I still feel like I have to remind myself to ‘like’ things I read on the fiction section of this site. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that maybe people read it and enjoyed it, but (like me lots of times), just didn’t think to give an official reaction. I’m trying to get better at that, but I still forget. 

No, not dumb, I think that's an interesting viewpoint. I guess I've just always been immersed in the give-and-take nature of fic writing and reading, as well as reading and giving feedback on my friends' stuff irl when I was younger, so the idea of people not being aware of that would've literally never occurred to me until I just read your comment. 

Some people are more into saying they're writing purely for enjoyment of the craft and some people (like me) are more open about feeling let down when there's little to no reader interaction. I don't know if the former category is really just a bunch of lying liars who lie, but it feels like they are; it's just human nature to want praise on things you work hard on and that mean a lot to you. (None of that is meant as a dig at you particularly btw it's just a general bad-feelings vent. I think you shouldn't beat yourself up about not knowing; if you're not a writer, or if you're not always immersed in the world of it, you can't know. I'll definitely try to keep your viewpoint in mind. I know I'm guilty of casually reading things without leaving any sort of feedback, and I'm the one complaining about it!) 

14 minutes ago, Calvin1 said:

Sadly, there is not much I can say or write that can make you feel better. I understand that writing is very difficult, but don't give up. I know empty words, but just like you said, use your writing skills to lift yourself up. Write for yourself, to yourself using the characters. As for your Ex....This is where I can speak from experience. Please move on from them. They are only coming back to you when their life is not going as planned. Trust me on this. I am definitely not a therapist in any way shape or form. Just want you to know that a complete stranger has read your post and is hoping for the best....

Keep writing.... don't quit.

Tysm, friend. The characters are all that I have, they're never going anywhere and I love them. Some days it's just easier to handle being the only person loving them, but I don't plan to give up. I never want to get in that place again as long as I live. 

My ex honestly treats me like a fucking ornament she puts on a shelf when she's sick of looking at it then takes it back down when it's convenient for her and I'm fucking over it, we were toxic and codependent and it's such a hard cycle to break, a year's worth of intensive therapy and I've only just started scratching the surface of the issue, but yeah, I'm trying so hard to detach myself and move on. Thanks for the well-wishes, bud. Means a whole, whole lot. 

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Seconding the above post; I know it's really difficult, but please don't go back to your ex even if they try to come back to you. From my experience, not with a romantic partner but with a toxic and unhealthy on-again-off-again friendship, the best thing you can do for yourself would be to move on from them. One day you'll find someone who makes you feel just as good as they did, and probably way better. 

I can relate to wanting more engagement/response to your writing, I love getting comments on my stuff and I love talking about what I write because writing is my life. But, one thing I've discovered is that some people who read fics don't realize how much their authors enjoy getting comments, and feel they may be bothering the person. Like @PrincessPeeachsaid, sometimes it's not that the fic wasn't enjoyed, it was that the person didn't think you actually wanted feedback. To us, that sounds silly because of course we want to talk to people about what we wrote, but some people are genuinely worried to comment because they're scared they're just being annoying. 

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4 minutes ago, segaface said:

Seconding the above post; I know it's really difficult, but please don't go back to your ex even if they try to come back to you. From my experience, not with a romantic partner but with a toxic and unhealthy on-again-off-again friendship, the best thing you can do for yourself would be to move on from them. One day you'll find someone who makes you feel just as good as they did, and probably way better. 

I can relate to wanting more engagement/response to your writing, I love getting comments on my stuff and I love talking about what I write because writing is my life. But, one thing I've discovered is that some people who read fics don't realize how much their authors enjoy getting comments, and feel they may be bothering the person. Like @PrincessPeeachsaid, sometimes it's not that the fic wasn't enjoyed, it was that the person didn't think you actually wanted feedback. To us, that sounds silly because of course we want to talk to people about what we wrote, but some people are genuinely worried to comment because they're scared they're just being annoying. 

Ugh, I'm sorry you've had to deal with a similar relationship. It's so fucking shitty. I can't say for certain what I'd do if she did email me but I know I can't go through her leaving again. So I'm... well, torn between hoping she does come back because I'm still at that stage, and hoping she doesn't so I don't have to make that decision. I hope you're right about meeting someone else, though, I don't want to be this lonely for the rest of my life. 

Yeah, it's absolutely wild to me that people don't think authors want fic-interaction! I definitely get not wanting to look stupid or bug someone though, especially online where tone can be so easily misinterpreted. I've just never ever had this bad of an experience with a fic before, I think even when I wrote for my least popular dead fandom which has like 40 works total, I got kudos faster than this. 

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1 hour ago, PrincessPeeach said:

I hope this doesn’t come across as really dumb, but until an author here pointed it out to me that authors expect/enjoy the positive feedback, I honestly thought writers write just for the enjoyment of it. I still feel like I have to remind myself to ‘like’ things I read on the fiction section of this site. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that maybe people read it and enjoyed it, but (like me lots of times), just didn’t think to give an official reaction. I’m trying to get better at that, but I still forget. 

That is a good point.  I forget to upvote/comment on/ react to things i like too so there are probably more people who like it than people who say that. 

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25 minutes ago, Chame1eon said:

That is a good point.  I forget to upvote/comment on/ react to things i like too so there are probably more people who like it than people who say that. 

Thanks, friend. It's honestly reassuring to hear so many people say this. 

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I’m so, so sorry about everything that happened to you. Missing your ex is no joke and can really destroy you, but what I’ve found is diving deep into my hobbies. You said you love writing, and that’s something you should totally do, but try out other ones too. You’d be surprised about how much it can help.

As for the lack of response, I know a similar feeling. It really sucks, but you have to learn how to not outsource your happiness. Too many people base their happiness off of others instead of themselves. Tbh I am also guilty of this, but trust me, once you stop depending on others for your happiness you will be set free. 

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First of all I'm really sorry about your overall situation but I really don't think it's a good idea to put so much weight on the amount of attention a fanfiction gets on the internet. The issue is, you'll never know what gets popular and what doesn't. I've written fics that got ignored despite me thinking it's one of my best writing/something that the fandom tends to like, I've also gotten a surprising amount of kudos on fics that I felt were sloppily edited and generally awful. You never know what sticks. A niche kink/pairing or even writing gen can throw you off track, sometimes it's exactly what a small but vocal part of the fandom wants. Sometimes a large fandom is a blessing because more eyes = more attention, sometimes your fics can end up being utterly drowned by fics about even more popular pairings or fics that were written by a big name fan.

Really, you have no control over what gets popular and what doesn't, beyond picking the most popular pairings and tropes and throwing them together (+ being active in the fandom on discord, twitter, tumblr, commenting on other people's fics, etc.) When I started posting omo fics, I got no comments (but a handful of kudos, and 5 kudos after a single night made me really really happy, not to mention anything above 10) unless I showed them to a friend I made on a discord server or outright wrote them for someone after talking to them about prompts. Whether that was because the fics were shitty or badly formatted (honestly, they probably were), idk. It's normal get used to an unusual amount of interaction and then be disappointed when future fics don't do that well. It's human. But it shouldn't define your worth as a person or as a writer. If you think it's good then it's good. Sometimes, a fic just doesn't do that well, or it does but only after some time has passed, someone goes on a tag hunt on Ao3, finds something and brings all their friends. I got a short comment on one of my "older" fics today that I wrote more than two years ago and had mostly forgotten about. It happens.

As for the comments, that's something that gets brought up on the fanfiction subreddit a lot and I get it but...I think not getting a lot of comments or having a low hits/kudos ratio on fics is actually the norm. There was this post on reddit, something like "do you write to the radio station?", that put things into perspective for me. I do "like" or upvote things that I enjoyed but commenting is an effort and a social interaction. I don't comment on every youtube video or every news article that I read. I do try to comment on fanfiction but when I was younger, I was 100 % a lurker who rarely felt like talking to strangers on the internet. Many many people are socially awkward or anxious about interacting with strangers (most of my earlier comments, again, were from people I talked to before), commenting on kink/porn fics is even harder because there's the embarrassment + making sure to not overstep any boundaries. I personally struggle a lot with the latter because my enthusiasm often makes me sound like a creep. Hits, I don't really pay attention to because all they mean is that someone clicked. You don't know whether they even read the full thing or clicked and thought "meh" or forgot about it. It could be a single person clicking on the fic multiple times. Just...it's not unsual to have a lot of hits but not much else, especially after only a day. Personally, I rarely read fics right when they come out, not even when I'm subscribed to the author. I save them up for when I'm in the mood, or go on tag hunts.

I know none of that really helps if you want interaction (sorry, really) but honestly the best way to get it is networking, making friends in the fandom/the community, interacting with other people's fics, doing exchanges...but everything else is random and up in the sky. I write for a popular fandom, both omo and non-omo, and my kudos counts range from 11 to 700 (the latter one being an at least 2-year old overtagged h/c one-shot for the most popular pairing in a very popular and active fandom). I have a few fics fics with no or very few comments, but still consider myself extremely lucky when it comes to my stats, especially since I struggle with grammar (I'm ESL) and just everything, really. Sometimes, it's a matter of perspective and having low expectations. It's better to expect very little and then get surprised when you get more. That's my motto.

(tbh I'm just happy I didn't get flamed into oblivion yet so my expectations when it comes to comments are generally pretty low)

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