I've been talking with a few fandom people lately about comments they've received on their fic. One writer felt so badly about the feedback they were ready to delete their AO3 account.
Because of fucking comments. "I love this but here's how you've failed me…" comments.
"I love this but there wasn't enough sex," comments.
"I love this but here's how the plot went all wrong," comments.
"I love this except you didn't write me the perfect thing I wanted and you were meant to know, so I'm going to shit in your kitchen," comments.
How god damn dare.
How dare anyone come into your home and stink the place up with their cruelties.
No one has the right to say one peeping word to you about things you love if what they say makes you sad, ashamed, or hopeless.
No one ever ever ever has the right to take away your joy with their pissy "honesty."
The world sucks. There's cancer in it, guns, depression, difficult choices to make about money, religion, family, jobs.
Fan fiction is many things and one of those things is an oasis from pain. A place to create your own happiness, find community. No one has the right to damage that for you.
One of the writers I've been talking with said they wanted to stop writing after some of the negative comments they got. This writer never asked for critique. Very few fan fic writers do. Even when they do we don't "help" them when our critique hurts them. At no time is our goal ever, ever to cause someone to question their joy.
If you think critiquing means telling someone what "they did wrong," you are wrong. You are wrong. You. When we praise what a writer does well not only do they improve just as much, they write more. If we really want to "help a writer get better" that's how we do it.
That's it. That's the secret.
If you're one of the writers who get or got crappy comments know this:
Any critique that makes you want to stop writing is shit critique.
So fuck that noise. Fuck it right in the fucking ear.
Delete negative comments. Delete them. You wouldn't leave a stranger's shit on your kitchen floor, well your AO3 or Tumblr is your online home. Keep it as tidy as you want it to be. Delete any words that give you an empty-in-the-belly feel about your writing because those words are wrong. Unfollow anyone who's "just being honest."
If someone else’s words stop yours, those words are wrong. Ignore them. Delete them. Laugh at them. When commenters say cruel things, they want their words to stop you from doing what you're doing. Don't.
Do it for us, because we want your words, we want your joy, we—and the world—sorely needs that joy.
Atlin Merrick loves writing fan fic and to make sure she keeps loving it she deletes negative comments. Her online kitchen is tidy.