I never thought I would have to post an explanation of why I don't swear, but in the last few months the issue has come up in a number of different contexts, and I've realized a lot of people either don't have a clue about what's going on in my head, or have jumped to the wrong conclusion about it.

Here, then, is the simple truth of the matter. )

Of course, this is just in case you actually give a crap care what I think. If you don't, then... as you were.
And O, this essay by Tara LJC O'Shea on receiving and giving criticism is a fine, fine thing that ought to be read and cuddled and taken to heart by every writer and reader I know. Not that I have an opinion about this, or anything.

This is not to say I have always been the best at receiving criticism graciously, especially right off the bat. Criticism stings, especially when it comes from an angle you weren't expecting (or worse, were secretly dreading but hoping nobody would notice). It's hard not to bristle and be defensive when someone points out, however gently, that you've messed up somewhere. And I have sometimes been guilty of arguing with my critics, when I should have just said "Thanks for your comments," and moved on.

Of course, even criticism which is intelligently voiced and meant to be helpful isn't necessarily valid. Sometimes the critic has read carelessly and missed the point; sometimes the critic simply dislikes or is ignorant of the genre in which the story is written. Every criticism has to be weighed by the author in his or her own mind, and either used or discarded according to its perceived worth. But the point I think O'Shea makes most cogently is that criticism is necessary and important to every author's development, and that if we are unwilling to hear anything but praise or the very gentlest suggestions for improvement, we are never going to be authors in any meaningful sense of the word at all.

My primary reason for not liking criticism -- I confess -- is that I am lazy. I don't like having to revise things that I've revised umpty times already. It's frustrating enough when I realize on my own that a chapter or a story I thought was finished still needs work; it's twice as frustrating when somebody else points out a flaw or inconsistency or weakness I hadn't noticed and I realize that it needs to be changed too. But laziness is my problem, not the critic's, and I haven't any right to take my frustration out on someone else who is simply pointing out the truth. Particularly if I asked for their honest opinion, and they did me the courtesy of taking me at my word.

And that's the last point I'd like to make. If you don't really want criticism, or if you only want a certain select kind of criticism, don't ask people to give you their honest opinion. If you don't really trust a particular person's judgment or think they have a bias that would make them unfit to judge a certain story, don't ask them to be your beta-reader on that story. But if you have asked for honest opinions and you have asked a certain person to tell you what they think, don't be surprised if some of the comments aren't phrased exactly the way you'd like or if they tell you things you're not particularly happy to hear.

If you privately decide that the critic is an idiot or a bigot and their criticism isn't worth squat, that's your business. But it's pretty unfair to tell them to their face that they're an idiot or a bigot and their criticism isn't worth squat after you asked for their opinion and they gave you what you asked for. As a beta-reader I've been stung by this kind of response a few times now, in spite of making every effort to be tactful in my criticism and to give the author a fair chance, and it really makes me not want to read or comment on other people's work at all.

Rant over.
*sits down on stool, picks up acoustic guitar, strums*

Your comments have to wait
I hope you guys don't hate me
I've got too much on my plate
I hope you understand...
When I tried some speculating
The backlash made me sick*,
So I'll do my speculating
In a fic...

My apologies to the late Jim Croce, but I just couldn't resist. :)

Anyway, here's the fic, created from the smouldering ashes of the Evil James Theory of a few posts back. Not that I ever, in spite of what might have seemed to be the natural conclusion of my argument, believed James to be entirely evil and devoid of all compassion, loyalty, courage or other redeeming features. As Sting said, I hear the Russians love their children too... but I digress. Anyway, I think those who worried that my intent was to demonize James in order to make Snape look good might be pleasantly surprised by this story. Or not. Decide for yourself.

FIC: Bewitching The Mind, Ensnaring The Senses )

Comments and criticisms welcomed.

* I mean that literally. Headaches and nausea, to be precise. However, I appear to be a masochist of some sort, because I still love my fandom. Especially when it inspires me to lovely heroic thoughts about Neville. *hugs Neville*
1. Thanks for the cool discussions )

2. I love a neat turn of phrase )

3. Yes, I know everyone is a twit at fifteen )

4. There is a difference between a reason and an excuse )

5. My feelings are not the issue -- really )

Finally, it looks as though this whole froufarah has made fandom_wank. And tomorrow... the world! Muaaah ha ha ha ha ha!

Er, I think I'll just go to bed now. And maybe in the morning, LiveJournal will decide to be nice and start delivering my comment e-mails again. I haven't had a single LJ post delivered to my inbox in the last twelve hours, so if you said something insightful and/or witty and/or abusive and I haven't responded, it's probably because I missed it. I'll do my best to catch up tomorrow...
I was debating to myself just last night whether I ought to write up a theory that had been taking shape in my mind over the last few weeks, when I saw this, on the comments to a recent posting at The Leaky Cauldron:
I kind of get this idea that all of the Marauders were vying for Lily (as if she were some object *F*) and James just happened to win...but it's curious how they end up together. I mean, the scenes in OotP. Eek. I'm wondering if James does something to her magically to entice her.

So, since I am obviously not the only one who has had this thought since reading OotP, and since [livejournal.com profile] lizbee and [livejournal.com profile] pharnabazus have been kind enough not only to indulge my heretical musings in this regard but to admit that the idea makes sense and even (in the case of [livejournal.com profile] pharnabazus) to suggest corroborating evidence, I am going to make the case here and let my readers tear it to bits -- or build it up some more -- as they see fit.


James Potter Is Ever So Evil. )
[livejournal.com profile] drmm wrote, in response to Point #5 in my unpopular fannish opinions post:

But I like anime-style fan art. Of course, I like anime, which probably makes a big difference.

For the record, I like anime, too -- in fact, I was practically obsessed with it between the ages of eight and fifteen. Back then I had no idea how much of it there was, or what it was properly called: I only knew that on the French channel there were these gorgeous cartoons like nothing I'd ever seen before.

I didn't understand more than a couple words of French, but every Saturday morning I paid rapt attention to Albator (a.k.a. "Captain Harlock") and Capitaine Flam (otherwise known as "Captain Future" -- I just went to look up the English equivalent, and found this brilliant French site where I am now listening to the theme song I remember -- oh, the nostalgia!).

I was also a devotee of Star Blazers and Battle of the Planets a.k.a. Gatchaman, though I was thoroughly disgusted by the cheap and obvious patch-up job they'd done with American animation for all the "7-Zark-7" bits in the latter. And I watched the entire Macross saga, or at least as much of it as my local station showed -- to my horror they broke off halfway through the third part and I had to run out and buy the novelizations to find out what happened to my beloved Lancer. :)

So yes, I do like anime. I haven't time or opportunity to get into the fandom (and that's a good thing, because I could easily see it becoming an obsession), but there's nothing lacking in my appreciation of Japanese animation or manga.

The point I intended to make was not that anime-style art is horrible and wrong -- it's perfectly appropriate in anime-based fandoms, or if you happen to be a Japanese artist -- but I don't understand why there's such a preponderance of this style of art in fandoms which have no anime connection, such as HP. And there's a lot of carry-over from this, too, where writers and artists seem to take it for granted that the HP males are all bishounen -- which is so at odds with canon it's just weird.

A few anime-type drawings in a non-anime fandom are one thing; an overwhelming flood of them is another. I can find pretty pictures of pretty boys anywhere. But in HP fandom I would really like to see some more realistic illustrations of the characters as JKR describes them. That's all I meant.
...where my Unpopular Opinion of the 28th went, it has been flushed. I've archived a copy of the page, and it's available upon special request if anyone feels they must know exactly what was said by all parties, but I doubt anyone is really that interested. I know I'm not.

You see, this morning seven astronauts passed abruptly from time into eternity. And this afternoon I played the piano at the funeral of a dear old man who was my brother in Christ. Under those circumstances, the idea of arguing back and forth about fanfic reading and writing preferences just strikes me as being, well, pretty irrelevant.

These kinds of events have a way of making you stop and reflect on what's important in life, and what things are really worth spending your time and energy on. So I trust you'll understand, and not be too surprised, if I say that I'd rather concentrate on other things than fandom at the moment.

Thank you.


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