Monday, July 28, 2014

Why I hate Sporking*

*throws up in mouth*

This comment was left on one of my fics the other day. Because I'm that kind of person, I re-read the fic in question and tried to determine what on earth I wrote that would have caused that reaction. The fic that elicited this remark wasn't terribly explicit, which is to say there was no actual sex scene a person might have gotten squicked over. There was a conversation between two adults about sex, and I suppose someone could have been upset since one of the characters is discussing these things with her childhood friend who is currently sleeping with her adoptive brother. But, the scene was intended to be all the awkward you might imagine something like that would be. Also the fic is clearly tagged for the male pairing, so if this person preferred the stories where the childhood friends get together, you'd think the tags alone would have been a clue NOT TO GO THERE.

What is strange to me is that someone felt the need to leave this cryptic insult/comment in the middle of a long-running series without further explanation.

It is all of four words, with two asterisks, absolutely no other context, and of course, it's been nagging me for DAYS.

This is why the idea of sporking makes me violently ill.

I'm a professional writer. I've had to suffer the slings and arrows of reviews and fellow professional writers snarkily saying "less of Morehouse is better" in print. And, yet, four little words, surrounded by two asterisks, KEEPS ME UP AT NIGHT.

Truth is, I remember all the bad things anyone ever said about my professionally published novels. A hundred people can tell me a story or novel or a fic is awesome, but even the slightest remark that implies there's something seriously wrong with my writing (or myself) and it will haunt me forever... or at least several days.

Despite the fact that I'm going to probably turn this moment around and around in my mind for days, I know I'm going to survive it. If I kept writing after the "Less of Morehouse" comment (which always makes me think of a playground taunt), this is not going to end me.

But it's really not hard to see how it could.

I mean, writers (and artists in general, I imagine) have very fragile egos (even if successful artists are also usually resilient), none of which is helped by the mercurial nature of our business. There's this sense that good books survive and sucky books die on the shelf. Nothing could be less true. Many an amazing author has withered; and many books (do I have to remind you all of 50 Shades of Gray or Bridges Over Madison County???) become best sellers for reasons that baffle many of the rest of us. Yet, when a career does stall or a book fails, the writer almost always blames themselves. Every bad word ever written about any of their books loom large. Every cliche they ever used is examined and found embarrassing and wanting and oh-god-how-could-I-have-ever-thought-I-was-any-good!

When you're professionally published, however, that's kind of the deal, the dues you pay.

When you're writing for fun/pleasure.... what's the joy in poking someone? I guess like any bullying, it makes the bully feel bigger. I don't understand it. It's far easier to ignore the fic writers whose stuff I find subpar than to drag myself through it and then go to the added trouble of hitting comment and writing out some vague insult. I don't know, it's like walking up to a random person you don't know and whispering, "You're ugly." That thing we all fear is true.

What can I say? Random fic bullying: *throws up in mouth*


Will Shetterly said...

I did not know about sporking, and I'm not sure I like knowing. But I do know that people who love leaving bad reviews should be pitied. If they had good lives, they would be too busy sharing what they loved to spend any time at all on what they hate.

Eleanor said...

The person who did this cryptic comment is a jerk. Sooner or later, on the Internet, we all encounter jerks. They are startling and disturbing, because we don't want to think people behave this way. But some people do.

tate hallaway said...

Heh, it's true. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised to come across this stuff, but it always still wakes me up when I find it in tiny fannish corners.