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Title: Quality and Doyle in Dresses
Creator: [M F G]
Date(s): January 10, 1994
Medium: online
Fandom: The Professionals
External Links:
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Quality and Doyle in Dresses is a 1994 Professionals essay by [M F G].

It was posted to Virgule-L.

The topic is fannish taste, feedback, and hurt feelings.

For additional context, see Meta Essays, List Surveys and Notable Discussions on Virgule-L.

Related Essays

The Essay

"I don't care" can also be asbestos shielding--and a simple statement of fact. There are definitely people who say they don't care because they really can't deal with other people's reactions/criticisms, which is fine, and then there is "I don't care" used to deflect some of the nastier sticks and stones that are occasionally hurled. Sometimes, also, taking on an attitude of not caring is the only means of shutting some people up, short of entering into an intellectual battle with an unarmed opponent. Then there's the other category, which I think many of us fall into now and then (or most of the time!), which is that we genuinely don't care. There are people out there whose opinion I don't think is worth the hot air they expelled it on, and there are people (a couple of whom are friends of mine!) whose opinion matters--but only as long as they *really* dislike something. I have a running routine with one of them:

"Here," she says, handing me a zine, "I hated this--you'll love it." I mean, let's be honest here, fandom *does* have some idiots in it, and some people whom we think have the most execrable taste--and they probably think the same of us. Do *any* of us care what they think? Of course, the 'we' and 'they' are used in stead of the abysmally Sassennachy 'one' and 'those individual persons whom one feels...' etc. I really don't think Jane of Australia gives a toss that I think she's crap--and if she does, then more fool her. And more fool me if *I* care what people think, because if I did, then I'd never put fingers to keyboard again. And what's more, neither would any other writer, because there's always someone out there who hates this story or that, this style or that, or this theme or that. As writers, we can't win, in one point of view, which makes caring what people think a very dodgy proposition in my opinion. I'll happily accept criticism, and if I agree with it, then of course I'll try to incorporate it (honest, [N], I do, I do! But can't I have just *one* more comma? Please? I'll trade you a colon for a made-up verb...), but all too often, criticism consists of 'death stories stink'. Oh. Great. Thank you for your insight. And thanks for taking all that time to think about it. So I do question just how much a writer *should* care about what people think. If people had cared that much way back when, slash would still be dirty little secrets circulated among a handful of friends. A writer caring too much about what people say can be disastrous (look at what happened to Sebastian --disapproval on the Siren [or was it the Adagio? the unfinished series] series stopped her from writing for four years, and I still don't think her confidence has returned. Her ability, absolutely, but not her confidence). Especially since so few people bother to make their criticism a) constructive b) cogent. c) applicable (like me when I say "I hate all elf stories". Now isn't *that* a helpful and useful comment? Which is why I don't comment on elf stories to the writers. Waste of their time.) and d) impersonal. Calling a writer stupid, insipid, sick or anything else happens more often than it should, when the crit. should be limited to the story on hand. (Or so I remind myself every single time I even *think* about Hephaiston!)

What I started to say ages ago (sorry!) is that there are times when it's important that a writer *not* give a damn what people say. Just look at the opinions of the people on this list:

[L] hates those gay-lib type stories

[A] hates pretentions to Literature.

[N] hates a/u and especially supernatural.

[A] hates stupid medical stories.

I hate goo.

That's just the first five that bounced into my head (sorry if I've misapplied anything--you can take turns shooting me), and a writer would go nuts trying to please everyone. She'd also turn out mediocre, safe, uninspired rubbish-- or at least that's what *I'd* call it. Think about what it would be like trying to please everyone: the ones who don't like long words, the ones who adore clever plays on words, the ones who love plumbing, the ones who love the veil drawing discreetly over the bedroom door, the ones who love sucking chest wounds, and the ones who loathe the merest hint of suffering.

A writer cannot possibly please everyone, so I think she *must* please herself. Full stop. It's lovely to please editors--but unless you're lucky, you might have to wade through a lot of editors to find the one who's on the same wavelength. If a writer tries to please everyone, or do the 'right' thing, then she will be hobbled and stifled--and god knows what gems *we* will miss out on because of that.

I don't think a writer *should* care overmuch about what people say--as long as she's always willing to listen *before* she rejects it out of hand!

I'd like to say that's my two cents' worth, but I think it's closer to about two million cents...