Written for: fem_thoughts
Prompt: Posting - Where femslash writers post/why/where femslash writers don't post/why (prompted by observances that there is not a ton of femslash on Ao3)
Location, Location, Location (or why am I here?)
Warning: I’m not so good with the mini part of, ‘mini meta,‘ and this is very much based on personal experience.
So before I got into the nitty gritty of where I post, I took a minute to think about why I post. Yup it’s all very self conscious to, ‘question the question,’ but I think it’s a valid area of examination. I’d imagine all writers have been scribbling away in private for years. If we are going to write anyway, what compels us to post these things called fanfics on the big scary internet?
For me the draw of fanfic, and femslash in particular, is the sense of community it brings. I don’t necessarily mean skipping through fields of daisies, commenting in harmony about the kickass girls and beta reading each other’s work - although that is nice too. What I mean by community is the sense that someone else, even if they never review and I never know them in any concrete sense, gets it. I tend to write about non-canonical couples in small or almost dead fandoms. Femslash is often like wearing super!sekrit spy glasses. We’re not reading what is there, but what could be there. I post fanfic because I love this exchange between text (canon) - subtext (fic) - author (me) - reader (me and you).
So what cool hangouts make this possible?
Let’s get this straight, I don’t think ff.net is the black hole of suck that some do. Like everywhere else there are good fics and very, very bad fics.
That being said, I don’t think the site is femslash friendly. Want to write some lady on lady action? Better make it PG-13 or you are violating their terms of service. Want to dip your toes in a variety of fandoms by writing a drabbles or one shots? Better get used to their extremely complicated, chapter friendly formatting system. Want to make sure your offering doesn’t get swallowed up by the sheer volume of m/m or het postings? Good luck.
There is something to be said for ensuring femslash visibility by posting in general archives like ff.net. But, embracing my inner whiny, teenager for a sec, it’s sooo hard. I have posted het on the site, but I feel like my femslash is too smutty or too short to venture into the pit. I write quickly and, predominantly, for fun. ff.net feels like too much hard work, like swimming against the tide.
So where do I go instead? Well, like the special snowflake that I am, I was, ‘brought up,’ in the sheltered, femslash friendly world of livejournal. For many years LJ was the place that offered the fan exchange and re-reading of heteronormative texts I was looking for. LJ just suits my needs. I understand their community based system. Plus, if I can work their search function, anyone can. Most importantly, the prompting structure that permeates LJ works. Be it a drabble challenge or porn battle, I like the sense that at least one other person has a) seen what I saw, possibly over a large range of fandoms (porn battles especially offer a box of fanfic chocolates) b) will read my fic c) might even review.
The downside? LJ has segregated femslash writers. I wasn’t even aware there were communities outside of lj until very recently. LJ can be very cliquey and I think, increasingly, myopic. If you don’t write within the fandoms listed on passion_perfection, forget it. Community is what attracted me to fanfic writing, but community can also produce a hive mind. Seems like femslash writers now expect to be a small (if loud) group, working within certain fandoms and certain parameters. We’ve created our own bubble.
Which is why I think the percentage of femslash fic on A03 is relatively small. I think it is important to make a distinction between A03 and LJ/Dreamwidth. A03 offers a fantastic place to archive fic. I truly love their hit counter, it‘s interesting to see which of my fics people actually want to read (no surprises, porn is winning). I also like that it offers a search function for types of pairings (f/f, m/m, gen, f/m, gang bang), making the femslash easier to find.
What it doesn’t offer is any opportunity for discussion and prompting. People will only use A03 if existing fanfic writers and readers are aware of it. Seems like a redundant point, but if prompt battles or Yuletide don’t create groups on A03, then no one is going to know it is there.
To tie a neat bow around this beast - that is why I am here. Dreamwidth seems alive with discussion and more open to different kinds of fanfic posting and writing than LJ.
What I’d like to see now is a push towards multi-platform posting, people wandering from LJ, to Dreamwidth, stopping by at A03 and going back again. Like I said, for me it’s all about exchange.