Twilight Fan Fiction Author Bakes up a "Wide Awake" Story
Here is Part 2 of our 3-part interview with angstgoddess003, author of the popular Twilight FanFiction story "Wide Awake". In this portion, she opens up about issues surrounding two controversial chapters.
(If you missed Part 1, you can read it here.)
Angstgoddess003 Part 2:
PM: Can you tell me what it was like when you first noticed there was something wrong on fanfiction.net? Had it ever occurred to you that anything you wrote might cause an issue?
AG003: It never once occurred to me that anything I wrote in WA would cause an issue. Truthfully, I wasn't as well-versed on the guidelines as I should have been. The extreme content already present on the site made me complacent with my own. Before it'd happened, I'd never realized things like, A/N chapters are forbidden, and so are song lyrics and splitting up chapters and all of those things that are so frequently done. I never realized that the M rating had limitations. I never even realized that an old MA rating had ever existed on the site. I figured M was no-holds-barred content, and I utilized it without really researching before I posted. Again, it was my own fault for not consulting these things, and allowing the content of the stories already present to give me a false sense of security. I admit my fault in this error. It was careless to post so casually without regarding it more seriously.
When the website got all wonky, I never thought it had anything to do with my story. I'm a web developer, so I know that sometimes servers go down, and scripts kick back errors and it just... happens. I'm still one-hundred-percent convinced it was all a coincidence. The timing was just bad for me, and caused a lot of undue speculation in my name and in regards to my story and the intentions of the website admins. There were some overreactions and people were understandably nervous about the safety of their fics. It was a hectic period all in all, but I think people are more comfortable now that the site is back up, and no sexorcism ensued. I still cringe to see mine or the story's name next to anything regarding that period and speculation that M fics may be removed.
PM: When I saw and posted a link to your note that day about not flaming FF.net, we were all impressed by your stance. Where did you find the strength to play it so cool? Do you have enough perspective on that time yet to say how you feel about the whole issue? Has any of this affected where you will take the story?
AG003: Actually, and rather ironically, I'd JUST had a lengthy debate with a fellow author a week before this whole event occurred about how I approached my public comments. She pointed out some of my flaws when reacting publicly, and reminded me that I had to be more diplomatic as a result of my large audience, and that sacrifices had to be made for the story's popularity. One of those sacrifices was public venting.
Plus, she showed me how badly my persona was being regarded in the author community and what things caused it to occur. Some readers feel like they are defending me and the story sometimes, and though it is meant to be a really sweet gesture to me when they point out if an author uses something I've used, or attacking readers who say they like some other story better than mine, it's a really mean gesture to some other author who puts their heart and soul into their writing just like I do. That's not good at all. So, in these cases, my persona is not regarded very well, and understandably so. I'd be pissed off too. If I'd known the problem existed, I would have made an effort to make mention of my position on matters such as these. Which is: DON'T. The loyalty is flattering to no end, but, not only does it give me a bad name, it also hurts someone else, and I've been hurt by hurtful people enough over the last four months to know the damage it can cause. If any reader is concerned with someone ripping from me, or someone being hateful toward me or the story, or even what FF has done to my chapters, I'd much prefer they messaged me privately, and allowed me to address it at my own discretion. This way, I'm held accountable for my own actions, and not those of someone else.
Very shortly after this disheartening realization about my disliked image in the community as a result of my readers' reactions to my comments and/or lack thereof, the chapters got pulled. That epiphany wound was still somewhat gaping and sore, and immediately, I panicked about their reactions before even considering my own.
Again, I wanted to handle the situation on my own, and I knew that how I approached my public comments would directly affect my already poorly regarded persona. If I were to freak out, then many of my readers would have freaked out and stood behind my reaction, because they are sweet and supportive in that way. Additionally, even though it wouldn't have been my intention if I had freaked out, I would've been using their loyalty to spread my anger, and to use them to attack fanficion.net or another group would have been unfair and disrespectful of me. They deserve better, and they deserve the right to form their own opinion without mine influencing it. I would have rather seen something positive emerge from the entire situation, and truthfully, I never held a grudge against the admins for doing their jobs anyways.
All in all, I love the way some people are so fiercely protective over the story, and it's sweet and beyond flattering when they get all Edward to my Bella. But... these are things I need to handle on my own, and even though they don't realize it at the time, what they do and say will inevitably reflect back on me, and since that's a revolving door and what I say and do reflects back on them, I wanted to handle it in the most respectful way I could. It's very symbiotic, this relationship we've got going on.
To say it's affected the story itself would be untruthful. It did slow it down a bit because I was (and still am at times) forced to deal with a lot the repercussions. It's affected how I post the story though, and it's also affected my plans for future postings. I'm actually more comfortable posting smuttier MA rated content in my new location than I ever was on fanfiction.net.
The WA fail Positive Result on the story: Over the course of re-posting after the chapters got pulled, I began to notice... the whole fiasco actually drew in a new crowd of readers. They were curious to see what was so 'forbidden' that merited the chapters' removal. Maybe some were worried about their own stories and wanted to make a fair comparison of what could and has been pulled, or maybe they just wanted to see the 'evil insani-smut' that had become so nefarious. Of course, as many of the WA readers know, nothing risque occurs until the most recent chapters, and they had to wade through the entire story to see it. Most of them stuck around and have become active readers and commenters. In the end, I was grateful for the new interest and perspectives in reviews. And I've had at least four messages sent from reformed haters who now admit to actually enjoying the concept of the story, and instead of being malicious and hurtful towards me personally, offer me honest and constructive criticism that I can use to improve and progress to something they can consider worthy to the concept's potential.
Already, many positive things have emerged from it. I was happy with the result, and don't regret one comment I made. There's a LOT to be said for that.
PM: Do you know how many more chapters you will be writing? Happy ending or not saying yet?
AG003: I'm really, REALLY trying to keep Wide Awake at a 50 chapter limit. My original outline was slated for 21, but as the story evolved and I grew the confidence to pursue controversial arcs that I'd previously avoided, I allowed it to grow. I'm afraid of drawing it out, and I know my readers would say they don't mind one bit, but I feel as though I personally need the closure of the story so badly that I simply can't do so for that reason. I do promise not to rush the plot, and if chapters 45-50 have to be 100k words each to accomplish it, then so be it. It must seem like the same thing to have long chapters and not split them up, but for me, it's a personal preference to see it end at 50... and... maybe a prologue chapter. I'm more worried about the chapter count than the word count. I'm not sure why. I guess I'm just weird like that.
"Happily Ever After" is such a subjective term. I won't be wrapping it up in a nice little bow, but I will do my best to show resolution for all things. I think, to assume that Edward, Bella, and the characters surrounding them are capable of being suddenly "perfectly happy" is just not realistic, and doing so would really be an insult to the complexity of the theme. However, I will make sure that they are all in the proper position to strive for that perfect happiness.
**Thanks for reading Part Two. Here are some of the questions in part three, which will be posted tomorrow: Where do you think you will go from here? Will you write more stories? Will you try to publish a book?
Part 3 is now posted HERE.