“Stand of the Exiles” or… The best of communities, the worst of communities.

2007.  A pretty harsh year.   While selling “A Mother’s Gift” and “The Banner Project” had seemed to be the light at the end of the tunnel, reality was that two short stories do not a career make.   I had been a stay at home mother for a long time, but finances were becoming desperate.  I’d had a few temporary and seasonal jobs, but we’d reached the point where we just weren’t making it, and something had to give.  That ‘something’ were my internet and World of Warcraft accounts.  I was stuck at home, trying to find a job, and completely cut off from the world.

Sad and addicted, I immersed myself back in the game world by writing what I considered to be ‘derivative fiction based on Warcraft’.  I didn’t realize it then, but the rest of the world calls this fanfiction, and it has a rather bad reputation.    When we got ahead enough again, I got my internet and my Wow back, and, in passing, mentioned that I had written this and would anybody in my Wow group want to read it?   The answer was those damned crickets again, and I got what I know now was a brush off… no, not a single one of my Wow friends was willing to take a file from my computer…maybe I should find a hosting site, and after I did that, they might take a look at it.   Okay, fine, I grasped computer savvy security, so I typed in “warcraft fiction” and posted “Stand of the Exiles” on the first site that popped up.   I made note of the url, and then promptly…went away.   I had no clue just how large, complex, and…well…vocal… a community I had just opened myself up to.  My friends ignored “Stand” but the community I had just let have access to it did not.  There was a sudden flurry of comments.  Input.   People had read it, absorbed it in great detail, and now wanted to discuss it with me.   I  had just found my writing community, in the oddest of places.   They were going to teach me a lot, some of which I didn’t want to know, a lot I never bothered to implement, and they were going to get me through trouble I didn’t even see coming.

“Stand of the Exiles” is not a great effort.   I’m not going to get out a soapbox here and call it anything other than what it is.   It’s one of my worst attempts, and really reflects the nadir it was written in.  It has deserved a whole lot of the derision it gathered, and ironically, the less than stellar responses it received really gave me a thick skin and a better grasp of where I was stylistically and mechanically.   It’s really only notable as an introduction to the loud community I am proud to be a member of.   There’s a lot of downside to the fanfiction community, don’t get me wrong.  I was used to the very strictly moderated sites like critter.org where commentary on the level of “Wow.  This SUCKS!!!!!” was never tolerated.   I was used to a very civil and well behaved community, and fanfiction is most certainly not a very civil and well behaved group.   They have rules…(most of which I ignore as unnecessary) and their own way of doing things.   There was a whole lot of “What have I done to myself?!?” at the beginning of my relationship with them.    But there are a lot of savvy readers in the community, and if you have any universe you can write in, and want fast input, I promise you’ll get it.   It won’t all be polite, but you’re assured of having people actually read it.   (Side note:  Certain authors do not like their worlds covered, while others graciously support fan efforts.  There really is only one place to go with this… http://www.fanfiction.net  and they have an extensive list of ‘don’t write’ worlds up.)

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