A Writer's Journey

September 19, 2016

Dealing with Hate

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

One of my most popular Outlaw Queen fanfics is one called “The Nanny.” It’s a modern AU where Regina works as a nanny and gets a job with Robin Locksley, a billionaire widower, to take care of his son, Roland. She is also dealing with her father’s cancer, a struggle as he is the only parent in her life since she was eight. On top of all that, she is fighting an instant attraction to her boss while holding onto a dark secret from her past.

This story has always gotten a lot of love. People review the chapters, recommend it, favorite it, and the like. And I’m usually asked about it on a regular basis. People can’t wait for me to update.

One of the reasons why was because I kept hinting at Regina’s dark secret and didn’t just flat out say it upfront. People wanted to know what happened between her and Leopold Blanchard. I let out little hints and dropped a few big ones every so often.

Then came Chapter 18, which was the entire story about what had happened with Leopold at Blanchard Financials. Facing a personal financial crisis between his wife’s growing medical bills and his daughter’s college tuition, Leopold decides his best course of action is to steal money from his own company. He enlists help from his CFO, Gold, and they ask Regina as well. She, though, knows it’s wrong and wants to help him find legal solutions. His pride, though, prevents him from accepting it and he threatens to hurt her loved ones unless she helps him. She agrees.

Leopold and Gold continue to threaten Regina whenever she starts to get out of line but soon the embezzling is discovered. They then threaten Regina into framing a low level worker, promising he won’t go to jail. When he does, she reaches her breaking point and goes off on both Gold and Leopold. They tell her to tow the line, so she tries to hand in a resignation. Leopold tries to convince her to reconsider and then starts to hit on her. Regina tries to rebuff him and though she tries to get away, he overpowers her and rapes her.

After, he rips up her resignation letter and declares that Regina is never going to leave him. She then feels trapped, knowing he has enough on her to make good on his threats to send her to jail. So she keeps going back and is raped almost daily. Regina becomes angry all the time and takes it out on nearly everyone in her life. Ultimately, she is fired to cover up the embezzlement and her fiancé leaves her.

Believe it or not, that’s the chapter in a nutshell. A lot more happened and there was a part in the present.

Before I even posted it, I almost had a panic attack about it. I had never written a rape scene before. I worried that it might come off as just there for shock appeal, that maybe I hadn’t set it up properly. Or that I hadn’t handled it right, that I was getting details and the psychology wrong. That it was just going to come off wrong.

And then I was scared of a different response. I’ve been in fandom a long, long time. So I’ve seen a lot of things. I know how ugly responses can get, especially with something as polarizing as rape. So I knew I was going to get a lot of ugly thrown at me—especially as I allow anonymous reviews. But I posted it anyway, not wanting to change what I had envisioned because I might receive horrible reviews.

I was not disappointed. Most of my initial reviewers were hateful and anonymous. But mixed with them were very supportive reviews. Over time, the supportive reviews started to overtake the negative. And then it became very obvious that most of the negative reviews were coming from one person who clearly was stalking my story in order to send a new review each time I got a supportive one.

At first, I’ll admit that each negative review hurt…until I figured out it was mostly one person. But I also knew that I couldn’t back down or change my vision. That wouldn’t be true to my story or the character. And thankfully, most readers thought the same. So I focused on them and did my best to ignore the haters.

I decided to employ the same tactics I use for trolls—don’t engage. Nothing. They thrive on the attention so if they don’t get any, they usually just disappear. It was partially easy because I can’t reply to anonymous reviews. But I made sure not to make any direct statement on my tumbler or Twitter. I also didn’t address anything any of them said in my author’s note when I published my next chapter. I just thanked everyone who had supported me for their kind words about Chapter 18.

The negative reviews have diminished significantly and aren’t as vitriolic as they used to be. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m not engaging or because others have now followed my lead and not engaged, either. Because the reviewer taunted several of my supporters and grew antagonistic when they replied. Even accused someone who opened up about their own experience with sexual abuse of lying.

And that’s where I drew a line. But I had to figure out how to fight back. I didn’t want to turn off the anonymous review feature or start moderating them because changing up my routine seemed like giving in to the harasser. So I sent an email to Fanfiction.net asking if it was possible to ban an IP address.

I still haven’t heard back.

Right now, it’s calmed down. I published another chapter last week and only got a few negative reviews. None reached the vitriol I had gotten. So maybe I’ve outlasted the person. Maybe they’ve realized I won’t be bowed.

Either way, I think I’ve gained valuable experience and maybe learned a lesson. Don’t let the haters get to you and find a good support system. You’ll get through it.

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