I read through this thread and something that was said really hit a nerve for me. It got me thinking anyway, a lot. And that’s never a good thing
The gist of the post that tweaked me was “Furry artists post their stuff and it gets all this praise, but I post a story and “they” all critique me on my style”
Can’t really get this out of my head, mostly because its important to me that furry literature has value, and I believe it does. But that one statement is IMO very telling about why it might not be perceived that way… yet.
Furry fandom has a high percentage of amazing visual artists, but none of them got there without a TON of hard work. A visual artist practices pretty much non stop. it’s obsessive- thousands of drawings of just paws to get them “right” sketches of expressions, rigorous training, even when it’s self led. They study. Holy cow do they study! They read books, they observe other artists, they watch youtube tutorials til their eyes bleed. In short, they live to learn their craft. They learn their craft. A new artist who is not up to quality yet gets TONS of critique when thy post their work. I’ve seen it, and it’s pretty harsh/blunt. But they work work work and improve. They don’t excuse away crit with “that’s just my style” and if they do, they don’t last long. There is an extremely high standard of excellence expected from furry visual art. Period. They bust ass to get there, and they keep each other on task to get “up to quality.”
You probably know where this is going, but let me say that the issue I see is not limited to our fandom even a little. In fact, I’d say its epidemic among all writers and I’ve seen it even more outside the fandom. but…
Using the word “craft” in reference to writing is often treated like a dirty word. You get so many 'how dare you suggest my writing could be better" responses that sometimes its not even worth fighting. A vast majority (present guild members excluded, you’re here right? we’re trying) but a huge percentage in my experience write stories and post them without ever reading a book on craft, watching a video on craft or business, or joining a crit group. Many resent any kind of feedback and there’s a core belief that writing is art so it doesn’t have rules. Well, it doesn’t. But it does have professional standards, and I guarantee that readers and potential readers can feel when a story isn’t there, especially if its not even close. Visual artist don’t get around to “my style” until well after they’ve learned the basics of composition, line, light, anatomy… it goes on and on. Yet the average furry (and x genre of your choice) writer is incensed if you suggest their craft needs work. The expectation is, I wrote a thing, I finished it and posted it, you may adore it now.
Most of the people in the twitter thread mentioned that they had read furry books, authors I’d consider very high quality who are writing at a professional level. Perhaps, instead of bemoaning the lack of respect/value for furry literature, we could focus on elevating our writing/literature to a level worthy of value and respect. Just saying that will piss people off though. Think about that. Saying our work should be of high quality gets a knee jerk “how dare you” response… ??? I guarantee the visual arts, music and costuming branches of the fandom are focused on always getting better. Always getting better.
Many of us are too.
In fact, it’s usually the ones who have already put in the work, who are close or at pro level, and who are finding readers, who still believe they need to be improving and working on craft. Not at the expense of "style’ but as a foundation to it. Always be getting better, study books on writing, read critically, talk to other writers, crit groups, workshops. We have the tools to be always striving to improve.
And I believe when the right quantity of the right quality of literature is available, then valuing it will follow naturally.
But right now, if you hold up the average furry literature post against the average furry art post, it’s pretty clear were not where they are… yet. I wish we could spend less time envious of that and more time looking to them as an example of how to get there.