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So… the Cousinjean thing.

So I was looking up the Dancing Lessons archive for someone who e-mailed me to ask if it was still online anywhere, and I landed on this. I can’t say I’m shocked by it or anything… at least once a year I’m happily skipping along the Internet and then I stumble over a surprise discussion about how I was the notorious chick who asked to be paid for fanfiction. Usually, I sigh, get depressed for a couple of days, and then move on.

But it’s been six years, and people are still talking about it. It’s never going to go away. So I might as well address it and get it over with.

When I initially tried to tell my side of the story, I was too defensive. I was hurt, and angry, and other people were hurt and angry at me, and it was quite frankly the hugest sh!tstorm I had ever been at the center of, and I didn’t know how to deal with it. I’m sure my tone was too defensive to be taken seriously, and nobody believed me anyway, which is why I’ve kept quiet for so long. People are going to believe what they want to believe, no matter what, and quite frankly I’ve been terrified all these years of bringing that storm back down on my head again.

I’ve had six years to gain perspective and assess the situation, but my story hasn’t changed, because it’s the God’s honest truth: I did not intend to ask for money for my fan fiction. My intention was to ask for crowdfunding to buy me time between getting laid off and having to job hunt full time (because job hunting IS a full time job) to be able to finish my ORIGINAL novel. I didn’t ask anybody to support me for an entire year. I hoped if I got enough small donations I’d be able to take a few weeks off, or a month or two at best. Regardless of what you believe my motives were, at least please give me credit for never being delusional enough to believe I had enough "fans" to support me for an entire year. When I wrote the post that burned the barn down, this is what I thought I was asking, and I thought it was very clear.

Now, I’m not saying asking for crowdfunding to write my novel was the brightest bulb in my idea box, either, especially at a time when crowdfunding was still so new and controversial. When I came up with the idea, I was deeply depressed and desperate for a way to pull myself out of it. I tend to do stupid things sometimes to dig myself out of depression. I HAVE gotten better at checking those impulses over the years, at least.

There were people at the time who understood that that was what I was asking, and reamed me out for it anyway, and that’s fine. Maybe I deserved that. But I didn’t deserve the smackdown I got–and the reputation I still have–for asking to be paid for fan fiction.

You guys, it took me YEARS to figure out how in the world any of you guys could ever have construed that I was asking to be paid for FAN FICTION. I was too close to it for that long. Finally, a couple of years ago, I went back and read what I had written. Of course, posting the message on the Dancing Lessons web site didn’t help. Neither did mentioning that AS A BONUS if I had any free time, then maybe I’d be able to finish my fanfic WIPs. I realize now that I was a complete idiot to even mention fan fiction in the same breath as asking for donations. So maybe I did deserve the smackdown for that.

I will say that I was extremely hurt that the people who I thought were my friends and cared for deeply didn’t know me well enough to stand back and say, "What?" and then ask me privately if they read that right. Instead they ranted openly on their LJs, they joined in with the Fandom Wank crowd, they jumped to conclusions and made their judgments, and they dumped me. I suspect some of them had been waiting for an opportunity to dump me because, for whatever reason, they’d decided they no longer liked me and just let me go on believing we were still friends. Whatever the reason, I’ve forgiven them. I hope they’ve forgiven me.

Someone in the thread I linked to up top mentioned my taking down the Drabble Tag community. I did that because I was getting e-mails from many of my co-writers telling me they didn’t want their writing associated with me and to please remove it. I didn’t mean it as a flounce. I was only trying to make everybody happy and to stop being mad at me.

A lot of people apparently find this whole thing entertaining. That’s great. That’s also why I have nothing to do with Fandom anymore. I have some great memories of it, but ultimately, it turned me into kind of a prick. I hung with a group who I thought were the "Cool Kids," I got a lot of feedback and "fan mail" that I let go to my head, I gossiped, I talked crap about people I don’t even know ALL BECAUSE THEY DISAGREED WITH ME ABOUT A TV SHOW ABOUT VAMPIRES. The truth is that I am deeply ashamed of much of that part of my life. I’m proud of some of the stories I wrote, and of the friendships that survived the flameout. But I’m glad that this happened, if only because it got me to step back and look at the kind of person I was being. I am DEEPLY sorry about every single negative comment or hurtful remark I ever made to anybody in this fandom, for any reason.

I’m not going to condemn anyone or try to make them feel bad for finding the whole wank entertaining. I’m just asking that you try to keep in mind that real people were deeply hurt because of it. I was hurt, and I hurt people, and for all that I never intended to, I am truly sorry. Every day I think about some of the friends I lost in the midst of all of this, and I want to reach out to them, but I’m too afraid. If any of you read this, just know that I miss you, and I think about you, and I’m sorry.

I’ve grown a lot in the last six years. I’ve gotten married, become a homeowner and a business owner. I’ve endured two miscarriages and the deaths of both of my in-laws in rapid succession. I’ve re-examined my faith and developed a deeper understanding of who and what God is and what He expects of me. I no longer let myself get so wrapped up in a TV show that I lose all perspective. I am truly a different person than this Cousinjean fool, and I’m ready to lay her to rest for good.

This is probably the third time over the years that I’ve written this post. I always end up chickening out and deleting it, because I fear inciting more drama. Like I said, you believe what you want to believe. I know I was wrong, and I don’t need 500 more people to show up here and tell me so. I’m also not looking for absolution. I just want to get my side out there, for the record. So here it is.

I hope I don’t regret this.

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10 thoughts on “So… the Cousinjean thing.”

  1. Ah Sweetie, with age comes wisdom. We’ve all done things we regret (albeit not always “publicly”).
    Your heart is in the right place and I hope this does bring you some closure.
    *baci, baci*

  2. Friends don’t flog friends publicly. They contact the person privately when there is a problem and try to make things right.
    People got vicious and cruel, and it seemed as though everyone wanted to pile on and take a punch at you. When reading about Nazi Germany and how neighbors turned on neighbors, it’s hard to comprehend; but then you see the glee people exhibit when one of their “friends” is being ostracized publicly in an online wank, and you realize that the mob mentality can show up anywhere, anytime. Pass the popcorn and let the Romans release the lions, and we’ll be entertained watching the Christians being shredded to a bloody death. Is everyone having fun? It doesn’t seem to matter that there is a victim involved.
    I liked Cousinjean. She was flawed like all humans, and she made an error in judgment. I like JMBauhaus, too: Cousinjean’s older, wiser version.

    1. Thank you, Bojo. Cousinjean had a lot of growing up to do. So does Big Girl Jean, but at least I’m a little more in touch with that knowledge.
      It’s funny, I didn’t even read past the first page of comments after the Fandom Wank crowd showed up. There reached a point where I just shut down and couldn’t deal with it, and had to stay offline to protect my sanity. I never did go back and read any of it. So most of the people who came to put in their two cents were talking to a blank wall. I probably don’t even know the full extent of how bad it got once the momentum really got going.

  3. First of all, I can’t believe all of that happened six years ago. Wow! That’s such a long time!
    I remember being so shocked by how vicious it all got. Yes, you made an error in judgement, but you did NOT deserve to be treated so harshly by people.
    You’re a good person, Jean. I liked you then and I like you now. We all grow and change, and our experiences in life make us different people to who we once thought we were. I hope you’re finally able to put this whole thing behind you. You have a lot to be proud of from your time in the Buffy fandom. It seems a shame to let this one error in judgement overshadow that.
    After all you’ve been through over the last few years, I know you’re strong enough to finally put the past to rest. And you have friends who care about you, Jean. Not Cousinjean the fanfic writer, but you, the real person we have come to know over the years. 🙂
    Sending much love and many hugs your way.

    1. Aw, Cal, you made me get something in my eye. Thank you. *HUGS*
      ETA that I will say that, yes, the last couple of years has pretty well pushed the negative opinions of a bunch of hateful strangers on the Internet down several slots on the list of Things Worth Getting Stressed Out About.

  4. Aside from an occasional comment on my side on your fanfiction, we didn’t really know one another. However, as just an observer, as a remaining member of that once super crazy fandom that is now at an easy simmer most of the time, I think it’s great to hear from you again and to hear your side of things. I was always sorry that it got so personal, so insane, and that so many were hurt in the process. I’m glad to hear that you seem to be doing well and that, like I hope many of those who possibly caused you pain during that time, you’ve grown so much.
    Also, when I see your name in fandom discussion, more often than not, it’s not about the wank. It’s about recommending your fiction to someone who has just joined the fandom. Your stories have become must-read classics. May sound funny, may not mean anything at this point, but…just thought that was a good thing to know. Take care!

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