I've been thinking of writing this for a while, mostly for me more than anyone else. The title could also be named "I made a fool of myself and it's still impacting me today". This is my way of trying to get past it.
Maybe you have and maybe you haven't heard of a certain LiveJournal blog called The Potter Sue. If you haven't, it's basically where every day someone would put up a story that has a mary sue in it and rate it on how bad it is, then people would comment. That's where my first story ended up, and it got the worst rating possible. I was crushed, and may have acted in a very childlike way, including the sin of sockpuppeting, or also known as using an account to appear as someone else to talk about yourself.
By the way, here's the link to that, with the entire embarassing conversation in the comments: https://pottersues.livejournal.com/850144.html?view=73092320#t73092320
As soon as I read it I knew I had to prove them wrong. I'd read every writing article I could get my hands on. I'd ask for feedback. I'd edit, and I'd edit, and I'd edit, and I'd edit even more. I'd make my writing spotless, and then no one could tell me I was a bad writer. However, in doing so...I realized it actually was bad. But it was also my very first story I ever posted. Looking back now, I know this was a natural thing, but then it crushed me. I deleted the story from everywhere I'd placed it up (which was in a lot of spots). Worse than making me delete the story, it dealt a blow to some very real issues I was already dealing with. Eva Winters, my main character, was a bit of a self insert, and the story was a coping mechanism of mine. I'd written ten chapters for that. I wrote about a little girl from a broken family, with a sick mother, who just wanted to have a normal life and friends. I wrote about a girl who ended up fighting in a battle that she never would have thought possible to win. That made a new family and got back at the bully who taunted her. That's what I wanted then. That's what I needed.
Even years later I haven't been able to write as far into a story as I had then. It was like it completely killed any joy I had in the story. I loved telling the stories, but every time I thought I had it, all I could think about is if I did something wrong. So I'd edit and I'd edit and I'd edit and all I'd be able to finish, all I HAVE been able to finish, were oneshots. Through the years I've gone back to that page numerous times. I wonder what would have happened if they never showed up. If I never searched my story on the internet and saw that page. If I'd ignored that page. If someone had come to me and constructively tried to help me improve instead of putting my story up to be a joke told to a bunch of adults I had never even talked to.
What would my confidence be like then? I admit I had a bit of an ego at that time, but sometimes I wish I could go back to that. To just writing and not always doubting. There's a reason I go for so many swaps and review requests. After that incident I almost obsessively need feedback. I have to fix anything I see wrong in my writing, and I personally believe that, along with real life issues, this has heavily contributed to my slump the past four years.
I'm hoping that getting this story out there will do two things. One, it will help me move on. I already sent out a shorter comment to that page which probably will never be read, but it's not really for them. It's for the teenager that felt the need to apologize for something that never hurt anyone. Second, I wanted others who may visit sites like this to understand that there can actually be real long term concequences, and I can't help but wonder how many writers never continued after being put through something like that. Who just gave up and decided they weren't good enough.
I know this is a long ramble, but I've felt the need to get it off my chest for a while now, and I feel comfortable enough here to do so. I've known some of you off and on for years, and you've helped me so much. I'll always be greatful for that, and I wish I had found you sooner. For anyone else who may be going through this doubt, I want you to know you're not alone, and if you've gone through something like I did you didn't deserve that. Even if it made you a better writer in the long run, no one deserves to have something they care about laughed at like that. It's not right, and you're worth more than what a bunch of strangers on the internet think.