Will people think I'm gross because I'm projecting onto fictional characters?
"When did you start deluding yourself into thinking you weren't gross?"
Freedom of thought is the one constant in an otherwise unequal world.
This world we live in now is complicated: aside from laws that strictly limit what we're allowed to do, the number of things that are considered "common sense" in terms of what we're not allowed to do or say is changing as we collectively become more aware of various issues.
However, unless you're hanging out with psychics, no one will ever know what kind of party is going on in your head. Within the boundaries of your own brain, you're free to do whatever you want.
That said, if you think about it, it's pretty gross in its own way to sit around enjoying the fact that you've cleverly avoided inevitable social (and literal?) death if anyone knew your thoughts, in the same way that it's still gross to fart as loudly as you want while hanging out in your own house or get naked in the office after everyone's already left.
Still, I can think whatever pleasant, erotic, or unethical thoughts I like; unless I say them out loud, no one will ever suspect anything untoward or judge me for it.
Creators, on the other hand, are creatures who often go to the trouble of writing, drawing about, or otherwise displaying such "indecent" topics that would otherwise remain hidden.
Creators are essentially brain exhibitionists. The only difference is that we as a society have the chance to judge for ourselves whether their indecency is interesting or boring.
So, first and foremost, let us shift our perspective from "Are we gross for projecting ourselves onto other characters?" to "No, we're all just gross."
The projecting thing is just an excuse
Exhibitionists are only perverts when they do it alone. Otherwise, we call them called nudists. Baseball, which recently enjoyed great popularity during the World Baseball Classic, is a strange ritual where hitting a ball with a wooden stick makes people happy or sad, but many people find it fun, so it's regarded as a sport or a form of entertainment.
In a similar vein, creative work is considered a hobby because there are a lot of people doing it, but in reality, these perverts are just exposing themselves in ways that people usually don't.
Saying that creative work is gross is as obvious as saying that cars have tires, and to complain about a specific creation being gross is like being angry at a man for merely breathing.
Those who complain about such things are those who don't and won't like anything you do, and they're just using projection as a random reason to shut down the umpteenth thing they don't like. It's just an excuse for them to bring you down. For example, even if you come up with a soul-crushingly devastating work, people who don't like it might claim that they "don't feel the cry of the author's soul at all," and that they can't believe you have the gall to serve half-cooked frozen udon to your audience.
Just as people who are allergic to shrimp cannot eat shrimp chili even if it's cooked by a pro chef, some niches are physiologically unacceptable to others. No matter how superbly written your dream novel is, people who are allergic to dreams will consider it gross because you're projecting.
When they see something they don't like, most people just cross their hearts to ward off evil and pretend they never saw it or go looking for something more suitable for them. Those who bother to comment that your novel is gross or attack you as the author are individuals with so little imagination and freedom in their hearts that they'd rather waste their time doing something they dislike and making sure you know that they didn't like it.
It takes a special kind of perversion to be born with the freedom and guts to give shape to your thoughts and bring them out into the world for those kinds of individuals to consume and judge; if you don't derive even a little bit of sick pleasure from the exposure that comes from releasing creations you put your heart and soul into, you should probably stop doing it.
Attacking others is a sign of envy toward the truly shameless
Never forget: the act of attacking someone is not always motivated by simple hostility.
I have to admit that I too tend to have mean thoughts toward dreamers. I can't say that I've never let loose a passive-aggressive remark like, "You're very confident in yourself, aren't you?"
But that always comes from an underlying feeling of envy because they have abilities I lack.
In other words, the complaint, "Aren't you ashamed of writing something like this?" can be, on the contrary, an expression of envy. As if to say, "How dare you be so utterly triumphant over shame!"
Creation is a battle against shame. The creative world is a place where losers have given in to shame and winners who have learned to wield their distinctive individuality reign supreme.
Even if you sit down at your desk with the enthusiasm to create something of your own because there's nothing in the world that reflects you in your entirety, with all your proclivities, sometimes you'll feel too embarrassed to write even a simple kiss. You'll sit down in front of your computer and you'll find yourself caught in a moment of indecision, the same way you hesitate when a message pops up during an RPG when you're about to throw away an important item. A little voice in your head will ask you: "You're not really thinking about posting this, are you?!"
The voice that says, "How can you publish something like that?" is but a manifestation of Dio-sama's mob crony mentality, who just can't bring themselves to say out loud "What a guy!"
It's hard to look right at raw creations that don't take the reader into account at all and exist as purely formed projections of the self and its desires.
And yet... when you read works like that, you can't help but think: "Damn it, I bet the author had so much fun writing that."
If you're ever criticized for your work, take it as a positive sign that you're now capable of drawing work that others envy.
There are two types of works that receive criticism: those that are read by a large number of people, and those that, for better or worse, really strike a nerve with some people.
So if you're getting criticism for your work, I can say with some certainty that's a relatively good sign compared another that only has 10 views, 0 bookmarks, and -8 comments.
If anything, "gross" is a source of power for creators.
The word "gross" isn't just used to express disgust. It has many different meanings, just like the word "sick".
In the recent Slam Dunk movie, Rukawa, who usually keeps his cool and doesn't show much camaraderie, says something along the lines of "Let's do that again today, let's get it on!", and then there's the famous scene where the entire team forms a circle and shouts "We are strong!".
Imagine the same scene, but instead of basketball players, it's a bunch of creators ecstatically shouting, "We're all gross!"
It may not be the most inspiring of images, but it's not a stretch to say that "gross" can be a source of power for creators.
What do people find gross? Things that disgust them and things that creep them out because it is beyond their comprehension.
The minds behind particularly revolting works of art are often quite unique. That's a high compliment, so take it as such.
Even if the grossness still outweighs the fun factor and the work is hard to enjoy, the creator behind it still has potential.
If you're hesitant to show your work to others, it means you've gotten to the point where you can write something that is that good.
The worry that your work is too self-indulgent comes from the fear that comes from creating a work in which you have fully expressed yourself and what you desire.
You don't have to worry about this if you write a boring piece of writing for the sake of other people.
However, the inner conflict begins once you start making something that you really like. You start to fret uselessly about stuff like: "Am I the only pervert who likes this kind of stuff?"
When you're having a good time writing, you start to hope that it's not just fun for you but also your readers, so it's no wonder that you worry about how your work will look to others.
If you want to make a creative work that both the writer and the reader enjoy, your concerns about how it'll look to others will never go away, but this struggle is not a bad thing. It is because of this internal back and forth that interesting work is created.
I hope you will continue to live a creative, conflicted life while also remembering to have fun.
When people call you "gross," remember that living your "grossness" is your strength. Perhaps it's just a sign that you let your talent shine more than usual?