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Growing Up in Fandom Part II

Growing Up in Fandom Part II

Now that I’ve word vomited my intro to “fandom and fanfic” maybe I should get to the point of why I’m talking about it in the first place.

My path to becoming a writer is a little circuitous. I originally went to college to study Criminal Justice. I had ever intention to pursue a career in law enforcement. Two really painful years into my degree I moved back to my hometown and took a long hard look at what I was doing. I was miserable, I was bored, and I was flunking out of school. I had turned to World of Warcraft just to get away from the idiots in my program (oh, the irony right?) and I was literally a creative wasteland.

You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger darling
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About 9 months ago I cut off my WoW subscription and went strolling through the Inception Kink Meme looking for inspiration. I found a prompt I liked and started writing. It was the first serious writing I’d done in probably three years. Suddenly, a couple months later of small daily updates, I had almost 20k words of fic and a decently interesting and complex story. I had people reading it and following the story and commenting and telling me about how much I was jerking on their heartstrings with this story.

I realized something: I might be able to do more of this. I might actually be able to write something length, stick with it, and touch people with my writing.

As I compose this blog entry, I’m actually taking a short break from this very same WIP (I’ve been too busy working on my original fic Mages to finish it so far this summer which has left my readers hanging a bit, /facepalm).

So why do I still write fanfic even when I have several “real” (and I use that term loosely because I have complex feelings about what makes some real, whether it be art or writing or a day job) projects going on? It’s routed in why I write fanfic at all: it’s a creative brain break. There’s less pressure involved when I write fanfic, there’s the added bonus of instant gratification in the form of reader comments (I also find the author-reader relationship can be more intimate and a lot of fun in fandom), and finally, writing fic can be an excellent way to experiment with you writing. Because you aren’t being paid to do it, because you aren’t trying to market it to anyone other than yourself, you can take bigger risks. You can develop your writer’s “voice.” You can experiment with how you tell stories, how you construct stories. You can work out a lot of the kinks a writer encounters when they write, experiment, and get instant feedback on how other people think these techniques are or are not working.

Not to mention all the sex. All of the sex is a lot of fun to write too.

I think fanfic helps me remember why I write in the first place, because it’s fun.


Growing Up in Fandom Part I

Growing Up in Fandom Part I

Fanfic get’s a bad rap.

I should go back, some of you reading this might not have a clue what I mean when I say fanfic or fandom or WIP or a dozen other terms so, crash course:

  • fandom: implies a community of people with similar interests, participating in fanac and interacting in some way, whether through discussions or creative works. The interaction may be face-to-face at gatherings such as conventions, or written communication, either off- or on-line.” source fanlore
    • I’ve always considered fandom so be mini “fan kingdoms” centered around a specific area of interest such as a movie or television show and encompassing all the people who take part in fannish activities (discussions, fanfic, fanart, meta, mixes, fanvids ETC)
  • fanfic: is a work of fiction written by fans for other fans, taking a source text or a famous person as a point of departure.” source fanlore
    • fanfic is essentially transformative fiction, using a common source material as a jumping off point, inspiration, setting etc

For more reading is a pretty good fannish wiki. It was created and is maintained by the people at  the OTW ( a group of fans who run fan-based projects and outreach programs).

Now, as I was saying. I wrote my first short story with my mother’s help when I was six years old. I dabbled over the following years with writing little stories of dubious quality often on the back of church programs. When I was about 12 or 13 a friend’s parents introduced she and I to a movie. This movie was called Labyrinth, you’re probably heard of it 😉 I remember feeling incredibly sad and unhappy with the ending. I desperately wanted Sarah and the Goblin King to hook but because he was totally into her duh. Through a series of events I don’t remember now, another school friend passed me a note with a web address on it. That web address was; suffice is to say I immediately ran home and wrote an alternative ending to Labyrinth to post to The rest, as they say, is history.

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From then on I was a tiny school girl fic addict. I wasn’t a very prolific writer but participation in fandom kept me writing small (and terrible, I’ll admit it) short stories through my early years in high school.

So that being said, fanfic get’s a bad rap because there is a lot of bad fanfic out there. Stuff being written by young kids essentially (though also by older people) that’s underdeveloped, that’s childish and rough and being posted without editing or beta reading etc. I would argue that this isn’t altogether a bad thing, because fandom fosters these young, developing writers, and encourages them to keep writing and to write better and to challenge themselves. So ten years down the road they aren’t just writing terrible sloppy sailor moon or Labyrinth fic anymore, they’re writing fully realized and complex, engaging narratives.

Because the other side of the coin is composed of fanfic that is incredibly well written. There are several women in fandom whose writing I have followed for years because they did their time as terrible teenage writers and honed their craft into something sharp and beautiful. There are literally hundreds of fanfic writers out there who have day jobs, who don’t write professional (though they certainly could if they wanted to) but love fandom and therefore write just for the hell of it. For their own enjoyment and their own enrichment and because it makes them happy. And they write really really well.

I can be a bit stingy. I almost never buy a book brand new, I am a hardcore used bookstore goer. If there’s one thing I really hate, it’s spending $10 for a book that is badly written or boring. I hate to break it to you, but there are lot of books being actualfacts published (we’re talking paper and glue binding published) that are not well written. My predicament then is, why should I bother paying for actual kindling when I can get a very well-written story for free from a friend in fandom?

As I’ve gotten older (well, since graduating from my ultra conservative high school and moving out into the big real world) I’ve been increasingly more open. Open about my thoughts, opinions, personal philosophies and proclivities. In the last year I’ve been a lot more open to real life friends about my participation in fandom, honest about the fact that yes, I still write fanfic from time to time.

Like I said way back at the beginning of this post, fanfic get’s a bad rap. “Regular” people (should I call them fannish muggles?) know so little about fandom, all they get exposed to are the extremes: the extreme fans, the extreme stalkers, the extreme kinks, the extremely bad examples of fanfic. Their opinions are shaped by this exposure.

I won’t deny there is badfic out there, that there is a lot of badfic out there, in fact (heh, 50 Shades of Grey is, quite honestly, an example of badfic okay? Misrepresentation of the BDSM community aside, it’s a poorly written story much like it’s source material go figure). Badfic is not the only type of fic out there, and even badfic can be a stepping stone, a learning exercise for a developing author.

I refuse to be shamed into silence because I like geeky things or because I take part in online fannish communities.

Next time on Growing Up in Fandom: why I still dabble in fic writing