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[personal profile] renay
So, fanfiction.

Back in 2007 when I started blogging about books and interacting with the wider community and book fandom, I became really, painfully aware of how divided my new fandom (talking about books) and my old fandom (writing fic and making art about books and other media) were from each other. I never really figured out how to deal with the space between them. I tried to separate my identities — I had several book blogs — but it would never stick because the fanfiction side of me couldn't be divided out from the part of me that loved books. I love stories and fanfiction is just another type of story. It's not less than, it's not even a competition — it's a shared experience of a source. If reviews are a type of feedback then fanfiction is simply another, but instead of answering the question "Should I read this?" it answers the question "What happens next?" I don't really use reviews that way anymore. I know what I like by now: I want to go deeper than that.

I am often much more interested in the latter question.

It's March, so it's time for The Organization for Transformative Works to have the first of their two drives, encouraging members to support the OTW for the work it does; I already wrote about this and how it's important to me personally. Every drive always makes me reflect back on my past as a fan and as a consumer of stories and to search out what other people who have walked the same roads of similar stories are doing, where our shared experience of a book took them, and did they write about it so I can go with them? More and more as the years go by, that answer is yes, and I dream of a world where fanfiction is not a confusing practice, an illegitimate hobby, a shameful act. Because really, lots of things are essentially fanfiction, and what fandom and fanfic is right now is simply another evolution of it, fueled by the internet and a culture that wants to see certain stories, can't find them elsewhere, and so they make them themselves. Every piece of fanfiction I have written was because I asked "What happens next?" and knew that if I didn't answer it, I would never know.

I do like to know things.

Most of all, throughout my childhood I was told by male guidance counselors and teachers and guardians: don't write those things. Don't waste your time. That's never going to net you a career. You can't be successful writing stories. When I found fandom, I found a culture of women that said: write! Everything you write is worth something, even if it's bad. It doesn't matter if you make a career out of it if you love to do it, and if you love to do it you probably can be successful at it. The message was so different that I stepped into fandom and never left. I didn't do much creative writing outside of classes, because I had fandom. And maybe one day I'll go on to try and write a short story or a novel and maybe I won't. Either way is okay, because I love the writing I do and I love that I have the chance to share stories with people, even if I'm not the creator of those stories.

This influences my book blogging. I am more likely to financially support an author if they allow fanfic and more likely to not financially support an author if they write screeds and threaten their fans and call us names and accuse of theft and suggest all fanfiction amounts to is training wheels. At an author event [personal profile] owlmoose once attended, the author she was there to see, Naomi Novik (and one of the founders of the OTW) said the following (paraphrased, of course):

Thompson (who has clearly never been involved in fandom) brought up the old "training wheels" analogy (paraphrased, the idea that writing fanfic is a way of getting started in writing, because you have the world and the characters as training wheels, but eventually you get tired of it and want to ride the bike on your own), but Novik disagreed with him. First she pointed out that there are plenty of people who are happy to only ever write fanfic and have no need to turn pro, or write origfic. Then she made another analogy: she said it's like playing music. You start out playing music written by other people, then you start making jazz riffs, and then maybe you move on to your own original compositions, but that doesn't mean it's not fun to play covers sometimes.

I can only hope we're moving toward a world where we're as legitimate as book reviewers are. I dream of that world where fanfiction writers are treated with the same respect by the authors and publishers, who so love all the free advertising that reviewers provide them and extend that respect to the world of mouth advertising and the financial support we offer by buying copies of books, sometimes multiple copies, for friends so they'll come be excited with us and write lots of stories (porn optional). I don't think that world is as far away as it was in 2007 and I will never stop hoping for it.

To close, a short introduction to some fanfiction, featuring some of my favorite books:


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