A Slight Detour

Fanfiction is what literature might look like if it were reinvented from scratch after a nuclear apocalypse by a band of brilliant pop-culture junkies trapped in a sealed bunker. They don’t do it for money. That’s not what it’s about. The writers write it and put it up online just for the satisfaction. They’re fans, but they’re not silent, couchbound consumers of media. The culture talks to them, and they talk back to the culture in its own language.
—Lev Grossman, TIME, July 18, 2011
A long, long time ago, I wrote fan fiction. Like, awful embarrassing I-can’t-believe-I-did-that kind of stories before it was even called fan fiction – at least to my knowledge.  I actually got written up in some Midwest feature article and nowhere in that article did it even say I wrote fan-fiction.  It was simply called “a story”.
And way, way before that, when I was about ten or twelve, I actually told “fan fiction” stories based on the mecha genre – one involving transforming machines much like Voltron, Voltes V, Daimos and more.  Only I told my friends then that they were stuff that I dreamt about.  And sitting there on the school steps, I remembered the looks of awe in their faces as I told them the story about how my “dream” went like this and that, and how this person did this and that.  And it was fun!
Then one of them jumped up and exclaimed, “Wait a minute!  That’s not a dream.  You’re telling us a story!”  Like there was anything wrong with that.
Voltes VI so wanted one of these toys like no tomorrow!
Voltes V
I so wanted one of these toys like no tomorrow!
I think the main characters were Richard and Erica.  Yes, I was a full on mecha nerd then!
I think the main characters were Richard and Erica. Yes, I was a full on mecha nerd then!
These days, I ask myself why I put so much effort into writing this one story that has now reached 87K words.  That’s a novel right there, if you’re basing it on the word count.  But it’s not something I can actually send out or self-publish – and not that I’d want to.
But it makes me wonder why I put so much effort into something that some people often frown and look down upon.  For shouldn’t I put most of my efforts on something original instead of something borrowed?
At this moment, I really don’t know the answer.  I just know that for right now, the stories I write – no matter how far I’ve departed away from my original stories and characters and have found myself in the land of fan fiction – are simply going to part of the journey I’m taking.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.

4 thoughts on “A Slight Detour

  1. Om, yeah (coughs about the uncounted tens of thousands of words on her blog that are not doing her any professional or monetary good …).

    Reading the fanfic of others does something really important in my life. It makes my life bearable. It creates fantasy worlds in which all kinds of things are possible. It makes me think there are other people out there who dream.

    1. Thank you for that reminder, Servetus.

      I keep forgetting for some reason, especially when I try to sit and write at a cafe by my work where many published authors hang out and right now they’re scratching their heads at my “process” 🙂

      1. I’m a published author (not of fiction), and many, many more people read my blog than read my professional publications. So that skews my perspective. But as someone who’s tried to make money on the basis of writing about something she loves professionally, I found that doing that killed the love I had for that thing. Blogging is pure love (even when it’s aggravating), and I sense that spirit in fanfic. In the end we do it either because we love it or we can’t not do it … that is the place to be.

  2. Hey, I remember Richard and Erica! 🙂 The last time I wrote fanfic it involved my then-favorite band on a James Bond-ish road trip through Europe. It wasn’t very good (I wrote it when I was in college), but it was cheesy and fun. I got a free fan club membership for that – but the band shall remain nameless.

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