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.
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.