P.S. I Love Fanfiction

17 December, 2014 Musing Musers, Random 34 comments

I’ve had these thoughts knocking around in the back of my brain for a few weeks now and as I’m currently in a bit of a reading slump (it’s been awhile since I’ve had one, I didn’t miss it). I decided to ramble for a bit instead of posting a review.

I love fanfiction. I think it’s a beautiful concept.

To be clear, this post is about fanfiction for the love of fandom. I think P2P (pulled-to-publish) fanfiction can very much be a questionably viable, murky ethical area but also feel in no way qualified to break that down coherently or knowledgeably and that’s not what I want to talk about anyway.

Basically, it warms my heart that people love a thing so much and feel so passionately about the characters that they want to continue the story elsewhere and explore different ways it could go. As I often find myself wanting more out of the things I love but am incapable of satisfactorily generating it myself, I am deeply grateful for the people to the people who do this stuff. To quote Leah Raeder:

“I respect people who get nerdy as fuck about something they love”

You guys are the best, please never stop loving things and creating things in their honor. This goes for everyone who contributes to fandom. Your memes, art, stories, fanmixes and metas make my life.

(See? I can be festive)

If a stranger had asked me a few years ago, I would have honestly died before admitting I read fic (why it would be a life or death question, I don’t know, you tell me). The first time my then-boyfriend, now-husband (so, you know, a guy I’m pretty comfortable sharing intimate secrets about myself with) came across me reading fanfic and asked what I was doing, I got so agitated and upset about answering he honestly thought I was going to say something along the lines of ‘corresponding with my long-distance lover with whom I have two children and also, I’m leaving you.’

That’s some bullshit.

Why is there such a stigma attached to reading or writing fanfiction? Why would an author’s career be placed in jeopardy for having written it before they were published? (Again, not P2P, but as a hobby.) Why is it talked about in terms of ‘admitting’ you read or write fic? Why is it treated like a guilty little secret?

But what’s the point? Isn’t a lot of fanfiction spectacularly awful? For sure! But also, a lot of books are spectacularly awful. The thing with books is that they don’t have a ‘you could be shunned for this’ attitude about them so people tend to talk about them more and it’s easier to point out the good stuff. Further more, some hugely popular authors’ hugely popular books had their fetal beginnings as fanfiction. Even more hugely popular authors have written it. As with anything, there’s some really good stuff there if you have the patience to look for it. (Please do not use the quality of certain P2P books as your benchmark for this.)

Isn’t fanfiction mostly just creepy porn? Yes, there’s a lot of porn but if we’re comparing the numbers in terms of volume produced, I think I could make a solid argument for a high percentage of all media being produced being porn. As far as creepy goes, I supposed it depends on your definition of creep and I think it’s fantastic that there’s so much of a variety of stuff available for people looking for it.

Pretty sure the fanfiction community is full of the same rabid assholes that make up fandom and I find them alarming. Okay, first off, step down hypothetical person I have created in my head to argue with, you are out of line. Society is made up of rabid assholes and as assholes tend to do, they infiltrate everywhere. Personally, my experiences with the people in fandom have been absolutely lovely. As far as alarming goes, if you can’t understand occasionally getting so into a thing you dedicate large portions of your time and energy to it, we aren’t speaking the same language and I can’t help you.

What I’m trying to say is it seems like a lot of the points used to look down fanfiction, and by extension fandom, and the community around it are things that are true of everything so why the hell do they suddenly carry so much more weight when applied to fanfic?

I’m not trying to be all SEXISM, SEXISM EVERYWHERE (though it is), but it’s hard to ignore the correlation between a largely lady-driven endeavor (I don’t have concrete stats to back this up but it seems to be a fairly accepted idea that fanfiction is written mostly by women) and the dismissive attitude towards the entire idea (what will those wacky females think to do to fritter away their sandwich-making time next?) I’m not saying if you look down on fanfic you’re a misogynist (that would be a massive leap towards hastily drawn conclusions, stop leaping, I didn’t say that) but I do think it’s entirely possible that a large part of the collective social disdain for the hobby is a symptom of the underlying collective social sexism that tends to look at all primarily women-driven hobbies as silly, pointless and/or generally lesser.

I don’t know, maybe I have a wee bit of a chip on my shoulder for the number of times I’ve been scorned for my hobbies and interests over the course of my life, but it sure as hell seems like this is a phenomenon other people have noticed.

Because I’m better at the rant bits than the breaking down bits, allow me to point you to GeGi from Geek Girl Travels’ infinitely more eloquent and wonderful post on reasons fanfiction is the bestest and how it can be a hugely useful tool for a writer.

I’m not going to sit here and argue that all fanfiction is flawless and my god why aren’t we awarding it Pulitzers or something. Not the point and if you want me to, you’re just being obstinate and obnoxious hypothetical head person.

The point is, don’t shit on people for doing what they love (provided what they love isn’t, oh say, murdering puppies and people and stuff like that). If you find the thing they love weird, that’s a personal problem and you’re probably best off keeping it to yourself if you don’t want to be rude as fuck. Let’s treat reading and writing fanfiction and all the other unusual hobbies this post could easily apply to with the same kind of general acceptance we treat watching football or going for walks or reading or knitting or eating lettuce or whatever it is that floats our collective boats.

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I lied, the secret point of this post is to give the people (like me) who are desperate for tonight’s PIVOTAL, HIGHLY-ANTICIPATED midseason finale of The 100 (9 pm EST on The CW) (if you’re considering it, please watch, tonight’s ratings are hugely important to the yay/nay season 3 decision) (dignity? what’s that?) something to distract them while they wait for the episode.

(Kat is probably, no, I’m confident saying definitely, rolling her eyes so hard right now)

So here are some recs from my bookmark list if you’re interested in dipping a toe in the fic-reading pool or are fully submerged and looking for something new. Pretty much all credit goes to Tatum of Books of Amber who is an AO3 wizard and sent me most of the best stuff.

Disclaimer, this is all Bellarke because they are the air I breath and haters can quietly exit to. the. left.

Fabulous AUs:
(Normally, I’m not a huge AU fan but these are so fantastically on point and I highly recommend them)

The Rockstar AU: http://archiveofourown.org/works/2389424

College Fun: http://archiveofourown.org/works/2624738

 

Could Be Canon If You Squint One Shots:
(IT COULD BE OKAY)

Season 1: http://archiveofourown.org/works/1697639

Between S1 & S2: http://archiveofourown.org/works/2343290/chapters/5165999

 

Porn:
(Well, duh.)

http://archiveofourown.org/works/1928331

http://archiveofourown.org/works/2724008

 

Enjoy, guys! Also, watch The 100, it’s a brilliant, critically acclaimed, woefully underwatched show. (If you’re concerned by my general level of fanaticism, there are loads of people who have been able to like it and not completely devolve as a person, I am just not one of them.)

 

Meg Morley

Meg Morley

Co-bloggery at Cuddlebuggery
Meg is an all-around book nerd who just really wants to talk about books, preferably with other people but by herself will do. Find her on Goodreads.
Meg Morley
RT @WomeninComicsNY: Bisexuals just got a huge boost in visibility as Wonder Woman officially confirmed as queer https://t.co/hd2zUvyLzv - 2 hours ago

34 Responses to “P.S. I Love Fanfiction”

  1. Jessica
    Twitter:

    LAWWWWWD PREACH ON! It makes me so ragey when people hate on fic as a whole. I hated feeling ashamed that I was sucked in the black hole that is Twilight fic BUT finding other people who were nerding out as hard, if not harder, than myself was just plain awesome.

    I’m also now fairly certain I’ll be binging The 100 over the holidays… well played Meg, well played.

  2. ideklinz

    LOLLLLL!! Dying at this!

    Yes I find the waters murky around p2p and though I have my personal opinions, you’re right— there’s a stigma on reading/writing fanfic. I feel like, I’m not entirely sure about your personal situation, but if my pretend, awesomely lovely sexy funny bf caught me reading fic I’d definitely wanna crawl into a hole & die. Most of what I read is still Twilight related LOL, so already right there I’ve set the bar at cheesy (I ship ExB I cannot help it) and read M stories. So they’ve got suggestive themes. But I think it’s mainly because I would identify myself pretty geeky but reading fic can be a whole other level of geek. Again, this is just my opinion, my experience. People look at you funny if they’re not a certain brand of geek & they can’t understand why you’d wanna read it. I’ve done that with friends. A few got the sense of it & were cool with it—even read some I suggested, a few friends got the sense of it & thought I was off my rocker, & a others thought I rode the crazy train and didn’t get it. ESPECIALLY when I talk about some *ahem* some infamous P2P that I’d rather not name but knowing what fandom I read you could guess. And that’s frustrating. But again, admitting you read/write it, idk if you kinda read in secret from people you know, when you’re confronted with it, you yourself kinda created the stigma by not saying it proudly. I don’t know, maybe I’m off on this but I’ve been reading fic for like 6 years now so I can’t say I don’t have experience reading, admitting…oh god even writing which I TOTALLY REMOVED BECAUSE IM A SHITTY WRITER. Okay. Done.
    ideklinz recently posted…Top Ten Books I Read In 2014My Profile

    • Meg Morley

      ABSOLUTELY AGREE RE: CREATING A STIGMA THROUGH HIDING IT. That’s one of the reasons I’ve kind of encouraged myself into this whatever, whatever, I do what I want’ sort of state where fandom is concerned. I don’t want to have anything to do with upholding this idea that reading fic/being nerdy as fuck and alarmingly enthusiastic is something to hide. Let your freak flag fly and all that.

      I also almost hate that the certain P2P we’re both talking about got so hugely popular because imo, I think the writing quality alone is…well, not so great, to be gentle about it and I don’t like that it’s become this public barometer with which people who don’t fic use to judge fanfic as a whole. But, that’s just me. OTOH, it exposed fanfic to a lot of people who maybe wouldn’t have previously tried it and that’s pretty awesome.

  3. Natalie Monroe
    Twitter:

    This post is pure win. I especially love the point on authors starting off by writing fanfic. I used to write (and read) Naruto fanfiction like mad, but now I’ve graduated to writing my own characters and stories. It’s great for flexing your writing muscles.

    • Meg Morley

      I recently read an author’s post on all the shit she’s had to deal as a result of being open about writing fanfiction pre-publishing and that’s both incredibly heart breaking and (imo) completely backwards and senseless. It seems to me that authors should be encouraged to write fanfic in a workshop, exercise-y sense but hey! what do I know?

  4. Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

    “The first time my then-boyfriend, now-husband (so, you know, a guy I’m pretty comfortable sharing intimate secrets about myself with) came across me reading fanfic and asked what I was doing, I got so agitated and upset about answering he honestly thought I was going to say something along the lines of ‘corresponding with my long-distance lover with whom I have two children and also, I’m leaving you.’” – CRAUGHING. MEGASUS.

    Also, I love your argument with a fictional asshole. It is everything.

    My favorite fan fics are porny. And I agree with your words, but I don’t actually read much fan fic, because I’m way too lazy to dig through for the ones that don’t have grammar that makes me twitch. But more power to anyone who loves fan fic. There’s no shame in that. There’s much awesome in fact. PEACE OUT, FRIENDLY MEGASUS.
    Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted…Hello, I Love You Cover Reveal Celebration and InterviewMy Profile

    • Meg Morley

      The best part is that actually for real happened, we almost had a huge fight about it because he was like SERIOUSLY WHAT ARE YOU DOING AND WHY ARE YOU SO FREAKED OUT AT GETTING CAUGHT and I’m crying and yelling I DON’T WANT TO TELL YOU YOU’LL THINK IT’S WEEEEEEEEIIIIIIRD because self esteem and confidence is a thing that came to me later in life.

      I am glad the hypothetical head asshole (pause to lmao off at the terrible mental picture I have right now, YOU’RE WELCOME) was very helpful with structuring my points so i let them stay in the post.

      I totally understand not wanting to shift through the grammatically questionable crap and tbh, I only seek out fic for specific fandoms bc the compulsion to read it and desire to wade through garbage do not often tilt in fanfic’s favor but every time I do wade in I’m like OMG I LOVE THIS SPACE.

      PEACE OUT YARD ORNAMENT MERMAN!

      • Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

        It took me a disgusting amount of time to figure out why I was a merman.

        EW HEAD ASSHOLE PICTURE.

        Why, yes, I am responding in an entirely random order. THE ALL CAPS JUST GRABS MY EYEBALLS. (another lovely mind picture)

        My Meg/Luke ship almost sank because you were embarrassed of fan fiction. That’s terrifying, but also the most sitcom-y fight ever. I love/hate it. Self-esteem and confidence are hard, yo.

        LATERS, VICIOUS VELOCIRAPTOR AND CRUSHER OF SHYDINOS
        Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted…Hello, I Love You Cover Reveal Celebration and InterviewMy Profile

  5. Leah Raeder
    Twitter:

    Hallelujah for mentioning sexism. I know you’re trying to downplay it because it’s not *only* sexism but NO ONE WANTS TO TALK ABOUT HOW SEXIST IT IS TO SHIT ON FEMALE-DOMINATED HOBBIES. Why doesn’t fantasy football get the same kind of disdain? It is basically RL fanfic about sports.

    Or what about how women now make up the largest demographic in gaming, but we’re somehow “invading” it by developing huge fan communities and writing reams of fic about games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect?

    It is totally sexism. You nailed it.

    • Meg Morley

      I definitely think sexism plays a MAAAAAAASSIVE part but because I didn’t have any research to back it up (nor a desire to go out and find some at 11.30 last night) I hedged my bets a bit so I wouldn’t invite the trolls in and get caught with my pants down 😐 (and hey, there’s a topic for discussion: how, as a female on the internet, I feel like I need to back up every touchy opinion I have with concrete data before opening my mouth about it)

      Also, to be fair, my opinion of fantasy football is somewhere on the ‘…I mean sure, okay, if that’s what you want to do, I guess’ end of the scale but I also recognize that just because I personally do not enjoy it, I AM NOT EVERYONE AND EVERYONE IS NOT ME (shouting because I cannot grasp why this is such a difficult thing for people to grasp)

      And, obviously, because fantasy football falls under the header of Things Officially Protected By The Penis Status, even when I do say ‘no thank you’ people are like ‘awww, it’s okay sweetie, no one expects you to because vaginas’ and then I light their cars on fire because anger management isn’t my thing.

      • Leah Raeder
        Twitter:

        “(and hey, there’s a topic for discussion: how, as a female on the internet, I feel like I need to back up every touchy opinion I have with concrete data before opening my mouth about it)”

        This makes me so sad because truth. Sigh.

  6. wildpear

    “I’m not trying to be all SEXISM, SEXISM EVERYWHERE (though it is)” *sad laugh*

    Gee, I wonder what could have inspired this post? 😉

    It’s awesome, Meg, thanks for your fierce and funny and thoughtful thoughts. The story about you and your husband is tragically beautiful and hilarious, and also very familiar. So much of my life has been hiding what I’m reading, whether it was trashy Harlequins or fanfic or whatever else. And now that it’s mostly fierce, funny novels about fierce, awesome girls and the kind of magic that is both a delight in its own right and a metaphor for power and courage and loss and privilege and redemption? They still wrinkle their noses and lift their eyebrows.

    I so give up on trying to make other people comfortable with what I read.

    • Meg Morley

      You know it! (I was going to link but am not sure how much attention she wants to draw to the situation and felt like maybe better left not getting specific)

      I so give up on trying to make other people comfortable with what I read. <---- thisthisthisthisthis it's a beautiful moment. Also, why on earth should it be your responsibility for other people reacting negatively to your personal preferences in a way that DOES NOT AFFECT THEM (question applies to the world at large, really)

      • wildpear

        That seems like a perfectly reasonable call, and anyway it works just as well as an abstract point.

        It’s sad really, because I think that my desire as a teen/young woman to have everyone think well of me meant that I hid my reading choices from a lot of people who wouldn’t’ve judged me, and also in order to hide them I had to convince myself they ought to be hidden, which translated into judging myself. I protect my reading choices and time FIERCELY now, which overall I think is a good thing but then it can be easy to treat the world as the enemy, and to hide in books rather than simply enjoy them.

        Once your confidence in yourself and in the worthiness of your own feelings about what you like have been undermined, once you’ve started apologizing and hiding, it can be so hard to figure out what a reasonable equilibrium would look like.

        Also, why on earth should it be your responsibility for other people reacting negatively to your personal preferences in a way that DOES NOT AFFECT THEM (Yes, this, oh goodness yes.)

  7. Morgan @ Gone with the Words
    Twitter:

    I love this. So much. Especially your story about your husband hahaha. Mine hid his Halo obsession from me when we first dated because he thought I would judge him! Pretty much the only reason I don’t read a ton of fanfic is that I don’t want to wade through the crap to find the good stuff. But I did used to read some Harry Potter and found this aaaamazing James/Lily fanfic. God it was good. And I love the idea of steamy fanfic, I’d totes read that. I used to write dirty stories all the time just for myself LOL.

    It’s taken me a long time to embrace what I love and not be embarrassed by it in front of other people (HI ONE DIRECTION OBSESSION. HI EVERY ANIMATED MOVIE I SEE IN THEATERS). But I think it’s so important to just own it, whatever your nerdy love is. I wish I could draw because I would create fan art out the wazoo. I love searching for fan art. I used to print it out and put it on my walls. As it is I’ve written one HP Albus Potter fic the day after Deathly Hallows came out (shameless plug: http://figment.com/books/276322-Albus-Potter-)- I was clinging to HP like Rose on that floating door in Titanic. And as you knoooow, Ronan Lynch has brought out latent fanfic tendencies in me. I can’t stop. I won’t stop. (2nd shameless plug: http://figment.com/books/846809-Secret-Secrets)

    I’m going to binge The 100 soonish but I might be sneaky about it. Haven’t decided yet 😉

  8. Mel@thedailyprophecy

    I used to write fanfiction. I posted it on a forum and it was about Harry Potter. I was in it. I was the girlfriend of Remus (because it took place during the Marauders). I still have it somewhere on my computer, haha. Two more days to go and I can binge-watch the whole second season from The 100 before I experience the pain of the finale from tonight.
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…5th Annual End of Year Book Survey – 2014 EditionMy Profile

  9. Jennie
    Twitter:

    One of the things I love about Meg Cabot is she freely talks about all the fanfic she wrote as a teenager and many of her characters write fanfic (IIRC, Princess Mia wrote a lot of it about Battlestar Gallactica.)

  10. Amber
    Twitter:

    I used to read a ton of fanfiction when I was in middle school and high school. Mostly on Inuyasha,, Sailor Moon, and Zoey 101 really. I never really wrote any, but I have nothing, nothing against people that do. I’ve actually been writing a bit of fanfiction now and have a ton of ideas for it.

    Now I read more fanfiction about musicals and “bandfiction”, which is fiction about bands or artists and such and “real” people fanfiction.
    Amber recently posted…Wondrous Covers Wednesday (#16)My Profile

  11. Lucia
    Twitter:

    The best post I have read in a long time. I read fanfiction and I have met so many great friends through fandom. So thumb up for this article.

    Anyway, you are absolutely right about necessity of being patient if you want to find a good story. But the gems I find among the sea of stories in fanfic world are so worth it.

    And I am glad you touched the topic of “being ashamed of reading fanfic”. Why is society putting a pressure on readers, making them feel like reading fanfiction is “not a serious business”, that it should be viewed as guilty pleasure at the best? That is actually great topic for contemplation.
    Lucia recently posted…GUEST REVIEW: Hollywood & Vine by Olivia EvansMy Profile

  12. Dana @ The Nerdy Journalist
    Twitter:

    This is great 🙂 A friend once assumed that I hate fanfic because I’m such an avid novel-reader. I’m a fandom member just like the people who write fanfic, so I’d be a hypocrite if I hated on them for loving a book/show/etc. so much that they want the story to continue. I think fanfic is a wonderful thing!

    I don’t have a lot of free time, so I don’t read fanfic as much as I used to, but I browse fanfiction.net a bit when I’m between books.
    Dana @ The Nerdy Journalist recently posted…Discussion | I’m terrified of people I know in real life finding my blogMy Profile

  13. kbbisti

    I just started reading (and writing) fanfic very recently, and I did so because I binged The 100 and needed more Bellarke. How perfect of your post to give me all the best fics! Thank you!!

    Also, I was listening to a podcast recently with a male writer (from TV?) who mentioned that the first things he wrote as a kid were stories about Star Wars. There was no discussion that this was, in fact, fanfiction, and I too wondered if this kind of thing is viewed differently and is less stigmatized when men/boys do it.

  14. Sarah J.

    I love fanfiction. My favorite fanfictions are Walking Dead and based off the ship Daryl and Beth- Bethyl. I’ve read some great fiction and The Walking Deth was one of the best stories I’ve ever read. I don’t think it’s fair that fanfiction has a bad stigma because it is a creative outlet that provides great concepts and beautiful stories.
    Sarah J. recently posted…Trilogy Wrap Up: Divergent EditionMy Profile

  15. That Girl Who Used To Write Fanfiction

    So I read this and I was nodding my head the whole time, because there is definitely a certain stigma attached to fanfiction.
    A. You are a SuperNerd if you read or godforbid, WRITE fanfiction.
    B. You are loser with no life or friends and no goals and you’re wasting your precious time not reading REAL literature!
    C. You are a disgusting perv because all fic is smut and you like dirty porny porn
    D. Those who can’t write; write fic.

    So here’s the thing. So many people coming out of the fanfiction communities, particularly the Twilight fandom, are publishing not only reworked fics, but their original works. (Don;t get me started on the controversy of P2P.) Most of them started writing as a hobby after reading the books, and never would’ve persued their dreams otherwise. Fanfiction openes a ton of doors and opportunites, just by providing a bulit in fanbase, immediate feedback, and a forum of creative expression where anything goes. And this medium is a great way to learn the rules of writing and general storytelling without having to attain an MFA in creative writing.

    I used to write fanfiction, and loved reading it. At some point, I wrote something original and decided that I should try to do this writing thing for real. When I eventually landed a literary agent, and admitted that I started out by writing fic, she was not surprised, and even asked me if I had interest in publishing my work. She also said that fanfiction was an excellent meduim for preparing a writer for harsh criticism, social media expectations. So really, the shame is unfounded.
    Either way, there are some extraordinary stories out there, that are about a billion times better than some of the published books available.

  16. Sana // artsy musings of a bibliophile
    Twitter:

    I just have to say that I love this post for a lot of reasons. It could easily be applied to a lot of things; for instance, people who read YA and others who look down on people reading YA. It’s such a shame and not at acceptable. Like one of my sisters still thinks that me reading YA is just a phase and that I should be ashamed which is fucking annoying. We’ve had many discussions because I used to feel ashamed about reading YA and now I can’t stand anyone slamming it anymore. I owned up to it. There’s nothing I’ve to be ashamed of, especially if the source of that shame comes from people who have never read YA. (I’m rambling so I should probably write a proper blog post on this instead umm).

    Anyway, I’ve never read much fanfiction for one reason and one alone and that is that I feel that it’ll mess up the original story for me. I’ve a pretty vivid imagination and I’ve to actively stop myself from reading fanfiction which I know is stupid because who doesn’t daydream about their ships sailing (re: Bellarke). So YES, I do make a point of reading fanfiction from time to time and I do not think there’s anything to be ashamed of when it comes to fic.

    Having said that understanding the stigma attached to fic and the need to feel ashamed about reading it to the point that owning up to it becomes inevitable is just sad. I’m not saying that we have to feel ashamed in order to own it, but quite the opposite. It’s just that the fact that I can relate to you is what makes this a huge problem. Why can’t people let other people enjoy in peace. I love something so let me, why the issue in the first place. It’s just so frustrating. So as much as I’m glad that we found a way to not be ashamed of loving what we love, I just hope other people can, as well.
    Sana // artsy musings of a bibliophile recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: 2014’s New-to-Me AuthorsMy Profile

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