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.
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.
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.
(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
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.)