|There is no God.|
|Celebrating with friends.|
The thing is, I had already started a piece about one of the characters in the fictional universe. Never in my wildest ale-quaffing dreams did I imagine other humans would ever see this piece. EVER. It was really a character study to satisfy my own curiosity.
|No, not that kind of character study.|
What is WRONG with you?
Anyway, it was a lot of fun to write.
I've written before about the mental barriers we put up -- I can't write this scene because XYZ. But the fanfiction barrier was one I had never crossed.
The question is why? Why don't "writers" write fan fiction?
There are many answers. One is that a lot of fan fiction can never be anything more; it is the creative use of someone else's intellectual property. You can't call up HarperCollins and say, "Hey! I wrote this kickass epic poem about the characters on Grey's Anatomy. What kind of advance can you offer?" And there are only so many official commissions for TV and movie novelizations.
|Sigh . . . someday.|
Or maybe they're on to something. Someone once said, "All fiction is fan fiction." And then a lot of other people said it too, so it makes it hard to credit that first someone with it. But he or she was right. We don't write in a vacuum. Our ideas are shaped by our experiences, and our experiences include other people's art. JK Rowling has read Roald Dahl and Diana Wynne Jones. John Williams has studied Beethoven, Saint-Saens, and Holst. Our creative brains like to absorb information and build on it. We like to ask, "What if?"
Granted, a lot of fan fiction answers the question, "What if?" with the equivalent of the Wolvercard (Wolveravier?) above, which I meticulously created for your enjoyment. (You're welcome.) But sometimes people just get immersed in another world. Sometimes people love a work of art so much, they want to add their own voice.
Fan fiction writers are "real writers." Writers are people who write. That's it. There's nothing in there about being famous, or not having another job, or being published, or even being good at writing.
|I won't lie, though, a mustache helps.|
A lot of us like to play around with "story starters." I liked to have my junior high students pick a random book off the shelf, open to a random page, and use the first sentence they saw as the first line of a story. Using preexisting settings or characters is just another exercise in story starting.
For me, a lot of good things came out of writing this story. For one thing, there was a deadline, which is always good. But in a larger sense, it was freeing. At first, I felt like I was doing something naughty.
|Me? Just -- just doing my taxes. GO AWAY, THEY'RE PRIVATE.|
The other reason this story was a challenge for me was because of the Editor. Everyone has a different name for it, but it's the voice in your head that tells you you suck. Normally, my Editor just says generic things, like you can't write and what's the point of any of this and yeah, those Junior Mints are REALLY going to help you finish this chapter. But over the course of this story, it added to its repertoire this isn't your genre, these aren't your characters and, because the story was for a contest, you have a snowball's chance. Not that the Editor was wrong. But I made myself crack down its barriers one by one.
Ultimately, you have to ask yourself: SO WHAT if this story sucks?
Really. SO WHAT?
WHO CARES what other people, who may exist within or outside the confines of your own head, think? Do you want to try another genre? Do you think it would be fun to experiment with an existing world?
If you've never delved into the world of fan fiction, why not try it? You probably won't publish your personal answer to the question, "What if Balki had been named Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper where Cousin Larry worked?" But maybe breaking the fan fiction barrier in your head will lead to other barrier breakdowns as well. Or maybe you'll just