There was a time when I wrote fanfiction every single day. I sat at my clunky old Windows 95 computer and typed away for hours.
In those early days, I didn’t have access to the internet in my home. Unlike now, when I am writing this on my phone (and could publish this entry on it as well), I would put my new chapters on a disk and bring that to my sister’s house where I could update my website. My website was hosted for a time on Angelfire (I feel so old) and Geocities, but eventually had its own home at pink-moonlight.net . (Yes, if you really want to see my beginner attempts at web design there are examples saved at archive.org. Go ahead, I’m only mildly humiliated. 😍)
I had originally set up my website for my original fiction. I posted a few short stories and the first chapters of a few longer works. It’s kind of like the old saying, “if a tree falls down in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” I have no idea, because no one read that stuff.
But I had discovered Hanson Fiction with a friend earlier that year and the people who wrote those had hundreds of readers. I decided to give it a try and the next thing I knew, I was getting dozens of messages from people who wanted to read more. I was hooked. I had fun writing and people actually wanted to read what I wrote!
I eventually moved on to other subjects, mostly focusing on the show Gilmore Girls, which played a very important part in my life at the time (subject of a future blog post). That was where I really blossomed, writing more than I ever had before. In the world of GG fanfic, I wasn’t a superstar or anything, but people knew who I was. For a socially anxious girl in her late teens/early 20s, that was pretty heady stuff.
I learned a lot during those years. My friend Leigh proofread some of my stuff and yelled at me about tenses. (I will never forget to check my tenses that thanks to her.) I learned how to keep readers interested, how to put enough suspense in a serial novel to keep them coming back week after week. It taught me how to play to my audience, how to make my readers believe the unbelievable.
During the Depression Years, I slowly stopped updating my fanfiction, although I never intended to. Those were the years I barely wrote at all.
When I started writing again, the first thing I wrote was a piece of NCIS fanfiction. I had been binge watching the entire series from the beginning and a story began forming in my head that I just couldn’t shake. Finally I opened up Scrivener and began to type.
I wrote about 65,000 words before I got distracted by another NCIS idea and began writing that. I began building fans in a new fandom. I participated in a challenge where I wrote a story for another writer based on their prompt, even though the deadline nearly killed me (deadlines and I don’t get along).
It’s been several years since I posted that first story. I still get emails about once a month from someone expressing interest in it. Because of that, a year ago I wrote 40,000 more words on that story, to finish up a major plot line. (Now if I can just motivate myself to edit and post them…).
These days I mostly work on my original novels. I read much more fanfic than I write. It’s a great way to relax before falling asleep and there are some truly talented people out there, writing stories for free, for no other reason than their own enjoyment and others. And many have used fanfiction as a stepping stone to careers in writing (and no I’m not talking about E.L. James).
I don’t think most people who haven’t been involved in the fanfiction/fandom world really understand what an important part it can play in a young (or old, there are lots of 30, 40+ writers out there) writer’s life. For me personally, I gained a self confidence in my writing that I hadn’t had before. I learned how to deal with people who disliked my writing. I made lifelong friends who cheer me on to this day.
Writing fanfiction may just have saved my life.
Have you ever written/read fanfiction? If so, for what fandom? Do you know anyone who has? Did reading this change your mind about any preconceived notions about fanfiction? Inquiring minds (ME!) want to know.