On Writing (Fanfiction)

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.

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What I’m Not Writing

If it keeps raining like this, we’re gonna need an ark.

My plan for today had originally included swimming and getting some sun, but the expected rainstorm surprised us and came early, quashing my plans. Now I’m stuck inside, listening to the downpour, and more recently, the thunder.

I’ve come to realize I’m at this place in my writing where I’m really not sure what I’m doing. I sort of have active projects, but nothing that I’m regularly working on. Instead, I’ve just been spending a lot of time on Twitter and occasionally writing a few thousand words here and there.

I have lots of choices. I’m in the planning/plotting stage of what I’m hoping will be a cozy mystery series about a former NYPD cop with PTSD and Agoraphobia. The first draft of that is going to be written in November for Nanowrimo, but I’d like to get as much as I can figured out before then. Unfortunately, the only times I’ve written mystery I’ve done it completely blind, with no idea “whodunnit” or where things are going to go, so I may not be as prepared as I’d like.

I also have a story called Running Away, which has been in the works on and off for almost fifteen years, believe it or not. It was once a couple short chapters of a fanfiction, which turned into regular fiction and became my first Nanowrimo win. The year after, I wrote the first of several planned sequels. A few years after that, I wrote yet another of those planned sequels for Nanowrimo. And then in 2014, I decided to do a complete rewrite, which spanned the 2014/15 Nano years.

That incarnation of the novel has been collecting dust for awhile. It’s over 100k words and nowhere near finished, but I did write the epilogue, so I know where I’m going. I’ll admit, I got stalled after I let my mom read it and she said my hero was “sexless”. She was right, but I was frustrated and let myself take a break. I think the time away has been good for me. Letting the story percolate in the back of my mind has solved a few problems and I’m probably ready to start the second draft. Which is a good thing because there are four planned sequels (or stories in the same family).

And then there’s the fanfiction.

The story I’ve been working on is what I affectionately refer to as my “Hulk chopping wood” story. I worked on it for Nano Camp a year ago and have a lot of plans for it, but didn’t really want to post until I had more finished. I did finally post the prologue and first chapter of it about a month ago. It was nerve wracking because the relationship I’m exploring isn’t a popular one (there are a lot of people that hate it) so I knew I wasn’t going to get a ton of feedback on it. It was just a story I wanted to tell, or more accurately, the story I wish someone else had written so I didn’t have to.

I had the next chapter all written and was planning on revising and posting it the next week. But then Mr. Muggles (my cat) died. That very day I’d been planning to finish, so I ended up shoving it aside and taking the time to grieve. I finally was feeling up to it and had most of the chapter edited when a mishap with Scrivener (totally my fault) had me scrambling for a backup and praying I hadn’t lost everything. I managed to get a working backup, but unfortunately, those nice edits were gone. I have a decent amount written after that but was having trouble getting from the beginning to one of the major turning points. I think I’ve solved the problem as of this week, so hopefully, I can fill in those missing chapters and start posting again.

I have an NCIS story called “The Middle Ground” that hasn’t been updated in a few years. It might be my most popular story I’ve had to date, 249 reviews last I checked, almost 70k words and 15 chapters posted. I got around 40k written last November as my Nano project, but haven’t been able to update it because I still haven’t figured out the clue someone finds that closes the case. I literally have everything written except for that. I’ve been promising for years I haven’t given up on this story and I haven’t.

The last story I haven’t been writing is another NCIS story. It’s the sequel to another story called Driftwood. I have a complete first draft, and I posted the first two chapters. I got pretty good feedback, but life got in the way and it got pushed to the back burner. All it needs is re-writes and would easily take the least amount of time of any project to complete. I should probably focus on it more.

Well, that’s it, the full list of things I haven’t been writing lately. I’m hoping that by laying it all out here I can make sense of it all, and figure out some kind of priority/rotation/schedule, which I’ll post here when finished.

Thanks so much for reading, and if you have any suggestions or opinions on what I should be working on or just something to say, I’d love to hear from you.

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