Wednesday, December 28, 2011

To Fic...or not to Fic...

To fic or not to fic...that is the question. To be sure, when you tell people you write fan fiction, you usually get one of a handful of responses. The blank look - "What's 'fan fiction'?" - the eye-roll - "Oh geez, you're one of those people!" (Read: obsessed and slightly crazy) - and the disdainful eyebrow lift - "Fan fiction is for amateurs who only imagine they have any writing talent." - or the most coveted reaction: The excited gasp - "You write it, too?! What fandom are you in? What sites do you use?"

The first two don't really bother me, and indeed some folks, once they understand what fan ficiton is say things like, "Oh, that's cool! How many stories do you have out there?" That third response, however, makes me want to take hold of the person's snooty nose and yank it down a few feet.

There are writers who don't write fan fiction themselves but enjoy it when others use their characters to write their own - J.K. Rowling being one of them. Then there are those writers who disdain the fan fiction writers, saying that writing fan fiction is a waste of a writer's time and not a good habit to have. There are others who don't actually disdain fanfic writers, but they don't want any fan fiction based on their work being posted on the Internet in public domains. I can't begrudge them this, as it is their choice what to allow their work to be publicly used for.

Those of us who enjoy writing fan fiction have had to endure the eye rolls, the upturned noses, and the dismissive attitudes of family and friends who just don't "get it". Well - as a rule, creative people often don't fit into the molds that many folks consider "normal", and writers are at the top of this heap, as we tend to thrive on solitude and live in our own heads when working on something. (See my previous post about the "weird" factor!) However, when the dismissive attitude comes from another writer, that's a rather sharp pinch.

I remember once, on a message board, a woman made the comment that she would like the fan fiction writers for a particular show to try writing a TV script or a screenplay and see what writing really is. (She was involved in the entertainment business, though I'm not aware of her having written anything. Though she did "talk it up" rather well.) Well let me tell you, my little Irish back went up and I proceeded to let her know that I took a bit of umbrage to that comment, as I am a writer by nature, and a fan fiction writer by choice - because I enjoy it.

Fan fiction is different because, as a rule, it already has a following. You'll have readers in any fandom and won't lack for feedback. However, formulating a story, peppering it with characters from your chosen fandom and also those you create (called OC's - short for own character), sticking with it and actually keeping a reader interested enough to finish the story with you is nothing to be looked down upon. Writing any story requires you to develop your storyline, grab the reader with your style, and with fan fiction it requires that you not write beloved characters as completely opposite of who they have already been shown to be. Anyone who thinks it's "easy" should try it and find out. I triple-dog dare ya!

So fan fiction writers, don't be shy. Wade into your favorite fandom and let your imagination run wild. If it's fun for you, who cares what anyone else thinks? You're in good company!

Monday, March 14, 2011


 “Writing is a solitary occupation. Family, friends, and society are the natural enemies of the writer. He must be alone, uninterrupted, and slightly savage if he is to sustain and complete an undertaking.” ~ Jessamyn West (American writer, 1902-1984)

When I first read this quote, it brought to mind how many evenings and weekends I have spent in self-induced solitude, leaving family and friends to wonder if I had finally decided to disappear into my own head and become a hermit.

What can I say? I'm a writer.

My world isn't one that many understand. You other writers out there most certainly "get it". So do other "creative types". (I love putting that in quotation's like some tony little club we all belong to...except it also grants us that other moniker that often accompanies "creative" - weird!) I tend to live in a sort of surreal realm, where an idea often starts as a passing thought and blooms into something that claws its way free from the recesses of my mind to nag and niggle and poke until I put it down on paper, or sit down at my computer and let my fingers fly over the keyboard. An overheard conversation in a restaurant, a scent that triggers a memory, a song that evokes strong emotions. Pictures play in my head, scenes form, and before I know it, I'm locked away inside my imagination, and behind the closed door of my bedroom.

Solitude is key to spending time with my characters. It is also something that I need in large amounts. As a kid, I would spend hours and hours in my room, making up stories in my head, and later writing them down in notebooks. My poor Dad thought I was terribly anti-social, my brother and sister were convinced I must be adopted - Mom assured them I was not! (Did I mention that when I'm working out a scene, especially involving dialogue, that I often "act" it out - quite like an actor running lines.) In other words, I tend to talk to my self, in more than one character, which brings us right back to that "weird" thing again! (Think we could convince the rest of the world to just regard us as "different", or simply "eccentric"? Who's with me?)

So to all the writers out there with friends and family that are still trying to understand - take heart. You're not alone! *chuckle*

And to all the non-writers out there who have a friend or a family member who is one of those "creative writer types" - don't worry. We haven't abandoned you. We don't mean to snap when you knock on that closed door (though the sign that reads "DO NOT DISTURB - GENIUS AT WORK" should be a pretty glaring clue that we don't want to be bothered unless someone is actually dying), and we don't really mean to snarl when you open the door and say those dreaded words, "I just need a minute..."  You see, to a writer who is lost in the world of his or her story, "just a minute" may as well be an eternity because you have now derailed our train of thought, and getting back into the groove is not as easy as one might think. (Ever try putting a derailed train right back on the tracks and sending it on its way? Exactly.)

So have a little patience with the "creative" types in your world. After all, they have much more patience with you than you think! ;)