I wrote a blog post earlier about my first words — the first words I wrote that were going to be part of a story. Though that story was never finished it was indeed fanfiction. I didn’t realize it at the time of course, I was only eight and the term fanfiction was never added into my vocabulary until I was about twelve or thirteen.
I read fanfiction voraciously in my younger teenage years and continued reading them well into my mid-teens. There was something fascinating about reading other people write their spin on some of my favorite pairings that usually never became a couple because they just weren’t. I somehow managed to pick out the two people whom I thought was compatible, but the anime I was watching would clearly be wanting one of the people to be with someone else. Yes, there is bad fanfiction out there. On the other hand, there is some really amazing fanfiction that will make you swoon and cheer as if those characters belonged to the author who penned the story.
Naturally I decided to get into fanfiction writing because 1) I was tired of my pairings never becoming a couple and 2) I knew I needed practice with my writing. School teaches students one thing: how to write nonfiction works like essays. And I’m not talking about creative nonfiction. I’m talking about those really boring, academic essays that you won’t ever have to write after graduating college. The kinds of essays where you stay up half the night researching like a maniac and making sure you quoted everything correctly because it has to be written in MLA and not APA and you were only taught how to do everything in APA style.
So I took a show that I loved to death (and still do) and decided to take some time out and write a story. I made my fanfiction my own by adding vampires to the mix. (I was not expecting the vampire phenomenon that Twilight would bring years later.) And though my pairing was obscure, I managed to snag a couple of readers who loved the story. I tried to write a chapter every week and I think it was the most important thing I’ve ever done for myself. Fanfiction taught me a lot: how to keep characters in character because if you didn’t, you were sure to get bashed. It also taught me how to pace a story and that I really should be outlining stories instead of pantsing. It taught me how to write a plot that I enjoyed, which somehow the readers also enjoyed. But most importantly it taught me that I could finish a story.
The last fanfiction I wrote was back in 2005. I just couldn’t balance schoolwork, fanfiction writing, while working on my original novel, and keeping a semi social life. I did glance back at my writing around 2007 and shuddered at how vastly my writing improved since then. I almost deleted my fanfiction account, but decided to keep it around. The people that had read them seemed to really enjoy them no matter how horrid they really were and the characters would sometimes go out of character. But the thing that really surprised me were some of the reviews: they wanted more. I’m not sure why and I’m still unsure. I was baffled further today when I received an email stating that someone had actually read my first fanfiction and loved it. She loved it so much she had left me a review on said story about how much she loved it and then decided it was vital to email me about it (which might be a good thing because fanfiction.net does not email the author of new reviews and I haven’t been on the site in ages).
I’m honestly surprised that my fanfiction is still getting hits on them. They’re so ancient. But I’m just glad that someone out there found something so ancient and unpolished so enjoyable.