…or “How Fanfiction saved my brain”.
In the past years, I can’t count the number of times people (namely my family) have scolded me for writing fanfiction instead of continuing to write my novels.
Actually, they’re right. When I’m in the middle of some awesome project that I’ve been bothering everybody about with long monologues about my character’s conflicting desires and how this affects the story as a whole, people expect me to actually sit down and write what I’ve been ranting about for the past months. So I do, for a month or so, and then… I start to write something else.
For me, while writing is a way to escape from real life, it does get a bit stressful after a while. The characters start acting up, the plot doesn’t make sense, the story takes a twist you didn’t originally want it to take, and then you spend every waking hour worried about how you’re going to fix that and writing your novel stops being fun.
I can’t write if I’m not having fun with the story. It simply isn’t the same. So I need something else to consume my imagination, even if it’s only for a day or two. That is where fanfiction comes to save my brain, which is about to melt from the preoccupation my evil characters have caused.
It’s not always fanfiction, of course. Many times it’s actually very good, published works by authors who are so spectacular that my self-esteem is completely lowered while I kneel at their feet in awe. Such as “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak and “Watership Down” by Richard Adams. And of course, “The Lord of the Rings” (and “The Hobbit” and “The Silmarillion”,etc.) but that was implied the moment I said spectacular. But fanfiction is ideal for light reading for these reasons:
1) Some of the things you read are pure trash.
It’s badly written, with horrible grammar and it’s raining clichés, while the characters are drowning in a soap-opera-like atmosphere. It makes you want to tear your eyes out with a spoon. It makes you lose hope in the human race. It makes you wonder why, despite the horrible, senseless way this person writes, http://www.fanfiction.net has reviews saying “omg i love ittt!!!!1!! update pliz cant wait!!!!”
Why is it good to read these things?
Because no matter what, you most certainly can write better than that. In fact, it’s probable that after reading a fanfic like this, and after getting a bruise on your forehead from banging your head repeatedly against the desk, you will read what you’ve written and your self-esteem will soar up into the clouds. This is the opportunity to take advantage of that feeling and write.
2) Some things are actually wonderful.
It can make you laugh, it can make you cry your eyes out, and in a good way. (see, for example, cupid-painted-blind‘s fanfics, which are seriously a work of art. Particularly the Harry Potter ones) It doesn’t matter if it has multiple chapters or if it’s just a one-shot. It has the ability to make you love a character that you previously hated with a passion, or make you hate your favorite character.
Why is it good to read these things?
Because a fanfic like that will inspire you so much, that you may even fall into one of those trances where you reconsider everything you’ve ever thought about that character when you read the book/movie/series he or she originally came from. You will understand what makes a real character, and maybe even re-read the original book. And you will start to shape one of your own characters to have a bit more depth than you had originally though they had. Because you’ve fallen into that wonderful state of writing where ideas just flow endlessly and you feel like you can finally understand the Universe.
You actually can’t, but it’s nice to feel that way.
3) When you read a lot, you end up writing a lot.
After reading something really good, or really bad, or simply reading a huge load of fanfics about the same characters, you will have your own ideas about them and you will want to write something of your own. Hopefully it’s just a one-shot, so that after you write it it’s over and you can get back to your novel, of course.
Why is it good to end up writing fanfiction?
Because it makes you write, and as any writer knows, writing something every day is good for you.
So even if you’re just writing fanfiction, you’re writing something, and you develop your talent just a little bit more. Plus, if you post it on http://www.fanfiction.net, you’ll probably get at least one review saying that you’re awesome and you write beautifully. It doesn’t matter how badly you wrote it. So you feel good about yourself, having some encouragement, and that will eventually, if not instantly, lead you back to the novel you were working on in the beginning.
Fanfiction was a great development for me. I actually started writing it without knowing there was such a thing as fanfiction. Of course, what I wrote when I was eight years old was absolute garbage, but it was good for me and I feel that it helped me grow as a writer. When I’m sick of writing serious, complex stories, I write something simpler, or something very short but emotionally charged. I actually wrote some stories that are among the best ones I’ve ever written, if I may say so myself. Here.
As long as you don’t get too distracted, fanfiction is good for you.
So, what do you think? Is it good or is it bad to read/write fanfiction? I would love to know what you think!
(and I apologize profusely for the delay between posts x.x )