A few days back, I was under some sort of a spell. I was certainly possessed by something I hadn’t experienced before. I wrote for 12 hours, with very few breaks for food, answering social (and nature) calls and even sleep. I wrote fan fiction, all 10765 words of it, a complete story. Not only was my regime alien to me, but the very fact(s) that I a) even endeavoured to write it, considering I’ve never really read fan fiction and b) dropped everything including work, pleasure (like food) and conversation because I had a burning, desperate urge to get this story out. I found myself very moved by the experience, and I’ve since understood the multiple benefits of writing fan fiction for all writers, even those who aren’t interested in writing fiction, fanatical or otherwise.
First of all, I’ve decided against uploading it on the internet, even though the fandom of this particular ‘piece of filmed something’ may have appreciated it (I’ve gone through many of the fan fiction pieces online since, so I know what they like). It is not because I am a snob, ashamed to let my precious work out into a platform that isn’t as respected as regular fiction. It is because I wrote it for myself. I am not interested in exposing it to commentary, or seeing how many views it notches up. I’ve written much for my eyes alone throughout my life – my diaries, more creative efforts like poetry, stories etc, that I’d been too embarrassed to ever show to anyone, no matter how flattering I’d be assured their responses would be. A long time ago I attempted a daydream challenge here, where my lovely blogging friend Hollie commented (and I paraphrase) that daydreams are more personal, because they are a reflection of our aspirations, our conscious inner life. It’s too delicate, and my fan fiction story, now that I’ve also read other stories concerning the same characters, is too personal. I’ve put quite a lot of myself in it, freely, uninhibitedly, and I don’t want to expose that.
Unless, I actually get to write for that specific filmed something. I’ve an entire 13 episode arc for Doctor Who jotted down a while ago (this recent story is not of that show), and I’ve been too lazy/uninterested/whatever,-writers-don’t-make-excuses,-they-are-the-excuse to follow it through. But, it might actually help, and not for the obvious reason that someday, someday, I’d get to do it for real (I’m guessing Doctor Who writers are real human beings). The point it, one of the best reasons for writing fan fiction is it makes good, easy writing practice. You have your characters and your settings more or less worked out. Now, it’s up to you to do whatever you want with them. I admitted earlier that until recently, I didn’t read fan fiction. I do enjoy some fan art, but whatever fan fiction I’ve come by before, hasn’t been written well enough for me to put up with. But, even if you don’t enjoy reading it, it won’t hinder your preparation in writing it.
There are obvious copyright issues of putting it up on the internet. They can sue you if they wish to do so, and as I’ve heard it on the grapevine, there have been cases when professional writers have been inspired from reading fan fiction, which is a lawsuit you can’t even afford, let alone hope to win. I’ve looked at my document a few times since, and apart for the editing it requires, I can see how I can recycle quite a lot of it in other 100% original writing of mine. That brings me to point number 2: even if you don’t write it to be read in its original form, you have work you can still use.
Writing is passion, they keep telling me. And I am a passionate person, but even I have my ‘off’ days. Too many, actually. But, this kind of writing ensures I’ll still keep at it, at some kind of writing at least, rather than wait for whatever removes the block sitting between me and my work. Which brings me to point number 3: This is impassioned writing, which means you will a) try to put your best foot forward because your brain will be bubbling with ideas and b) you will find your writing mojo again, and it might indirectly inspire your real writing.
The only downside I can think of is that you will be left with a sizeable amount of material you can’t ever use. Even if it is not something as practical as Doctor Who (for which I, err, I mean, the indefinite you might well become a writer), it can be an episode of Friends (who say they “are never, ever, ever, getting back together”). If this is a deal-breaker, consider this: you probably have a lot of rejected material sitting on your computer from your other work, anyway.
All I’ve really done is put my daydreams into concrete form. Something that was light and easy became something relatively laboured, without being visibly usable. But, at least I had a good time doing it, and that is better than being miserable while staring at a blank screen, isn’t it?
Do you read/write fan fiction?