Since I started hanging out with actual published authors, I was at first ashamed that I wrote fan fiction. As if I would be seen as wasting my time and talent. It had never bothered me before then and it took a few years to wonder why it did now. So, to test the water, at a meeting of my local writers group, I casually mentioned that I wished I had time to finish my current original manuscript but was swamped with deadlines for my fan fiction events. It got me a blink, a skeptical look, and a polite but near-snide “Why are you wasting your time doing that?” And I gave an honest answer that seemed to satisfy the skepticism.
“Because I like it, it’s cathartic, it’s good practice on techniques, and I get feedback without having to wonder if a bunch of scathing reviews will tank my career.”
And that was that. Nothing else was said. I became more open after that. I admitted to my critique group once that I was behind on my chapters because I had two fan fiction stories that had to be finished and posted by the end of the month. No one batted an eye. In fact, I get “well, get moving, girl!” more often than not. One even asked for my username on Archive of Our Own as she had written something fan-based and wanted to see what it would look like to post it where others could read it.
I don’t care if you know I read and write fan fiction. Writing a horrible Beatles self-insert right after Louis L’Amour Sackett stories, Riker/Troi fan fiction and then DC, Marvel, Harry Potter, and Star Wars not only gave me a community to belong to but an outlet to my creativity. It gave me the gumption to write original works. I may have gotten to that point eventually, but I guarantee you I wouldn’t be doing it well.
I’m a geek. It’s part of my geek identity. But if you’re just absolutely curious why fan fiction is such a big deal for wanna-be authors, or fandom in general, check out the links below. Also, there are a LOT of books to be found on Amazon and other book retailers on the subject, from scholarly academic looks to us fans explaining why we do what we do.
By Mikaella Clements
Published in The Guardian, August 8, 2018
What Fan Fiction Teaches that the Classroom Doesn’t
By Julie Beck
Published in The Atlantic October 1, 2019
Six Ways that Fan Fiction Makes Your Writing Stronger
By Vivian Shaw on Tor.com April 8, 2019
An Open Letter to the Published Author Who Told Me to Stop Writing Fan Fiction
By Emma Lord on Bustle.com July 24, 2018
13 Things Fan Fiction Writers are Very Tired of Explaining
By Emma Lord on Bustle.com March 23, 2015
The Promise and Potential of Fan Fiction
By Stephanie Burt
Published in The New Yorker, August 23, 2017