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.