Friday, September 7, 2012
Fanfic, No Clear Picture of You
This photo is from a sculpture garden in the San Juan Islands in Washington state. In some regard, it feels like an apt metaphor for the subject of fanfic. Think of playing around in someone else's story as one of the mirrors mentioned above. While you're writing fanfic, you're getting a picture of yourself, true, but as you go from world to world (movie fanfic here, book fanfic there, game fanfic over yonder...) you see different pictures - ten different faces. You're piggybacking on someone else's magic and the mirror of that magic only reflects you as you're connected to someone else's ideas and characters.
Until you decouple - and I don't mean that in a dirty way unless, you know, that's the kind of fanfic you're writing - and polish your own stories with your own hands, you'll never know who and what you really are as a writer.
That said, I started in fanfic. This was pre-internet era. Therefore, you'll never see my fanfic. In fact, right after this post, I think I'll hie off to the storage unit and start me up a bonfire of all the tidbits I'd saved in (gasp) real paper files. Gods forbid I should die with that crap I wrote still in existence.
Except that it did serve a purpose. It kept me entertained. It taught me how to bring a story together while making it look like I was industriously taking notes during interminable classes throughout junior high and high shool. Fanfic kept me sane. Ish.
If I know those early stories are crap, why did I keep them? Because while they are useless as written, they contain the seeds of original ideas, characters and situations that could be culled for future stories NOT involving fanfic. Those stories were for me at a time in my life when I needed allies, even if they only existed on the pages of my school notebooks. I kept them to remind myself of where I came from. Those pages are a part of who I am, both as a person and as a writer. Given that, they aren't for public consumption - even if there's not a single sex scene among them.
And there's the difference, I think. Fanfic is fine as a personal, private process. I'm not keen on it being an end unto itself. And I am definitely not okay with taking it public. That's theft. It's not even subtle theft. I must have issue with it, or I might have posted some of my less horrificly written fanfic when the internet became an option, right? How hypocritical of me is it to not mind copying someone else's stuff to entertain myself, but then decide it's not okay to copy someone in order entertain anyone else?
Is fanfic good? Bad? No clue.
I'd just like to have written some characters and a world so compelling that someone wanted to write fanfic about it.