The longest piece I ever wrote was 106,000+ word story. That might not sound impressive, but when I think about the 5k+ short stories I work on and struggle with, I do get a sense of pride when I think about that 106k+ piece.
Head’s up, it’s fanfiction.
I won’t divulge what fandom or the title or my fanfiction alias here — because a girl likes to keep some mystery alive — but just know, that I have a hefty oeuvre of fanfiction stories out there. And I’m damn proud of them.
I imagine this is what Peter Parker feels when the bullies are mean to him at school. Because while he may be a nerd and not get the girl initially, he’s got this pretty kick-ass secret that he keeps to himself. Okay, so maybe my fanfiction doesn’t save people or rescue cats from the trees, but you get the idea.
My fanfiction is my way of writing purely for entertaining. I don’t bog myself down with technique but experiment freely. I don’t worry about trucking through areas because I constantly remind myself that it’s fanfiction and that it’s fun.
I want to say I don’t take it as seriously as when I set to write original work, but that would be a lie because I loved writing my fanfiction. I did think about characters, exposition, and dialogue. I put effort and spent time on it.
What’s more, I wasn’t put off writing. There’s something relaxing in knowing that I can just do this because no one takes it seriously. I might, sure, but there are the readers who are just reading for enjoyment, skimming chapters, and leaving too many exclamation points in their reviews (hardly constructive but nice to hear).
I learned a lot about how I handle certain situations. I remember writing out a piece of dialogue and being unable to keep up with the tension I wanted to create. I remember spending productive Saturdays in the library, typing to finish, working through writer’s block over a situation. I remember going through entire chapters with a fine toothcomb, happy with what I was doing even if it was just for me and the handful of readers (ie: reviewers) I accrued.
I actually had people reading and interested in what I was writing! That in itself is pretty neat. It can get to your head and at least push you to keep writing something. I mean a stranger in England liked my story about this fandom. Maybe I can write a story someone (other than my friends) will like.
There’s this stigma of fanfiction that it’s melodramatic, smutty, lazy, filled with grammatical errors, and for twelve-year-olds. Well, while I did start at twelve-years-old — like any burgeoning writer, I was a snotty reviewer who corrected grammatical errors when I saw it! — and while I may have indulged in the the melodrama, a lot of the bad characteristics about fanfiction is just crap. It’s not all fantasy sex play for housewives — I’m looking at you 50 Shades of Grey! Thanks for ruining it for all of us! It’s actually this extremely safe community where you can test out your writing, and I’ll argue that it’s one of the best ways to learn who you are as a writer.
Because, sure the characters and original story aren’t mine, but it’s sort of like finding your own technique by studying what’s been laid out before you. We do this naturally when we read books that inspire us and follow authors we like. Think about the artists studying oil works in the museum or the musicians who pick up a guitar to learn the first strains of a favorite song. I’m doing that.
Or I’m just fangirling out. Whichever.