it all starts with a wicked, dirty, wonderful idea

May 25, 2011

Fan fiction.

A very loaded phrase, isn’t it? Often used as shorthand for “bad wish-fulfillment writing by subliterate teenage girls” by those without respect or understanding for the form. It is indeed a form, and not a genre; fanfiction (or “fanfic”, or “fic” for short-short) comes in all genres, hundreds of approaches, millions of thoughts. Much maligned as plagiarism, outright theft, the result of a lack of imagination/creativity/originality/a writer’s own ideas. There is often a sexist bias present in this disparagement, but I’m not interested in getting into that here (I’d love to go to grad school and study it officially, though; anybody got a spare $90K they’d be willing to donate?…); I’m much more interested in how ideas take root, grow, and sometimes bloom into something that surprises even the creator.

Fan fiction provides a space for exploring taboos (and certainly, that’s where a lot of my own interest lies, both as a reader and writer). Taboos of ownership and permission (“Am I allowed to write my own stories in this pre-existing, copyrighted-up-the-wazoo ‘reality’?”); taboos of sexuality and gender (a fun challenge is to think up the most unlikely or outré “pairing” and then look on the internet to see if it exists – and I have never once been disappointed); even taboos of respecting the “reality” of the source material, or even of reality in general as we understand it.

I write fanfic. I have done since I was twelve or so. Indeed, that is really how I got started writing in the first place. I wrote it as an adolescent and I have never stopped, and I have no intention of ever stopping. I consider some of it amongst the very best writing I have ever done, and it makes me sad that most of it will go unread – not because it’s fanfic (one of my favorite authors, Steven Brust, wrote a brilliant fanfic Firefly novel, posted it for free on this website, and hasn’t gotten into any trouble as far as I know) but because for most people, if they’re not interested in the subject matter, they won’t read it. (Why aren’t more people as interested in reading about gay sex as I am? Am I peculiar in some way? 😉 … ah, so be it.)

However, if there’s any interest in reading it, I’m more than happy to share it. And hell, thanks to the vagaries of copyright, it’s all free; I don’t make any money from it. The funny thing is, fanfic is still some of my very favorite writing to do; I only write about characters who can take up residence in my head, so that I don’t have to make much of an effort to depict their “voices” on the page (true for fanfic AND original fic, for that matter). It’s really all the same to me; it’s just whether or not I get paid, have to hustle and pimp it, play by someone else’s rules, negotiate commerce and expectation instead of negotiating a pre-existing fictive space and doing the pleasurable research of (usually) watching an episode of TV with an eye for freeze-frame minutiae (“Where is the couch in position to the chest of drawers, the sideboard, and the mantelpiece? And IS THERE A RUG?! And what kind of rug is it? Does it look comfy?”). When I’m writing original fiction, I’ve got all this detail already in my mind; I just transcribe it. It’s really not any less work to write fanfic; not really. And as much as I’d love to get paid for all the writing I do, when it comes to fic, I just want to, as I say, “Rock worlds.”

I’d like to get paid as a writer so that I could devote myself entire to the craft, instead of worrying about what I’m going to pack for lunch and if the upcoming staff meeting promises to be stressful; but really, I’m here to Rock Worlds. I want to entertain the hell out of you. I want you to see a reflection of yourself in me, and I want a knowing laugh, a tear, and a feeling of not-displeasurable tightness in your trouser area. I want you to have fun in my world, as I’ve had fun in the worlds of leGuin, Brite, Gaiman, Speed McNeil, Whedon, Baker (Nicholson and James Robert), Parker, Conan Doyle (and Moffat and Gatiss), Straczynski, Watterson, Thompson (Jim and Hunter and Jill, too), and you too, Mr. Brust. I write to reflect my love out to the world, and if you inspire me in just the right way, I will pick up the loose thread and start knitting my own sweater.

And I encourage you to do the same with my works. Please, please, please, write fanfic (and create fan art!) based on my works. It’s the greatest compliment I could ever receive (that, and a nice fat check, but first things first).

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2 Responses to “it all starts with a wicked, dirty, wonderful idea”

  1. Emily Says:

    I would love to read your fanfiction! I don’t care what show, book, or movie it’s based on. I really love your writing. Please share it!

  2. Jemiah Says:

    Nice of you to say… There’s a lot of it, scattered thither and yon on the internets, and some that I wrote long enough ago that it’s not anywhere online. Almost all of it is fairly sexually outrageous (well, kinda, anyway; depends on your levels of perv), most of it MUCH more so than my published work, so I won’t post a bunch of links here. But some of it can be found in my Future Tense chapbook ST*RF*CK*NG, available on Amazon… and since your comment helpfully contained your email address, I will happily point you to where you can find it.

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