Sep. 27th, 2009

mannadon: (Default)
Fandom is made up of many different kinds of people. Just like The Place on the Other Side of the Monitor™, fandom finds itself made up of as good a variety of faces and names. Fandom divides itself up into cliques, or groups, and sometimes walking into an already-established fandom can be difficult, because, just like attending a new school, or starting a new job, everyone seems to already know everyone else. Finding someone to sit and eat your lunch with, so to speak, can be a challenge for the shy personalities.

Most fandoms are so happy to have a new face that they'll welcome a new author or fan-artist with open arms and internet emoticons enough to make the Wal-Mart smiley jealous. Other fandoms seem locked in their ways, especially if they are unpopular and have had the same writers/artists for many years. It can be hard to shoulder-shove your way through to make yourself a new home, but in the end, it's all worth it.

It doesn't matter if your fandom is accepting of new faces or not, because they all have one thing in common: the fandom source. Despite varying backgrounds, despite having different names and personalities that might clash, you do have one thing in common with everyone else in your fandom, and that is the material from which your fandom is derived, be it Pokémon, Anne of Green Gables, or The Lovely Bones.

You love the characters, the story, the plot... Something about this has captured your heart and your imagination enough to send you to the computer in search of 'fic or art or conversation.

Pushing aside fanart, because most fan-artists don't get the same flack that 'ficcers do, it's time to discuss loving fanfiction.

In 3.) Why Fanfiction?, I pushed us to the conclusion that we write (or read!) fanfiction because we love it. But why do we love it?

It's easy to say that you love something, or someone, but it's not always easy to find the words that explain the reasoning behind it. "I just do." It's a valid point, but for the writing-minded individual, it might require a little more thought. So sit back, close your eyes, and try to find out why you love writing or reading 'fic.

Done? Good. Now, what did you come up with? Hopefully you have at least one answer. Minimally, you'll need it for backup, you'll need it handy for that moment someone finally thinks to ask you, most likely when you're in The Place on the Other Side of the Monitor™. Coming up with an answer on-the-spot is as difficult as wallowing through a muddy garden. You'll fumble for an answer, mumble out a weak reply, and the Asker of the Dreaded Question will still be left wondering.

Since 2002, I've been trying to figure out why I love fanfiction, and it's impossible to pick one reason. There are a million reasons for loving 'fic, and here are a few to keep your mind busy!

The Sense of Community-- How many people can say that they hate their fandom? Well, a few people say it, but if they really hated their fandom completely, they wouldn't be in it. Take that saying with a grain of salt, because most people who say they hate their fandom only hate certain things about it, and that's like saying you hate the town you live in, when you really hate that jogger who drives your dog wild, and the kid that broke your window three years ago. Fanfiction and fandom are connected in many ways. A 'ficcer doesn't have to be a part of the fandom (see Trimurti) but most 'ficcers associate themselves with people in their fandom, exchanging emails, ideas, thoughts, questions, and concerns. They provide inspiration when it's not even expected.

Other 'Ficcers/Readers-- Who can say they hate all of the other 'ficcers in their fandom? Anyone? Unless there are only two of you, I'd say that's highly unlikely. As a 'ficcer, and as a reader, I'm exceptionally happy to see new people come to my fandom. Even when they're not the best writer, or the best reviewer, it's always nice to see new faces, to know that your fandom is still being loved. I love reading 'fic by my fandom friends, and I love getting reviews from them, too. Knowing the thoughts of other, like-minded people is like a dream come true for most writers. How many writers of original fiction can say that they know someone who understands their characters almost, or as well as, they do? In your fandom, other 'ficcers will understand the characters, too. Maybe not the same characters you adore, but this allows you to swap thoughts and opinions about characters you don't know much about in an attempt to try and understand them better, through the opinions and careful consideration of other authors!

OTPs-- Who doesn't love reading a 'fic about their OTP? I've waded through the worst translations on the web for 'fic of one of my OTPs, and I've even made the attempt to read said 'fic in other languages! (Most notably French, but that's another story, entirely.) The dedication fans go to for their OTP is outstanding and frightening all at once. I've written just as many, if not more, stories about my OTP than any other person or group of people combined in my fandom(s). It's an added bonus, because someone else who writes about your OTP probably understands the characters as well as you do (or would like to!), if not better, and can provide a fun discussion.

Fandom Friends-- I love making new friends in fandom. Some stay, some leave, and then sometimes, you'll be lucky enough to find one or two people who provide you with constant support and appreciation for everything you have done and will do. Qieru is the one I'm fortunate enough to share this "bond" with. She's much more to me than an Internet Friend™. She's like... I don't know. An Internet Kindred Spirit™, to almost quote Anne of Green Gables. She's that one fandom friend who's always online to talk when I need her, who asks questions and answers them in turn, who shares and listens to ideas... But what's not to love about fandom friends? They're a network of support, a fountain of ideas, and they provide constant, around-the-clock entertainment for our weary writer's mind.

Source Material-- If you love the source material, you're bound to love writing fanfiction about the characters, the setting, and the already-established conflicts, emotions, and action. Your source material can be set in a fantasy world, it can be historical fiction, or it can be a science fiction. It doesn't matter where it takes place! If you love the source material, and you love writing (or reading), it just makes sense that you'll want more, and you'll turn to art or writing/reading to get just that.

The Characters-- Have you ever gotten to the end of a book, a movie, or a game, and threw your hands up with a muffled, "That's it?!" If you have much of an imagination, your mind immediately goes to work, imagining what else could happen to the characters within that setting...and sometimes you might set up a What-If Scenario™. I truly fall in love with writing 'fic when I love the characters.

The Romance, the Intrigue!-- From unrequited love to love polygons, (decagon, anyone?) most 'ficcers love a little bit of romance now and again...or always, depending on your tastes. I love romance, love writing and reading it. Romance is the driving point of most-- not all-- fiction. A story doesn't need romance to be good, to be well-written or well-liked. But just like the bookshelves of the bookstores, the fanfiction of your fandom most likely consists of mostly...romance! Even if it's just a little sprinkle, it can add high-flying emotions to an otherwise flat cast. You'd be surprised what people might do when they're in love. (Never underestimate the power of love!)

There are far more things than that, of course, but when you think about it possible to dislike fanfiction?

It most certainly is. Some people feel it's a waste of talent, other people think it's a waste of time.

But it all boils down to the obvious.

"Does this make you happy?"

You can ask someone else what they think of your boyfriend, or your girlfriend, or that pie you baked. But their opinion is merely their opinion. It's far from fact. What makes you happy is what's important, and if reading and writing fanfiction makes you happy, well, it's perfectly legal and you'll suffer no harmful side-effects!

I remember stumbling on fanfiction for the first time in my life, sometime in 2001. "Wow," I thought. "This is really neat!" And it is, isn't it? People take time out of their day to write stories that they'll never get published, because they love writing and they care about the characters.

Doesn't that show real dedication, though, to do something and know you'll get nothing out of it? Most 'fic authors could, given time, produce something original. It might even be good, publishable. Maybe it'd even turn out to be a masterpiece. But most 'ficcers don't try, because they don't feel the push to write original fiction.

Some people call their inspiration a muse, but it doesn't matter what it's called, what form it takes. I know that as a writer, I write when and what I'm inspired to write. I would love to be able to write something original, to make money and show the world that I can write more than 'fic. But I'm not being driven to do that. Fanfiction has brought me to this point in my life, and I look around me, at all of the amazing friends that I've chanced to meet purely because of fanfiction, and it makes me happy. How fortunate I am, to have had the chance to become acquainted with these people, so different from me, but in love with the same, simple thing.

Some of us are young, others older, but we love what we do.

We're certainly not alone in that.


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October 2009

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