When I find myself in times of Summer,
writing fanfic sets me free
Typing words of drabble, let it be
Sitting in my room of darkness,
the cursor blinks in front of me
Slashing all the pairings, let it be
IS IT SEPTEMBER YET?
Ugh, are you kidding me? It’s only June?
I’ve been spending any free time I have (mostly the hours between 10pm and 4am) delving back into the world of writing fanfiction. I’ve got a nice little Hook/Emma story simmering over in Google Docs. Besides watching Once Upon a Time on Netflix and hulu+, writing fanfic has been the only thing that’s kept me half sane in regards to surviving the long days between now and Season 5.
All those things I said about sticking together in last week’s entry? Yeah, I’m a total hypocrite who can’t take her own advice. What did I say? I said that we’ve got to distract ourselves, we’ve got to stay positive and busy if we wanted to make it to the fall. Did I do that?
Regina knows what’s up. She’s let herself get carried away by sadness, let herself become embittered against a world that just refuses to stop spinning in the midst of
my her pain. Regina and me, we’re like sisters.
Eh, on second thought, nevermind.
The thing is, this is the price of magic. It always has been for me. And if you’re the type who happily, recklessly, willingly, gives into the abandon of fandom, then you understand that the yearning and the angst is totally worth the magical squees and sparkles. Except…
It does. It really does. And that price can be rough. These characters, to whom we grow attached, who touch us emotionally and intellectually, who make us laugh and give us hope, or who thoroughly infuriate us to the point of throwing things at the screen or launching a book across the room, become part of our lives. For some of us, they are characters who come into our lives for an hour at a time, or a dozen pages here and there, and they affect us for the length of the interaction. And for some others, like me, they are people who stick with us for decades, if not our whole lives. No matter how deeply each of us individually relates to these fictional folks, one thing is for sure: they have a power over us. This is why hiatuses, summer breaks, cancellations, even seasons or books that don’t meet our expectations, affect us so.
Something that has always helped me get through the rough times has been fanfiction, or fanfic, the act (some say the art) of writing out one’s own versions of already established stories. To the uninitiated it can be a confusing concept. “What’s the point of writing something you can’t sell?” “Why write stories about something that’s over?” “Who reads this stuff?” “Don’t you have anything better to do that write stories that belong to someone else?” These are all frustrating things that some people say about those who write fanfic for fun, entertainment, and (my personal favorite) therapy. But they’re understandable reactions. Fanfic is what happens when passion can’t be contained. And, naturally, not everyone has the same amount of passion for the same things.
There are two kinds of people.
Fanfic is great because it’s based on an already established template of characters, settings, and history, and provides us with plenty of directions to go forward. Or we can scrap all that, go AU (alternate universe) or OOC (out of character) and write whatever we want. We get to just jump in and play! No messy pages and pages of character notes, no dithering over history, no having to start from scratch to get to the good parts. It’s all of the payoff without having to lay the groundwork.
Fanfic can also range from a few lines to novel-length works spanning hundreds of chapters. Stories can be influenced by cannon events (facts established by the original show or book), by some song the author heard that morning on the drive to work, by other stories, and by real life events. But really, fanfic can go in any direction, take the characters anywhere, and fulfill the wishes and wants of fans.
Of course, sometimes those wishes and wants are… Well, let’s just say they’re not always in line with the mainstream. Fanfic lives primarily on the internet, and, like most things that reside here, it can range anywhere from rudimentary and bland to complex and *sigh* somewhat disturbing.
But fanfic means freedom, and that freedom is different for everyone. While one end of the spectrum may not be for everyone, the fair majority of fanfic readers and writers have very open minds. Fanfic, whether simple, silly, serious, or scary, coexists on the web and defies judgement. It explores new possibilities, analyzes working theories, dissects relationships, and helps us relive the moments that affect us the most.
And on those days when it feels like the next season or the next book is hundreds of years away, fanfic can bridge the gap between where we’ve been and where we’re going. It can help us bide the time, which, when it comes to survival, can make the difference between giving up and soldiering on.
Fanfic is cheaper than therapy, and you can do it anywhere. You can write it on your phone, in a notebook, on the computer, or even on a napkin. You can write on your break, take voice notes in the car, or stay up until the sunrise getting those last lines of dialogue perfected. And you can read endless stories, too. People are publishing new ideas every single day. While you might hit the occasional end to your niche interests, the characters you like rarely have an end.
But it’s important to remember that fanfic is like Lay’s potato chips: you can’t eat just one. Unless you accidentally start on a story that is absolutely against your moral fiber, you’ll probably get hooked. Just be careful if you have to work the next morning. Stronger people than you have fallen into the pit.
So in the meantime, as we burn ourselves out on watching the last four season on repeat, waiting for Once Upon a Time to return this fall, we can rest easy knowing that there are more stories out there for us to read. And when we tire of those, we can write our own!
Some fanfic confuses us.
I hope that if you have never read fanfic before you won’t hesitate to open up your search engine and enter your favorite show or book and add “fanfic” to the end if it. You might be insanely surprised to see what’s out there.
Hope it tides you over til the fall!