This post is one I've debating on writing for a while. It is something very personal to me and something which I'm not posting lightly. It's also going to be a long one, so I apologize in advance for that.
I've talked about doing this with a few people in the know and have had different responses about whether or not I should post it, but in the end I've decided that I want to do this. I want to own up to a secret I've kept mostly hidden from friends and family for a number of years, or at very least a part of my life that I've been a little evasive about when questioned.
By now, your heart might be pounding in your chest wondering what it is that you don't know about me, and what this terrible truth that I have been having so much difficulty deciding whether or not to out myself over could possibly be. Perhaps you're smiling knowingly that you are one of the few who are in the know. Or maybe you are one of the ones who know me purely as a result of this secret.
So what is it that's had me internally wrangling over whether or not to even do this blog post? What is the terrible, deep, dark secret; which isn't really all that terrible, deep or dark but is scary for me to admit?
I write Fan Fiction.
I could say I *wrote* Fan Fiction, because I'm not currently working on any of my Fan Fiction stories. But that is also past tense and rules out me ever doing it again, which I can't. Because I might. Why? Because it's fun and because it's freeing.
Without Fan Fiction, I would never have been able to pluck up the courage to write my first proper original novel or had the technical skills to be able to make it decent enough to get the attention of any publisher.
By now, I'm imagining that people are reading this post with three different reactions:
1. Pfft, is that all? That's hardly worth all the build-up;
2. OMG how could you waste your time with that??; or
3. What the heck even is Fan Fiction?
I'll address each of these three groups separately now:
1. Pfft, is that all? That's hardly worth all the build-up. I know. It's not life-changing or a massive deception. Some people have no issues telling people about their fandom lives or their obsession with playing with other peoples characters and to you I say, "Congratulations" for having the courage that I have lacked for so long. I will now join you in the league of people who don't hide this truth from the people they love.
2. OMG how could you waste your time with that?? This group is the reason why I haven't admitted to this before. People who know me well will know that I'm a very sensitive soul and I am (as I suspect most human beings are) afraid of being judged by the Judgy McJudgerson's in the world. Some of the stories I've written are very explicit (<<-- even that sentence was very hard to write - pun *not* intended) and I didn't want my family and friends to judge me for the content or for what my characters do. However, I now realize that having a work of fiction published will open me up to judgment from everyone, not just my family and friends, and I need a thick skin to get there.
3. What the heck even is Fan Fiction? If you are one of the ones who has no clue about Fan Fiction this wikipedia article will probably be able to explain it better than I ever could but I'll try. It is writing stories using the characters and worlds created by someone else. In other words, taking the creation of another author or TV producer and twisting those worlds into a brand new creation. (I'm not going to get into the debate over whether or not this is original content, pull to publish etc here, that's far too controversial and this post is already controversial enough for me personally).
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Okay, so now that that's out of the way and cleared up, I will answer a few questions that I'm sure you might have:
Why did you feel the need to hide? See group 2. response above, and group 3. to a degree as well (because group 3. can easily become group 2. when you explain what Fan Fiction is). It's a hard thing to explain fandom involvement to someone who hasn't been part of one, but it can be very insular and there are a lot of terms and expressions with the world at large just doesn't understand (like shipping, feels and not being able to even). There was also the little fact that if I told people that I wrote, they might actually want to read it and the thought of that happening was almost impossible for me to comprehend.
Why are you coming out now? Because I want to. Because I am immensely proud of most of what I've written and how much I've learned in Fan Fiction. I do have to admit that part of the reason is that I would rather it come from me than come out later and blind-side anyone that knows me and that I hadn't told.
Why write Fan Fiction? In short, I wanted to write. I tried to write a novel back in 05/06 and I joined a critiquing group and was shattered to learn that I knew nothing, possibly even less than nothing, about writing a good story. I was an 'A' student in English, learning that I didn't know as much as I'd thought about grammar, sentence-structure, plot development etc just killed my dream.
Then, unrelatedly, I watched the Doctor Who episode 'Journey's End' when Rose was locked away in a parallel universe with the meta-crises Doctor. Their part in the story ends with the two of them on the beach in another dimension, never to be seen again.
"No!" I cried at my TV. "I need to know more about that!"
I became obsessed with finding out whether there was any BBC official information about what happened next and stumbled across this video by the incredibly talented Seduff. In the comments was a link to something called Fan Fiction and this fabulous alternate reality story of the Doctor and Rose. And that was my introduction to Fan Fiction. I became fascinated with the idea that fans could make up their own versions of the story or put the characters into a different sandbox and see how they play.
As I do with everything else in life, I jumped in with both feet and learned the lingo: OTP, AU, AH, canon, non-canon, het, slash, OOC, and many, many more. I also learned that some people use Fan Fiction purely as a way to write smutty outtakes based on those characters who don't have sex in their original book or TV shows (think of the fade to blacks scenes in Twilight). Other writers use Fan Fiction as a way to safely explore their own sexuality. Because of these two reasons, Fan Fiction is often seen as overtly smutty, but it isn't always. For me, it wasn't about that, it was about the opportunity to stretch my creative legs. Do the characters in my stories have sex? Sure, if the plot calls for it. Do all of my stories contain sex? Hell no. There are a few of the stories I've written that have nothing more than a kiss. Do I still perspire at just the thought of my closest friends or my mother (sorry mum!) reading the sex scenes in those stories? ABSOLUTELY! But considering my upcoming novel and the sequels I've started for it all have sex scenes it's something I'm going to have to learn to deal with anyway.
So when I say I've been writing for a long time, I really do mean it. I have been writing Fan Fiction since 2009 and have 32 stories. Approximately ten of those are novel-length (or more), one or two novella length and the rest short stories or 'one-offs' as they are called in Fan Fiction land. In all I've *posted* over 1,371,015 words, and that's just the ones that have made it onto the site (and doesn't include the first one I ever wrote which I pulled because the grammar and story line were both just far too cringe-worthy). Are all of the stories stellar? Nope! They're not polished or edited beyond a once-over by a beta/pre-reader and then another readthrough or two by myself. Compared to the novel I've written which so far has undergone around 10 rounds of polishing & has only just entered the beginning stages of publishing (meaning there will be more rounds, multiple more rounds in fact). But there are some gems in there which I'm still immensely proud of, even though I acknowledge that need for extra polish and shine.
Most of all though, Fan Fiction was my learning curve. It was my trunk novel(s) and the way I cut my teeth in writing. I didn't have to build the world, the lore or the characters. That was already served up by their original creator. Instead, I got to focus on the heart of the story. On the plot and plot twists and how the characters were motivated. I got the opportunity to climb inside the head of a character long before either Evie or Clay presented themselves to me.
But it was so much more than that, I found friends who I know will be friends for life because they shared with me this clandestine secret, as well as the overwhelming emotions that are fandom. I found people willing to share their talent and take the hand of a complete newbie to help me learn so much about writing and ultimately about myself and what I am capable of if I put my mind to it. To all of those wonderful gals I say thank you! I won't name names or out anyone else, this is about me putting my truth out there and not about pushing others under the bus.
Because this blog is not about Fan Fiction writer me, it's about original work author me and for the sake of propriety, I'm not going link to my Fan Fiction here. To be completely honest, I'm still drawing deep, gasping breaths at the thought of anyone I know very well in my 'real life' actually reading any of it. HOWEVER, if you are desperately wanting to read my not-so-polished stories, complete with unedited content, poor grammar and occasional misplaced words, contact me on my Facebook page and I'll *gulp* send you a link. Be warned though, some are definitely not safe for work. Just...please don't judge me okay?