Sometime last year, I was interested in how fanfiction and fanfic writers are percieved in the WordPress community. I came across the following comment on an author’s blog.
“Fanfiction is the literary equivalent to running around with a toy lightsaber pretending to be Luke Skywalker.”
I didn’t engage with the commenter because I thought it would just start a fight. I can’t remember the blog where I saw the statement, so I can’t provide a link. I did have a productive discussion with original poster in the comments section, so I wish I could remember. The comment has stayed on my mind for a long time now, and I think this is a perfect place to address it.
I’m not sure what the commenter means by this. I would either interpret it as “Fanfic authors aren’t real writers.” or “All fanfiction is juvenile wish fulfillment/author insertion with no cultural or literary value.” I disagree with both of those viewpoints, but let’s put that aside for the time being.
Suppose that all fanfiction authors were less skilled or committed to the craft of writing than people who write original fiction. So what? Why does that matter? Skill level doesn’t make or break a writer. People become more skilled in creative pursuits as they practice. Meanwhile, they are doing something that makes them happy. There’s no objective way to measure another person’s talent, commitment or “chops” as an artist. It’s not fair to make statements like this.
Suppose all fanfiction was the literary equivalent to a child’s imaginative play. Again, so what? The games and imaginary adventures that I had as a child were rich and complex. They brought hours of enjoyment to my siblings and I, created bonds that have lasted into adulthood, and they helped shape me into the writer that I became. I’m not ashamed of them. I’ve even used some of them as the basis for adult fiction. (And now that it’s come up, I think I may blog about that in the future. Thank you, Natacha.)
There is no harm done when a writer creates a story–any story–for pure recreation and enjoyment. What difference does it make if the story is not the Great American Novel? It’s supposed to be fun!
Rose B. Fischer is speculative fiction author and creative entrepreneur. Her current project is The Foxes of Synn, a low-tech science fantasy serial. Click here for more information. She is a survivor of domestic violence who lives with multiple disabilities. In the early 2000s, she became homeless after leaving her abusive spouse. She later entered a transitional housing program while attending college. These experiences inspired her to begin writing non-fiction, and have had lasting impacts on her approach to fiction writing. She publishes science fiction, science fantasy, horror, and biographical essays. On her website, she writes about the intersection of storytelling, social responsibility, art, and pop culture in the internet age. She also offers custom designs and templates for indie authors, musicians, and other muse-herders. Her website, rosebfischer.com, features a growing collection of free and pay to use stock art, as well as tutorials and many other features for writers, artists, readers, and viewers.