Believe it or not I started writing fanfiction by accident when I was about 13-14 years old. In fact, at the time I didn’t even know what it was. I went to a friend’s house and she started reading a fanfiction story she had written about her favourite boyband at the time and conveniently inserted herself into the narrative. I found it to be a genius concept; I was boy crazy, I was also fixated with a string of male celebrities who I never stopped sounding off about to anyone who would listen. So what happened when it suddenly occurred to me that I could write all of this stuff down? I ran away with it and created my own world where I lived at the centre.
So guess what I ran into recently after rustling through my old papers? Yep. My whole preteen fanfiction collection written on lose bits of lined paper, carefully folded together in my Graphic Products folder from about a century ago. Am I glad to be such a nerdy pedant who keeps this stuff? You bet, because I had lots of fun going through my fanfiction. Here is what I learned about myself and my writing.
Don’t you know the world revolves around me?
My writing encapsulated a preteen world where EVERYTHING revolved around me. As someone who wears motherly cardigans and sensible trousers on the school run, I found endless entertainment value in the girly glamour of my narratives. I seemed to wear an awful lot of spaghetti straps, string bikinis and ‘boob tubes’ which were popular at the time. More notable was the constant gaze of others on me. Though it wasn’t explicitly stated, I appeared to dabble in performing as I sang at an awards ceremony as mouths opened in awe as I ‘moved swiftly and stylishly to the music.’ I couldn’t imagine writing myself into such an indulgent narrative now but that’s the beauty of unabashed youth. You say whatever you want to say and not what is necessarily best to drive a story plotline forward.
I am so delicate I just might break
Feminism? Don’t be silly- I need boys to fawn over me all day, every day. Their attention means absolutely everything. This is what my old fan fiction tells me about my younger self and I think that is completely fine. My concept of the role of a woman hadn’t been defined yet and there is nothing wrong with that at all. It is very interesting however, to see how old-fashioned notions of how women should act and be perceived permeated my work. I hadn’t quite navigated the concept of female empowerment and overzealously concocted an ongoing storyline of a damsel in distress whom a number of suitors where trying to court. I often fled scenes in floods of tears at the littlest slight and once even ‘tripped over a small rock’ only for the fall to be broken by my celebrity crush. Ah, those preteen days of crushes and daydreaming…
I used fanfiction as proactive escapism
At thirteen I hadn’t yet discovered my narrative voice or how to empower a protagonist. In fact, I probably didn’t know what a protagonist was. I didn’t know about the conventional lines of crafting good writing, so I blurred them. My fanfiction was driven around my pre-teen boy crazy existence and I created a fictional place where I was at the centre of it. There is a great amount of freedom in writing whatever the hell you want to, without the constraints of genre conventions. I had no consideration for character integrity and general regard for the writing craft. All of that went out of the window and it made for extremely entertaining writing. I was writing for myself and myself only. This is why I look back at my fanfiction so fondly. It is still so exciting to read the work of someone who was unafraid and uninhibited by the writing craft.
Fanfiction as therapeutic
The beauty of fanfiction is that it feels therapeutic to write what feels good as opposed to what is good for the story. Through fanfiction I got to set my teenage angst aside and create a fun, girly world which reflected my interests at the time and for that I am truly grateful.
What do you think of fan fiction? Have you ever read or written any? Let me know in the comments below.