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Friday the 30th of June 2006

10:32:29 AM

Confessions of a not-so-teenage fanfic writer

Fanfiction is one of the most intriguing and widespread phenomena in the Net world. Its nature has been analyzed, studied and criticized. Type in Google and you'll find so many sites bashing and tearing apart this Online activity. But, while these arguments are not entirely baseless and some of them go to great lengths to incorporate educated facts to back them up, one cannot deny the influx of fanfictions into the life of several thousands across the globe.

But this is not an article about Fanfiction and its impact on society. It has been done to death and the pros and cons have been outlined in layers like a ruptured onion. It's one of those things where you know there are drawbacks and yet you can't help yourself from enjoying it. It's a relatively modern mode of entertainment and one that, I suspect, will just continue emerging and spreading. However, this piece is about my personal experience with Fanfictions and what I have learnt during my tryst of fanfic reading and writing.

I was first introduced to the world of Fanfiction roughly over a year ago. From that moment, till today, a lot has happened in a lot of time. There have been certain life-changing realizations. Interestingly enough, the fanfic world has been intimately connected with this revolutionary change in my life. It’s as if emerging into this ambience has awakened and modified me in ways I never imagined. It seems exaggerated, perhaps, but I assure you that it’s not. However, before anything else, let me detail my personal experience in the world of fanfictions.

I first came across fanfictions in The OC’s Alex/Marissa forum. Before that, I never knew fanfictions existed. It’s funny because I have always been a “fanfic” writer and dreamer. I would watch movies, TV shows or read books and conjure alternate scenarios with the characters. But I never really wrote it down because my personal experience with fiction writing hasn’t been positive. I always start off with a lot of zest only to fizzle out somewhere in the middle. So, I’ve always acceded that I didn’t have the dedication to write anything more than 5000 words. But when I read a couple of fictions online, some good, some bad, some terrible, two realizations struck one. The first was, I began feeling a sense of kinship towards these writers. I’ve always considered myself slightly “out there” for creating stories with already established characters from someone else’s work. But I saw, that I wasn’t the only one. I was apparently part of a really large community. The second was the fact that after reading some absolutely horrendous fictions, both in that forum and on other sites, and seeing how much praises they get, I wondered why I shouldn’t do the same. Yes, the conceited in me was confident that I was better than a lot of them. So, I penned down my first fanfic, which was a cross-over between The OC and Once Again. It was quite a success and really boosted my ego. I’m not proud of the way I wrote it but I do proudly claim that for a first-time writer, I didn’t do badly. I still loved the premise and if any of you are fans of the TV shows, you can check it out in my fanfiction site. Anyways, getting back on the tangent, the next fiction I wrote was Soulmates. It was also the first fic I posted up on FanFiction.Net, the Mecca for fanfic writers. It was moderately okay. After Soulmates, I went on a long hiatus from fanfic writing, mainly because other things started taking importance. If you happen to know me personally, you know what I’m talking about. If you do not, suffice to say, it wasn’t a jolly period of my life. Forget writing, I don’t think I was even capable of thinking properly. Anyways, I then reemerged into the fanfic world after watching South of Nowhere. I started a fic which I yet have to complete. The story was nice but there was something dull about that fandom which really oozed out all my inspiration. I contemplated writing some L Word fanfics, but once again, there’s something missing in that fandom. Much as I like that TV show, I just don’t think I love the characters or any pairing for that matter, to really get into it. And then came CSI. I don’t quite remember how, but I think it was after reading some Law and Order SVU fictions, featuring Olivia and Casey ships, that I began routing out for some CSI fics. I wasn’t entirely surprised to find a plethora of Catherine/Sara fanfics. In almost 99% of cases, it’s the show that inspires obsession in fanfics. In my case, it was my love for the fanfics that inspired my obsession with the show. I became absolutely engrossed in CSI episodes and wondered how I’ve missed this wonderful show for so many years. As I got to know the show, the characters and the procedures more thoroughly, I wrote my first CSI fanfic. It was, may I say it, a success beyond my expectations. The blood of that success started a thirst in me that is still yet to be quenched. I’m on the sequel of that story, and from the looks of it, it’s going better than I thought. But I’m not one to count my chickens before they hatch. I do believe that this current one I’m writing will be my last one, unless I’m inspired (and coerced) enough to write a full blown trilogy. But that’s an ambitious declaration, so I’ll shut up. But that’s just my fanfic writing experience. I have known to have woken up till 4 or 5 AM in the morning reading fanfic series, even though my eyes felt as if it’s going to pop from exhaustion.

Now after learning how I became sucked into this vortex of fanfic writing and reading, let me get into the life-altering changes it started. First and foremost, it reinforced my opinion that I have extremely poor work ethic and ergo, I end up starting something without quite finishing it. Several unfinished series provide evidence for that. But after writing my last CSI fiction, which I successfully completed, and the sequel which I’m still fired about, I have realized that discipline and inspiration is key to successful writing. Unlike the previous occasions when I dabbled in fanfic writing only to escape more important life responsibilities (well, not entirely unlike but that’s a completely different discussion), I have dedicated myself 100% to fanfic writing this time. I wake up every morning and finish writing a chapter or two by the end of day. I read and re-read it and definitely proofread it before posting it up. It has started a routine in my life that is quite pleasing. Especially, when I read new reviews and find my review count rising. But then again, that just bears testimony to my insatiable (or should I say, pathological) hunger for praise and accolades. Anyways, what I’m trying to say is that I do consider this fanfiction an exercise for honing my writing skills. Whoever said “practice makes perfect” was right on. There’s nothing like regular practice to perfect your art. I’ve written four complete series and two one-shots since my first try at writing. I can safely say that with each fanfiction, I just get better. I learn stuff about grammar, new synonyms for overused words and now when I read books, I do more than just skim through the words. I find myself reading in between the lines, checking for the grammar and the style and concentrating hard on the flow of words. Not only that, in the process of research for various tidbits for my fics, I’ve come across some very interesting facts. In other words, fanfic writing has opened a world of creative learning in me. I’m still way behind in being that skilled to start writing my original novel. I’m a perfectionist after all, and I believe in the motto of “all or none”. The current fic I’m writing is definitely better, IMO, in terms of grammar and style, than my previous fics and so on. Also, fanfic writing has enabled me to skirt through a wide arena of genres. Though, romance and drama are the predominant plots in all of them, yet I’ve blended it with various concoctions of humor, tragedy, angst, teen chick-ish genre, and most currently suspense and thriller. I have to say, I have definitely been the most uncomfortable with the humor and teenage stuff. I’m most obviously a sucker for mature and intense themes. The CSI fics I had and am working on are very close to the kind of novel I’ll like to write. Older characters riddled with global issues, involving some kind of villainous figure bent on widespread disaster- is my diagramma principale. Anyways, so for the change… it definitely brought out the very dormant creative side in me. I now have an outlet to express my talents. It not only exuded in me a confidence in my writing abilities, but it also led me to try my fingers in other creative work, such as graphic designing. Of course, it comes at a price… everything does. Creativity is the work of the Insane.

The second biggest revolution in my life, due to fanfics, has been the impact on my sexuality. My orientation wasn’t a secret from me. I knew it all the way back in 7th or 8th Grade. But the difference was, I never really thought I could do anything about it. This is not my “coming out” article by any means. But it is perhaps the first time I’m openly speaking about it. Anyways, if you’ve read my fanfics, you know it is all femmeslash. The reason why my attempts at fiction writing, prior to being introduced to fanfics, have always gone awry, was because I always made a heterosexual pair my lead. Fanfics allowed me to break through that norm and gave me an inspiration like none other. Also, posting fanfics on some forums, led me to go sifting through for more forums of like and that led me to support groups and a lot of LGBTQ sites and forums. Now let’s just say I’ve come to terms with my sexuality and am in full blown recognition of it.

It has been an uphill task since then. With all these different aspects of my personality getting a free rein, more stolid and “socially acceptable” parts of my existence has received a kick to the rear. While, I won’t go as far as saying that the changes brought about in my life were negative, I’ll definitely state that the overwhelmed part of me has a lot to resolve. I need to learn to incorporate all these new information in my lifestyle, not to use it to demolish previously established stabilities.

 


And that is a long, long, long monologue from me to you... so that you can go and read my fics

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