It’s a really sad thing that, by now, I’m used to people giving me that look when they learn that I write fanfiction. It’s a sad thing that I stopped telling people that I write fanfiction altogether and try to avoid saying anything about the subject until I’m sure they won’t give me said look that pretty much says something along the lines of “Oh, you actually think you are a writer, how cute, but do you know that this is not real literature?”. And it’s a sad thing that I’m not the only fanfiction writer in the closet precisely because of that.
There is one reason why I am actually grateful that Fifty Shades of Grey was properly published. It was one huge step on the way of proving that fanfiction is literature just like the original works are. It might not be the best book that’s out there (it really isn’t), but that has nothing to do with it being a fanfiction, it’s about the author not being the brightest candle on the writer’s chandelier. But she may just have paved the way for more good fanfics eventually turning into completely original novels. I mean, it’s not like every fic is just a lame copy of the original. There are plenty of stories that would work just as well with the names changed, and the similarities would turn into casual nods towards pop culture. (At the risk of boasting, I suppose my Silent Hill story would be one of those. Anyways.)
So I guess it’s understandable I was a little bugged when I had to read this from one of my favourite bloggers (roughly translated), when he was answering a tweet from someone who claimed that there were much worse fanfics than 50 Shades: “Maybe, but now it has to compete with other bestselling novels and not only with fanfics.” What irks me is the “not only fanfics” part. He made similar comments about 50 Shades before, and while I generally like his blog, I very much wanted to yell at him for that. He always makes it sound like fanfics were something less that literature, less that “real” writing. That’s rich, coming from a guy whose first novel is a Twilight spoof that can very well be seen as “fan”fiction, too. (He’s not the only one, but his comment inspired this post.)
I wrote about a similar problem before: The “real literature vs. genre literature” thing. It’s both literature. As is fanfiction. We put just as much effort in writing our stories as “real” authors do. In fact, I am also a “real” author. So does that mean my fanfic is somehow still worse than my original writing? Or does my writing fanfiction make my original writing worse by definition? Doesn’t sound logical, and it certainly isn’t true. Every author on this planet gets inspired by something that has come before them. That’s why we say “There’s nothing that hasn’t been done before”. So what’s so bad about fanfic authors who just openly admit that they get their ideas from someone else’s work?
We are not lesser writers because we write fanfiction. Our writing isn’t worse because it’s not completely original. So please stop picking on us and what we like just because it’s not your cup of tea. It’s not a one-way ticket to writer’s hell to write fanfiction. It’s a legitimate hobby, and it’s legitimate writing. Stop looking down on us. We don’t look down on you, either.