I was holed up at home fighting off the remnants of a cold today, so spent far too much time reading this.

I think it hits on just about every Tolkein fanfiction cliche out there (at least of the Mary Sue/self-insertion variety), and is well enough written to keep one reading in spite of oneself. I was especially fond of Arwen’s Artistry and Mirandola Mystified. Also, Rapture Redeemed is a decent exercise in what one can achieve if forced to set the unrealistic trappings aside.

The link came from a discussion of fanfiction in Making Light.

My attitude about fanfiction has changed through the years. When I first began writing professionally, I had trouble understanding why anyone would deliberately write work that couldn’t sell. But then I realized that there are things I’ve done–horseback riding, voice lessons–that I have no desire to take to a professional level, though others around me have.

We’re all allowed hobbies, and writing’s no less legitimate a hobby than anything else.

The other thing that has made me more humble is the knowledge that my own writing started out as fanfiction. I didn’t even know the term “fanfiction” as a teen, but I wrote it, with a couple of close friends and behind a deep veil of secrecy–because we were sure no one else did this stuff. I even inserted myself into some of those stories–sometimes shamelessly and under my own name; sometimes in more subtle ways.

I wonder how my image of myself and my writing would have changed if I’d known there was an entire community out there doing the same thing I was. I’m sometimes glad there was no World Wide Web at the time–because if there had been, some of what I wrote would probably still be out there, when it really does belong firmly hidden between the covers of the notebooks it was created in. Then too, would I have worked as hard to publish, had I already had a supportive community of fellow writers online reading my work?

I tend to discount my old writings as something somehow apart from my “real” writing career. But when I go through them, it’s clear that a lot of what I learned was learned by creating them. A particularly telling moment was when I found, at the very back of the last of my notebooks, a handwritten draft of “Cherilly’s Law,” which became my first published short story. And which is technically fanfiction itself, being set on Darkover. There’s no thick line separating early works from later ones; it’s all part of the same continuum.

Then too, the earliest of my early writings–derivative, flawed, unimaginative though they were–gave me a place to escape the fact that I was younger and less in control of my life than I wanted to be. Which may, in itself, be justification enough.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *