Fanfic and profic

Actually, I find the term “profic” even odder than “beta reader.” 🙂

Lots of discussion about what fan writing and pro writing get right and wrong on livejournal this week. Various odds and ends thoughts from those discussions.

There’s a persistent assumption that fanfiction writers do this for the love, and profiction writers do it for the money, as if these were two mutually exclusive things. Very few people really write for the money, because if it were about money, we’d be accountants or brain surgeons or something else with a reliable paycheck and health insurance and a retirement fund. If you want to earn lots of money, being a writer is a really bad way to do it.

But being paid for one’s work is important to a professional writer — because every hour of work you’re paid for is an hour you don’t have to spend doing something that isn’t writing. We want to be paid because we love writing so passionately that we’d rather be doing that than doing something else, and being paid helps us manage to do that.

There’s also I think an assumption that somehow pro writers are — apart from the reading population at large, and out of touch with same. But the thing is, profic writers write for the same reasons fanfic writers write — because we love books, and love stories, and feel the desire to create our own, and to explore things that matter to us, and maybe give something back to the world of books that gave us so much. Some people feel the desire to create their stories as vocation, some as avocation. This changes one’s focus, it changes the sort of energy one puts into it — but it all begins in the same place. Behind every pro writer is a kid (or adult) who wondered “hey, I wonder whether I can make something of this thing I seem compelled to do,” and decided to take a chance and try to do so.

It’s a little odd, to my ear, to hear fanfic writers insisting they understand stories in a way pro writers never will. I mean, I’ve been pursuing voice lessons as a hobby — but I don’t assume I understand singing better than a professional singer who gets up on stage week after week. Right now part of that is that I’m not even within imagining distance of being at that level — but I don’t see myself thinking that way even if I were to somehow get to that level, but to still decide not to perform professionally.

What is true is that my relationship with music is different than a professional’s relationship with music. If I don’t feel like singing on a given day, I don’t. I push, but I push in a different way, and maybe with a different sort of intensity. Sometimes I get together with a few friends and we hang out and sing, and you know, that’s enough for me. I don’t need to be heard by strangers I’ve never met, the way I do with my writing, though I couldn’t articulate why.

But people who have an expertise and make part of their living at something, whatever it is, they’re not locked off and apart from those who do that something in other ways. They came at this from the same urge to create; they just decided, for whatever reason, to channel it differently.

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