Crossing Over: The Journey from Fan-fiction to Pro-writing

Hello Folks! Yes, I’m back after two weeks of radio silence aka having my head in what I lovingly call THE ZONE, a place where my muses run wild and plot bunnies take control of the universe aka my laptop. 😀

Today I’m sharing my origins as a writer and the lessons I learned there. Now, some folks might not like what I say, but that’s expected. Some of you who read my blog know I’ve mentioned fan-fiction in the past. It was then I began serious writing although I’d dabbled before. I’ve always been a writer at heart although it took too many years to count for me to understand that. From the time I could write I created stories in my head to entertain myself. Growing older I found myself thinking as I watched my favorite television programs that I was quite sure I could do far better justice to the characters than the writers who created the program. I never said this aloud because let’s be honest here–that is a bit on the self-centered side.

My first look at fan-fiction was in the late 80’s after I relocated from my hometown to St. Louis where I discovered fan conventions. Somewhere packed away in a box or trunk is the first piece of fan-fiction I ever read. It was a Blake’s 7 story written by Jean Lorrah. This fanzine published story fascinated me so much I purchased it at a convention and read it repeatedly. Finally, making those stories up in my head about my favorite television characters didn’t feel so weird. It was a relief I wasn’t the only one who did so. It wasn’t long after this discovery when I tried my hand at writing my first fan-fiction ever. Written in long-hand on a pink legal pad I carried with me everywhere I slaved over that story. Although in all honesty I had no idea what the hell I was doing. The most fiction I’d ever written was a short story for an English class in high school about my teacher falling asleep and waking up in Bilbo Baggins‘ house.

I guess you might consider that fan-fiction. *chuckles*

Back to my story though. No one ever read this piece of fiction other than myself; not even my best friend. It was something I cherished as mine and mine alone. I suppose somewhere among the hubris of a life lived it is tucked away, ink faded and not quite forgotten despite the passage of years. Somewhere along the path I let the idea of a being a writer linger in the back of my head. At one point I started an original novel (again, written in long-hand) which would eventually become my first published work Shadows Beneath previously published in 2008 by Dark Roast Press. Sadly it is no longer available, but at some point I hope to have it picked up by a new publisher.

In between jobs and being a responsible adult I let the dream slide away into the dark recesses of my mind to collect cobwebs. Then in 1999 I purchased my first computer and discovered fandom. For weeks I read anything and everything I could get my grubby little mitts on. For an imaginative person such as myself it was as if I’d won the bloody lottery. At the time my favorite television program was the X-Files. Being a part of a community of like-minded people who loved the show so much they wrote stories; everything from flash fiction to full-blown novels was something I desired at the time. So, hands shaking and a knot of fear in my belly I sat out to create my first official fan-fiction to share with that community.

That first fan-fiction took me five months of nerve-wracking nitpicking before it I finished it (July 2000 – December 2000). It was this story which made me almost quit writing (no one was leaving feedback so why bother?) and also kept me writing (my first clue that my words could touch people). I went on to write too many short stories and near novels to count in the X-Files fandom, but as the show ended I began to understand fandom better and doubts arose as to whether being a part of it was right for me.

You see fandom is both a beautiful and an ugly thing.

Yes, I said it and will not change my opinion because in my experience it has been exactly that. I despise the term fan-girl because it holds negative conations to those unfamiliar with fandom and all its eccentricities. Most average Joes do not get the heated passion of some fans. Hell, at times I don’t get it and I’ve muddled through three fandoms (X-Files, Angel, & Supernatural) in the past twelve years. A good example is the reason I ultimately left the first fandom. Most fans have their niche within any fandom; Gen, Slash, Femslash, or Het. As I began to make friends a realization took place within my mind. Every fandom didn’t just have its niche, but rather their encampment and sometimes wars can and will erupt. When the war erupts it is expected you will chose a side.

Being a writer I love to explore, to me it is a given. When confronted by the inexplicable need for fans to box themselves into a specific type of fiction or pairing I ended up confused. As a fan I understand leaning towards a type of story or even a certain pairing. Everyone has favorites, but to limit your capabilities as a writer confuses the hell out of me. At first I believed it was just the way of my first fandom, but as time passed I realized all fandoms were the same in that aspect. Particularly when it comes to writing erotic stories. There is a huge number of fans who believe you cannot write both heterosexual and homosexual stories. Well, frankly that’s simply asinine in my opinion. Then you have your subgroup within each who believes you must have a OTP (One True Pairing). Among fan-fiction writers I simply am an oddity because I don’t have a OTP. There are others like me, but they are few and far between. Thus despite having been a fan, participated in fandom, I remain an outsider.

For me writing is my version of therapy. It is a way for me to relax, explore my emotions, and vent at times about the daily crap we all deal with. It’s also fun for me. I’ve never taken it too serious or used it as a way to boost my ego/self-esteem. If that were the case I would have stopped writing all together by now. Sometimes I get zero feedback and other times I get a few exquisite replies to my writing. When I wrote fan-fiction with a partner I always told my partner it was the quality not the quantity that counted when it came to comments. I don’t think my partner ever believed in my way of thinking. 😀

I’ve continued to write in fandom despite having been a published author for three years. Writing fan-fiction is like coming home to a cozy pair of slippers after a long day on your feet. It’s a familiar and comforting place where you know the characters as well as you know yourself. Being able to write in a world whose rules and characters have already been established allows you to focus on other aspects of  the storytelling process.

I’ll never be a BNF (Big Name Fan) in the fandom world, but you know what I’ve never wanted that kind of infamy. I would rather tell good stories whether in fandom or my own original creations in my way. Be true to myself as a writer and enjoy the beauty of  my creativity than have a string of Yes men at my disposal. My self-esteem doesn’t require constant reassurance of being someone of importance in the universe. Sure I’ve had my bad moments, but as my dear departed mother used to say “That’s life–shit happens!”

I’ve pulled myself up by my bootstraps, sucked it up, and am now on a new path. Working two jobs and writing is not easy especially when one job is 24/7 and the other is in the evenings, but I’ve got faith in myself and my work. I’ve been through a great deal in my life and made it this far.

 

Fox's First Tattoo Feb. 2011

On February 19th I celebrated my 43rd birthday and a week later I marked that milestone by getting my first tattoo. It wasn’t just about being 43 (I originally wanted to get it on my 40th). It was about celebrating the change in my path, my Celtic ancestry and my spirituality. It was about celebrating how far I’ve come as a writer (Goddess help me I used glistening orbs in one of my first stories) and as a person. It was also about what I have to look forward to in the next 43 years.

This was just the first part of my journey. 😀

Blessed Be…

 

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