NaBloPoMo’09: Coming Out of "Retirement"?

Recently, I’ve wanted to turn my favorite X-Files fanfics from just stuff I read on my computer every six months or so into actual hardbound copies.  In addition to being great fan fiction, I think they’re just good fiction, and worth being able to keep on a bookshelf or a nightstand for quick reading on a rainy afternoon, or before bed.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been into fan fiction – at least 6 years, since Buffy went off the air.  There have been no TV shows that I’ve been invested enough in to warrant reading a lot of fan fiction for – although, there was that whole Twilight thing back in February…

Also, I short of the fan fictions I turn to repeatedly, I have really stayed away from the fan fiction community as a whole largely because the sad fact is that a lot – and I mean a lot – of fan fiction writers are painfully bad. Embarrassingly bad. Which is not to say that they don’t have every right to be: it is the internet, the content is largely to the writer’s (rather than the reader’s) discretion, and the dissemination of information is usually quick.  But, so much of it is wank of such epic proportions I can’t be bothered.

What I usually find so abhorrent about fan fiction at large is the lack of research that authors do: the characterization is implausible (“that character would never say or do any of that!”), the spelling is egregious (I edited fanfic for a writer who could not spell “minute” to save her soul), and there appears to be little or no footwork done to create a plot that is educated as well as interesting.  I just don’t understand, now with the advent of Wikipedia, and Google ferchristssakes, how fan fiction authors can just do so poorly.

Perhaps I should not be so harsh of a judge: I don’t know how long the writers have been writing, and they could very well be cutting their teeth on this very story.  …In fairness.  Learning how to craft a character who has mostly been written can be hard: if the writer screws it up, it’s apparent.  Trying to write about subject matter in a show that is foreign to the writer is also hard: I am not a forensic scientist, I could not knowledgeably write CSI or Law & Order fan fiction.

But recently, I’ve been turning into a huge NCIS junkie.  I’ve got it bad, baby.  I’m getting motivated to write fan fiction again (ha! as if I had time for that! I crack myself up).

I think about my iconic fan fiction authors: they were about my age when they came into fame for their writing – they were writerly, they were educated, they were professionals.  And I just want to be that: to be notable in fan fiction communities for producing real quality work, for creating semi-canon fiction for a show that I love.  I’m just having such a hard time reconciling my fandom for the show, my feelings about the writing, my constraints for time, my value for the product.  I want, no matter what the outcome, to at least feel confident with the decision I make.

I’m “writing it out” because I genuinely don’t know what to do.

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