I'm one of those people who can read several books at once. In fact, I like to. Unless it's that rare book that gives me everything I need (which would be nigh impossible, since "everything" includes both fiction and non-fiction and how do you do both? Unless you're James Frey. But can he also write something with historical juiciness? And angsty romance? And humor? I think not), I've gotta have several going on at once. Well, not at once. I'm not an octopus, with one book on each of my eight arms. No, I'll read a chapter or two of one, two chapters of another, maybe dip into a third, go back to the first, and so on.
It seems I'm the same way when it comes to writing. While there will be times when my focus and attention is on just one project, other times, I get my happiness from three or four projects. A novel, a short story, a web series, and -- when the mood is right -- fanfic.
Yes, I am a fanfic writer. And I'm afraid there's a bit of a stigma that goes with that. Blame it on the nerdy thirteen-year-olds who blast the internet with tales like Harriette Potter -- Long-Lost Twin Sister of Harry -- And The Pealing Bells of Harmony, in which Harriette not only is smarter, braver, and more clever than her born-four-minutes-later brother Harry, but she's scarless, has perfect eyesight, and is the object of lust of Draco Malfoy, Oliver Wood, and Cedric Diggory. Yes, some fanfic is really cheesy. A lot is poorly written. And anyone can publish it for the masses on places like fanfiction.net, then receive oodles of comments from younger readers along the lines of "UR SO AWESUM!"
But despite this, fanfic is not a bad thing.
I actually developed my love for writing as a teenager while penning crappy Friends/Lois & Clark crossovers. Don't ask. They were really dumb and I never shared them. But writing is like anything else -- the more you do it, the better you get at it (well, we hope.) Later, once I'd written something I deemed worthy of sharing, I did so -- and received comments from older, wiser writers that made my heart swell. They said I had potential! I started dabbling in different genres. I especially enjoyed doing tag-team, or round-robin fics with my friends. They often turned out very silly (usually, toward the end, because we didn't have the skills to come up with a coherent ending, we'd just casually kill everybody off), but we had a blast doing the actually writing.
Over time, I began to write less fanfic and swing toward more original stuff. Fanfic kind of has its limitations. You have set characters and a set canon. Sure, you can play around with that to some extent -- alternate universes, alternate beginnings, etc. -- but whether or not they're accepted depends on the mercy of your intended audience. Some fandoms will let you get away with more than others, I suppose. But really, you do have these already-established characters, and unless you go crazy and throw canon out the window, you have to stick to certain guidelines. Not so with original fiction. That's yours to do whatever you like with. Go nuts.
So even though original writing has its pros, every once in a while I'll start to think about my favorite TV show and my brain will start going, "Hey... what if...?" As I lay in bed at night, my mind will churn with possibilities. And before long, I have to start writing my thoughts down.
Which is why I've written two fanfics in the last six months, and have another one stirring.
No, I can never publish my fanfics for real or make so much as a dime off them. But they make me happy. They satisfy my creative urges, at least for a time.
And, in fifteen years, I'm sure they'll give me something to laugh at.
Like those Friends fanfics.
Did I say laugh? I meant cringe. ;)