As most of you know, I am on Archive of Our Own, and as some of you who are also on AO3 might know, the 15th was International Fanworks Day. They asked for essays explaining why fanworks (fanfic, fanart, etc.) are important to you. Six were featured. Mine was one of them. ^.^ If you’re curious, here it is below.
For as long as I can remember, I have loved to write.
Poetry. Books. Short Stories. Songs. Shojo Manga. I write anything and everything that I can – any idea that I can latch onto with my brain and take over. To me, ideas are not created. Ideas appear and take off running, beckoning a writer to snatch them and spin them into threads of story. Since ideas come to me in different forms, I use different mediums to express them.
I have discovered over the past fifteen years of my life that writing is not for the faint of heart. To discover another world and then create it, knowing that what has become a part of you is not even real, is something all writers must grapple with. It is a struggle and a delight to watch the people you breathed into existence go throughout their lives – and to know that they are under your hand, even as they claim your heart. They rest in your power, and you rest in theirs.
On a more superficial level, writing is difficult because it is time-consuming. Creating metaphors requires thought. Plotting can require extensive planning. And sometimes, out of exhaustion or laziness, creating original fiction is something I cannot bring myself to do.
Not only is writing hard – living is hard. For the writer and for everyone else, life is difficult, also a struggle and a delight, the same as building a universe by pressing keys. This world is dark. Occasionally, this world is frightening. And when a person is put into a situation where they do not feel competent, comfortable, they seek to escape it.
That’s where fanfiction comes in for me. As a writer, a person who creates fiction, I constantly seek out fiction. Broadway tracks. Books. Comics. Television. I use them the way some people use stimulants: to escape the world. Unlike people who escape the world by drugging themselves out, however, I trade this world for another. I walk the paths of Middle Earth, fight at the barricade with Les Amis, and mow down the enemies of Hyrule – all without ever leaving my couch. When it is over and I am forced back to reality, I seek to enter that world again, but under my own circumstances, and through the eyes of the people I fell in love with while I journeyed there. I return to that world again and again, or I bring the people from it into my own.
I use fanfiction as a way to try another author’s style, and so it has made me a better writer, but I also use it as a way to explore deep emotions that the story has unlocked within me. Story-telling is power. Despite what some people think, fanfiction is story-telling. It has not only made me a better writer, it has made me a better person. And I will be forever grateful to the writers who came before me for the gift that they have given me.