Fanfic, etc.

by Diane

…A long hiatus between that last post and this one. I’ve been nose-deep in Wizards at War, while also running over to Geneva to take care of some business (and catching the “Escalade” as well, an unplanned, loud, and very pleasant dividend). Now we’re in the middle of the pre-holiday craziness (or not-pre. Happy Hanukkah, guys!) and printing out cards like crazy.

While idling by the printer to make sure it’s working all right, I stopped into FandomWank as I sometimes do, and ran across this and its numerous sequelae, starting out with someone’s passionate condemnation of fanfic as a whole as morally reprehensible.

Fanfic’s been on my mind lately. I reproduce here my response to some of the responses to the original post, for those of you who don’t have time to go over there and rummage…


(chuckle) Trying to define fanfic can make your eyes cross.

I’ve written a fair amount of stuff in other people’s universes, but always by invitation (i.e. “Write this book/story/screenplay and we’ll give you money.”) It’s exhilarating to play in other people’s worlds — and, peculiarly, to me it seems less like Work. Creating your own worlds is tough business: when you do it every day, cutting the occasional “class” to go play on the Enterprise or hang out with the Green Lantern Corps is really attractive.

I did write quite a lot of terrible Trek fanfic before I even knew there was such a thing — and therefore have to ask: so does it count? If a fan ships in the forest and there’s no one to hear…?? …But that was all burned long ago. I then started to write Tolkien-ish fanfic that turned into something different (the earliest drafts of The Door into Fire and its sequels.) Yet I’ve only *purposely* written fanfic (i.e. intended for consumption in a fanfic-ish venue, i.e. a fanzine) twice: one Star Wars novella for the fanzine Sentinel, and a small group of Dr. Who stories (The Doctor makes pizza, etc…) which were done initially on CompuServe for my own amusement, and then donated to anthologies for charity. So no money changed hands…but both times, it was after I started selling professionally: a book of my own per year, and sometimes more. …You’ll see, then, why for my own part the definition of fanfic becomes a clouded thing and something I shy away from defining except in terms of “I did it as a fan, not as a pro: no money changed hands.” (And once upon a time, in the ancient day, that was the generally understood definition.)

Before someone asks: how do I feel about other people writing fanfic in my worlds? Hmm.

Used to be I didn’t care for it. Some aspects of it still make me twitch, slash in particular. (And I go back far enough to remember a time when “slash” meant only one thing: K/S. Boy, have I now dated myself: were dinosaurs ever walking the earth then.) And of course it depends on which characters are involved. Writing Herewiss/Freelorn slash seems like a waste of time. We *know* they do it…though I prefer that the lights be turned off, as it were, when I venture into their bedroom. …And so on. But then…Kit and Nita? When I have my own plans for how things are going to turn out, and the characterizations of both seem to me to have made it plain that they’re not going to be “going there” just yet? Hmm.

Yet you can’t stop people thinking about it…or writing about it. Truthfully, it’s kind of like going into a Manhattan kitchen where there is as yet no gecko living under the fridge. You turn the lights on, and Things scurry away under the cupboards and into every crevice. You can try to stomp on all the ones you see. But they’re fast, and clever at hiding. Then you turn the light off and go away, and out they come again and get back to doing what they were doing before you turned on the lights. They don’t care that you pay the rent on the kitchen. They’re there to party. Only dragging in the exterminators will stop them. But (chopping the metaphor off) do I really want to do that? Is it, perhaps, something of an overreaction?…

The nature of present reality would seem to indicate that there’s some other, more affable, more enjoyable, possibly more mature way to deal with the situation. I’m considering one or two. We’ll see how it all works out. ..

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