Seanan McGuire (seanan_mcguire) wrote,
Seanan McGuire

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Let's talk about fanfic.

So I've had this lovely link about fanfic and why some people may not be comfortable with it and why maybe those are feelings that should be examined sitting at the top of my link file for literally three years. I mean that. Three years and a month, it has waited for me to feel up to talking about it.

Y'know what? Sometimes you just gotta stop waiting.

It's no secret around here that I love fanfic, although it's one of the three Big Truths that I feel the need to reveal for the first time every six months or so, as new people wander in and are totally shocked to discover that...

1. I have OCD.
2. I am Mira Grant.
3. I love fanfic.

These things are sometimes equal in their shocking nature. "Wait, you can be a best-selling author without being neurotypical?" Yes! "Wait, Mira Grant isn't a real person?" She's real, she's just, you know, me. "Authors can love fanfic?!" Yes.

Yes we can.

If I had the power, I would ask all the authors in the world to do Yuletide or something like it every year. Sign up for a fic exchange and write some porn for a stranger; tailor your stories to an audience of one, let go of the long-form plots and the careful wide-spectrum appeal, embrace the joy of spending a hundred words on Carlos's perfect hair or Buffy's perfect shoes or Jo's perfect knives. Remember the joy of waiting for one person to open a story and see what it contains.

Because fanfic is joy. Fanfic is fixing the things you see as broken, and patching the seams between what's written and what is not, and giving characters who got cheated out of their happy endings another chance. There was a time, not that long ago as we measure things, where all fiction was what we would now call "fan fiction." Shakespeare didn't come up with most of his own plots. He wrote plays about the stories people already loved. We didn't get a thousand versions of "Snow White" accidentally: people changed that story to suit themselves, and no one said they weren't storytellers, or looked down on them for loving that core of red and black and white, of apples and glass and snow.

Originality wasn't the god of fiction until the last few centuries, and even then, we didn't fixate on it until we reached the era of modern copyright. Mickey looks a lot like Oswald, if you know what I mean. Wanting to work with characters you already know and love is not a new urge. Hell, all television and non-creator-owned comics can be viewed as fanfic, if you squint and cock your head, because much of it is being written about characters and situations created by other people. It's just fanfic with contracts behind it.

I recently accomplished the fanfic writer's dream: I was paid to write a story about a character created by Charlaine Harris, Amelia Broadway, which was published in the anthology Dead But Not Forgotten. I admit, I kissed that check, because it was the fulfillment of a life-long dream. I didn't make canon, necessarily, but I made fanfic for the world.

I encourage and celebrate fanfic of my work, even if I can't read it right now. Because fanfic is amazing, and it's important. It allows us to interface with the things we love in a way that is otherwise virtually impossible.

That's amazing.
Tags: fanfiction
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