I read a blog post from talented writer Shelly Drymon entitled “Writing Just for Self-Expression”: http://themomentsofmylife.com/?p=1388#comments
This topic interested me, because I do write just for fun. I’ll never forget the first time I did it, thirteen years ago. Before then, the only writing I did was journaling. And that was fun too. But I was addicted to the show “The X-Files” (which I still love, and nerd that I am, I have to announce that X-Files is celebrating twenty years from the time the first episode was aired–today. A sacred day for us Philes). It had endearing characters, interesting plots, and aliens. What could be better?
But the writers left certain *ahem* adult aspects out of the plot, for a long time anyway. We waited seven years for that first “real” kiss between Mulder and Scully, and certain stories lingered, desperately in need of a satisfying resolution. This is when I discovered something called “Fanfiction.”
Now I would like to say that I know for sure that fanfiction began with The X-Files, or that term “shippers” was introduced because of the show, but I suspect some Star Trek fans out there would object. What I can tell you is that I eagerly read those first stories based on the show thinking I was going to get a continuation of some of the episodes. And I was disappointed, I am sorry to say.
Now, I know there were some good stories out there, ones where Mulder and Scully set out on new adventures, or we got to see what happened between “The Truth” and “I Want to Believe”. But most of what I read was just soft porn–X porn, if you will. There was no story, or it was something you would see in a bad Jenna Jameson movie. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But I wanted more.
So I wrote my first story. The first one was horrible, I’m sure, and I doubt that it is still floating around in cyberspace anymore. But I wrote more. And over the years, I have returned to fanfiction writing, and I’ve learned some things from it (and from books and online courses–let’s give credit where credit is due). I learned to release stories in chapters–I tended to write the entire story all in one sitting, and learned that fans found 10,000 words all at once to daunting. I started out writing stories picking up where episodes left off, having the partners eventually give in to their chemistry just for self-gratification. And then I wrote original stories of my own. This led to me eventually writing my own series of short stories (stay tuned–I will be releasing the first installment of “QuID: Quantum Investigation Division” in October), and fanfiction for another show (Law and Order: Special Victims Unit).
What did I discover from this experience?
1. Writing can be fun, even when you have no followers (although it’s even more addictive when you DO get a following).
2. X-Files in particular is fun to write, because the topics are ENDLESS. My new series will be paranormal/science fiction as well, because I like the unlimited subject matter.
3. The most important thing I learned from writing fanfiction is that it is cathartic. Sure, I want a publishing deal where someone hands me a big fat check to sit around and write another novel. But the reason I write goes way beyond this. I write because, when I feel my worst, like the universe is out to get me, when my soul is tormented, I can sit down and torture my characters, and get my feelings down on paper. I do my best writing this way. As sadistic as it sounds, I put my characters through hell, because that is how I release the emotions from me and put them onto the paper, killing two birds with one stone.
The converse goes for when I’m in a good mood. That’s the perfect time to write humorous stories (for you X-files fans, I wrote an ending for “Small Potatoes” called “I’m Not In Love” that you won’t want to miss). And when I’m horny. . . well, you get the idea.
So yeah, I do strive to be a better writer and sell my stories. But I would write anyway–I have discovered that I can’t NOT write. And that, my friends, is the true meaning of “passion.”