Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fan Fiction Part 2: An End or a Beginning or Something In-Between

Yesterday I mentioned that, as I penned my little tales and posted them on the Big Valley Writing Desk, I considered that the "someday" I'd always hoped for hadn't arrived. But in all actuality, it had. If, as many publishers decree, that anything posted anywhere for public consumption is indeed published, then "someday" for me was here as soon as I clicked "post". Was I not fortunate enough to be "published" in the Valley? Was I not more fortunate than authors who put their work other places, even in print, and never receive any comments or feedback?

Once I retired, I realized that the time had come to look seriously at  trying for publication. Right off the bat, one of my BV fan fiction stories--rewritten for the mainstream--won the Editor's Choice award in a contest and publication in an anthology of holiday stories. To say I was elated is an understatement!

So, although I had come to the end of ideas for my fan fiction, I found that the stories had possibilities elsewhere as mainstreamed fiction. The most important point here is that they would never have come into being at all had it not been for the opportunity to write fan fiction.

Consider the character of Victoria Barkley played by Barbara Stanwyck. "Missy" started as a chorus girl, paid very little, uncredited when the productions were advertised, unnoticed by the world at large. But she had a dream, and she knew that she had to start at the beginning and learn her craft, and that's exactly what she did. Without those early years of "hoofing" and barely surviving, would Ruby Stevens have become Barbara Stanwyck? Probably not. Later, she spoke of those days with pride and affection. Everyone begins somewhere.

Writers get all kinds of advice, including "Don't give it away"--but a clip is a clip, whether it is paid or unpaid. It's a matter of opinion and individual choice--and payment often comes in other ways than monetary. Every writer has choices to make about his/her work. However, I believe that giving credit where credit is due is an obligation, not a choice, and that belief spurred this blog topic.

Tomorrow: Fan Fiction Part 3: The Changing World of Publishing and the Future of My Fan Fiction


Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

I got my start writing fan fic as well. It was La Femme Nikita and the oh-so tortured relationship between Michael and Nikita that inspired me to write. I made some life-long friends, one of whom was a burned-out, multi-published category author and wrote the best LFN fan fic going. She always made constructive comments to the scenes/chapters that other writers posted.

Once I completed a 95k word story, I knew I could write my own books. I started on that process in 1998. My first book was 142k words (what did I know about word limits at the time?), but after joining RWA and my local chapter, it was trimmed to 128k and eventually was published by a small press in 2003. Actually it was my second published book. The same small press published my second book in 2002.

And like you, Judy, I learned so much about writing, especially learning I could actually write something book length and finish it.

K9friend said...

Some people focus on fanfic writing as a way to simply relax and enjoy sending the characters in directions they'd like to see them go. And some use it as a springboard to other things.

For me, I feel fanfic writing launched my interest in pursuing writing for a wider audience. After putting time and effort into a piece it was great to get nice comments from others on a fanfic site. But it felt even better to receive validation for my work in the form of an editor who wanted to buy it for publication!

Donna Alice said...

I agree with you on fan fiction - it's fun, it's inspiring, you make great friends and if one can write for other fans and please them - you can write your own books as well.

One point I had never thought of was that one is 'giving' away one's writing by posting to fan fiction sites. Had never considered that but rather that I was sharing my passion. But, it's still true - a clip is still a clip.

Zanre5 said...

Thank you Judy! This was a very encouraging post for me to read. Very informative as well. I started my blog for writing experience because I would like to write "when I grow up". I look forward to seeing more of what you have to share!

nlindabrit said...

You are generous and gracious in your comments about fan fiction and I admire you for your attitude to it. I have known other writers distance themselves from the whole genre without acknowledging its role in getting them started on their path to what one might term 'real' writing.

For me the whole idea enabled me to produce finished stories, something I had never achieved, despite having written all my life really. I also found a home and and a purpose and an absorbing interest to help me to adapt to life without working for my living after thirty odd years in the field of employment.

We were lucky to have you in our Valley and to share your high quality stories. You have been an inspiration to others.