Okay, so. I just had a conversation with Cookingbaconshirtless that recalled a bunch of other conversations I’ve had before with other people. Let’s call them ‘Mundanes,’ for now - ‘people who do not grok fanfic.’
See, there are people who ‘get it’ intuitively, immediately (some of us writing it before we even knew there was a word - let alone a [sub]culture - for it), people who ‘get it’ after being exposed to That One Fanfic That Changed Their Life, and Mundanes.
There are ‘passive’ Mundanes who get that Fanfic is a Thing, but don’t grok it, and pretty much leave us alone. And then there Those Mundanes who are vehemently Against Fanfic because it’s Literary Heresy and blah blah blah fishcakes.
So I’m going to talk about what fanfic is (to many of us) and why some of us find it fascinating and why some of us spend so much time talking about it and reading it and, most importantly, writing it.
Saathi says super-smart things about fanfic here! I particularly like the line she draws between the ‘declaratory’ nature of original fic vs. the ‘exploratory’ nature of fanfic. It feels true, and even more than that, it sets my imagination off on exploratory forays.
Her mention of fanfic, exploration, and its appeal to marginalized groups was an interesting one, too, and got me thinking about fanfic as a reclamation. That’s not new at this point, is it? Or maybe it’s still a fairly original idea; I can’t keep track these days. But I think it’s true—one of the purposes fanfic serves is as a reclamation of the story by the fans. Particularly important and powerful for marginalized groups kewhose voices are so often left out of the media, but also true of EVERYBODY who writes and reads fanfic.
The bottom line, I think, is that as many authors have noted, stories don’t belong to the writer. They belong to the reader. In the age of intellectual property protectionism and institutionalized gatekeepers, it’s easy to forget that. But stories are memes. They’re owned by the people who consume and internalize them. Fanfiction is simply an expression of that ownership—telling our own stories about the stories we adopt.