There’s a common misconception that the majority of fanfiction writers are adolescent women who do nothing but fantasize about their favorite characters all day.
And although I did start out as an adolescent teen who indeed did nothing but fantasize about her favorite characters all day, it’s that stigma surrounding fanfiction that somehow discredits the hard work and passion that is poured into each and every story that we make.
I truly believe that fanfiction writers aren’t respected enough. And they deserve to be. Imagine individuals who spend their leisure time crafting stories out of their own imaginations and put it all out for worldwide consumption for free! They get nothing out of this other than the sheer joy of bringing a story to life in the hopes that other people would find them and enjoy them too. There’s no fame, no money, no social media admiration. Just a sense of fulfillment for every like, comment or kudos received.
The sad thing is that some people are so quick to judge fanfiction writers just for being one. I can’t count how many times we’re told we aren’t “real” writers and that we’re gross for shipping popular characters together. We’ve been publicly shamed by published authors like Anne Rice and George RR Martin who once claimed: “fan fiction is to fiction as paint-by-numbers kits are to painting.”
We’re used to the ridicule. It hardly bothers us now. But what’s completely hurtful and unnecessary is that there are those who think they’re entitled to leave “constructive” feedback on stories just because the writing doesn’t meet their standards. Here’s a screenshot of one:
It’s heartbreaking that a writer who worked so hard on their story will end up seeing this in the comments. It doesn’t matter if their story wasn’t as good as you’d hope; they don’t deserve to be given harsh criticism over something they poured time and passion into making.
The whole point of fanfiction is that fans, regardless of their writing skills, are free to share their work. It’s meant to be done for fun and the sheer pleasure of expressing their love for a particular fandom. It’s a creative outlet. Not everyone is a professional writer on the platform. Some are writing for the first time in their lives, while others are simply working towards self-improvement. And every single one of them deserves to be appreciated for trying their best.
Honestly, after reading fanfiction for half my life, I can say with confidence that I have met so many talented authors whose works have changed my life. They’ve made me laugh, cry, and question my writing abilities. If fanfiction can introduce us to people and stories that can move our emotions and inspire us to keep writing, then why are we being made to think that what we’re doing is a waste of time?
I am not ashamed to call myself a fanfiction writer because it’s through fanfiction that I found my true purpose—and it’s all thanks to the audience I had growing up who made me feel like my stories are worth reading.
So the next time you finish reading a fanfiction story, no matter how good or bad it was, please remember to leave some love.
(ALSO READ: What Happens When Your Passions Start Changing?)
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