Since I was a little girl, I’ve struggled with reading. I can pick up a book and read a few pages, but actually, unless I’m in a particular mood, I find it incredibly difficult to get my head in the right mind set; my brain just doesn’t work that way as easily.
Of course, as a child, this meant that people thought I wasn’t very clever. And they were right- I wasn’t a clever child at all. I was a day-dreamer, and I didn’t speak until I was about 3 1/2, so you could say I was rather… inarticulate. When I reached my teenage years, I was either judged for trying to read, or judged by people who did read a lot for not reading enough. And, of course, there are plenty of people out there (tumblr *cough* what?) who make you feel guilty for not being a book worm like them. I prefer to watch TV, or go out for a drink- and apparently that makes me an unintelligent person.
Judging by the reviews I’ve received based on my writing and the fact I’m studying at a pretty good Uni, I know now that the fact that I’m not a big reader doesn’t mean that I’m stupid- something I have thought for too much of my life.
Then again, while I find it difficult to get into reading, I’ve found that comic books have been fantastic for me. I can match the pictures with the narrative, it leaves just enough to the imagination to let it go a little wild whilst simultaneously being far more accessible for my type of mind- and the art can be really, really beautiful.
Then, a couple of fateful years ago, I discovered fan-fiction. I had heard tales, and was suspicious of it; wasn’t it all erotic, grammatically incorrect interpretations of shows that I loved just they way they were?
Well, quite often yes.
But, once I took the plunge, I found that I could actually finish an entire story. I could read fanfic happily, because it was effortless (when it was written well). It took me some time to work out why this was the case, and only recently did I put my finger on it when talking to a few friends about it. When you choose a fan-fiction, you choose a fandom. You choose it’s back-stories, it’s characters, it’s aesthetic, all of which you’re already aware of. When you start a fan-fic, you already know the important start-off details, and that just makes it a far more enjoyable, effortless experience. You can immerse yourself in a world which you already love. You start it knowing (sometimes more reliably than others) that you will like it, that you’ll like the characters and the story line. It allows us to continue the story ourselves, stretch the universe of the chosen fandom as far as we like- we can make it’s stories last forever, and sometimes write them better than the writers of the show, book, or film.
I still feel rather insecure about admitting that I read fan-fiction, just because of the bad press it’s received over the past few years. That little stunt interviewers like to pull, by making actors read out dirty fan-fic excerpts- it’s cruel, it’s unnecessary, and it’s definitely not funny. It humiliates the actors, and worse, it humiliates the fans- what worse way to treat an adoring fanbase than to abuse their creativity, to mock their love of the show (yes, I’m talking about Sherlock). It’s seen as a ridiculous, creepy way of channeling an unhealthy obsession- yes, sometimes the stories are erotic. But come on. If the TV shows, books or movies aren’t going to be brave enough to give us LGBT+ relationships, then we’ll just write it our damn selves. And even if there were something wrong with reading erotic stories (which there isn’t), at least these ones are more interesting and better written than most other erotic fiction.
At the end of the day, regardless of what people think- fan-fiction makes a lot of sense.