In defense of fan fiction

Earlier this week, I sent my website designer the content for my new author website. It contained a lot of things about me: my published novel, my current writing projects, my past projects. One of the things it contained was a blurb about and link to my fan fiction story, The Destroyer. I figured, why not, I worked hard on that story and readers liked it. It is an example of my SFF writing and series writing skills.

I think I forgot how few people out in the webosphere really understand what fan fiction is and why it can be a legitimate art form–an engagement with and reinterpretation of an existing text that can entertain us by continuing its story (or expanding the existing story), or shed critical light on aspects of that story the author might not have realized were in it.

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Where and when I write

I posted last week about a seminar I went to featuring an author who was speaking on her book about “discovering your true voice.”

Her angle on this much-tread topic is her background in yoga, and the basic premise is that, in order to discover your true voice–what you want to say with your writing and how you want to say it–you need to be in touch with your body and its habits and signals.

One of the first exercises in her book is to take a good look at your writing habits: how often you are able to write, where you write, what you write with, and how you use your body in writing. This was a little odd to me, since I conceive writing as primarily a mental activity, where the physical aspects are purely means to an end, but there’s a logic in the idea that your body is giving you signals about the content or manner of your writing, so I’m game to follow where she leads so far. So:

I live alone, which means I have the good fortune of spending my free time writing whenever and where ever it suits me. I am a creature of habit, though, so I tend to write in the same chair, in more or less the same physical position: legs up on the La-Z-Boy, lap top perched on one of those plastic-coated metal-rung kitchen shelves that fits over my hips with just enough clearance to ensure air is flowing between my lap and the bottom of the keyboard. This is a necessary thing, given the number of hours I often work, the heat of Arizona, and the heat of my middle-aged female lap.

Nowadays, I pretty much do all my writing tasks at the keyboard, rather than long hand. I used to write long hand all the time back in the pre-personal computer dinosaur days, and when I lived in San Francisco, I wrote on the bus or at bus stops, or at work. My writing at the present is confined to the lap top in that one same chair, where I sit for hours, eating, drinking, and watching television. I take breaks to run errands, go to the bathroom, or do a household chore or two, but that’s my Writing Way, for the most part.

Not sure what it says about me, or how it might effect my writing. I think sometimes I get “too comfortable” there, and it leads me to waste time on the internet, or “do anything-but-generating-new-words” because I can.

Original fiction project – week of 04/03/2011

1562 words this week. Yay me.

I’ve actually written a lot of words to this story, most of which I still feel will never end up in the actual first draft. I’m still unfocused, not sure what I really want to say. Aware of this frustration, I went to a writing workshop last night at Changing Hands bookstore. It was a spontaneous decision based on the description of the workshop, which was about “finding your voice.” I’ve taken workshops on that topic before, and I’m pretty aware of techniques for helping you determine what you really want to say in your writing, and express it in your own unique way. And yet I still struggle with it, so I thought I’d hear what some who wasn’t my old writer’s voice teacher had to say about it.

The speaker said something I already knew, which was you often won’t know what you’re trying to say until you’re done the first (or second or third) draft. Which I trust in, as it has happened to me before, but in the mean time, you have to find another motivation other than passion for your “point” to keep you returning to the story.

She didn’t delve a lot into techniques themselves since she was allowing the attendees to set the agenda, but she said enough that she sold me her book, which is, I suppose, what her purpose there was. I’ll see if the book has anything insightful to say.

In other writing news, I took anneth‘s suggestion and posted a “wanted” post on looking for illustrators. I got several replies, and since all of them made reasonable bids in the same ballpark, I am entertaining multiple preliminary sketches. It makes me feel like I’m “doing something already” with this old story, and that feels like a relief of something that’s been hanging over my head for a long time.