A good friend of mine hates fan fiction. She just can’t stand it. She complains about why on earth people write fanfic when they could write “something that pays.” I have no problem with her hating fanfic. The impulse to write it is a weird one; the shame associated with creating it is akin to how most people are programmed to feel about masturbation.
I mean, sure, fine… but in public?
Nevermind all the implications of derivative works… (is masturbation the derivative works of sex?)
Obviously she’s not in publishing and I don’t think she’s willing to learn the intricacies. Also, most of these conversations came about before Kindle Worlds was a thing.
For writers, there’s usually a very long journey between writing something and writing something that pays. It can be disheartening.
Fan fiction is what helps a lot of writers buck up along that journey. When I was working on the since-dropped MFA in grad school, writing Daria fan fiction saved my love of writing. While surrounded by people learning the self-indulgent, semi autobiographical mountain format of plot, I borrowed the friendly W of a favorite television character, filling out what I perceived at the time as unmet potential.
When the impulse came to write those silly stories I honored it. I’m glad I did. I haven’t done fan fiction in a few years – not since 2009, I think. Maybe 2010? I have paid work in the way of it and that’s OK.
But if a strong urge clutched me, I’d totally set aside my work for an afternoon of noodling with someone else’s characters. It clears up my chakras like only one other thing…