Sarah Rees Brennan talks about going pro-author after having a history in fanfic, and some of the, um, complications that can have for a career.
I won’t lie: these are things that keep me up at night. And, while I’ve gotten nowhere near the level of bile Brennan has been subjected to, for years1 (there but for the grace, et cetera), I’ve already had… a taste. And I’d be very surprised if it stopped there. LIESMITH is, after all, literal Norse myth slash fanfic, and while “Norse myth fanfic” has been done to death since The Lord of the Rings, there are things with my own personal situation that make me especially, um. Vulnerable in the way author’s who’ve come before me aren’t.
So be it, I guess. I knew that when I sold.
I love fandom and I love fanfic, and I have a (very recent) past in both. But the issues Brennan talks about–particularly, the gendering of the issues Brennan talks about–is definitely A Thing That Is Real. Hell, I’ve probably indulged in it myself in the past; something I’d be in no way proud to be reminded of, but it’s such a common meme in fandom that I’m sure I’m guilty by association if nothing else.
The reality, I think, is that there is-and-always-will-be a complex set of tensions between fandom and creators. In some ways it’s built in to the fannish experience, and the fanfic experience in particular. Fanfic, arguably moreso than some other forms of fannish expression, is destructive. It has to be, because it’s re-interpretive; fanfic builds new things out of the rubble of canon and, where that rubble doesn’t exist, fans are not shy about creating it by force.
There’s nothing wrong with destroying to create–hell, it’s how yours truly operates–but that methodology can leave… scars. And it does, I think, tend to attract a certain personality type (i.e. yours truly).
I don’t really have a point here, other than to say I agree with the bulk of Brennan’s post. Because fandom is great and fandom is beautiful… but there are some dark and ugly corners in it, too.
This is one of them.
- For those without the background, the fandom “era” Brennan hails from was literally over a decade ago. You want to talk about the dangers of the internet age and naive choices you made when you were a kid coming back to bite you as an adult? Well hey. Look no further.