I have been in fandom for over 20 years and I have seen the ups, the downs, and the out and out fuckery of other people in that time. I have seen fantastic writers run out of a place that should have been completely safe for them.
It is not something that I have ever wanted to see, but that has actually happened to me twice. In the early days of my introduction to fandom and bringing up my courage to write I was severely harassed and belittled for what I wrote and how I wrote.
There was at one time a site that targeted to new writers simply to tear apart their work and destroy every word that they put out there. Unlike some of the other writers on the site I had the good fortune to become friends with a wonderful group of women in the Xena and Buffy fandoms. One of whom acted as a mentor of sorts and became my friend.
Scribe was a brilliant, vivid woman who didn’t put up with bullshit, yet was kind and willing to answer questions asked by newbie writers. Sadly she passed away three years ago. Exactly two days after my own mother died. It was a blow to everyone who knew her and to the writing community as a whole.
Scribe wrote an amazing and brilliant adaptation of Dracula. The book was called Child of the Night. As of now only Volume 1 was released due to her passing. Vlad Tempes is the darker version of Dracula, this is a new take on the story. Where Dracula is gay, has very little care in him for Elizabeta, but falls in love with her bastard brother Nicu.
It has the gore one would expect from Vlad the Impaler, but it also shows the beauty of a timeless love.
Scribe wrote funny, deeply meaningful stories, as well as Mary Sue fic that made you cackle until you thought you would pass out.
Through her I met many more wonderful and funny people who wrote and read the same fanfiction and fandoms that held my interest. Through it all they encouraged me to keep writing.
Keira Marcos and the Minions have reaffirmed my confidence in my own ability to write and enjoy doing so. Her work is amazing and beautiful and has a great deal of sassy in your face humor.
Again I have met many people that make me feel apart of a community of people that I am safe among. Jilly, Ladyholder, Azure, Chris, and Cinna among them. Then there are my lovely bunny herders. Serena, Thandi, Rowaine, Saydria, Dawn, Marilash, Kimberly, Vasaris, Christy, Echo, and the names would go on on.
These two communities have let me begin to write again, they have given me a sense of purpose and a love of writing that I had begun to lose for various reasons.
I have also had Vo on Imaginings and the group there. I can’t tell you how wonderful it has been to read their stuff and to just have a place to bitch about life in general.
The thing with fanon is that we have communities and people who are like us, places that offer safety and security. This is not always the case, there are those that attack us or make fun of us for existing. They study our place in the world for their own good, even as they degrade our existence.
This differs slightly from the book world in that we often do not seek criticism of our artistic and written endeavors. We do what we do, not for the accolades, but for the love of the fandom we follow.
Shows like Teen Wolf used the fans and their love of Sterek as a bait and switch for several seasons and then began to punish us for existing and also destroy the characters that we had come to love.
What Jeff Davis has never seemed to understand is that fandom does not need him. Fandom is about taking situations and characters and twisting them to suit our need to change the outcome of what has destroyed us, angered us, or made us chose that particular pairing and made us love them.
There are people in fandom that still write about characters in shows and books that have been off the air or discontinued for years. It is about our love of them, not necessarily or love of what is happening on the show or in the book itself.
Unlike in a book, fandom does not necessarily have to stick with continuity or the established canon in a series. For instance one of my favorite writers Rhys Ford has two wonderful series that I follow Sinner’s and Cole McGinnis. I have bought every book that she has released.
The thing is, Rhys like all published authors cannot change the history of a character for each story that she writes. Where as a fanfiction writer can change whatever they want to suit the story they are reading.
The thing about the written words of these authors is that they are paid for them and in some cases they put themselves out there to be criticized, while fanfiction authors do not. We also receive no money for what we write.
However, just because an author is paid to write their works and people buy those stories does not mean that they owe the reader anything.
As a reader you are not entitled one dame thing from the writer. Yes, you should expect to enjoy your book, but you should not expect to tell the writer how they should write, when they should write, and they should not have to take your abuse.
Now I should say that I have been party to the last part when it comes to Fifty Shades of Grey.
This book is extremely repugnant. It has no basis in reality when it comes to the BDSM lifestyle. It is in fact a badly written episode of Criminal Minds.
No I was not a fan of Twilight, either the books or the movies. I did however love the soundtracks. The thing is, FSoG was indeed a badly written fanfiction from the Twilight series.
If it weren’t for the fact that it would probably set a bad precedent I would highly encourage Stephanie Myers to sue James for the shitty adaptation of the original format.
The thing is, yes there are a lot of people out there that write fanfiction who do it badly, I was one of them when I started out. Yes there are people out there that write things that are absolutely gag worthy for their content, see above book complaint.
The thing is, there are also authors that are now published writers who gained the confidence to see publication because they started as fanfiction authors.
However, it is not a complement to many authors when you tell them that they are basically wasting their time producing fanfiction, because they should be published authors.
For many of us, fanfiction, both writing and reading is an escape from our normal everyday lives. We do this for the love of it and if we suddenly started having the pressure of editing, contracts, and sells expectations it would be a job instead of an entertaining hobby.
Writing is a piece of someones soul looking out at you and asking to be read, but it is not something where we want you to tear us to pieces. There is the old adage if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all.
This cannot always be followed, especially in a situation where you know that the author in either published format or fanfiction is openly doing harm to those around them. Again let me point out FSoG, which promotes rape culture, stalking, abuse, and false ideals on what a safe and sane relationship in the BDSM community consists of.
If people are truly interested in reading books that are about dominant men and the women that love them then please let me recommend Maya Banks, Lora Leigh, Nalini Singh, and Jaci Burton just to name a few. Not to mention the authors above.
You don’t have to settle for substandard writing if you don’t want to, but you also need to understand that behind every word you read is a human being who will see these things you have to say about them.
For every word you write in a vicious glee, you hurt and potentially destroy the hopes and confidence of the person that wrote this book or this story for you.
Don’t make demands on the author, don’t tell them where the story should go or when it should be updated. As a writer I can tell you that all that does is destroy the urge to do just that.
Especially if you tell someone to update and they have just given you a story that is an epic. Frankly that only makes you look like an entitled asshole and it makes the writer want to give you the finger.
As a published writer they often do not have the ability to stop publishing something in a series, but as a fanfiction writer we can say, nope and no thanks, when you push us.
As Nora Roberts recently told her fans to bite her and she is not the only well known author to have to do so, this tells me as both a reader and a writer that people need to step back and say, thanks for giving us the gift of your words. Not that was great, give me more and this is how I want you to do that.
In other words, whether it is a fanfiction author or a published author, stop being a self entitled fuckwad and be thankful that they are willing to share their joy of the written word and their worlds with us.