I write for the same reason I breathe - because if I didn't, I would die.
Since she had been but a young girl, she had wanted to be a writer. She had talent in in composition, a wider vocabulary, a vivid imagination, and a fascination with people. The only thing she really didn't have was staying power. She would write one chapter, or five, or ten, or seventy pages, but she would never be able to bring the story to an end. Her inspiration would lag, her muses would abandon her, and all she would have left was depression because of another failure.
One day, the writer met a puppy who happily stayed by her side. The puppy was small, covered in chocolate colored fur, and had floppy ears that she loved to have scratched behind. That puppy introduced her to something she'd never heard of before, something called... fan-fiction.
Fan-fiction brought a revolution to the writer's comfortable habits. It's one thing to call yourself a writer, to write copiously but secretively and never show your work to a soul. It takes guts, heart, and nerve to place your work out where others can see it, read it, and comment.
So the writer was swept away in the flood of comments and reviews. Her work wasn't perfect --the earliest pieces would never have a place on the New York Times Bestsellers List, but it was received well, liked, and complimented.
Encouragement from strangers around the world kept the writer churning out new stories and new ideas.
You fail only if you stop writing.
The funny thing is that it is a (mostly) true story --my story.
I didn't discover fan-fiction until I was in high school, but I had wanted to write ever since I read my first book on my own. I still have hundreds of story-starts and half-baked novel ideas on my computer, because they never got finished. I had trouble writing for an audience without some feedback along the way.
Fan-fiction changed my life. I'm not just saying that.
Through writing fan-fiction, I have continued to complete numerous long stories and to start new ones. Writing fan-fiction showed me that I could complete something I started, and it was a huge deal for me. It gave me a community, an audience, and continuous feedback along the way.
I have now been writing fan-fiction for four years, and I have been blessed with many friends on the sites where I post.
A lot of people treat fan-fiction like it isn't "real" writing, but fan-fiction is what challenged me, what strengthened me, and what honed my craft as a writer. Let's take, for example, three paragraphs (no dialogue) from two stories written for the same fandom (Vampire Knight) approximately four years apart.
Story #1 (Written late 2009)
His dark hair was mused and I couldn’t help but want to run my fingers through it. His dark eyes shown with the light, but I could tell he hated the feel of the sun on his skin. This morning, he shared an umbrella with one of the girls in the Night Class.
I’d been intrigued by Shiki Senri since I first arrived at Cross Academy a few years ago. His bottomless, expressionless eyes drew me in. I didn’t care that he was handsome. I just wanted to know why his eyes seemed so glassy and empty.
Yuuki and Zero, the school prefects and the “children” of the headmaster, herded the girls away from the Night Class. I watched them as they carefully kept the students at a distance, watching as the other class transferred smoothly to their dorm. Yesterday had been worse when Aidou had kissed Yuuki’s cheek. Aidou strode by, a red mark on the side of his face. It had probably been Kaname who’d slapped him, since Aidou seemed to idolize him as much as the girls idolized him.
Story #2 (Written early 2013)
We stayed there together, sharing our quiet grief in front of the grave stone, on top of my brother’s grave. Shissou’s arms were there to remind me that I wasn’t alone, but the emotional numbness was still lingering heavily, like a monumental weight on my shoulders.
The numbness was what really got to me. Half of myself, half of my identity, my childhood, my memories –half of me was gone. I should have been more broken. I should have been a shattered mess. But my insulation was also my curse, although it also didn’t help that I could feel him inside of me.
Shissou pushed the hair back out of my eyes and kissed my forehead like I was a child again. His action stirred up a spark of... something inside of me. And that something was a whole world of better than this nothing that I had been living in.
"Guilt" is available [here], and "That Night, I Taught Vampires" is currently awaiting its turn to be edited and revamped.
There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
Open your vein, little writer:
dip your quill in life’s ink,
spill your soul page after page.
Open your vein, young artist:
life’s paint is spilling forth
in steady strokes across the canvas.
Open your vein, sweet musician:
use your life’s music
to reach to other’s hearts.
You can’t expect to reach anyone
if you don’t first offer of yourself.
Your soul hides
in the words you write,
dance across the canvas,
your heart is the rhythm
to which you compose.
Open your vein and bleed:
that is what we call art, after all.
If you stuck through it all, thanks.
Catch you next time!
Ever at your pleasure,