I’ve been a writer my entire life, but I didn’t always know about it.
Growing up, I was always telling weird stories. I would make little plays with my Barbies and write little books on folded pieces of paper.
School writing assignments were my time to shine, and I definitely had a wild imagination. Every little short story had at least ten different characters, five plot lines, and three twists. I’m not confident how my teachers managed to grade them, but for me, it was a start.
And I’ll admit, that’s around the time I turned to fan fiction. Fan fiction was, in a big way, my writing school. It was a way to take existing characters and worlds and throw them into my own imagination, creating plots and prose that didn’t require too much set-up.
My big focus was Harry Potter fan fiction. That was my WORLD, like many kids in my generation. While my peers would run home and play video games, I was writing speculative fiction about JK Rowling’s upcoming works.
I would lurk on role playing forums, hanging out with other Potter-Heads and coming up with our own stories. For the record, if there was a forum in the early-00’s with Moaning Myrtle on it… that was me. Mostly because nobody else wanted to play her.
Reviews from readers and other writers pushed me onward, and I even had a few stories that broke several thousand reads. It was a confidence boost, and a way to communicate with others who were just as passionate about stories and writing as I was-I was part of a community.
My first novel was a 100k+ piece of Sherlock fan fiction. Hell yes, THAT Sherlock. I’d certainly written multi-chapter stories before then, but this was something else, with my own original characters interspersed between those of Conan Doyle and Mofftiss. It had a real plot, and the characters had real arcs, and it gave me a wild amount of confidence in my ability.
From there, my original work streamlined, and I learned to write a real story, with a real plot and real characters. All the crazy ideas, fantasies, and plot bunnies I would come up with on long walks grew into proper tales, with real structure. I did research. I learned how to outline.
I attempted NaNoWriMo, and I failed it a bunch of times.
And that was okay, because I was learning. I was learning how to be not only a writer, but an author.
I’ve got to thank fan fiction for being a big part of that. Some people think it’s supposed to be this weird, embarrassing thing, but why? Why, when it teaches kids to be writers? When it allows them to stretch their imagination within a safe space, and discover things about themselves as writers that they wouldn’t have otherwise known?
I don’t write fan fiction anymore, except for a few drabbles I’ve come up with in the past couple years, but I still would. And, more importantly, I’m glad I did. Even if it never turned me into a writer of original works, it made me happy, and it let me grow up into the creative woman I am today.
Go forth and write fan fiction, my authors-in-training. Or don’t.
Just write what makes you happy.