Embarrassing Confession #77

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Wow, I can’t believe I’m going to admit this, but I’m running out of revealing secrets to share on my blog, so here it goes:

I have actually written fanfiction.

Yes, I realize this makes me a hopeless dork.

For those of you scratching your heads, I will explain. Fanfiction is what happens when a rabid fan of some fictional work—a book, a movie, a television show—“borrows” the characters and writes them into a story of the fan’s own design. I suppose it’s a form of fantasy, a way to cope when those fickle television writers veer off in a direction you don’t want them to go, making your beloved characters walk over hot coals or jump off of metaphorical cliffs on their way to even more tangled plotlines, when all the time you, the viewer, know that they’re only a hop, skip, and jump away from sorting the whole ridiculous mess out and living happily ever after. Under these circumstances, the temptation to take the reins can be overwhelming, and there are whole communities devoted to rewriting the story arcs of popular fiction to suit individual fancies.

What’s that? You say you hated it when Thelma and Louise drove their car off the cliff at the end of the movie? No problem. In your rewrite, they can stow away on a tramp steamer bound for France and open up a Tasty Pig Barbecue together on the Rue de Rivoli.

Or maybe you, like me, cried for three days after watching Cold Mountain, shocked and heartbroken that even after all that they went through, Inman died in Ada’s arms, within sight of everything that he loved and had worked so hard to come home to. That’s an ending that just begs to be fanfictionalized. I see Ada coming up behind Birch just as he points his gun and clocking him on the head with a big chunk of oak from the woodpile, then hiding Inman away at the cabin for a few weeks until the war is over, fattening him up on homemade flapjacks and love. See how easy this Happily Ever After thing is?

Yeah, a large amount of fanfiction is badly-written, filled with typos and grammatical atrocities, and completely unfit for human consumption. It sometimes strays from the strong characterizations created by the writers and actors and devolves into nothing more than a shallow reflection of the personality who is writing it. Or it poses “what if” scenarios so wild and incongruous that they make Fonzie’s infamous shark look like a minnow in comparison. And some of it is just plain offensive. But once in a while, someone hits the target dead on, and a jewel emerges that mimics the spirit and cadence of the original so well that it instantly becomes a fanfic classic.

My one brief foray into the dark underworld of fanfiction writing was an act of self defense, pure and simple. I said fanfic was the domain of the rabid fan, and trust me, I was the rabid-est. When I finally took the plunge, it was prompted by a need to put to rest eight long years of unspoken words and misinterpreted glances. I mean, FBI agents are supposed to be observant, aren’t they? You’d think that two people who have made a career out of infiltrating secret government plots and interrogating uncooperative alien subjects would have at least a modicum of personal perception, right? Wrong. Mulder and Scully clearly needed my help to get their heads on straight and finally reveal the true depths of their feelings for each other. I make no apologies for that. It wasn’t very good, I’ll admit, but that doesn’t matter, because I wrote it for myself.

I suppose this is why I’ll never be a real fiction writer. I’m not very good at angst, at conflict, at the type of hopeless messes and misunderstandings that ultimately hook a reader (or a viewer) into the narrative and engage him in the long, wild ride to the conclusion. In life, and in fiction, I often feel an overwhelming urge to just skip to the good stuff.

So I wrote my own little piece of X-Files invention, tucked it away somewhere, and never told anyone (except Paul, who is the helpless witness to all of my various neuroses and obsessions) because, well, I was a little self-conscious. Writing fanfiction is not something “real” writers do.

And yet, here I am, years later, simultaneously scoffing at the pseudo-art form of the fanfic and considering taking another dip into the pablum pool.

Because believe me, I totally know what Jim and Pam need to do to fix this whole awkward mess.

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14 responses »

  1. The real problem with the Jim and Pam conundrum (as me and my bride-to-be see it) is that Karen (aka “The Other Woman” according to Jess and “Jim’s hot new girlfriend” according to me) is eminently likeable. I mean, she’s funny, smart, hot, into video games, willing to relocate, etc.

    That’s why The Office is the saddest show on all of television. It is actually painful to watch at times.

    So, of course, I love it.

  2. I read some fanfiction years ago where Sam Beckett leaped into a Star Trek episode.

    Ironic that Scott Bakula went on to star in Star Trek: Enterprise!

    What I find fascinating right now is a group of Survivor fans who write fanfiction for that show… I mean, it’s a REALITY show, but that doesn’t stop them from writing their own scenarios with their favorite “characters”…

  3. I was at a writing retreat last summer and one woman attending did this all the time. I had never heard of it, but she had done a bunch with the show Emergency. I wonder if somebody rewrote the script and finally got a boat to Gilligan and the cre?

  4. Well of course Mulder and Scully needed your help, Katrina. They had hopelessly bungled every given opportunity and need the firm, crisp hand of intervention to put them on their way. Obviously the writers of the X-Files were not up to the task and you had to step into breach. *applause* I see nothing embarrassing about this admission at all. 😉

  5. Give them one more chance. After last week’s speech, Jim can’t ignore what Pam said. Of course, neither can Karen. Just think though, if they had sorted all this out months ago, we wouldn’t have witnessed Dwight’s skills in not only self-defense but office co-worker defense. and you have to admit, that was pretty funny. AND, Pam learned a lot about herself and moved forward a great deal in this last episode. That was good for her.

  6. omg, ita about Cold Mountain, and how fulfilling that must have been to write what should have happened with Mulder and Scully–it frusterated me for years! now i have no doubt you can fix Jim and Pam.
    do it.
    and don’t even sweat it because you ARE a real writer.

  7. Scott–You’re right, of course; Karen is fabulous girlfriend material. In my experience, most men share your opinion of her (doesn’t hurt that she’s totally smokin’), while most women view her as the interloper, the unworthy replacement for Jim’s true soulmate, Pam. That’s because most of us have a little Pamminess inside–equal parts fear and hope, and an embattled sense that there’s more out there that’s just beyond the reach of our courage. We know Pam. And her victory (or heartbreak) is ours.

    Eek! Twelve minutes to the season finale! 😀

  8. I once started writing a fan letter to Alysa Milano when I was 11 but didn’t get past the first few sentences.

    I’ve only written one poem that was not required for a grade.

    Nope, no fanfiction. You win!

  9. I make up my own endings to movies with sucky endings. Take My Best Friend’s Wedding, for example. In my ending, Julia Roberts’ character winds up with her really good friend she dances with at the reception. See, he realized that the whole being gay thing wasn’t really for him anymore.

    Not that I have a problem with gays. But I do have a problem with Julia Roberts winding up alone at the end of the movie.

  10. before fan fiction, there was me at night thinking about all the continuing adventures of Lil Abner (after seeing the musical, not the comic strip.)My grandmother sent me the record album (which I doubtless still own) and that’s how I lulled myself to sleep the year I was in second grade…

    So I understand. And yes, although I never watched Xfiles all the time, I loved Mulder and Scully. And miss them. I think the end of that show was so WRONG and needs some fanfiction help.

    I just read something about how “fanfiction didn’t really take off until HP came along,” which I think is crazy, but maybe the quality and quantity is just what they mean. I remember (true confessions) reading Dawson’s Creek fanfiction. (When I was 28.)

    What are blogs for but for admitting embarrassing tidbits??

    and on your post above, it took me a minute to unravel where I’d heard it before “the full bronte.” Have you seen the British movie “Career Girls”? It’s these two girls who reunite after college. They call themselves the Bronte sisters, “Because we always get the brunt of it.” Anyways, it’s worth a look see. And I’ll take another look at Jane Eyre. I haven’t read it since 7th grade–so I’m sure a lot went over my head.

    Wow, I must have really needed to write a lot…

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