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.