Dirty Dishes [Or: All About Fanfiction]

I get jittery when I see people – specifically – non-registered guest accounts over at the Black Library Bolthole, particularly when they’re reading my stuff.  Why is this, you may wonder?  Or maybe you don’t.  I don’t know what you’re wondering.  You might be wondering why the price of petrol continues to rise.  Or what to have for tea tonight.  But in case you are wondering about my jitters, read on.  If you’re not, then go pickle some gherkins, or do whatever it is people do when they aren’t glued to t’interwebs.

For this is a post about that most terrifying of things.


‘Fanfiction’.  ‘Fan fiction’.  ‘Fanfic’.  However it’s labelled, it’s out there.  It can be superb, brilliant Paul Cornell style stuff.  It can be terrifyingly awful, poorly written stuff.  There is also slash fiction, which is a whole post all by itself and not something I personally have any truck with. 

But whether it’s next year’s award winning story, or just a few words set down by someone, nobody should ever criticise a person for wanting to be creative.  Being able to pluck up another universe and write for a character you love, or write a ‘what if’ type scenario is something that can get a lot of people into writing.  Many of them get better with time.

Some don’t.  But they keep writing determinedly on, and good for them, I say.  If they’re having fun, who has the right to stop them?  The ones who get on my nerves are the ones who say OHAI I WELCOME FEEDBACK BT NOT ABUT MY SPLLING AN GRAMMER KTHXBAI.  At least make an EFFORT with your spelling and grammar – it really is important. 

Three paragraphs in and I’m digressing already, moving far, far away from the Point of this entry.

I have now been writing fanfiction alongside all my more original stuff for… about 11 years, in fact.  I have written stories in a number of universes, such as Earth 2, Doctor Who, Being Human, Dead Like Me, X-Men, Harry Potter (sorry!), Stargate and many other places. 

But fanfiction, whilst I enjoy writing it, is like this… scrapbook of ideas for me.  It’s like ‘ooh, there’s a missing scene just waiting to be written there, think I’ll fire that one off’.  I will write a fanfiction, I will proofread it and generally check the flow, but I don’t edit it.  I have all these grandiose plans to come back and edit them later.  Then I get distracted by, say, a bowl of Sugar Puffs, and I’m off writing something else.

This is why I get the jitters.  There are some of my stories sitting at the Bolthole that are demanding my editing attention, but which I am consistently denying my time.  This isn’t because I don’t love them, because I do.  Remember: a fanfic is for life, not just for Christmas.  It’s simply because my mind insists on going off and doing something else. 

Actually, I haven’t GOT any Sugar Puffs at the moment, that’s rather upsetting.

So anyway… the thought of someone reading my unedited stories really gets me worked up and anxious.  It’s like having a ridiculously houseproud aunt come round and slide a finger across your mantlepiece, with a face that looks like someone shoved a lemon up their arse.  It’s like having someone turn up unexpectedly when the dirty dishes from yesterday’s incredibly messy meal are all lying about on the side in the kitchen because you Couldn’t Be Bothered. 

I want to grab people by the lapels and shout “IT’S NOT FINISHED YET, OK?”  I want to smile desperately at them.  “I KNOW IT’S ROUGH AROUND THE EDGES!  JUST GIVE ME A CHANCE!”

It’s totally irrational, of course.  I know for an absolute fact that with the right feedback and that if I sit down with a story and work on it properly I can polish it to a glistening shine.

I’m good at irrational, it’s part of my charm.

I’ve had some good feedback on my writing, even before I’ve finished it sometimes and that’s lovely. Sometimes the crockery is lovely and shiny. But with my fanfic stories, there’s a lot of Dirty Dish syndrome.  Too many ideas, not enough time.

Good job I still enjoy doing it, or I’ll have run away a long time ago.

Now I want Sugar Puffs.  I promise to wash the bowl.


2 thoughts on “Dirty Dishes [Or: All About Fanfiction]

  1. schaferlord says:

    Couldn’t you as admin you know check the IP of the guest and look up if it’s a person judging your unfinished, unpolished works or some sort of supreme artifical intelligence cataloging your work so that come the robotic uprising robot children can look at what the google bots found and laugh at how stupid humans were?

  2. I know exactly how you feel, I think all writers do, whether have-a-go-heroes like us, or professional authors who get given moolah for the crap they pluck out of their heads and whack on paper.

    We are a strange breed, I’d reckon. But one thing is constant across us all; we are our own worst critics. I have an inkling that I may be a decent writer, but I just don’t know.

    I am never happy with my work, and constantly re-read it to work out how I could improve next time. It is only the comments and critique of others that allows us to see if we truly do have a knack for this writing lark, or whether we should end our sentences in “kthnxbai”.

    Who knows… not I!

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