A Presumption of Interaction: Readers, Writers, and Fanfic

There’s been a conversation circulating on tumblr of late about “the culture of fanfiction”: namely, about how in the Good Old Days on LiveJournal and Fanfiction.net, people left comments on fanfic, but now, on Archive of Our Own (AO3), they rarely do. Commenters also associate this shift with a change in readers’ attitudes towards fic writers. This shift, folks argue, has been from one of gratitude towards one of demand in which readers expect stories to be crafted to meet their preferences in pairing, plot, sexual situations, etc., and get pissed off when stories don’t do what they want them to.

Something about these discussions has nagged at me all week.

Admittedly, I’m relatively new to the fanfiction game; I know next to nothing about LJ and even less about Ff.net. I’ve cut my teeth as a fic reader and writer on AO3, the Grindr of fanfic, where the next story is just one swipe away. Perhaps that will make you take what I’m about to say with a grain of salt. To wit:

Writers, your readers don’t owe you anything.

They don’t owe you a kudos, or a reblog, or a comment, or any sort of public recognition at all. No matter how long you worked on it, how much research you did, how much of yourself you invested into its lines: readers don’t owe you a thing.

Continue reading “A Presumption of Interaction: Readers, Writers, and Fanfic”

I call bullshit.

Last month at PCA/ACA, I had the pleasure of hanging out with some very excellent people who are just as damn well fond of slash as I am. And to prove it, these lovely people were willing to read porn in public—at an academic conference, no less! Bless you, my friends.

Our reading was designed as both a celebration of slash and as a very public fuck you to anybody in academia or otherwise who tries to get us to justify why we love and choose to study fanfiction.

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Presented under the gleefully George Michael-derivative title of “What’s Your Definition of Dirty, Baby? Taking Pleasure (Together) In Fanfic,” the event itself was so much goddamn fun. In teams of two, we performed excerpts from six fics, each representing a different slash pairing, in an old-school forensics-style more akin to mini-plays than formal literary readings.

(Though I gotta admit: the performance itself was scarier than I’d expected. It was harder reading Dean Winchester’s dirty talk with a straight face [or, uh, something] that I thought it would be.)

More to the point: the thing generated enough happy, pervy energy that we’re going to try and stage a repeat performance at the next PCA/ACA con next year in Seattle.

But this, what follows, is the exigence for this event, the spark that set off the slash: a NSFW rant I composed one afternoon in a fit of fic-fueled fury that came to serve as the opening remarks for our little get together. So consider this some rhetorical ammo for the next time someone looks askance at what you love and what you do: a big ol’ hey, fuck you, too.

Continue reading “I call bullshit.”

Four Reasons I Adore Fanfic

The upcoming release of the film version of 50 Shades of Grey has spawned, perhaps inevitably, another uptick in discussion of fanfiction in the media. In this piece from the New York Post, for example, fan fiction writers themselves decry 50 Shades for its crappy writing, misleading portrayal of BDSM, and for being “just porn”:

Tom, a 22-year-old warehouse worker from the Southeast who uses the pen name military history and writes “Lord of the Rings” fan fiction, found the book’s abusive relationship disturbing and the understanding of BDSM misguided.

“The whole thing honestly reads like masturbation material,” he says, “as opposed to an actual story.”

PEOPLE READ FANFIC TO GET OFF?!

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HA! (Love that it’s a dude saying this, BTW).

Me, I’m not here to cast any shade on the 50. No. If you like it, awesome. If you don’t, that’s ok, too. Everyone’s relationship to fanfic is different, which is something that I think a lot of mainstream media stories about fic really don’t get.

So. Here are four reasons why I adore fanfiction:

Continue reading “Four Reasons I Adore Fanfic”

The Bullshit Claim of Someone Else’s Shame

Another day, another “interviewer” trotting out fanfiction in public conversation with a star.

Oh, joy.

Today’s culprit, as you can see here, if you like, is the LA Times, who asked an actress from Downtown Abbey to, tee hee!, read erotic fanfiction about her character out loud.

How droll.

This comes on the heels of the Sherlock debacle a week or so ago, wherein Caitlin Moran used the series’ season three premiere event as a venue for–you guessed it–pulling Johnlock out of a hat and, ha hah, shoving it in the actors’ faces.

Ugh.

In the forest of WTF? that this raises, the most pressing one for me is this:

Why the hell would you do this? From a rhetorical perspective, ok, what would you as an interviewer hope to gain?

Here’s my answer:

Shame.

Look, I’m sure these cats go in thinking they’re Zaphod Beeblebrox hip because they know what fan fiction is. Hey, bloody good for you. You can read the internet! Well done.

Continue reading “The Bullshit Claim of Someone Else’s Shame”