I am, of course, talking about the writing zone. When I’m inside it I forget everything else. It’s the best. Anyone, who has a passion for or a dedication to something knows what it is like to forget the surrounding world and get entirely sucked into the pursuit of the passion.
Not too many episode on The Big Bang Theory ago Sheldon was in the zone, almost completely ignoring his friends and their conversation, only emerging when directly asked for a comment and then promptly returning to the zone.
His zone is that of theoretical physics. In other words, creating art most certainly does not have a monopoly on “the zone”.
Anyway, I found myself in the zone two days ago. I was browsing around the internet, as is my want, and checked on virtually the only fanfiction site I have any dedication to, to find out if there was anything new I might be interested to read.
It is called Passion and Perfection and dedicated exclusively to f/f couples, canon or not.
Now, I’ve not actually ever talked about fanfiction and this is purely coincidental. I think, fanfiction is one of the guilty pleasures people, who love virtually any TV show past or present, have and who ship a certain couple or wish that two people would finally hook up, because their chemistry is insane. So they go and find a story online that was written by a like minded fan and imagines how those two characters might get together on that show.
You can find a ton of fanfiction online on literally any possible couple one could ever imagine, and even those one cannot imagine, but somebody did and they like it and good for them.
Each to their own.
I stumbled across all of this a dozen or so years ago. Because I live to write, I also decided to give it a shot and write for a pairing that was not canon on the TV show the characters belonged to. I had never “shipped” anyone before and hadn’t considered those two characters a likely couple, but once I found out about it and read people’s reasons as to why they should be a couple, I decided that they were right and it was a hot pairing, so why the heck not.
I ended up writing a handful of short stories that were all published on that one fanfiction site. Then I sort of lost interest in writing any more of that, though I enjoyed it at the time. I never lost interest in the pairing, though, even if the TV show has now been off air for many years, and developed interests in other pairings on other shows, though never writing for another one.
Two days ago I paid a visit to the website and found that the last update of new stories had only contained one meagre story and the site owner expressed her hope that more submissions would be available for the next update.
And then, out of the blue, I surprised myself by deciding to write a new story for my favourite couple. Why not?
I’ve done it before, I want to write more and more short stories at that, which I may or may not want to publish and it’s a good exercise.
I actually went back and checked my old stories out, mainly because I wanted to confirm that my alias was the one I thought it would be, and found that, though the stories weren’t bad and had some highlights, the writing was by no means great and full of errors. I mean, I wrote those stories approximately a decade ago.
Now I am kind of glad to be able to look back and compare. I’ve learned so much since writing those stories and my command of the English language hardly even compares to what it was back then.
How about I top it off with a better written story then? One I can completely edit myself and that I know will have readers, who are interested in the couple as well and will hopefully like my story about them.
I wrote close to 3,800 words in the three hours that followed that decision, almost entirely without stopping to do anything else. I was completely in the zone. I love those characters that I was writing for and so it was easy.
I’m not finished yet, the need for sleep forced me to stop. Yesterday I had no opportunity to write, because I needed to go and wreck my knee dancing for several hours at the Christmas part my dayjob employer had arranged for us.
Needless to say that there’s no better way to wreck your knee than dancing without a care who might watch.
I’m writing this as I am icing said knee, reclining comfortably on my bed.
What does that teach me? Alcohol clouds my judgement and makes me feel invincible, but that is not actually what this post is about.
I accidentally discovered that you write best when you care about the story and especially your characters. Truly care for them. When their joy is your joy, when their heartbreak is yours. Even ten years ago when my writing was not great, my stories were still quite good, because I loved those characters.
It also, clearly, teaches me, that I learned a lot about writing in the past ten years and that I’m still learning a lot.
There’s another important thing to note here: it doesn’t matter what you write and not who the characters you write for belong to. If writing fanfiction, which in itself is inconsequential, but might brighten another fan’s day, is what gets me writing and into the zone, then it is perfectly legitimate for me to use this a my genre of choice for the time being. Maybe there won’t be another story, maybe I’ll go and find my own characters for the next short stories. Maybe I’ll end up coming back every now and then and just use it as an enjoyable exercise to write.
We should, after all, be writing the stories we want to read. I like reading stories about those two characters. If nobody else writes them, then I will.
Guilty pleasure or not, we should write and read whatever we like. Who’s to judge us? Everyone has a guilty pleasure, and I’m happy for you if you do.
I’ll be looking forward to your story!