I wish I could say that I’ve been writing that many words over the last month. But the truth of the matter is that I’ve been reading that many words over the last month. Easily.
I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole and it was educational. It was supremely entertaining as well, which was kind of the main point. But I would have been remiss merely to read for the entertainment value of the thing.
Considering that I really should have been writing instead, I wanted to make the most of the experience. I did sign up for NaNoWriMo this year. I had every intention of making it. I had and have plenty to work with. But I could not. I had to read instead.
And what, you may ask, had me so spell bound? I confess it was fanfiction. A guilty pleasure, if you will. But… and this shouldn’t even really be a ‘but’, there’s nothing actually wrong with reading fanfiction. Or writing it, for that matter. I’ve done my share of that.
I have read some excellent and at times stunning writing. And few of the writers would have considered themselves such. I also plowed through some not-so-great writing, because the stories were good enough. They should have been proofread and edited by someone, beta’ed as they say in fanfiction slang. Alas, that was not always the case.
Still, as I said, the experience was educational. And whilst I wrote less than 9,000 words on my NaNo story, I at least collected words. Whenever something struck a cord, I wrote it down for myself. A phrase here, a sentence there.
I also noted an unusual amount of repetitions or phrases, metaphors, analogies some writers were particularly fond of. So much so that I could identify the writers of various stories without knowing their names.
What I realized whilst reading some of the better stories is this: the writers truly cared about their subject, the characters, the source material they based their writing on. And some of them told the story so much better than the original story tellers, pointing out flaws in the characters and their actions that hadn’t occurred to me before. Quite a few stories vastly improved on the source material.
That is the beauty of fanfiction. It is non-commercial and it allows the writers to tackle an aspect of a story that the original author may have treated erroneously or overlooked. The truth is: the characters we create develop a life of their own. And sometimes storytellers are so intent in telling the story instead of honouring their characters that they make them do something that seems rather out of character. Fanfiction writers tend to ‘fix’ those mistakes.
I confess that I’ve never fallen into a reading frenzy such as this one before. I’ve read brilliant books until 4am before, but for the most part I do stop eventually and put the book aside to sleep. Over the last few weeks I’ve been consuming writing voraciously.
I regret nothing.
Especially since it is now time for me to go and write my own stories again. I’m ready. So ready.