Today, on the Feast of the Superb Owl, I got word that my shortish take on fairy tales and the Monstrous Feminine “To Increase His Wondrous Greatnesse More” is going to be published by Apex Magazine later this year. Which is happy-making.
What’s even more happy-making is that I’ve been feeling a little frustrated by my writing lately, and that Apex is one of those markets that I’d sort of wondered if I’d ever sell to. And hey, I have. And I also have chicken and chocolate chip cookies.
All hail the Superb Owl and her fearsome beak and catchsome claws.
The delightful Catherine Lundoff – whom I’ve worked with before in the anthology Hellebore and Rue (which, incidentally, features a story set in the L&O universe) – asked me to do a guest post on Line and Orbit over on her LJ/DW, so I can be found there, talking about some of the things about the process of writing the book that were surprising to me or otherwise unexpected in some way.
Thanks to Catherine for offering the opportunity!
I got my start writing fanfiction.
Actually, that’s not completely true: I got my start in writing as a six-year-old by putting together a series of stapled colored-pencil picture books about a magic flower. Also by concocting long and extremely involved epic storylines with my model dinosaurs and my Lion King action figures. But after that: fanfiction.
I get the sense that writing fanfic – in one’s past and even more in one’s present – is still a somewhat stigmatized activity among professional fiction writers. Probably less so than it used to be – more and more authors are coming from backgrounds in fanfiction, or are at least willing to talk openly about it – but still, I feel like admitting that I’m one of those amounts to making a slightly uncomfortable confession. Oh, you’re one of THEM. Like it’s something that I should be embarrassed by.
The truth is, fanfiction taught me a lot. The truth is that fanfiction has probably played a huge contributing role in getting me where I am now. I met my Line and Orbit co-author through a pan-fandom roleplaying game on Livejournal; we learned to write together through playing with each other’s characters, and we learned that we enjoyed it enough to embark on something original and novel-length. So it hasn’t been a waste of time, and it hasn’t been without value.
But the truth is also that there are several very important things that fanfiction didn’t teach me. That it couldn’t teach me. And I think anytime we’re discussing the value of fanfiction in writing fiction in general, we also need to be very clear about its limitations.
So here’s some of what it taught me – and some of what I had to learn on my own.