If you’ve been reading this column consistently, you probably already know that I have little to no shame.
I’ve spoken extensively about how I let Kim Kardashian’s iPhone game take over my life — I’m seven months clean, by the way — alluded to the fact that I used to wear cotton day-of-the-week fairy-print panties and confessed my undying affection for an online shopping service.
I have never been one to be embarrassed by anything that’s happened in my past or anything that may happen in my future. But everyone has a weakness — a dark moment that hinders you from being completely honest and unashamed.
My dear readers, I am here to speak to you about a contemporary art form that is often ridiculed, criticized, mocked, teased and thrown under the bus so often that I, myself, have been reluctant to speak on its behalf.
Friends, the time has come for us to end the stigma surrounding the “F”-word.
Now, it’s hard to defend a literary genre that has gained ample recognition for producing shit such as “50 Shades of Grey,” but — in fan fiction’s defense — a shitty base text is more likely to render shitty fic. I’m looking at you, “Twilight.”
But I have a theory that if you ask any contemporary author who is likely to gain recognition in the next decade whether or not they’ve ever written fan fiction, the answer will be a resounding — and often reluctant — “yes.”
And I’ll admit that I fell prey to fan-fic-shaming in my years as a mature, cynical, all-knowing teen. I scoffed at slash fiction and eschewed the unexpected erotica. “Writing fanfiction?” I thought to myself, wiping my monocle and gingerly sipping my one-shade-of-Earl-Grey tea. “How immature! How regressive! How primitive!”
My distaste for fan fiction stemmed from somewhat of an elitist point of view. Most of the fan fiction I had heard about was bizarre, overtly sexual and just plain weird. Have you ever searched “iCarly Freddie and Gibby gay fan fiction”? Yeah, it’s exactly what you’d imagine.
A friend of mine told me that her parents had lectured her about not reading enough books and wasting all her time on the computer. Then she said to me in confidence, “I read thousands of words a day, and I can’t tell anybody because … all I read is ‘Glee’ lesbian fanfiction.”
And suddenly I was angry. As someone who found solace and comfort in reading, who looked up to the Matildas and the Belles and the Rory Gilmores of the world, I couldn’t imagine what it must be like to be ashamed of reading and to keep such an impactful part of your life hidden from the world.
Sigmund Freud said something about the unconscious and about how certain things trigger repressed memories. I don’t know the specifics because I dropped out of psych after one lecture, but I do know this:
After that conversation, I remembered everything.
I, Rosemarie Alejandrino, used to write fan fiction.
And a lot of it.
I used to have a Jonas Brothers fan site. Sadly, it’s been deleted. But let me tell you, the fan-site world is pretty brutal.
But I did have fans. People would message me saying that they loved my writing and wondered, “oMg LyK i cant WAiiT TO FiiND 0UT WHAT NiiCK D03S N3XT!!!!1! xD.”
It was incredible. I was writing constantly and consistently and exercising my imaginative skills. But I could focus on place and setting and emotion because I didn’t have to worry about building characters from the ground up — they had already been built for me.
And that’s the beauty of writing and reading: that no matter where your inspiration springs, be it TV, movies or real life, that inspiration enlightens your imagination.
And so write on, fan-fiction writers. Wield your pens like mighty swords and slash the scripts written by rotting Hollywood execs. Breathe new life into the living and the dead — unless doing that could have some seriously shitty consequences.
I’m looking at you, “Twilight.”