this is gonna be weird

minnow at minnow at
Sat Nov 20 19:22:48 EST 2004

Ven wrote:

>OK I'm gonna put my hands up here I'm one of
>those people who doesn't get fanfic. It's kind of
>hard to talk about this because I don't want to
>be insulting to those of you that are into it or
>sound superior or anything but I'm afraid that my
>usual attitude when reading fanfic is "yes, very
>nice, but isn't there something better I could be
>doing?". Mind you I have the same reaction to all
>those sequels by another hand that crop up.
>Someone in the Guardian the other week was
>writing about Peter Pan sequels and said they
>thought it was akin to treating Peter like a used
>tea bag which you were trying to make another pot
>out of, which struck me as rather apt. And now
>I'm imagining a great deal of indignation being
>aimed in my direction......... it is not a matter
>of old teabags I hear you saying but of taking a
>recipe and making something new from the
>ingredients........ or some other analogy

Goodness me it's a relief to find that I am not alone in being mildly
baffled by the whole phenomenon.  Not the writers, the readers.

>From the writers' point of view I can understand wanting to find out what
happened next, as it were, or what might have happened if... x y or z
instead of the original story; what I don't really get is why it should be
expected that anyone else is interested, or if anyone else is interested
why they shouldn't make up their *own* "here's what happened" rather than
read someone else's.

Isn't it somewhat of a personal thing rather than something one needs to
publish?  If every child who was Mowgli for days on end in a series of
daydream adventures wrote it all down and got that out into the public
domain it'ld be fairly dire.  Hand up anyone on the list who *didn't*
sometimes lie awake "being" a hero from favourite fiction?  And wouldn't
one be horrified if one's ideas from then were now produced for one to
comment on?

("Publish and be damned" cuts in all sorts of directions.)

My absolute nightmare would be if a book of mine might were published
without having gone through a rigorous selection process and a lot of
fine-tuning and making sure it was as right as it could be.  I would
certainly hate it being around ten years later.  First-draft publication is
not going to be a good idea, ever, I don't suppose, and I have a nasty
feeling that much fan-fiction is precisely that, simply because the
publication is now so very easy.

Does whoever wrote *Eye of Argon* feel proud of it, or happy that it is
still around being periodically hailed as possibly the worst thing ever
written, I wonder?

>My latest
>foray was inspired by this recent thread. I read
>the Three Friends story and the two by Roseveare
>that were recomended and d'ya know I preferred
>the Three Friends! Roseveare's stories, well
>written as they were,  had a sterile feel and
>they depended on the conventions to understand
>them -- if I hadn't known about slash and if the
>author hadn't introduced them as such I wouldn't
>have had a clue what was going on.

That's like pictures hanging in galleries that need to have an A4 sheet of
explanation stuck next to them so that the people looking at them will
understand their true inwardness rather than just thinking "oh yes, three
pink blobs on a khaki background, how deep and significant" and moving on.

What you say about sterile feel there strikes a chord with something I
can't quite put my finger on.  It may even be a sort of uncreativity, I
suspect, that has to take something someone else has made and tinker with
it, rather than make something for itself.

There's a classification of people from some book I once read: that the
race divides into "makers, fakers, takers and breakers".  I have enormous
admiration for the makers; fakers and takers I suppose I ought to admire
for at least wishing to be makers even if they aren't able to, but somehow
I don't quite; breakers it's clear are not particularly a good thing.  That
might be what's niggling at the edge of my mind when I start to think about
this subject.  I find myself wondering whether fanfiction in fact
encourages a culture, or an attitude, in which faking and taking gain a
respectability and credibility they don't entirely merit.

>I'm going to fall into a trap here so I'll just
>point out that I know it, I'm going to say that
>if it's "proper fiction" it's not fanfic........
>I see a difference between mnaking new fiction by
>taking communal cultural artifacts like Norse
>gods and the mad wife in the attic (even a
>specific mad wife in a particular attic)  and
>using somebody else's teabags.

That too seems to me to be right; after which it seems likely that we'll
all wander off into some sort of collection of definitions ("this is
teabags, that is new fiction" -- I love the idea of a genre called "teabag
fiction", though) and get no further really.

What interests me is how Ven and I both seem sure that there is this
distinction to be made, even if we may not quite be able to put a clear
dividing line in place.


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