Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I Write: Terrible Fiction & Good Fanfic

A while back, I was going through some old fanfiction I had written on Final Fantasy VII. I wrote it back between the years '97 and '02 (oh, adolescent angst) and I was quite shocked to see that not only did I write decent fanfic, but I also had actual plots! Like, plots with people doing stuff, rather than just plots filled with people ruminating about stuff!

I'm not sure how I lost this as time passed. But it seems that the more I think about the writing process, the less quality I produced. And I don't just mean like, thinking about writing - it's more stuff like plot, and characterization, and theme, and other good stuff that I should not be writing about before the story gets under way.

When I was still at SMU, my writing prof, Dr. MacLeod, would say, "If the paper about the story is as long as the story itself, you are putting way too much effort into thinking about the story, and not enough into the story itself." I'm sure those weren't his exact words, but close.

Being an English major, and thus having gotten into the habit of analysing everything I read, this was.... pretty hard to swallow, ya'll! The horrible thing is that he was right, and I usually spent entirely way too much fucking time working that sort of thing out.

And I had a reason for all that overthinking of my fiction too - I wanted to be able to write something that actually provoked thought, because I was so sick of all this fucking lit fic out in most magazines that I couldn't understand, I wanted to make sure stuff I wrote would be understood upon first reading and be able to provoke some coherent thought. (OK, who am I kidding, I still loathe lit fic and good thing I didn't take any contemporary Canadian lit courses because that stuff would have driven me bonkers.)

But he was right, of course (and because he was, not just because he's a white dude) and my fiction suffers as a result. I use present tense, because I still have a problem with it.

And I note this, because I do not always produce terrible fiction. My writing can be really good sometimes! Especially my old fanfics, and new ones! ... Mostly because I don't have to wonder about them too much, because it's fanfic, and it's never going to get published anyway, and after posting the first few chapters people seemed to like it so I just kept writing. It really makes me consider writing a web serial, the way Jolantru does.

But back to the topic at hand! I write terrible fiction, because I overthink my fiction sometimes. However! When I don't think too much about my fiction, I generally end up producing rather trite crap that belongs in the diaries of an angsty adolescent! Double-bind!

Ah well ... just keep swimmin', just keep swimmin', just keep swimmin' /Dory

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