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I Am Clever


A Fine Line - Between Chaos and Creation

Everybody seems to think I'm lazy; I don't mind, I think they're crazy...

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Day Two Hundred Sixty-Two (Aka: Why the Stigma?)
Adam Smile
So a couple of days ago in my "Names" entry, I mentioned that I read fanfic. I'm not going to lie; it took me a bit before I decided to keep it in the entry. But that act got me thinking. Why do I care if people know whether I read it or not? Or for that matter, if I happen to write it?

Quick note: for those of you who may not know what fanfic is, I direct you here to Wikipedia's article on the subject.


I'm sure I'm not the only one who's felt this way - like there's some sort of stigma. Like, if someone asks what you're up to, and you tell them that you're reading, you feel like you might be teased for reading fanfiction as opposed to reading original fiction/other reading works. Or if you tell someone that you write, and they ask what; you somehow feel like you'll be ostracized for writing stories about characters and places that you love, but aren't yours. Like there's somehow less value in that than composing your own stories with your own characters and places.

Well, my question is: why the stigma? I've read many fanfictions in many different fandoms for many years (since I was 14), and some of those are straight up well-written novel-length stories*. The only real difference between them and original novels is that the vast majority of these stories will never exist in published form, due to the authors not owning the characters/places (in certain cases; eg: sci fi genre) that they're writing about.

(* = not to say that all well-written fic is novel-length. I've seen many amazing short stories as well; but that wasn't the point I was trying to make.)

I'm well aware of the atrocities that exist in fanfiction from some people who should not have been allowed to write (like EVER), but then again, the same can be said for some original stories. There are some prime examples of trashy, hateful, and atrocious writing in the realm of original published literature today, and (somehow) they still get lauded and showered with praises, while there are truly talented writers I've found on the internet over the years who will never get anywhere near the same amount of recognition because it's "just fanfic".

I see no reason why fanfiction should be looked down on as a form of writing. There's plenty of great stuff out there. So why should we, as fanfic readers and sometimes writers, feel stigmatized? What shame is there in reading/writing about characters we like?

My name is Josee Smith, and I read and write fanfiction.