This week we had the lovely opportunity to chat with Flourish Klink and Elizabeth Minkel about fanfiction for our Studio Visit! Here’s a link to the SoundCloud version of the webinar, and if you’re interested, I tried to highlight some of the important parts of our wonderful discussion in the comments section below!
To start with, I was particularly excited about this session because I’ve been interested in fanfiction since I was in 5th grade… so about over 10 yrs now, eh? Wow (
and/or yikes)! Prior to our discussion today, I revisited my old fanfiction.net account to remind myself of my adolescent literary self… I had a lot of mixed feelings! Some of the earliest stuff (dating back to 2006) was especially cringey, and I can’t even bring myself to open those stories… however, I am able to stomach some of my latter works that I posted back in 2010-11. While they are definitely not the best pieces of literary work I have ever produced, they reminded me of different points in my youth. Like any form of art, they are pieces of myself that I have made vulnerable by sharing with the world, for better or for worse.
I think one of the things I wanted to reflect on with fanfiction is what it means for both the author and the community. In the Studio Visit, we touched on the reciprocity aspect / the “gift economy” when contributing to a fandom, which is the more consumerist answer toward the meaning of fanfiction. However, later, when we were discussing fanfiction as a means of fueling ideas for the civic imagination, Flourish explored the social justice significance readers can find in fanfiction. Along those lines in the comment section, Kelli also raised how fanfiction can be an important form of representation, too. And, as Elizabeth said, fanfiction becomes a more femininized and queer space, while heteronormativity is pushed more to the side; thus, it adds for more representation, exploration, and normalization for sexual identity among its readers, which is great. The downside though, as she also pointed out, is the severely lacking stories with POC, especially queer POC. So, while fanfiction has its flaws, it still serves a great political, social, and personal purpose for all of the lurkers and artists themselves.
I know fanfiction served a similar personal purpose for me. While I was nervous about publishing my stuff at first (for fear of the characters not acting “canonical” enough), it paid off. Personally, it was a form of artistic expression – even though I liked writing in general, writing fanfiction was always so much more fun! I got to explore the psyche of my favorite characters, as well as build alternate timelines and universes for them to exist and interact in. It also worked as a way of escapism, like any form of art. I would get lost thinking of ideas and stories, especially original ones that I hadn’t seen published or explored in the fandom. Additionally, it helped build my confidence as a writer. Some of the reviews I got on some of my stories I felt added to my growing identity as a writer – I received a lot of constructive criticism from my peers that helped me develop my skills, sometimes in ways that not even my highschool teachers could touch on. I trusted what they were saying a lot more, because it was important to listen to your audience – they had no reason to lie to you, they just wanted you to be the best author you could be, since you might be the only one writing one of their favorites ships!
All in all, as someone who has had quite a relationship with fanfiction for the entirety of her adolescence, I enjoyed looking at it through a critical and scholarly lens through our discussion. It’s great that we could dissect the importance of fanfiction, and see how this specific type of writing affects people in both a personal and public way. I’m excited to reflect more on the conversation in our next class!
|also happy valentine’s day!|
I also wanted to play around with the assignment for #altbookcover ! I chose Naked Lunch by William Burroughs, because the title itself is a misleading precursor to the rest of the whacked out novel. Thus, I wanted to make the cover even more misleading by consequently making it sexier and genre-oriented… which is, quite frankly, the exact opposite of whatever the hell is going on in Naked Lunch. I still wanted it to have that 1950s feel to it, so I chose a diner theme for the cover, and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. I think the unsaturated colors paint it as a romance-noir story, which is how I’d want to misdirect people before they opened up the book. Whoever picks up this title is in for a real meal (pun 100% intended).
Earlier I tweeted out my #4iconstory for people to guess… did you get it right? If not, spoiler ahead!
On the Road by Jack Kerouac… get it? Lifted cars, jazz, booze, all penned down by our famous Beat writer!