Posts tagged writing
Posts tagged writing
The accuracy of this gifset frustrates me.
Hi, I’m a writer. My hobbies include not writing.
word of the day - cento
tywinning asked you:
As a professor, may I ask you what you think about fanfiction?
I think fanfiction is literature and literature, for the most part, is fanfiction, and that anyone that dismisses it simply on the grounds that it’s derivative knows fuck-all about literature and needs to get the hell off my lawn.
Most of the history of Western literature (and probably much of non-Western literature, but I can’t speak to that) is adapted or appropriated from something else. Homer wrote historyfic and Virgil wrote Homerfic and Dante wrote Virgilfic (where he makes himself a character and writes himself hanging out with Homer and Virgil and they’re like “OMG Dante you’re so cool.” He was the original Gary Stu). Milton wrote Bible fanfic, and everyone and their mom spent the Middle Ages writing King Arthur fanfic. In the sixteenth century you and another dude could translate the same Petrarchan sonnet and somehow have it count as two separate poems, and no one gave a fuck. Shakespeare doesn’t have a single original plot—although much of it would be more rightly termed RPF—and then John Fletcher and Mary Cowden Clarke and Gloria Naylor and Jane Smiley and Stephen Sondheim wrote Shakespeare fanfic. Guys like Pope and Dryden took old narratives and rewrote them to make fun of people they didn’t like, because the eighteenth century was basically high school. And Spenser! Don’t even get me started on Spenser.
Here’s what fanfic authors/fans need to remember when anyone gives them shit: the idea that originality is somehow a good thing, an innately preferable thing, is a completely modern notion. Until about three hundred years ago, a good writer, by and large, was someone who could take a tried-and-true story and make it even more awesome. (If you want to sound fancy, the technical term is imitatio.) People were like, why would I wanna read something about some dude I’ve never heard of? There’s a new Sir Gawain story out, man! (As to when and how that changed, I tend to blame Daniel Defoe, or the Modernists, or reality television, depending on my mood.)
I also find fanfic fascinating because it takes all the barriers that keep people from professional authorship—barriers that have weakened over the centuries but are nevertheless still very real—and blows right past them. Producing literature, much less circulating it, was something that was well nigh impossible for the vast majority of people for most of human history. First you had to live in a culture where people thought it was acceptable for you to even want to be literate in the first place. And then you had to find someone who could teach you how to read and write (the two didn’t necessarily go together). And you needed sufficient leisure time to learn. And be able to afford books, or at least be friends with someone rich enough to own books who would lend them to you. Good writers are usually well-read and professional writing is a full-time job, so you needed a lot of books, and a lot of leisure time both for reading and writing. And then you had to be in a high enough social position that someone would take you seriously and want to read your work—to have access to circulation/publication in addition to education and leisure time. A very tiny percentage of the population fit those parameters (in England, which is the only place I can speak of with some authority, that meant from 500-1000 A.D.: monks; 1000-1500: aristocratic men and the very occasional aristocratic woman; 1500-1800: aristocratic men, some middle-class men, a few aristocratic women; 1800-on, some middle-class women as well).
What’s amazing is how many people who didn’t fit those parameters kept writing in spite of the constant message they got from society that no one cared about what they had to say, writing letters and diaries and stories and poems that often weren’t discovered until hundreds of years later. Humans have an urge to express themselves, to tell stories, and fanfic lets them. If you’ve got access to a computer and an hour or two to while away of an evening, you can create something that people will see and respond to instantly, with a built-in community of people who care about what you have to say.
I do write the occasional fic; I wish I had the time and mental energy to write more. I’ll admit I don’t read a lot of fic these days because most of it is not—and I know how snobbish this sounds—particularly well-written. That doesn’t mean it’s “not good”—there are a lot of reasons people read fic and not all of them have to do with wanting to read finely crafted prose. That’s why fic is awesome—it creates a place for all kinds of storytelling. But for me personally, now that my job entails reading about 1500 pages of undergraduate writing per year, when I have time to read for enjoyment I want it to be by someone who really knows what they’re doing. There’s tons of high-quality fic, of course, but I no longer have the time and patience to go searching for it that I had ten years ago.
But whether I’m reading it or not, I love that fanfiction exists. Because without people doing what fanfiction writers do, literature wouldn’t exist. (And then I’d be out of a job and, frankly, I don’t know how to do anything else.)
Fuck it all, fuck it all, fuck it all. Fuck all those Tumblrs you come across telling you how to write and damned be all the critiques crawling on your back in the shape of anonymous, grey-faced profile-pictures that can never be tracked down after they tell you how much you suck. I’m quite serious.
I’ve been asked about writing advice a few times from people worried if their first Hetalia fanfiction will suck and if people will start giving them nasty comments, so I took a tour around some different tags to see what’s going on in the fandom. I was surprised at what I came across sometimes; people telling others what plots have been seen a million times before and must therefore never be written again (?), people picking apart fanfictions written by newcomers and telling them off for every other sentence they do (??), not to mention those who’ve left their “OMG YAOI XDDD”-days behind and feel like they’re entitled to stomp on those still in it (???).
Don’t get me wrong - it’s okay to have preferences and a sense of what quality is to you. It’s okay if you don’t want to read through tons of fanfictions referring to Arthur Kirkland as “Iggy-sama” or playing on the “FLORIDA IS THE D!”-joke. But it seems some people have lost the ability to understand that writing is very much learning through trying and that a lot of new writers really need to try out phases and things you find boring by now. So if you’re one of those quiet scribblers who hasn’t uploaded anything because you don’t want to be told off - then my advice is to do it anyway. Upload it. See what happens. Ignore the idiots and accept the kind critique, and try to build up a network with people who’re still learning too. You can support each other and that’s a great thing!
I think everyone has to realise that learning is a process and that socialising within a fandom is also part of this learning experience, and it takes time. The first fanfictions I read were Yu-Gi-Oh!-stories filled to the brim with random Japanese slang and I sucked it all in because it was a new way to talk and communicate with people who were into the exact same thing as me. So when I started reading these fanfictions, quality wasn’t my main concern, but just seeing people create and learning to know them was amazing. It’s kind of like going to school wearing a shirt from your favourite TV-show - you don’t necessarily think it’s fashionable, but you do it because you like the show and think that perhaps you’ll come across someone else who likes it too.
The more you get into writing, the more you’ll start to notice the clichés and learn to avoid them, and then you’ll seek help and advice from writers you think can teach you something which your current crowd of friends can’t. And that’s how we all get better and expand our knowledge and learn more about the things we like. Amazing, isn’t it? But it only works if people stop being assholes towards new writers so they actually dare to take a shot at it all.
True. A lot of writers that are now well liked or well known went through the weeaboo phase too so new writers shouldn’t be criticized for it. I mean honestly where do you think the “Iggy” in my pen name came from? I’m not a fan of the nickname anymore but I own up to it and I used to use it in my writing.
If you’re creating your own landscape, you will need names for your towns, cities, streets, lakes, mountain ranges, roads, countries… So how do you go about naming these?
Every place in your world will have a history, and names often spring from that history, changing and…