Jocelyn's Other Desk

The writings of Jocelyn Smith, aspiring author, soon-to-be lawyer, once and future politician, all-around opinionated twentysomething.

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Location: Orlando, Florida, United States

I'm a lawyer in Florida, working on three novels, a screenplay, and half a dozen pieces of fanfiction at any given moment.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Beware, Fanhaters, You're Impaling Yourselves On Your Own Sword!

You know what depresses me more than anything as the Great Fanfiction Battle rolls on?

(The people this is targeted to don't really care, but I'll say so anyway, just because it's an interesting observation.)

The fact that the "enemy," if you will, is encompassed of people who by all rights should be my idols.

Take Holly Lisle and F. O'Brien Andrew, for example: Frank writes sci-fi. I adore sci-fi. I got excited reading the synopses of his books on his websites. Holly's books aren't quite my genre of choice for reading, but her pages and pages of articles giving advice to writers is full of helpful insight.

There was one in particular that struck home with me: One Good Enemy

(Pardon me, Holly, for the reference to your article, but you will find that this is commentary, clearly encompassed by fair use, so if you don't like it my referring to it...sorry.)

Holly describes in the article how her now-ex-husband's remarks that "she'll never make it" (either in reference to her writing in particular or life in general) pushed her to a determination that drove her to succeed in becoming a full-time writer. It's a damn inspiring story. Seriously, Holly, I've read some statements by you that make me mad, and I've been obnoxious about you in return on Lee's blog, but you have a way of getting a writer fired up.

Just not in the way you probably thought THIS one would be.

I've been told I'm "not a real writer." Paul Guyot said I'll never succeed in publishing my original fiction as long as I keep writing fanfiction. I've been told I lack the creativity to write original fiction because I write fanfiction. That fanfiction PRECLUDES ability to be published.

Holly, you were right.

All of you who recognize the above paragraph as your words: I don't want to be your enemies. You are writers. I am a writer. We all do (contrary to Paul's statements) have the same writer's soul.

And I'll prove it to you.

I'm going to finish my novels. All three of them. The screenplay too. Maybe a few more novels or shorts out of the vague ideas fluttering in my head.

They'll be published. At least some of them.

And I will never hide that I am and always will be a fanwriter.

My imagination is too active for me to ever be otherwise.

7 Comments:

Blogger The Boys in the Band said...

Not to be difficult but...

impaling ourselves on our own sword?

Now that's harsh.

Fitz
*runs*

11:05 PM  
Blogger Nonny said...

There are a good number of published authors who started out writing fanfiction. Anyone that says fanfiction authors can't be published is full of it, imo.

Some of my closest friends write fanfic along with their original fiction. I don't, but it's because I have more than enough ideas tugging at my sleeve for attention. (It's a wonder my shirt isn't stretched down around my waist at this point! ;)

Good luck with the novels! *crosses fingers*

12:43 AM  
Blogger dilly said...

I was thinking of that particular essay when I first read that disturbing thread of comments myself. I am a big fan of Holly and have been for years. It really does hurt to see some of the things she said. Even though they weren't ever directly about me, they were rather broadly personal statements to any fan fiction writer.

The anger (more at the others than her) helped me get over a bit of block I was having for similar reasons to yours, so I suppose I shouldn't complain. :)

10:18 AM  
Blogger Jocelyn Smith said...

Not to be difficult but...

impaling ourselves on our own sword?

Now that's harsh.


Okay, maybe that title was a bit dramatic, but if the Shakespearean insults didn't clue you in, I have a flair for the dramatic.

(Shrug.)

Good luck with the novels! *crosses fingers*

Thankee much! As soon as I get "Harry Potter and the Battle of Wills" finished (I have a July 16th deadline for that one, so it's top priority), I'm going full steam ahead with my Roman novel. (The one with Paulina and Thyone that I posted the excerpt from.) I'm hoping to finish it by the time I graduate.

I am a big fan of Holly and have been for years. It really does hurt to see some of the things she said.

I agree. It's frustrated when people who are obviously such dedicated writers who OUGHT to understand the impulses that drive the imagination...don't. I don't get it. I'd love to talk to Holly and Frank about their experiences, and love reading on the blogs of Guyot, the Goldbergs, Montgomery, and the rest about their various writer struggles and successes, and it's hard knowing they look down their noses at me.

12:18 PM  
Anonymous tod goldberg said...

I don't look down my nose at you. Rather, as a person who teaches creative writing in addition to writing it, I see a writer with potential who is wasting it on endeavors perhaps not worthy of her talents. I'm not here to debate the worth of fan fiction -- my opinion is perhaps less harsh than my older, uglier brother's, but suffice it to say, I think it's not the best route to go, but, hey, you're gonna do it, whatever -- but to say, look, instead of spending all these hours crafting your Harry Potter book, use that same due dilligence to create original fiction that might improve your chances of getting published if, indeed, that is your end goal. When I was in my early 20s, which isn't that long ago, my eye was firmly on the prize of publication. So every free moment I had between my job and my real life (you know, going to the store, getting coffee, etc.) I spent writing short fiction. Lots and lots of it. Much of it sucked. Much. Much of it was likely stylistic rip-offs of my favorite writers. But it was all original to me -- my characters, my worlds -- and what I found was that I had to fail, I had to write crap, I had to be derivative before I'd ever get to the place where my work truly sung. But the mistakes were mine and there was no crutch of some other canon to hang onto. So when I read that you want to write all these novels and all these screenplays, I think: then do it. Write them. But when you say, First I need to finish my Harry Potter book, I think, oh, Jocelyn, channel your energy to the future. Look, write whatever you want to write. Castaneda said we make one choice, to be warriors or ordinary men, and I say, be a warrior.

(On a purely teacherly level I'd also say: focus on one project at a time. Trust me.)

3:08 AM  
Blogger Holly said...

Hon, as long as you're not writing fanfiction in my worlds, I seriously don't give a shit. I know there are writers who don't care, and writers who have never heard of fanfic and wouldn't care if they had. That's them. I'm me. I do care.

As for your own writing, good luck, and I hope you make a mint.

3:58 AM  
Anonymous F. O'Brien Andrew said...

Someone was nice enough to email me and tell me that you have quoted PART of what I said. I thought I'd stop in and post the rest.

Regarding the writing of fiction based on other people's worlds or characters, often called fan-fiction or fanfic.

Writing fanfic is a good way for children to get started in writing because it teaches them to think about how different characters see things. Something a lot of children can't do intuitively.

Fanfic is an ok way for regular people to be creative and express themselves so long as they keep it to themselves. It is not ok for someone to write fanfic and pretend that it is their own creation. People need to understand that there are a lot of writers out there, barely making a living with their worlds. When you post fanfic on a web site, you have eroded away some of their property. Fanfic writers should not post, publish or try to sell their fanfic because it is, in the end, not entirely their work and it damages the people who put in all the creative effort.


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What I would change about the above, is to remove the word children and insert the word people. After all, anyone can learn the basics of writing by starting with fanfic, not just children.

The rest of it stands as is. If you keep it to yourself, no one will care. If you circulate it, post it or try to sell it, you have injured the creator and that you should be ashamed of.

11:25 PM  

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