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.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Guyot, What Bit Your Ass?!

With all due respect, of course. Lee Goldberg's comment boards weren't nearly large enough to hold the response I wanted to give to your comment, so I shall post my thoughts more coherently here.

I cannot tell you how happy I am that we are all home again. Feels good. Feels right. I do wish Keith Snyder were here...
Okay, to clear this all up - once and for all. Everyone - THAT MEANS YOU - is missing the point. Is missing the real essence behind this whole thing.

  • 1. Spoken as someone who actually comprehends the real reason? Tell me, my learned friend, from whence dost thou get this coveted knowledge?

It matters not what the law says or doesn't say. Some counties have "No dancing" laws on the books.

  • 2. Okay, I'll concede that up to a point, you are correct. The law is not the end of the debate, since laws become outdated, and they change. However, much of our debate has centered around whether or not fanfiction is legal, and for that, well...there's no better source than the law as backing up one's position, no matter which side you're on.

It matters not whether it's a trademark or copyright or is-it-right argument.

  • 3. Since when?

It is simply this: Those that engage in fanfic production do so because they lack any real creativity or originality.

  • 4. Pray tell, Guyot, when did you get your psychic license? Don't have one? Then how, I am perishing to know, do you propose to convince us that you KNOW what the reason behind fanfiction is?

Now, they will scream and shout that their work is creative and an "original" version of someone else's original idea, but that's crap. And they know it's crap.

  • 5. See # 4, first. And second, since the pattern of research-and-elaborate-0n-previously-created-concept is inherent in adapting novels to film, writing media fiction, etc, are you telling us that all such works are crap? I think Lee might take offense.

Does anyone notice that whenever Jocelyn - despite all her posturing about the law and her passion for fanfic - wants to justify herself as a writer, she mentions her original work. Not her fanfic.

  • 6. Thank you for bringing me into this by name, and for the personal insult. Not to say I haven't had worse (I'm a lawyer-in-training, after all), but really. Posturing? As I said on Lee's blog, I have been nothing but honest with all of you, since I am aware that my opinion is the minority over there. And I've done my best (not always succeeding, I admit) to be polite in my disagreement. Why you holier-than-thou beings of proclaimed greater intelligence, creativity, and maturity can't extend the same courtesy to a lowly fanwriter is beyond me.
  • 7. When I want to justify myself as having creativity sufficient to be published, yes, I do refer to my original fiction, because I am not going to list fanfic on my resume or anything else, any more than someone would mention collecting Elvis memorabilia or singing kareoke.

Because she is intelligent enough to understand that in the final analysis a writer is only truly a writer if they are creating - meaning thinking up their own characters, own worlds, etc. Not riffing on someone else's.

  • 8. Again, see # 4. I'm still waiting for you to produce your psychic license, particularly if you presume to comprehend my motives. Although I appreciate the compliment to my intelligence following the insult to my integrity.
  • 9. Actually, in the final analysis, a writer is a writer if they put words on paper. Are you trying to tell us that a researcher who collects stacks of books and treatises on some historical event and writes a treatment of it to add to that theory is not a writer? What about a parody writer? Creativity is just as inherent in the act of elaborating or transforming or rethinking as it is in inventing something for the first time. And don't try to tell me that none of your original concepts were ever inspired by something out. Creativity comes in degrees, I freely admit. But kindly don't presume to be the judge of where the "cutoff point" is.

I don't have an opinion about the legal questions re: fanfic. Who cares?

  • 10. A lot of people, actually, on my side AND on yours.

The opinion I hold is simply that fanfic is not only disrespectful to the author, but personally embarrassing and a waste of time.

  • 11. At least here you were kind enough to state it as an opinion. As for "personally embarrassing," so is skinny dipping, singing bad kareoke, and collecting Elvis memorabilia. Eating too much chocolate is a waste of time, that doesn't mean a person can't derive a little pleasure from it!

I love Harry Bosch. LOVE that character. Do I wish I created him? Absolutely. Would I ever think about writing something with Harry Bosch in it? Absolutely not. Why? Because:
1) it's disrepectful to Mike Connelly (am I right or wrong about this? There is no right or wrong. It is only opinion).

  • 12. Now he tells us. Back when you were knocking fanwriting, my motives, and creativity, you might have made that stipulation about it being only your opinion.

2) I would be embarrassed because it is saying to the world that I have no ability to create. Oh, I can take someone else's idea and riff on that - make Harry gay or a Trekkie, or whatever - but that's not creating, that's not writing. Despite how hard fanfic producers will try to convince themselves they are creating - they are not.

  • 13. Again, you speak with the voice of an authority you don't have.

3) And maybe this is the most important reason - my ego. I've got my own ideas and my own characters. I want to write them! Because I think they're pretty bitchin. Let Connelly have Bosch. Let JKR have Potter. I love my characters!

  • 14. And I love mine. I love the characters in the novel I'm writing, the original characters I've added to the universe I write fanfic in, and the characters I've borrowed from the original author for my fanfiction. And my ego gets just as big a boost from a fanreader telling me, "You've made the wait for Harry Potter # 6 so much easier!" that I would from someone praising my original work. (I'll let you know how being paid factors into the ego thing once I publish a novel.)

The bottom line, the end-all, the final analysis is simply that if you are writing fanfic you are lying to yourself. You are not a writer. You are not learning to be a writer. You are wasting your time.

  • 15. Again: says YOU. Mutter under your breath that fanwriters are weird and immature all you want, but don't try to tell me that you have the power, knowledge, or wisdom to judge what is writing and creating and what isn't. You don't have that power. No one does.

If it makes you smile and makes your other fanfic buddies smile, then more power to you - go write the shit out of it. But just know that you will never be what you truly, deep-down-inside want to be - a writer.

  • 16. I neither know that nor believe it. And since all I have telling me that I'm not a writer is your judgmental, self-aggrandizing rambling, I'm not going to lose much sleep over it.

How can I make such a bold statement?

  • 17. DAMN good question!

Because to be a writer - a REAL writer - one has to have the soul of a writer.

  • 18. And you, sir, have the wisdom to see that soul how, exactly?

And that particular soul understands in no uncertain terms that fanfic is soulless.

  • 19. Riiight. Again, spoken with such conviction for someone who has no idea what he's talking about!

I do apologize for my rudeness in this post, but I can't deny that comment made me mad. For one, since like I said on Lee's blog, Guyot was always one of the more decent and rational members of this ongoing discussion, generally polite to those who disagreed with him.

But the sheer arrogance of it is mind-boggling.

I shall post more shortly on a fanwriter's explanations for the ACTUAL motives (from someone who actually knows) behind why fanwriters do what they do.


Blogger CB said...

I'm 23 now, but I started reading fanfiction when I was 14 or 15. There was some pretty weird stuff out there, even back then, but it always had warnings. Mind you, when I was curious about sex, I didn't heed those warnings, but that was my own fault, not the authors.

When I was 14 (and younger), I could go in Barnes a Noble or the library and get a trashy romance, full of sex and no one would stop me. There are no warnings or ratings on books.

They don't card you to buy Dennis Cooper or Beatrice Small.

It was my parents responsibility to keep books like that out of my hands if they didn't want me reading them. Frankly, my parents were big advocates for reading and writing or any kind.

Having grown up in the age of high school shooters, my parents really didn't care what I read as long as I was reading, and the books weren't on how to make a bomb to blow up the school. :)

Lee Goldberg needs to reconsider his position on the issue. His comments and analogies on "real writers" were idiotic.

You've got my support!

2:37 AM  
Blogger Nonny said...


I found the debate on Lee Goldberg's blog via a link on my blog feed... I just wanted to comment and say kudos for standing up for yourself in the face of all that bullshit. I don't write fanfic myself anymore (my own characters scream enough at me), but I have some very good friends who do, and the whole "you're not a real writer if you write fanfic" attitude just ... sickens me. Legalities aside, that attitude is twisted and elitist, and I rather do not put up with that kind of shit well.

7:57 AM  
Blogger Jocelyn Smith said...

Thanks bunches, Cindy and Nonny!

Cindy, your point about Barnes & Noble is very good. It's interesting how the anti-pornfic contingent doesn't hold all authors responsible for trashy novels, but they want to hold all fanwriters responsible for pornfic.

I hate kiddie pornfic as much as any decent human being, and I have been known to take action such as contacting the site owner or archivist when I see stuff that crosses the line, but that's a choice, not an obligation.

Nonny, normally I try to engage in a fairly polite dialogue with those guys, because they do provide interesting insight into the published world and a different perspective. But what can I say, yesterday I lost my temper.

8:51 AM  
Blogger Nonny said...

When someone accuses anyone who writes a certain genre (and I think that fanfiction qualifies as such) of not being a "real" writer, I don't think it's possible to "agree to disagree," because what they've said invalidates everything you are.

It's one thing to state an opinion. Another to state it as fact. The problem I had was that so many people were stating opinions as fact.

Real writers write. End of story.

5:11 PM  
Blogger Zoe Winters said...

I found your blog from this post in question and added my two cents into the fray of that post. I agree with you on all of these points. people who critique the hobbies of others and presume to know how much "greatness" is in them, IMO are small minded.

5:41 PM  

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