If so, why?
No judgment here whatsoever, I just like to ask this question once in a while.
Also, if you have aspirations to write professionally, do you think fanfic has helped or hurt you, realistically?
Again, really just curious to hear your thoughts.
Please feel free to provide links for other readers but PLEASE UNDERSTAND that I am not allowed to read fanfic under any circumstances for legal reasons, so I will not be clicking on links. However, I encourage others to do so!
For the record, I think fanfic is pretty nifty, and it clearly brings joy to a lot of people.
I write fanfiction.
For me, it’s a combination of factors. In part, it’s just getting to involve myself in the world more deeply- really getting inside the character’s heads, worldbuilding, etc. In part, it’s exploring things that the source material didn’t- alternate possibilities, underconsidered characters, future fics, past fics, alternate canon interpretations, etc. Not to mention, if you ship something that isn’t canon, it’s a pretty great place to get to explore the relationship. And sometimes, it’s fixing bullshit that the souce material has pulled. This isespeciallytrue of comics, where one of my favorite characters, Jason Todd, is routinely mischaracterized, and most of my other favorite characters- Connor, Mia, Lian, Cass, Steph, Renee, etc.- no longer exist.
As for writing aspirations- I currently intend to go into physics research, specifically quantum computing, and I don’t think I could ever do professional writing full time, but I do definitely want to do writing on the side, and am currently planning a superhero webcomic with an amazing artist/sounding board friend. In this respect, I think that my fanfiction has helped me, since I’ve gotten to really consider superhero stuff, plus, you know, any writing practice helps. If I ever got the chance to write some of the characters I love for DC? I don’t know if my fanfiction would hurt my chances, though I imagine the repeated “fuck you DC/[individual DC writer/editor’s name goes here]” notes on my various blogs and in fact in the author’s notes of most of my fanfictions might be a slight issue. I say slight because, honestly, I doubt it’d be more of an obstacle than my stubborn intentions to write actual diversity vs. the DCnU’s fake diversity would be significantly more of an issue, since I’d racebend and queer all the characters ever and bring back all sorts of lost chars if given the discretion I never would be. (So I just do that in fic instead.)
I do want to answer one part of this because I hear it a lot.
Your fanfiction is not going to affect your chances at DC or Marvel. Harsh reviews are not going to affect your chances at DC or Marvel. Harsh commentary online isn’t going to affect your chances at DC or Marvel.
Once in a while, I see a pro writer or artist tell someone online that the harsh things they’ve said about that pro’s work will preclude them from working at the major comics companies. I think it’s grade a bullying horseshit.
This is true, but it may also sting a little bit, so please be aware I am not aiming this at YOU in any way, but just to the general idea that people at DC are reading fanfic and checking names off a list (that sounds facetious, but I do know people who have that mindset). It’s not true. No one at DC is reading your fanfic, they are very very very very unlikely to know it exists at all other than as a hypothetical.
Reviews and commentary, it’s read and then mostly forgotten, for good or ill, but I have rarely if ever heard an editor even talk about this stuff. Once in a while, you see an editor or pro come down on someone for something they objected to, but who is the dick in that situation? It’s the pro, the editor, not the reader. They didn’t like a book, that’s their right. And by the way, I have made this mistake myself, and in those cases, I was the one in the wrong, no two ways about it.
Anyway, mostly, none of this stuff is taken very seriously. Maybe it should be sometimes, but it really isn’t. I always tell aspiring writers not to mention fanfic during their breaking in process and I stand by that, not because it’s shameful, but because it isn’t about pro writing. It’s not something an editor wants to hear.
I will say, also, just to prove my previous point…before I broke in, I wrote not one, but TWO of the most critical and popular internet things pointing out where comics companies had gone wrong (Women in Refrigerators, which made national news and is STILL a sore subject with some, and a parody/satire column that could get pretty brutal). Not only did it not keep me out of the industry, they actively recruited me even after skewering them in those venues.
Really, seriously, write fanfiction if you enjoy it, don’t give it a second thought about if it would affect your career, it really, REALLY is a non-issue to publishers.
I can imagine very very high profile reviewers causing some resentment, if they had a major website like, say, Bleeding Cool or something, and editors felt they had been unfair. But it would have to be pretty extreme. I was hired after writing much worse stuff, Matt Fraction was hired after writing critical columns, there are others, as well.
I wouldn’t let it stop you from writing what you think is important.
Wait, so my repeated paragraphs of nothing but incoherent swearing at current DC employees won’t count against me in the unlikely event that I am ever considered for writing at the company?
Well, that’s good to know.