Tuesday 2 August 2016

Fanfiction and me – a selection from the autobiography of the Slacker.

Why Fanfic?

Why not fanfic? I’ve heard it being denigrated, of course, or called ‘not real writing’, but that is an opinion that’s plain wrong. Fanfiction is writing, for the simple fact that it is words on paper. Now there’s degrees within Fanfic, of course. There’s work that is very original and work that is - well, not. There are fanfics of such brilliance that they make one wonder if the original might not have benefited from the treatment, and then there is ‘My Immortal’.

The point I am trying to make is that as a creative outlet, Fanfic is as legitimate a form as any other.

My personal journey into the world probably stems to my very early forays into writing, when my age was in single digits and I scrawled block letters into unused diaries trying to write about the Famous Five and the Hardy Boys, before moving on to my version of The Count of Monte Cristo where {SPOILER ALERT] Edmund Dantes dies a horrible death before driving M de Villefort’s wife to suicide. Naturally, all that was forgotten in the years that followed, and I pretty much put aside my pen as I went through college. When I did pick it up again (though it was a desktop keyboard by then) I was writing original stories – the Elver series that some of you have been kind enough to read. For those of you who haven’t, a couple of the stories written at the time are available here.

Then I got a job, and that’s where Fanfiction re-entered my life in a big way.

It went something like this - as a young Management Trainee, I was chucked into the world of finance (a week before the contracted joining date, as I shall curse to my dying day) into a team that was in flux. The international business division was being re-organised, nobody knew what they would be handling a month hence, and as such, were not particularly interested in finding work for a fresh-faced young fellow who, to be fair, was not actually pushing to be given something to do either.

Not actually a photo of the Slacker. My socks are less flashy.

So I had what can best be described as ‘vacant’ time. Time to sit at a desk and do nothing. I’d have liked to bring a novel to the office and peruse it, but even I was not thick enough to think I could get away with that without doing serious long-term damage to my career. Maybe if I could bring a management guru’s book to read, yes, but that was never going to happen.

So I was left with the alternative of peering into a computer screen and trying to find entertainment there, on a network that blocked all forms of social media.

That’s when fanfic came to my rescue. Those sites were not blocked. Schnoogle,, mugglenet – all displayed their wares, and I spent many a blissful hour reading the works hosted there. That there would be a slant towards Harry Potter was not surprising, the last book of the series was yet to come out, and for many people like me, fanfic was a way to seek an alternate ending, a resolution, to questions we still had. Looking back on it, as much as I enjoyed reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I must say that I can think of at least a couple of Fanfics that did a more convincing and satisfying job of closing the series.

Well, my idyll at the office did not last long, and pretty soon I was festooned in work but Fanfic remained my guilty pleasure, it was where I went to if I snatched a free half-hour at work. But two – maybe three – years into my life as corporate slave, I realised that my own writing had gone so completely on the back-burner that its prospects of ever coming to fruition were weaker than those of Birbal’s proverbial khichdi being cooked.

And yet, writing is a skill, and a skill needs to be practised. Or so I thought. Thinking up original content was virtually impossible at the end of a twelve-hour workday. But I did have an idea for a story that was essentially an extension of Rowling’s Harry Potter Universe. I wanted to explore the next-generation, and avoid the mistakes that other fanfic authors had made by caricaturising the children. If I could bring something of my own writing, my own style and characterisation to the HP universe, I thought I’d be doing a pretty good job of honing my own skills, while crafting a tale I hoped would be engaging.

I named it ‘The Name of the Rose’, which was stupid, in hindsight, but what did I know, right? I had a plot in mind, even if, like all pantsers, it was vague as to the specifics. But I had my characters well-mapped out in my head. They were real to me – Rose Weasley, Scorpius Malfoy, Albus Potter and even the elements from Indian mythology that I was trying to weave into it. For this was rapidly becoming my story.

There was also the Neria Fanfic, based off Dragon Age: Origins, an RPG that still stands up both graphically and in terms of gameplay and which I enjoyed re-imagining as the story of a slutty mage.

Flash forward to today.

While I am writing more original content now, what with Cats and other forms of fiction I still have neither forgotten, nor am I ashamed of, my foray into the world of Fanfiction. After all, if JK Rowling can put her name to ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’, which is essentially a fanfic, even if a good one, I’m pretty sure mine isn’t too bad either ;)

I shall be posting the opening Chapters from my Harry Potter Fanfic on this blog over the course of the next few days, and depending on the response, might put up the whole thing.

Happy Reading, and all that sort of thing.

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