In praise of Fanfic

As I've blogged, I had a baby exactly twelve weeks ago. That means a lot of things beyond my life changing (for the better) forever. One: the twelve week mark means I'm off my "maternity leave" from blogging and other semi-pro fangirl activities. Two: I spent the last few months reading a lot of fanfic. Like, A LOT. And I just wanted to rave a bit about why that makes me so happy.

Breastfeeding is tough. There's not a lot you can do for fun while a small, needy creature is literally attached to you seeking nutrients and they want to do this every few hours. Thankfully I not only got a baby this summer, but an iPhone 6. It's the perfect size to hold while nursing and boy have I used it. I've read, I estimate, around 2 million words of fic in the last few months. And the quality of the fic and the experience has been pretty great.

Fanfic is a wonderful thing. Unlike a novel it has the benefit of a certain familiarity. When I'm reading about my OTP (and for my own pleasure I read mostly one pairing, you'll figure it out if you follow the link below) I know the eventually, they're going to get together. The Satisfaction is not in the end but in the journey and the exploration of the relationship. There's something comforting and grounding about that, especially on a rough day. You know that, even if it take 500,000 words to get there, there will be some kissage and it's great.

Yes, I said 500,000 words. I just finished what there is to finish of probably the longest fic I've ever read. It's a series that's still in progress called "Down to Agincourt" and reading is one of the most rewarding literary experiences I've ever had, fic or otherwise. The author of these works (there are four at the moment, there will eventually be eight or nine) rightly calls them novels. And that's what they are: carefully plotted, intricate novels that build an incredible world and explore great characters. The romance is the slowest of burns but so satisfying. The mythology  and mystery are captivating. Most of the characters are actually original, and while the setting is part of the actually canon of Supernatural, it's based on a single episode and expanded. Not only it the writing great, but the author is incredibly open and available and the comments on each chapter serve as annotations and meta discussions. I found out about this work through twitter and I was able, while reading to chat with friends about me thoughts and feels (there were a lot of feels).

And it occurred to me how cool that is. Imagine reading Harry Potter and being able to chat with JK ROwling after each chapter, to tell her "oh I see now that throw away line in book one was a clue for book three." And to share your experience with other like minded fans who already share a common vocabulary based o the source material. And it's all FREE. It's amazing.

Fanfic is literature, plain and simple. There's a lot of it out there that doesn't meet the highest artistic standards and that's okay. But there's also a lot out there that DOES, that pulls you in as well as the best hard back bestseller. The fact that it is created by unpaid  artists simply passsionate about a fandom and writing makes it all the more aew-inspiring. 

As a reader, scholar and new mom, I have to say: fanfic authors, thank you.