About Fan Fiction

Ten months ago I wrote a post about Romance that was my personal love letter to the genre, and now I want to do the same for fan fiction.

Fan fiction (or fanfiction) is another type of writing that, like Romance, is condemned and vilified by those who believe they have the intellectual higher ground. Given that most fanfics also depict a romantic or sexual relationship between two or more characters, I believe many of those who deride fanfiction are the same who look down on Romance.

Of course, we all know that some people have different issues with fan fiction, mainly ones that stem from legal concerns. Many are scared of plagiarism, which —for the record— is very different from fan fiction. Others don’t want to share their own characters and ideas with random people from the Internet. But I think there are some issues that may be caused by people not being familiar with fanfiction; they don’t understand what fanfiction really is about and where it comes from.

Fanfiction is not something new created by the weird people of the Internet. The term fanfiction predates the creation of the world wide web by half a century. The name first appeared in 1939 and fan fiction became an important part of fandom culture in the 60s thanks to Star Trek, but derivative fiction written with characters and settings established by a previous author or based on a non-fictional subject that attracted many followers has been an important part of mankind’s literature since the beginning of the written word. Think about Shakespeare, the fake sequel to Don Quixote, the Arthurian cycle, and even the apocryphal gospels. When the novels published in installments were popular, people used to write their own additions and endings as they waited for the following chapter to arrive; sometimes they would send them to friends and family, and that is how the Brontë sisters got published. So we admire writers who have composed fanfiction and we call some derivative works “classics”, but still the mention of the term fanfic makes people sneer.

And nevertheless, we keep writing fan fiction.

Like many of us, I started reading fan fiction because the canon was not enough. Not satisfactory enough, not happy enough, not gay enough… And, somehow, I ended up discovering a community of people who wrote both fanfics and Romance novels that covered all my needs. I made new friends, read fanfics whenever I was too stressed for anything else, went back to writing… discovered that what I used to write for my school friends was basically fan fiction… then started to write in English and, eventually, decided to write my own original stories. And here we are.

Fanfiction is an important part of fandom, of literature, and of our lives. And that is why AO3 winning a well-deserved Hugo Award made me so happy and emotional this week. The fact that people have started to notice and appreciate fan fiction globally, and that they’ve awarded a site that was created to fight against censorship and other limitations is a huge step. But don’t just take my word for it. You can read some cool articles about this on Polygon, Vox and The Mary Sue.

So… have you ever read or written fanfiction? Has it helped you in any way?

The Hugo Award won by Archive of Our Own.
Our Shared Hugo Award. Photo taken from the OTW’s tumblr post.

Writing with Anxiety

As I was working on my post about writer’s block, I realized that sometimes the reason we struggle can be temporary, like lack of inspiration or a particular stressful situation. In those cases, the possible solution may involve doing something else until the inspiration returns or the particular situation has been fixed. But if you have to live with it forever, like some people do with anxiety and/or depression, this might not be a good solution.

I’ve lived together with anxiety as long as I can remember, but depression is new for me, so I’m not as experienced as I am fighting anxiety. I can tell you that, in my case, writing while I was depressed only made it worse, so I had to stop and take a break for a year (while I was looking for a good psychologist), then take another year to come back slowly. So, you know, sometimes it’s good to stop and take care of yourself for a while.

But I have the need to feel useful, so this situation —as you can imagine— didn’t make my anxiety happy. We both had to learn to cope. My problem is I feel guilty if I’m not being helpful all the time, and I can’t be helpful if I’m not doing something “useful”. Writing counts as useful, but since I’m a translator, it’s not very different from my usual job (typing on a computer) or studying (which I was doing at the same time), and it piled up. The solution? I had to learn to relax and compromise.

I try to think of my anxiety as a sort of gremlin (AKA mogwai). It can be a nice pet if I take care of it, but… I can’t feed it after midnight. Or, in my case, after work. I need to spend hours doing something different so I can recharge my battery. It wasn’t that way before, but I overdid it and didn’t notice until it was too late. As a result, I only write a bit during the weekends when I have busy weeks at work. (Or nothing at all, if I’ve been too busy.) I’m slow, but there’s a nice community of #turtlewriters over twitter who are amazingly encouraging. It’s good enough to know I’m not alone, but they also tweet regularly to show their support and understanding. And by regularly, I mean every day!

I also struggle whenever I share anything written by me (yes, even blog posts or tweets) because I don’t want to be offensive, boring or annoying. Which is why I created this blog, so I could start writing and sharing little by little, and hopefully learn that the world doesn’t end and I shouldn’t be controlled by fear. As a result, now I have twitter and this blog to test my anxiety and get used to having other people see what I write.

So those are my plans for the foreseeable future: take my time, keep going to therapy, update this blog and turtle-write.

Tell me, do you have any experience with anxiety? How do you cope?

Turtle swimming.
Photo by Belle Co on Pexels.com

How do I fight writer’s block?

Same as any other kind of artist, writers also suffer from this condition. The causes differ and depend on each person, just like the ways to overcome it. Every person should find their own way to deal with it, so if you’re looking for a solution to this very problem… I’m sorry, but I can only speak for myself. My answer to this question may not be able to help you in particular, but I wish it did. I hope you find your way back, and please let me know if I can help in any way.

In my case, writer’s block was not a lack of inspiration. I had ideas, and sometimes I wrote them down, but I didn’t do anything else with them (for years) because of my insecurity. Still, I was struggling at the time, so it wasn’t a complete block. In a way, I’m used to dealing with anxiety and my lack of self-confidence, so I can get things done most of the time. Yes, these are problem I should deal with, but things got worse.

When my anxiety got so bad it reached the stages of burnout and depression, I stopped writing. I had to. Whenever I had to use my computer, I wanted to throw it out of the window. I had panic attacks sometimes.

So I did what I had to do and stopped writing. I changed my habits, reduced my workload and spent one year focusing on work (because I couldn’t stop working) and taking care of myself.

I took walks, played videogames, avoided my computer and didn’t write anything new. Not even on my notebooks. I even stopped reading for a while.

It was hard because I’ve spent all my life working (even school and extracurricular activities are work) and stopping to rest made me feel useless, but I persevered. And then, one day, I started feeling better. I wanted to read again, but I couldn’t trust new books yet, so I started rereading some of my favourite books. Little by little, I started to enjoy it again. And then I started therapy, and it all went even better after that.

I took some holidays and I just went to the beach and relaxed for the first time in many years. That couple of weeks helped a lot and I started writing in my notebooks again, and also transcribing my old notebooks. I even created this blog. And I started writing a fanfic because I thought it would be fun.

It’s been over a year and I’m still fighting, but I think the way to overcome writer’s block is… basically patience and perseverance. I know that isn’t very helpful, but that’s how you learn to take your time and do what you need in order to get better. The solution depends on the reason why you suffer this condition, and it may involve not writing at all. So if taking relaxing baths and walking in a forest is what helps, don’t think of it as Not Writing. Resting doesn’t have to be the opposite of work. Relaxing is hard work and, more importantly, it’s necessary if you want to keep working (and living), so I now consider it a very important part of my day. Try doing something that makes you happy (or that used to make you happy if you have depression), and remember that the mind needs time to heal.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Happy New Year 2019!

It’s been a while, so I wanted to post something quick while I work on a longer post for you people.

First of all, Happy New Year!!

I apologize for the lack of updates, but I’ve been very busy since November and haven’t had time to write that much. The little time I had, I spent with friends… or resting when my anxiety turned too depressive. But I’m feeling better after the holidays! The days are getting longer and I’m still going to therapy, so I’m looking forward to the rest of the year.

I know 2019 will be full of awesome books to read, and I hope I can write something (anything) before the year ends. So yeah, my goal this year is to finish writing something, but it’s not a resolution. Does it make sense? Actually, my New Year’s resolutions are: writing more (in general), updating regularly, and taking better care of myself. And in order to take care of myself, I can’t feel like I HAVE TO finish writing a short story. This way, I may trick myself into thinking that I have no deadlines or expectations to meet and I shouldn’t feel guilty if things go wrong. Will it start out as a pastime and become an obligation? Probably, but I’ll let you know how it goes! (Don’t mind me; I’m just judging myself for judging myself.)

You’ll be glad to know that I haven’t stopped doing my research, and I’ve spent some time during the holidays visiting places and museums that are relevant to my stories. I hope I can tell you more about them soon, but the next post is gonna be about how I started reading Romance. If you’re curious, you have Lee Welch to thank for, since she said that sounded interesting.

Image of a new dawn in the world that reads "2019 HAPPY NEW YEAR".
Shared by Dorothe on pxhere.com

About Romance

It’s about time I wrote a post about the genre I want to explore, isn’t it? You may remember that, when I talked about the books that changed my life, I mentioned that one of them made me rediscover a genre I thought was too homogeneous for me: Romance.

Twenty years ago, I was an avid reader of Science-Fiction. Ten years ago, I read nothing but Fantasy. Now I find it hard to read anything that’s not Romance. I have to confess that, before that book changed my life, I’d tried reading some books and comics with romance elements, my favourite being Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. However, after a while I started thinking that they were all similar; I didn’t feel represented by any of them (in my defense, I mostly read physical books in Spanish, and there was not an ounce of diversity to be found back then). I thought it would always be the same. Never have I been so glad to be proved wrong.

Once I stepped out of my comfort zone and started reading new books, I realized that Romance had actually become the most open and complete literary genre. There’s variety (fantasy, paranormal, historical, sci-fi, contemporary…), diversity (characters who are POC, LGBTQ+, disabled, depressed…) and hope (happy endings are the norm). Romance readers and authors have been leading a loud revolution that you may not have noticed (if you don’t know anyone who’s part of the community), but —I believe— it’s making the world a better place. Of course I’d want to do anything in my power to help! The problem is… that a little is never enough for me, so now I’ve turned to writing.

To be honest, I never thought I’d end up this way. As a person with anxiety, zero self-confidence and a different mother tongue, I know it’s gonna be hard. But hard is not impossible, so I had to try. And who knows, maybe my weaknesses can help me write something that will help people who are like me. Even if it’s just one person, that would make all hardships worth enduring.

Old book with pages bent inwards forming a heart.
Photo shared by congerdesign. Creative Commons.

October Update

I’ve been here for three months and in that time I’ve received many follows, likes, comments, and a lot of encouragement from all of you. Thank you so much!

In this time, I’ve transcribed some of my notebooks, updated an old fanfic, read a lot about writing, and decided to write a short story.

Of course, in these three months I’ve also created this blog and my new account on Twitter. I even got a new mobile phone with a better camera that will hopefully allow me to take better photos for this blog (you’ve seen some of the old ones, like the photo in this post). I’m now trying to find some books that will allow me to do some research before I write the short story.

For this short story, I had some ideas:

  • Summer crush that turns into love. Takes place in Northern Spain, one of them is a foreigner and there’s a dog involved.
  • Rich boy with an old building meets student that not-so-secretly wants to turn it into a museum. There might be ghosts in the building, though.
  • A young superhero from Spain has a crush on another European superhero and tries to get an Erasmus scholarship so he can meet his hero.
  • This super popular guy finds himself without home, family or friends just before the holidays, but there’s a serious guy in the office who never talks to anyone but offers his help.

So, which one do you prefer?

And since November is approaching, should I try to do something like NaNoWriMo? If it’s too stressful, I may have to pass this year.

Have you tried it before? Did it work for you?

Logo of NaNoWriMo
Logo of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)

Fourth notebook

notebook004

After the last notebook of 2015, I had a bit of trouble choosing which notebook to transcribe next. I found myself with 4 notebooks I’d filled in 2016… but I didn’t know the order. I already said I’m rather chaotic, but I didn’t want to make things worse by starting with the wrong one. In the end, I realized I had two notebooks I must have used at the same time… more or less.

One was big, so I must have used it at home, and the other one was small, so I must have taken it everywhere. I probably finished the smaller one before, at least, so I decided to start with it.

You may have noticed this notebook and the previous one have the same format, but I already said they’re my favourite ones, so you should just know that I bought this one after reading “A Seditious Affair” by KJ Charles. I couldn’t not buy a notebook inspired by William Blake’s poems after reading that wonderful book.

This notebook had many snippets that never became a story and a lot of information for a fanfic I never wrote. Other than that, I continued working on rewriting my old fantasy story, now with new main characters. I also started to collect names for all the characters and places. And there’s even a story a cab driver told me, about one of his ancestors who’d been a bandit in Southern Spain.

Spoiler alert: I was surprised to find out that it was in January 2016 when I decided that two of the characters in the fantasy romance would know each other, but only one of them would remember having met before. I thought that had been much later and now I wonder where that came from. Anyway, that made a lot of sense and it became an important plot point.

Why do I write in English?

Someone recently asked me if I was going to write in English or Spanish. And the truth is… I don’t know.

Well, I know what I want, but my feelings are complicated. I want to write in English, but English is not my First Language, so I wonder if I should and if my writing would be any good.

Writing in Spanish is weird for me, though. I’ve read and studied Literature in English for decades, so Spanish sounds weird to me sometimes (Especially explicit language, which sounds too technical or too cheesy). Still, I would be able to tell if my writing is crap in Spanish, right? Maybe.

For me, the main reason to write in Spanish is that… I want to write Romance with  LGBTQ+ characters, and it’s something one can’t easily find in Spanish. I love helping and I want to help Spanish speakers find stories that will make them happy (which is why I became a translator, but that’s another story).

However, I love writing and reading in English, and if I was confident about both my English and my writing, I wouldn’t hesitate: I’d write in English first, and then see if I want to publish anything in Spanish as well.

Maybe that’s what I should do. Just follow the Fake-it-till-you-make-it philosophy. After all, there are proofreaders, editors and beta-readers out there. I wouldn’t be alone.

Spanish_Armada_fireships
Launch of English fireships against the Spanish Armada. Taken from Wikimedia Commons.