The notification was from Archive of Our Own, known by folk who enjoy Fan Fic as AO3, and it was for a short piece — less than a thousand words — that I’d written several years ago and just moved to the site. It wasn’t a big deal; they’d clicked the button and probably moved on to the next story, but it was a lovely thing to find in my inbox.
The emails show up every so often, letting me know someone has read something I wrote, often in some small and obscure fandom, and enjoyed it. There have been days when those emails have been the thing to get me back to the keyboard when everything else is going wrong.
Fan Fiction is a subject I’ve seen hotly debated in writing communities and I remember a day when one didn’t admit you had ever written a continuation of a story you’d seen on television or at the movies. Now, of course, we have best-sellers that began as fic, and Kindle Worlds on Amazon invites fans to submit their own work for certain licensed products.
The side I prefer, though, is the side where stories are written just for fun, or as a gift for someone which the rest of us can enjoy. It’s easy to find stories written for Star Trek, Doctor Who, the Marvel Cinematic Universe or many of the “big” fandoms that exist across the internets. But every year, that is the madness known as Yuletide, where people sign up to write a story at least 1,000 words long to fulfill the request of someone else has put in (who will be writing their own stories for their own assigned recipients). This years collection went live on December 25 with recipient names attached, but the authors shall remain anonymous until January 1, 2015.
The point of this is giving and receiving, the creation of a unique and special gift for someone. There’s always some drama, but, in the end, it’s the stories which shine, ranging from TV shows and movies such as The Bletchley Circle and WALL-E, to books to Anime and commercials — and even straight historical fiction. It’s an amazing collection because good, bad or indifferent, a pairing or situation you would never read or has you hitting the “back” button on your browser, each of the stories is a gift of the heart, made for the purpose of delighting and pleasing someone who said, “I’d love to read a story about this…”
I can’t think of a better reason for sitting down at a keyboard.