New Criticals

It’s easy to be dismissive of fanfiction when the writing is bad. Thanks to the phenomenon of My Immortal, a now-notorious Harry Potter fanfic, and later Fifty Shades of Grey, fanfiction as a whole is expected to be some paragon of horrendous writing, built on particularly egregious examples of run-on sentences, illogical plot leaps, wooden dialog, and Mary Sues. In many instances, this is the case., the most popular publishing forum for fanfiction, doesn’t offer editorial services, and publishing on the website is as easy as uploading a .docx. When the writing is bad, that status quo coasts on.

But not all fanfiction is bad. Some is good. Some, like the stories by Jami, are even phenomenal. But it doesn’t matter. No amount of good writing will ever rescue fanfiction from the ditches of public opinion. The fact is things made by and consumed by girls are reviled and feared, because the things that girls love are frivolous, useless and vapid, because girls themselves are frivolous, useless and vapid, or so the thinking goes. And fanfiction is certainly the realm of girls. It’s why writing a fanfic about Captain America and Bucky Barnes falling in love is laughed at but your coworkers’ Fantasy Football league is granted valuable workday hours.

In fact, there was a long while when I was embarrassed of my fanfiction habit, and I didn’t even write it. Was that why Jami had disappeared? Had she taken a new job where that sort of association would have imperiled her? Why purge the LiveJournal, then, and not the account? Was it because, beneath the need to grow up, to leave Guardian21 behind, she was proud of the work she’d done, proud of the thousands of glowing reviews, proud of the praise?

Did she feel forced to leave behind something that made her happy for fear of being laughed at?

That thought makes me very, very sad.