Living in a "What If" World.

December 11, 2013

I don’t live in the neighborhood of make-believe, in fact I live three blocks down in the neighborhood of what-ifs. For those of you still not entirely sure how to define fan fiction, let me start with saying that fan fiction is the platform you stand on to get your what-ifs off your chest. Fan fiction is you’re chance to write up your very own version of any TV show, book, or movie you love. It really is an online playground for fans who like to write and who are invested in a particular world like Harry Potter, Star Trek or Supernatural.  


In my case the High School Musical category was something I picked out strategically. In my past experience with fan fiction, I’ve realized that by investing my own imagination to the story, I unintentionally killed my ability to enjoy the original as it was. By taking matters into my own hands and using these characters to tell my own stories I gave them different lives, different personalities, different views and opinions. By adding so much of myself into the pot, I jipped myself the experience when it came time to sit down and enjoy the original material.


When I first started writing fan fiction it was for Hey Arnold and I think I might have been around 12 or 13 years old. That was way back when I would sit up on my dad’s computer all night while he was at work and type out my stories. The moderator only allowed us to update our stories on the 10th of every month and I was hooked on it. I was writing almost all the time, any free time I had went into this stuff. I spent hours verbally telling my little sister Hey Arnold fan fiction off the top of my head.


When I decided to write for High School Musical Fandom I picked it because it was over. High School Musical 3 had just come out and I’d already seen it. That part of my life was over and there wasn’t going to be a continuous stream of content like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Hey Arnold that I would want to enjoy. High School Musical was wrapped up and I wouldn’t be sitting down to review any new original content thereafter.


According to Matthew Gilbert, author of the article “Fan fiction: a world of what-ifs” for the Boston Globe, as a fanfiction writer I am too fervent and independent to be passive viewer or reader. And I think he’s onto something with that declaration. I am always inspired by stories, by music, by movies, by books, anything I could get my hands on that had a beginning, middle, and end.


Being addicted to storytelling has been my thing ever since I could remember. I would lay awake at night thinking of dialogue, plot, conflicts and characters. It got to the point where even if I wasn’t typing or telling my sister these stories I would sit quietly and just think them out to myself.  My parents had almost no idea any of this was happening, they just knew I was up to something.  


I was the kind of kid who got grounded and had her books taken away from her. When high school came around I was finally allowed to have a computer of my own and that was when it became real. I was writing poetry, fanfiction, short stories, interviewing my stuffed animals and for the first time ever researching my work. I have spent years finding joy in expanding plots others have only hinted at, I have joined together characters from different sources, and sometimes, correcting what I would see as flaws or oversights in the original. Gilbert is speaking the truth.


The best known fanfiction writer may be E.L. James, whose “Fifty Shades of Grey” started out as an online fan fiction for Stephanie Meyer’s “Twilight.” If anyone reading those books couldn’t tell, you’re freaking blind because when I picked up that book and began to read it, it was apparent to me before chapter 2 that this was fanfiction for “Twilight.” This book infuriates me as a fan fiction writer. Not for the story or the author of the work, (E.L. James you’re my Idol!) but for the millions of idiots out there who turn their cheeks at fanfiction but picked up this book and ate it up like crack.


Sticking to the campfire analogy that fan fiction writers share their work around this gigantic internet bonfire with fellow fans, many of whom hang out at where yours truly posts her work, I think that the swapping of stories is only going to get bigger. Gilbert says that fan fiction is "no longer a fringe activity for sci-fi geeks; it’s mainstream in the way fantasy sports leagues have become de rigueur and San Diego Comic-Con has evolved into an essential entertainment event." When something becomes mainstream it's no longer a private secret you can keep hidden. We are opening our circle to a whole new world of what ifs. 


I think my favorite quote has been said by Sara Rosenbaum, a senior editor at Boston magazine and a fan fiction writer and supporter, “At this point, if somebody isn’t aware of fan fiction or is confused or squeamish about it, they’re like someone who doesn’t know what sushi is. Ew, you eat raw fish!”


This idea that fan fiction is an underground phase that has been coming up to the main streets and becoming more mainstream is wild to me. I have literally been writing fan fiction since I could string a sentence together. I mean how exciting is it to know that the entire time I’ve been invested in this world I’ve been a part of something that’s like a slow thumping heart beat just beneath the surface of pop culture.  


Now that Under the Tycoons Command is archived in my past, (With 43,025 views and still counting!) I beginning to explore a new street in my neighborhood of what-ifs with Manhunting 101. This story, which is a revised and redeveloped previous archived story titled Ask a Bitch, is a lot less intense and funnier than Under the Tycoons Command.


Manhunting 101 is a story about a woman who, after lying to her mother to keep her from meddling in her love life, just wants to find a date to her sister wedding so everyone won’t feel sorry for her. Then there's her new mysterious next door neighbor who just wants a second chance at life. Alone, easy & women free. This next door neighbor of hers is actually living life in the aftermath of a student-teacher scandal that has left him very distant and lost about himself and what kind of person he wants to be.


The world of fan fiction is growing bigger every day, and with it comes news ways to define it and new opportunities to open our eyes to different content.


My name is Anais Torres and my fan fiction handle Punkpoet69 AKA jamiesgirl.


Follow me on Twitter for all updates on my blog, fan fiction, or random acts of brain vomit @Punkpoet69


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