Fan Fiction - 4/26/15
As a kid, I thought the people who made comics were amazing. Iíd never met any, but dang, you get to decide what awesome thing Wolverine does this month? What could be better than that? I was recently turned down by an artist for my comic because she was interested, but too busy doing just that. And getting paid for it! 14 year old me would never forgive me if I carried a grudge. In high school, I would draw scenes with my favorite characters and Iíd design roleplaying adventures for them and I loved it. Iíd never heard of fan fiction, being a kid from the suburbs in a time before the internet was really a thing people had. If I had, Iím sure I would have tortured the world with tons of it, poorly written.

When I went to college for my creative writing degree, I was a science fiction writer, damnit! But I was a literary one. Totally a Vonnegut and not a Heinlein. It was toward the end of my time at college were I first heard of Fan Fic and it was definitely not something serious writers, such as myself, did. Still, there were worlds that I loved and stories that came to me in them that Iíd talk myself out of writing. A year or two after graduation, I came up with a story set in Gotham City that even now, 15 years later, is an interesting take on the characters that I donít think anyone has done. If I ever get a chance to pitch for DC it will be my first (and possibly only) suggestion. I like it that much.

Around the time I came up with the above story idea, I was struggling with writing. Without the structure of school, I found myself unable to finish anything. Iíd get an idea, get distracted, get another, and so on. I was useless and decided to forget about writing. I had other things in my life that brought me satisfaction. And then I saw Buffy. Or more specifically, I saw the way the show ended. Iím not going to lie, I love Buffy. Itís a great show that plays with many genres I love, but there was something about the way the show ended that never sat right with me. They broke their own rules and I felt they didnít earn it. For about a year, it would invade my thoughts late at night or while I was in the shower. Not just what they did wrong, but how to fix it. It was a story that I didnít want to write, but finally, just to make it go the fuck away, I decided to. But I still had enough of the stick shoved up my ass from college that I wasnít going to go about writing fan fiction. I may not have been a Writer anymore, but I hadnít sunk that low. So what to do? At a time when I was going to music school full time, interning in a recording studio, and working part time, I started my first spec script. I didnít know thatís what it was. I was toying around with it being a movie. Since I was clueless about screenwriting I didnít worry too much, I just wrote the damn story. That school year was one of the most miserable of my life and that Buffy script was the only consistent sources of joy during the whole time. Sure it was hard work, but the story needed telling (and still doesÖ Joss, call me!). By the end of the year, Iíd moved to LA to focus on trying to break into TV.

Long story short, that didnít work out.

These days, I donít have time to write anything that I can only ever hope to sell to a single, hard to access source. It is a shame because I see worlds I grew up in that have stories just calling out to me, that I would love to tell. But I also have a list of stories in my own worlds that Iím not writing because I can only dedicate so much time at the keyboard and Iíd like to see my stories find an audience in my lifetime.

My point, if you care about those sorts of things, is that fan fiction allows you to go into a comfortable space and play. To deconstruct the work of the writers who inspire you. To find places where, ďyou know what? I could do this one thing better.Ē Iíve never published a piece of fan fiction anywhere, but damn, I wouldnít be a writer at all if it werenít for that.

© 1997-2015 Mike Townsend