Guest Post – Why Fanfiction Is So Important
Hey everyone! I’m Michelle Painchaud, author of PRETENDING TO BE ERICA.
I’ve never shied away from my origins as a writer, and it’s one of the most common questions I get. I love answering it because people always go ‘oh! That’s so cool!’. So let’s be brutally honest; I got my start in fanfiction. I was twelve, and I loved pokemon a little too much. I wrote a fanfiction for the entirety of the Leaf Green pokemon game, novelizing it in a word document that as of now stands at 434,142 words, or about 1,500 pages. It established a lot of my tropes that I use in my writing now, and many of my characters I write currently are in some way represented in that fanfic. It taught me how to write, when to write, and how to incorporate other people’s opinions into the writing itself. I released about a chapter a week, which was a great act of discipline back then, and set me up to keep to my writing deadlines in later life as well. My writing is also a little dramatic, which I blame entirely on the fanfiction. What you write first and extensively always ends up defining your style, and only now am I learning to overcome it with active criticism.
The fanfic started out very small, but eventually garnered 300k views and over 2k comments, which back then was a lot! It’s still the most viewed fanfiction on that specific pokemon forum, which I’m always a little proud of. I look at it and sigh like a mom looks at her newborn baby. Even though the fanfic isn’t new in any regard, it holds fond feelings. I made a lot of friends from it, and my current roommate and best friend contacted me after reading the fanfic, when she was still in middle school. Throughout my high school years, though, I was terrified someone in my school would find out I wrote pokemon fanfiction and use it against me, so I kept it under wraps for fear of being seen as a nerd more than I already was. Looking back on it, though, it was one of the best things that could’ve happened to me – it helped me realize what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It just took a lot more work and about seven more years to make it a reality.
More than anything, fanfiction gives you a world to play in that is already established, with well-loved characters that others will relate to as long as you write them well. This makes it fun to write, period; people comment and reading those comments is the best feelings. Whether good or bad, people are paying attention to your writing, and it’s very uplifting. It makes you feel like you can really make a difference, that you’re being heard in a time in your life when maybe you aren’t being heard in other areas, such as by your parents. It also gives you a safe space to explore writing in, and discover your unique voice that keeps people reading.
All in all, fanfiction is incredibly important as a community, and as an activity. Don’t let anyone ever tel you otherwise.
Thank you so much for having me!