I didn’t tell anyone for over twenty years. How could I? I’m a serious writer. My genres are poetry and creative non-fiction. I don’t enjoy fantasy or role-playing. I’ve never even been to a comic book convention. In a pinch, I might admit to an occasional diversion in science fiction, but that’s it.
Ten years ago, confronted with looming deadlines on my graduate school applications, I felt something snap. Hidden stories burst from my head. Like alien beings, they scurried down my arms and slid through my fingertips. Once they landed on my keyboard, I couldn’t deny it any longer.
My name is Julie and I write fan-fiction.
Fan-fiction is a strange addiction. Admitting that I was powerless over my desire to write it was the first step. And write it I did: frantically, incessantly, and incoherently.
I committed all of the mistakes commonly ascribed to fan-fiction novices. I wrote myself into the story as a “Mary Sue,” the unneeded, but somehow critical, new character. In my case, it was doubly bad; I was also the self-proclaimed love interest of one of the heroes. I made fatal errors with my new teammates. Overly involved with my personal ideology, I didn’t realize that I was switching points of view at random. My behavior pushed them so far out of their comfort zones that they acted like different people.
Fortunately, though I was drunk with bravado, I did one thing right. Before unleashing my creation on the world, I asked for help from another fan, a beta reader. This led me on an unexpected journey.
When I started watching Battle of the Planets at the age of nine, I didn’t realize that I was applying for dual citizenship with the Intergalactic Federation. Watching cartoons was just a chance to bond with my new neighbor. We liked the flying “bird people” and ran around crossing our arms in front of our faces shouting “Transmute!” at each other. I never imagined that thirty years later, I would debate whether you need to move your arm in a circle to activate the transmutation process.
Finding fellow Gatchamaniacs brought me success as a fan-fiction storyteller. But having my work critiqued furthered my growth as a writer. My beta readers have taught me far more than the finer points of Galaxy Security. I can now track point of view better than 7-Zark-7 detects Spectran war craft. I can follow the plot to Zoltar’s get-away without getting side-tracked wondering how Chief Anderson’s glasses – the ones with the missing temples – stay on. I know to stand by, report on the battle, and not dominate the scene. I’ve learned that crafting a good story isn’t personal. It’s a dialogue between my readers and me. If my readers can’t go along for the ride, I haven’t done my job.
But a few stories are meant for my eyes only. It’s okay not to share everything I’ve written, like the piece where I nurse Jason back to health after his cerebonic implant fails. I admit it: my earliest fan-fiction is wrought with hand-wringing agony. Sometimes it’s best to just liberally apply the angst label and move on. I have better things to write.
I’m going to start by updating my writer’s bio. How does this sound? My name is Julie. I’ve been a member of the Intergalactic Federation of Planets for over thirty years. In my spare time, I write poetry and creative non-fiction.