I sat on the sidelines of a Facebook messaging conversation yesterday concerning the sometimes very unbalanced ratio between the level of effort one puts into writing a chapter of fanfiction and the reviews one gets in return. In that conversation, one comment mentioned being a 'new' writer and the other pointed out that she'd been at this for a couple of years now, and wasn't really 'new.'
That got me thinking.
I've only been writing fanfiction since October of 2006, and with the exception of one Young Riders story, everything I've written has been for Supernatural. But I've had the pleasure of meeting several amazing writers over these last three years -- via email or in person at the few Cons I've been to -- and I learned that not only has fanfic been around for some time, but many of the writers I read and have learned so much from have written in several other fandoms over the years.
In fact, the zines that I've been fortunate enough to be included in, were apparently the first way people got their hands on some of these stories.
So, last night I decided to poke around a bit. I thought of the shows I used to enjoy, and the shows I currently enjoy (outside of Supernatural). I'd ventured out previously on fanfic.net and found stories in the Dark Angel universe, or NCIS, or Lost, and even some for The Boondock Saints. But this time, I wandered through LiveJournal (which has been a scary place for me in the past).
*is still blinking*
There is so. much. out. there.
And these writers are structured, thoughtful (not as in caring, but as in put-a-lot-of-thought-into-it), researched, and well-written. I mean, yeah, I found some that had me wincing and drawing back from the screen in horror, but so many others that were just very, very well-done. I started with Space: Above and Beyond and wandered into some Star Trek areas (waaaay over my head). I moved to 21 Jump Street and then found myself in Third Watch territory. I stumbled across some Lord of the Rings and fell into the quicksand that is fantasy (had to get more wine after that). And don't get me started on Heroes. I was totally overwhelmed by that.
What did I learn from all of this?
That I am merely a blip on the heartbeat of fanfiction. That for every one of my stories, there are thousands of others out there that people follow and enjoy. That there is a kink for every quirk and a quirk for every kink and that people are unafraid to search for what they enjoy, but would rather not be public about it (I saw some very interesting 'pennames').
This is not to say that I thought I was anything bigger than that before I started exploring LJ. It's just that sometimes we need a reality check like this to make us reconsider the overall importance of what we're worried about. It's not enough, sometimes, to be told that I worry to much about "blank." I worry too much about everything; doesn't stop me from doing it. I needed to see that this just is what it is, and that I'm doing okay.
Does that even make sense?
I reconfirmed that I'm fortunate to have been accepted in this fandom and I garnered a new appreciation for the manner in which feedback is often offered to me. I am so very thankful for reviews and for the opportunity of escape that those who read what I write provide to me. I'm the type of person that needs to know I'm going in generally the right direction. I don't need coddling or continual pats on the back. But I can't move forward in silence and I am eaten up by insecurities if there's no one nodding encouragingly at me. The reviews = the nods.
With that, I thank everyone who offers me feedback, comments, emails, PMs, what have you. It's an escape to write fanfiction, but an honor to have it read. And I'm glad to be part of the dust of the expansive fanfic universe.