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Seanan McGuire writes about fanfic

Posted on 2018.12.06 at 12:56
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Thought you all might be interested in another article on tor.com (a great e-publication). This is by Seanan McGuire, a successful fantasy writer who also writes under the name Mira Grant and has won Hugo & Nebula awards, (and who I have met) about how writing fanfic made her the author she is today. She's pushing back against all the stereotypic ideas about writing fanfic -- and concludes that the low opinion some people have about it is in large part because it's primarily written by women. Here's the opening of the piece:

A good friend of mine—whose name I am not using here, because some bruises deserve to go unprodded, and she has a right to be hurt—said recently, “Every time I talk about writing fanfiction, I get hate mail.” She wasn’t exaggerating. I’ve seen, with my own eyes, what happens to authors, especially female authors, especially female authors of young adult fiction, when they mention their time in the fanfic world. I got angry. On her behalf; at the world; at the unfairness of it all. What you are about to read came out of that anger.

Then, of course, there is a lively discussion in the comments. Here's the link: https://www.tor.com/2018/04/09/the-bodies-of-the-girls-who-made-me-fanfic-and-the-modern-world/

or you can google, Tor.com, The Bodies of the Girls Who Made Me.

Would love your opinions.


nelyo_russandol at 2018-12-06 20:27 (UTC) (Link)
"Fanfic is beautiful. Writing fanfic teaches you important storytelling skills."

Both statements are so true... I reallyenjoyed the article, and I can't agree more with the "trash" vs "literature" double standards it highlights, and how we are expected to be ashamed about writing fanfic.

I haven't come across TOR.com before, but I will go explore now!

Edited at 2018-12-06 08:29 pm (UTC)
elfscribe5 at 2018-12-07 06:44 (UTC) (Link)
Hi there, so good to see you about! I've got a subscription (free) to tor.com. They have a lot of really interesting articles. Most recently a British historian did an analysis of how many historical errors there are in like the first 15 minutes of Braveheart, which is quite funny.

As for the fanfic, well we've all had this conversation before in the community. I guess I'm surprised it's still perceived so badly among a lot of people. I'm not sure it's completely a gender thing, i.e. that fanfic is despised because women primarily write it. After all I've recently read a couple of books hailed as quite literary, all written by women, and all could be classed as fanfic. The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley, a retelling of Beowulf, Miranda & Caliban by Jacqueline Carey, a retelling of The Tempest. And I plan to read Madeleine Miller's book Circe, taken from the Odyssey, which has won all kinds of accolades. Her first book The Song of Achilles is fanfic of The Iliad.
hhimring at 2018-12-07 08:41 (UTC) (Link)

I ought to subscribe to that newsletter, too, it seems to have really interesting content.

I had read an earlier version of Seanan McGuire's post. It's good that she is reaching a wide audience with it and Tor.com helps her to do so.

To be honest, what impressed me most about the Silm re-telling that you posted about earlier was that it was apparently complete (fannish projects so often get stuck, after starting brilliantly!) and that it was getting lively responses. Someone in the comments was inventing the idea of Feanor/Nerdanel romance as if it hadn't been done before...
elfscribe5 at 2018-12-08 07:26 (UTC) (Link)
I recently discovered tor.com and they have way more interesting articles than I have time to read. As for LaSala's primer I confess I've only read a few of the chapters, but enjoyed what I read. I'm afraid that being away from it for a while, it was nice to get a refresher.
As for the novelty of Feanor/Nerdanel, lol, obviously someone not conversant with a lot of fics including those written by our dear Dawn Felagund and Oshun.

Edited at 2018-12-08 08:24 am (UTC)
hhimring at 2018-12-08 09:32 (UTC) (Link)
I'm being unfair to LaSala, I think. He manages exactly the right tone for his target audience, probably, so that both people who don't know the Silm and those who do know it but need a refresher can read him usefully.
I was comparing him to projects like Araloth's and Cheekybeak's. But although those are funnier, they are really written for insiders and might be rather impenetrable to others!

I thought the person delightedly inventing Feanor/Nerdanel was cute. But it did also remind me how small fannish worlds are and how invisible to those not in the know. Why we need posts like Seanan's, I guess!
elfscribe5 at 2018-12-08 19:18 (UTC) (Link)
Fandoms do tend to be rather insular, but it's a huge world out there and impossible to keep track of all the stuff. lol. So, yeah, despite Seanan's aggrieved tone about how fanfic is discriminated against because wimmin, I really appreciated the wider audience her piece has had.

I haven't read Araloth's project but Cheekybeak's Silm rehash is absolutely hilarious, spot-on and I have enjoyed it thoroughly.
keiliss at 2018-12-07 22:50 (UTC) (Link)
I saw this a while ago but just skimmed it, this time I read it properly. It's a better interpretation than some, but I'm never totally convinced by the 'fandom is looked down on because women' attitude --- I think it's a classic case of dismissing something you don't understand, a bit like my views on base jumping (why would you do that??).

I hadn't realised Madeleine Miller had a new book out, I need to take a look.
elfscribe5 at 2018-12-08 08:20 (UTC) (Link)
Hiya Kei! Yes, agreed. I think the stigma may come more from the fact that anyone can write and publish it often without benefit of experienced editors and so it became characterized by the more egregious examples, not to mention the transgressive nature of lots of it, but as we all know, like published works, there's the good and the bad. I agreed with Seanan that writing fanfic in a community of like-minded folks actually taught me to write -- better than writing classes did.
Btw, Seanan McGuire told a group of us about the lengths she went to research one of her novels about a future where humans have symbiotic relationship with tapeworms. She actually infected herself with a goat tapeworm for a year, gave it a name, and was gutted (so to speak)when it came time to expel the critter. Now, first I have to say, um, she has my grudging admiration, and second -- euwwww!
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