I haven’t made many serious attempts, but I’ve never been able to write fanfiction successfully. My good friend and I have talked about fanfiction many times, since she started in it, and she described it like this:
It’s like you’re righting wrongs in the original story. Somehow, you wanted something out of the original that just wasn’t there, or the original somehow screwed up. And you get the urge to write fanfiction.
I could understand that, of course, but it explained a lot about why I can’t write fanfiction! Unless I’m reading professionally, I prefer to make no judgments about other people’s work, and enjoy them for what they are. If something is really wrong, I just don’t finish it, since my faith in the storytelling is shot, and I can no longer suspend my disbelief.
But real life is another matter.
The other day, I saw my neighbor. She is around 70, and her twenty-something year old son committed suicide, some time ago. Apparently, he hung himself in a church yard. My neighbor’s hair turned completely white, and she wasn’t able to even speak his name for many years.
My own child now has his Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar book, which was given to him on his “beautiful 3rd.” Over the years, I’ve seen photos of him on her fridge, portraits drawn by her late husband, his baby photos. “The guy who committed suicide” started becoming a real person to me.
While in my neighbors house the other day, I looked at a photo of his high school graduation and had the impulse to somehow bring him back in a story. A hero, who somehow triumphs over his own mental illness. Who eventually finds that life is worth living.
It led me to wonder if all stories are the fanfiction of real life. Don’t we all have something to prove? Don’t we all want to right the wrongs of life, to show ourselves and others that some things are at least possible, if only in a temporary, fictional world?
The existence of true love. Good winning over evil. The intense survival instinct of people prevailing. The inherent worth of all living beings. What wrongs do you want to right?