Fanfiction

Love it or hate it, fanfiction has been around for generations and its here to stay. Alas, I am guilty of having written fanfiction and though some authors (Anne Rice, G. R. R. Martin) hate it when others take an idea of theirs and put their own spin on it, I think it can be a positive. Sometimes fans of a tv show, movie, or of a book series can fill in the gaps or take an idea and turn it on its head. Stories evolve over time

Take the legend of King Arthur. Many historians believe such a man existed, although he was not what he is today. Over centuries of telling and retelling the story, additions were made until the point that the original tale was not recognizable. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Bronte – now revered as authors of classic English Literature – dabbled for years in what we now consider fanfiction. They drew inspiration from the gothic tales of the Victorian Era, Sir Walter Scott, the Lake Poets, and created their own fantasy worlds. It can be argued that characters from their juvenilia later appeared in “Jane Eyre,” “Wuthering Heights,” and “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.”

Jane Austen, though, might have been the one who is most guilty of “borrowing” from other authors and putting her own spin on it. Paralells have been drawn between her “Pride and Prejudice” and Frances Burney’s “Evelina.” A poor girl, a wealthy suitor, obnoxious relatives, a charming rake, social satire… The title itself “Pride and Prejudice,” came from another of France Burney’s novels (“Cecelia”). When Rev. Austen tried to submit “First Impressions” (P&P’s earlier title), he compared it to Burney’s “Evelina.” The name Willoughby (a character originally from Evelina) shows up in “Sense and Sensibility” and is also a blackguard. “Mansfield Park” Austen’s most serious and moral novel, is the tale of a young girl taken from obscurity and placed with wealthy relatives and must find her way in the world. Sound familiar? The story of Dido Belle Lindsay has recently resurfaced and there is some evidence that Austen borrowed from Dido’s story to create the world of Fanny Price. “Northanger Abbey” might be the best example of Austen dabbling in fanfiction – it is a direct parody on the popular gothic romances of the day.

Obviously, I am making a case for fanfiction. It has its place and I consider it a legitimate form of art. What are your thoughts?

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Writing Buddies

Silly title, I know.

I’ve heard it said that writing is a lonely business and in a sense, it is. You shut yourself off from the world to focus on this project. You’re in the zone. (I applaud those who can co-write with someone, although I don’t understand it. I have to be in control of everything.) You’re on your own. With that all being said, its beneficial to connect with other writers. I did my own thing for the longest time, hiding my work from all except for those chosen few I asked to read it (mostly family members), and kept to myself. But my writing became stagnant; I didn’t learn anything new and I didn’t grow. I made the same mistakes over and over again; I didn’t know any better. Only when I started connecting with other writers did my efforts in writing begin to really pay off.

Not only have I made some wonderful friends, these fellow writers are facing the same struggle that I am facing. We’re all in the same boat together, trying to navigate through the treacherous waters of pre-publication. We’ve all failed, we’ve all had our hearts broken, we’ve all been on the verge of throwing in the towel. Your family and friends will support you as much as they can as you pursue your dream, but its your writing buddies that can comprehend your frustrations. They’re the ones you can bounce ideas off of and they’re the ones who will tell you what works artistically or not. You can send your manuscripts to them and they can catch your bad grammar and misspellings; then when you send it in to an editor, you don’t look as foolish.

When you’re having a 3am panic attack about how so-and-so has had their fifth best seller published and your WIP is burning a hole on your hard drive, they’re the ones who can talk you down because they’ve been there. Heck, maybe you’ve even calmed them down.

Get a writing buddy. Or buddies. Every writer has their own strengths and weaknesses, having a group of writing buddies can help shape you into the best writer you can be. Have someone you can lean on, someone you can laugh with over your goofs, someone you can share experiences with. Writing might be a competitive business and your fellow writers might also be your competitors, but it doesn’t have to be survival of the fittest out there. Sometimes its your writing buddy who can help you get your foot in the door.

So, who is your writing buddy?

Keep a Diary

“Keep a diary, and someday it’ll keep you.”- Mae West

That’s one of my favorite quotes and one I have taken to heart. Off and on in my life, I’ve kept diaries and journals. In the beginning they were more crayon colored pictures and simple sentences about loving my dogs or my favorite toys. In elementary school we were encouraged to record our thoughts and opinions. Then for my twelfth birthday, I received The Diary of Anne Frank as a present and it inspired to me keep a real diary. Over the years I’ve written about a variety of occurrences in my life, from birthday parties to crushes to deaths of loved ones. Many years have passed, and now my closet is full of old journals that I can’t bare to part with.

Silly and immature as it may be, I still keep a diary. One day, I’ll be gone and those journals will outlive me. Everyone views you a certain way, but only a diary can keep the real you alive.

What is my point to all of this rambling about diaries and journals?

I think its helpful and necessary for a writer to keep a journal. Its been said that its good for a writer to write every day, to keep the creative juices flowing. Journaling counts. You can record your thoughts, fears, achievements, failures, etc in your journal. Journaling can help you organize your ideas, plans, and writing projects. To write my stories and essays and whatnot, I first I have to organize my thoughts on paper to “see” my vision more clearly. Maybe that sounds like artistic nonsense, but it helps me make sense of it all.

Give a try. Then after a while, look back and reread your old entries, you’ll be amazed by how you evolve as a writer.

What do you think? Do you keep a diary/journal? Would you ever consider it?

Writing is Hard

writing-is-hard

 

I’m sure some of you have seen this meme bouncing around the internet. And it’s true: writing is hard. But publication is harder.

I am often on the verge of tearing my hair out, fretting that I will never be published again. You never know, really. Writing/Publishing is a subjective business. What works for one magazine or publication won’t work for another. I’ve had editors tell me that they really liked and enjoyed my stories, but that they just didn’t cut the mustard. They loved it, but they weren’t “in love” with it. It’s not personal; it’s never personal. Yet we always take it personally.

One story I wrote, “Saving Grace” was originally written way back in 2013 and didn’t appear in print until 2015. That’s two years.

“A Grave Discovery,” my little murder mystery, had been written in October of 2015 and was accepted by New Zenith Magazine in June 2016. Eight months and I was just about to throw in the towel. Sadly, that magazine has since ceased publication. (I am determined to get this one published again though.)

“An Agoraphobic in Europe,” was written in September of 2015 and wasn’t published until over a year later.

“The Sweetest Thing,” a mini little romance had been written in October 2016 but didn’t appear in print until March 2017.

Another murder mystery that I wrote in September of 2016 wasn’t accepted until July of this year. More on that later.

Another interesting fact: 90% of what I write, I write with one publication in mind. However, rarely does that publication ever accept or publish what I have written. I can’t tell you how many times I have submitted stories to Guideposts, Highlights, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and Reader’s Digest, only to have my stories accepted elsewhere.

Manic obsession and perseverance is the only real advice I can give about writing or publication. You receive twenty rejections for a story, submit it again. Submission twenty-one could be it. Don’t take “no” for an answer.

Until next time!

Family Stories

It’s been forever since I’ve updated. Life tends to get away from me sometimes, but I’ll try to do better.

Today’s post is about family stories. No, I’m not going to air any dirty laundry. But I am going to confess to something. I have been known to use old family stories to incorporate into my writing projections. When I was a teenager, I was obsessed with genealogy, particularly with one family story about a great-great aunt who died near my age, and spent a few years writing her story in fictional form. Nothing ever came of that venture; the story has been on that proverbial shelf for almost fifteen years. And now I’ve come up with another idea, inspired from an incident in my great-grandmother’s life. My family has always been very understanding about my habit of “borrowing” from our family lore. They actually encourage it, by sharing other stories and assisting in research. Whether this new story pans out or not, time will tell. I took break from writing novels in 2017, opting to focus on shorter pieces, and am eager to return to working on a major WIP for 2018.

But I’m curious: how many of you delve into your family history and used it for writing projects? Does your family notice? What do they think?