The first fanfiction I posted online pre-dates Deathly Hallows. I was eleven when I wrote it. Though I didn’t use social media and hadn’t yet even gotten into forums, I already spent an exorbitant amount of time reading fanfiction.
Actually, the first time I tried to post it, it was rejected. I’ll never forget it. My favorite fanfiction site at the time moderated posts, and my story was rejected the first time around for not meeting their standards. (I think the problem was grammar, but I don’t remember clearly what the answer said.) I felt ashamed at the time and asked my dad to edit it for me. After that, the site approved it.
The internet itself has changed a lot in the fifteen years since that time, and I’ve changed just as much. It was inevitable. Some would be surprised that I even still read and write fanfiction on a regular basis, but I’ve never found a community of writers that’s as welcoming and easy to join as fanfiction. I don’t know what I’d be as a writer without it.
Over the years, though, one of the things that has changed is what I was looking for when I posted a story.
As a kid, I was filled with happy ideas of my story going viral and becoming one of the most popular stories in the fandom. (I was writing Harry Potter and Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfiction at the time.) That never happened, and at some point, I stopped even wanting it to.
Don’t get me wrong. If one of my stories did blow up, I’d be fine with it, but I’m not waiting for it to happen, and it’s not something I think about when posting.
Instead, fanfiction is how I explore different writing methods and tricks. It’s how I learn to strengthen my skills. And the best part is that someone will read it, viral or not. I can’t get that in any other way.
So, even if I never become there viral fanfiction author that my child self wanted, I’m thankful for the people who do read my fanfiction and especially the ones who take the time to post reviews or comment. I’ll never know if I’d be writing this now without it.