It’s a long story actually.
I started writing fanfiction in high school, but didn’t realize it had an actual ‘name’. I always was embarrassed about writing it, so kept it very personal. I only shared it with a couple of close friends who liked to do the same thing.
Mind you, this was in the 1980s. Generally I was told ‘why don’t you write your own stories’? So I tended to close up about what I was doing.
My experience writing fanfiction helped me create my own original universe though and I love it dearly.
I did manage to get professionally published eventually but it wasn’t the experience I’d imagined it would be and after a while, I decided to retire. Unfortunately much of the experience I had being published was hard. I lost a lot of my enthusiasm for writing what I wanted and I stopped writing. For a long time. I lost the joy.
It’s taken over 10 years for me to find the joy again.
And it’s been in fanfiction that I found my love of writing. I write for myself. I love my stories, no matter where they’re set and I’ve found a lot of fun including elements from my original universe in my fanfiction. It’s rekindled my desire to continue to work on Dirandan Chronicles (my original setting), to clean up my manuscripts and republish them on my own terms this time.
I’m sick of editors, publishers and other staffers feeling like they know my work better than I do, telling me to change things (that aren’t even editing or publishing related things) or tell me to write things I don’t enjoy (that happened a lot). Or changing my work without my permission. (Horrible cover art for one thing)
My advice is to write what you love. If it’s canon, fanfiction, your own stuff, whatever. Stay firm if you do publish and don’t let anyone change the fundamentals of your stories. Editors should only be there to help polish. Agents are working for you, not the other way around. Art departments should ensure your characters look the way you want them to (not skinnier or blonde or whatever).
Fanfiction is a good, legitimate way to learn how to write, how plots are built and how engaging stories are created.
Don’t let anyone ever tell you different.
~Diranda (aka Tabitha Bradley)