A few months ago, a smiling friend handed me a carefully folded-up page she’d torn from the newspaper. “I thought you might be interested in this,” she said. “It’s about a writers’ workshop.”
I thanked her, then sat down to read the article. The workshop was local, which was a plus. Coming up soon – another plus.
To participate, you must have been published in four literary journals.
It brought to mind all the people who’ve told me over the years, “I don’t watch television.” The ones who wouldn’t touch a Stephen King book with a ten-foot pole. The ones who take such delight in feeling that they’re “better than” all that.
Sorry, world. I’ve never been published in a literary journal – haven’t even been considered by one. I don’t read them, or even ponder them as I pass them by. Me? I’m a literary lowbrow, and a fanfiction writer. My Kindle is full of showbiz biographies, Fringe and Psych tie-in novels, the memoirs of escapees from polygamist colonies, histories of the Hatfield-McCoy feud and the doctor who popularized lobotomies and the Johnstown Flood, John Grisham and Dean Koontz novels, the musings of Bill Maher and William Shatner, Wool fanfiction, and… oh yeah. Stephen King.
Don’t I want to read to learn something? Be enlightened? Sure I do. (Ask me for some random facts about the Johnstown Flood.)
Don’t I want to be enriched?
I’ve been writing fanfiction since I was ten years old, because my mind has never been able to accept That’s all there is. I wanted more stories about my favorite characters, so I wrote them, starting off with a ballpoint pen and a spiral notebook. I wrote until my hand ached. After my dad invested $20 in a manual typewriter (the bounty of someone’s yard sale) and insisted that I learn to type “so you’ll have something to fall back on,” I hammered out stories until my family begged me to stop. Through word processors with three lines of memory and fancier word processors that froze dead in the middle of revisions, through four generations of computers, I wrote and I wrote and I wrote.
And I write.
At a rough guess: ten novels, a couple of dozen novellas, sixty teleplays, two screenplays, and eight hundred short stories. Some of it a struggle, most of it a joy.
Most of it fanfiction.
Most of it, as Stephen King likes to say, “the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and fries.”
Which isn’t to say I rival The Master of the Macabre in talent, or persistence, or even sheer word count. I’ll dare to say, though, that I might rival him in the sheer joy I take in what I do. My stories will never make me financially rich, though they’ve earned me some remarkable perks over the years. The unlikelihood of ever earning a fortune from what I do doesn’t make it any less worth doing – or make me any less proud of having produced that enormous pile of work.
Literary journals? You can keep those, and that “better than” attitude.
I’ll be over here with my sack of fries, pounding out my fanfiction.