About fan-fiction

Some arguments re: the fan-fiction topic.

1) Creating one's own characters and plot takes a combination of intensive focus, hours of effort and/or luxuries of free time. Most of the women who are writing have none of this. LeGuin used to get up well before dawn to write so the kids and hubby were asleep and demanding nothing at the moment. LeGuin did not have to work outside the home, drive a car or do taxes. Her husband did all that.

Many of the women writing fanfic have three jobs: one paid, and two unpaid. Housework and child chauffeuring are both time-eating and energy-scattering. Fiction is hard work! It is much easier to toy with one's notions using pre-built, somewhat plastic worlds--like playing with Barbie dolls instead of sewing one's own Raggedy Ann suite of dolls. Laziness is a pleasure in its own right; adding a fourth hair-tearing job to the other three would only yield many balding women.

2) Many women doing this writing, especially slash fiction, are not interested in the Ideas, they are interested in the Relationships. Long, romantic gazes into one another's eyes, reinterpreting male characters' wooden facial expressions as concealment for deep, heart-rending emotions that the writer wishes to inject into the doll-figure. That sort of thing. It is a kind of emotional Porn in which one gets to invest one's romantic longings in a safe, friction-free repository and exercise one's fan-ship fantasies of sexual congress with the characters/actors. Like teen celebrity worship and bodice/romance fiction gratifications. The pleasure is in being passively awash in pink fluffy emotions, not in actively stamping one's own incisively carved image on the world. This in itself is a kind of rebellion against the culturally imposed constraints of fast-moving plots with rising levels of conflict that are based on Aristotle's poetics and which mimic the male orgasm. The female orgasm, expressed in art, is more diffuse, vague, global, and has less to do with rapid friction than with a rich variety of sensations and a total sensory surround. AND the relationships. Thus, fluffy art is a rejection of the male idea of What's Good to Read.

3) The bisexuals among the fanfic writers who pair up existing characters in sexual combinations you will never see on network TV, are enjoying self-projection onto the Big Screen or Little Screen without having to invest a lot of time and effort or taking the risk of self exposure to a critical audience. And why not? 95% of everything is crap. Why not let the bi-gals crap away along with the happy crowds? Bookstalls are lousy with James Bondy garbage. I doubt the producers of fanfic would agree that they are oppressed; they are too busy feeling liberated by dancing on a not-too-high platform that seems expressly made for them to release their long-suppressed and culturally ignored feelings. Some poetry is well-crafted; most is merely self-expressive and valid in its own way for its own creative function.

4) Highly polished, well-crafted and original works by women have a way of falling through the cracks of a publishing and media empire entirely ruled by portly, balding moneymen whose preferred marketing targets are males between 18 and 25 yoa. Blood, sweat, years, and tears invested in a new(ish) form of fiction does not equal public notice much less acclaim. I speak feelingly on this matter; you may attribute it to envy if you choose.

5) Expressions of art in everyday things—colors, patterns, scrapbooks, home decorating -- these forms of art are harmonizing, soothing, lulling. Original art is disturbing, challenging -- even threatening. Original works do not sell well. Magnificent quilts and beadwork worthy of a Parisian gallery are passed over for the familiar and conservative forms. Even among women who work in traditional forms, there are not that many who have a superbly original color sense or distinctive hand stroke such as anyone with a strong opinion about the Purpose of Art tends to value. Good enough is good enough for most folks.