Well, there you have it – who says the blogosphere has to be a seething pit of rage and angst? A. R. Yngve dropped me an email in reply to my previous post about fan-fic, and I replied to the points he raised. With his permission, I republish his questions and my responses, verbatim, below.
ARY: When did a writer tell the fanfiction community he or she WAS “finished” with his vision? And if the writer did, did fanficcers care?
PR: In the absence of direct communication, the community has to assume that if it’s published, it’s finished – as far as any author’s work is ever ‘finished’, that is. Did they care? I have no idea – I expect some do and some don’t. But I think you’re assuming they conflate the author and his work to the same degree that the author inevitably does. To the author, his creations are his children – to the fan-ficcer, they’re just other kids in the playground to tell stories about.
ARY: Case in point: Doesn’t seem to me that fanficcers could hold themselves until, oh, the last Harry Potter novel came out. Methinks it would be a gesture of fair play to wait at least until “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” comes out… but nope.
PR: Fair play? Perhaps not. But they don’t wait because they’re hungry for the next instalment, and in the meantime they want to keep the world/characters alive in their heads. And why should they wait, if the hypothetical author doesn’t approve of fan-fic full stop? They have nothing to lose by going ahead.
ARY: With such a nagging impatience to fanfic, why should any writer trust the fanficcers to give him/her time to finish?
PR: Why does he care what they write or when they write it? Why does he need them to leave him time? Are people going to read a rushed fan-fic sequel and then skip the real thing when it arrives? Is the author going to read the rushed fan-fic sequel and decide to change his work in response to it? If fan-fic is so inherently bad, how can it cause a problem?
ARY: But of course, I’m just one person and the fanfiction community is so many. Might makes right. Right?
PR: Not at all, and not what I meant to say. But I know a futile battle when I see one. I can understand authors not liking fan-fic, but railing against it seems not just pointless but counter-productive in terms of marketing and self-promotion. Note that I’m not suggesting authors make a point of going and reading as much fan-fic as possible! But just shrugging it off would be easy enough. If there’s no money or publicity being taken from your pocket, why worry? Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so they say.
All very civilised, wasn’t it? I don’t think either of us ‘wins’ the argument, because there’s no defined goal to a discussion like this, but I think we’re both more aware of each other’s stances on the issue.
And that can only be a good thing – I hold to my assertion that fan-fic is set to grow considerably in the next few years, and being able to discuss the implications and motivations involved is one step toward working out how to reach a rapprochement between creators and fan-ficcers. Interesting times, boys and girls, interesting times.