Harry Potter Fan Fiction Changed My Life

Sometimes it’s easy for my to look at myself in the mirror and say, “What are you doing here, Albert? Writing? Blogging? You really think anyone cares about any of this? You’re not telling anyone anything they don’t already know. You’ve got diddly. Oh, and by the way, you need a shave”

But when I get discouraged sometimes it helps me to remember why I started writing in the first place. Last week, I talked about the moment that I realized that writers, all writers, were normal people, just like me, and if they could do it, I could do it too. But I didn’t tell you about how that moment happened.

Back then, I was a nobody working away at my local Walmart (I’m still a nobody working away at my local Walmart, so let that be a lesson to you about following your dreams.) I had just temporarily  transfered to the Hardware Department, where I was learning to mix paint from the lady who worked that department normally. And at some point between talking about paint and plumbing she happened to mention that she was a writer.

“Oh, yeah?” I asked. “What kind of stuff do you write?”

“Harry Potter fan fiction mostly,” she told me.

“Is it any good?” (Yes, I know. I am the soul of tact.)

“Why don’t you go to the website and see for yourself?

So when I got home, I did. And it was good. I went into it thinking I would find all kinds of misspellings and tortuously constructed sentences, but instead I found a story that was just as well written as some of the books I had on my shelf at home. It was a moment that changed my life.

I went back to work the next day gushing to this woman about writing and books and about how stunned I was at how good her writing was (still the ever-tactful one, that’s me.)

She shrugged it off, and said, “It’s not that big a deal really. You could do it.”

“But I don’t want to write fan fiction.”

“So write your own story.”

So I did. There were a ton of false steps and bad starts, but I finally got my head around the process, and over the course of several months I pounded out my story from beginning to end. I went back to that woman so often for advice and encouragement I’m surprised she didn’t lose patience with me and tell me to take a hike. But she didn’t. In fact, we’re friends to this day.

So when I say to myself, “What am I doing? I’m just a peon at Walmart with his little blog, and his stupid stories,” I think back to the moment I was inspired to start writing. Imagine if that woman had said to herself, “This is stupid. It’s just a knockoff fanfic. No one’s ever going to care. I’m quitting.” If she’d done that, I might never have gotten my start in this wonderful and crazy world of writing.

So I keep going, if for no other reason than that I might encourage you the same way she once encouraged me. If I can inspire even one person to throw themselves into writing, body and soul, I will be able to say that I accomplished something meaningful. And that is as good a reason as any to write.

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3 responses to “Harry Potter Fan Fiction Changed My Life

  1. I’d argue with you about all writers being normal. We’re real people, which can be encouraging for a clueless beginner, but there’s nothing normal about spending a large portion of your life making up stories about people and worlds that don’t exist. Thank goodness, I never wanted to be normal.

    But it’s true that the encouragement to write can come from anywhere. I’m not a big fan of fanfic, but I’ve read some that’s awesome. And my standards are pretty damned high for fiction of any genre.

  2. Oh, yes! I love reading fanfics still. That’s a community right there. I’ve made friends over there. 🙂 And I still write fanfics (while writing my actual stories).

    • You know, in spite of a fanfic inspiring me, I never really much delved into that world. I’ve written one or two things based on other work though, (see my short story “Squash” for one example)

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