Lessons From Fanfiction

Updated: Dec 31, 2019

by Alysha Blaze

Lots of Stories—Try Not To Be Overwhelmed!

Gather round, as today I have a story about a lesson I learned the hard way, the best and worst way to learn!

About three years ago-ish, I had taken my second dive into the world of fan fiction. I lost interest somewhere at 15 years old as I moved into focusing on my music, poetry and short stories. I found it hard to keep writing once things got a little stale and writer's block was piling on me gradually. I found inspiration by going back to where it all began - writing about characters somebody else had created. I mentioned in my previous blog post it's simpler to write a plot when the characters are established already. So to keep myself from losing faith in my creative abilities, I wrote about my newest anime obsession - Attack On Titan.

I had found a series of short comics an artist made on Tumblr, and I was inspired to write the corresponding fan fiction to fill in the gaps between the comics. I asked for the artist's permission, and she was thrilled someone wanted to write a fic for it. Somebody else had beaten me to the idea, but they only wrote a short one shot that was not what the artist had in mind. To keep things running smoothly, I would be showing my drafts to the artist for feedback to keep things as close to her vision as possible.

I had started my fanfics on fanfiction.net (raise your hand if you remember that site!) but this time around I created a separate blog on Tumblr from my personal one where I would be posting my written works. This time around I had a plan going in and was not overwhelmed with the demand for my chapters. I thought I had planned for everything, but I still managed to be surprised. Because the artist gave me a boost since I was working closely with her, I got many more followers than I had before nearly overnight. People shared my works as they were already fans of the comic, and were happy to have fresh new content to go with it. My works were able to be shared on Tumblr's platform, so my reach was much larger than my little corner back on fanfiction.net. Before I knew it, I hit over a 100 active followers who were commenting and supporting my little hobby.

To celebrate this milestone, I decided to host my first giveaway. If my followers liked the giveaway advertisement, they would be entered in a draw. The winner could submit any idea and I would write it. I let the giveaway go on for about a week. Sadly, out of 100 relatively active followers, only 10 participated. I was a little bummed it had not been a major success, though I supposed perhaps not many had ideas they wanted written or they didn't think they could win. So, I decided to do something that later on would bite me someplace unpleasant. I said to the 10 people that participated, I would do ALL their requests.

At the time, I was working a very, very dead job. I worked a small shop alone that was a knock off brand of Build A Bear, and had a lot of time to write during my shifts as there was very little else to do. I could do all the chores of the day within a half hour. Not a lot of folks came in, so I wrote uninterrupted. I managed to do five of the ten suggestions I got very quickly, and the 10 followers were all ecstatic to win something!

However, after I banged out five of the stories, my only other coworker broke the freakin fluff machine. The shop wasn't bringing in enough business to warrant buying a new one, so they decided to close the shop and lay us off. I thought I would have more time to work on the stories at home, but most of my time was spent at interviews chasing employment and trying to find a job during a recession. I had a few jobs that did not work out at other small places, or ones that were over an hour away from home by bus so my days were spent working and traveling. I managed to finish a few more stories, but I never did finish all of them.

Over a year later, my blog was collecting dust as I had finished the chapter story I originally got known for and I hadn't updated with new giveaway requests in ages. I wanted to message the last couple people whom I had failed to produce a story as I faced reality I just did not have the time to write the quality I wanted to, and honestly, I had lost interest in the anime I was writing fics about. The two users had since changed their own blog names and it took time to hunt them down, but I was adamant about apologizing for not keeping my end of the deal. Friends told me not to worry as it wasn't like I was getting paid, but there was a principle here. I made a promise I couldn't keep in the end due to forces beyond my control. So I found the users, explained roughly what happened and said I was sorry I failed. Both were very forgiving and were shocked I even bothered to message them a year past the whole thing as they had forgotten all about it. One said she was no longer into Attack On Titan either and disliked it now, so it was for the best.

So, I learned the hard way not to bite off more than you can chew. At the time I thought I had all the time in the world to write, but life throws you curve balls so prepare ahead of time for that. If your circumstances were to suddenly and abruptly change, could you still handle all the projects you took on? I'm glad I learned this lesson in a harmless setting without contracts and deadlines. You never know when your coworker will break your income giving fluff machine.

Thanks for reading!

Alysha Blaze

Blog Contributor

Alysha Blaze is a masked vigilante who spends her nights defending her city of Winnipeg, Manitoba from the evil villains Captain Misspell and Mr. Incorrect Grammar. With her side-kick Spell Check at her side, no misuse of words will escape justice. She spends her down time writing short stories and poetry. Some of this might not be true.

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