Or vice versa.
I’ve been spending rather a lot of time browsing fanfiction, either rereading favorites or discovering new gems (and sometimes inverse gems as it were) in my favorite fandoms. Of course, there’s been a certain amount of writing fanfiction as well.
Which is where the blessing that’s a curse in disguise or curse that’s a blessing in disguise comes into play.
See, when my mind has shut down and refuses to brain, fanfiction is a kind of lever that lets me slide back towards other writing. So much of the heavy lifting has already been done, whether in the original work or in the assorted fanons surrounding the work. It’s easier than trying to handle world-building and the right amount of description and characterization and and and and and… (Yes, I’m a closeted perfectionist and yes I do suffer the perfectionist’s bane of if I don’t try I can’t fail at it whatever it happens to be)
The flip side of this is that without practice skills get rusty. What used to be a deft touch with characterization starts to have all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. It becomes impossible to weave subplots around the main story (and this is from the uber-pantser herself, which should tell you exactly how crappy my plotting can get if I’m not writing well), and the less that’s said about the description and other bridging pose the better.
So, both blessing and curse. It’s still better than not writing at all, and more to the point, fanfiction readers can be helpful to gauge whether or not what you’re writing is able to interest readers, something that can be challenging when you’re trying to write things you want people to pay for.
Although, when it comes to “what will interest readers”, the amount of flailing, angsty drek out there proves that Sturgeon’s Law (90% of everything is crap) is both accurate, and probably optimistic.
That does not excuse me from dipping my writerly toes into the Harry Potter fandom with a title that’s guaranteed to give someone hives attached to a cute little piece of silly fluff in which an infant Harry Potter uses necromantic accidental magic to a) banish Voldemort, and b) bring his parents back to life. It’s intended to be nothing more than cute fluff, and taking it from baby Harry’s perspective means I get to have all sorts of fun about it, since baby Harry doesn’t know words like “soul” or “body”, and he’s really worried because his parents have told him he’s not allowed to fix things unless they say he can…
Leaving it to the reader to wonder just what kind of undead abominations have followed the siren call of “Hawwy fix!”, of course.
This is what happens when normal brain service refuses to engage.
Fear it. It will get worse.
(Oh, and have a picture of Buttercup with Midnight behind her in the kitty bed)