Dear fangirls, boys, and fellow fandom contributors,
The one thing I'm really tired of? Succeeding to find old ficwriter faves after hours of online pillaging and searching only to discover that the fanfic I wanted to read in the first place is no longer available because the author intends on revamping and rewriting it into an Original Novel.™
I'm as enthusiastic about fanfiction writers getting their original stuff published as the next gal, but this trend seems to be happening all over the place lately - most notably at Fanfiction.net.
I mean, Fanfic Author, I'm real happy for you, and I'm gonna let you finish, but Your Fanfiction Story had one of the Best Plots of all time. Don't you know how tough it is on your readers to not have access to Your Fanfic anymore? We're happy for the ambition you display by willingly undertaking such a task, but it still doesn't seem fair on certain levels, to your readers or yourself. Especially when one considers the actual, realistic odds of it ever getting published
as an Original Novel.™
What got me started on this, you ask? Well, I've been, as of late, trying to find and reread old favorite fanfiction from past fandoms and unfortunately have been coming up pretty painfully short. Having taken it upon myself to delve back into Inuyasha and reread some of the best Sesshoumaru/Kagome fanfics I can remember loving four or five years ago, I was not only disappointed to discover that A Single Spark was offline but that it was borderline impossible to find several stories that had become, in my mind's eye, S/K fandom classics.
(A note on ASS - though the fansite was moved to Dokuga.com, it's still not the same - not really. With the move, so much fanfiction that had been hosted on the website was lost and since then, I know there are plenty of authors who have not taken the time to repost to Dokuga. Which is heartbreaking both for me as a reader and for the Inuyasha fandom in general; at least on a historical, documented level.)
The fanfic in particular that I'm talking about (that sparked this mini essay) is called Cracked But Not Broken
by Nefra I @ FF.net. I sat at my computer for over three hours searching the depths of the internet for this fic, only to finally - finally
- discover it on FF.net.
But it was not quite how I remembered it.
Not only has Nefra I taken it upon herself to remove all 'questionable content' (re: lemons) from the FF.net version, she has not (to my knowledge, anyway) made the entire, unedited version available anywhere online. The only way one can get the unedited version of the entire fanfiction is to send Nefra I an email requesting them.
Now I don't object to the idea of emailing her, but it just seems like way too much trouble. I have to worry about when she'll get back to me with the content (if she does at all) and who I am potentially giving my email address to. I don't know if I'm just being paranoid (which I acknowledge I am being), but I don't like giving my email to people I don't know. Now, before ya'll jump all over me for whining so much, I clearly realize that I could easily create a dummy email account and use that instead. But, again, it just seems like way too much trouble. I remember back when I was thirteen and lemons were all over FF.net. I remember when I was thirteen and finding good fanfiction was so much easier. I remember when I was thirteen and I didn't have to worry about people removing their fanfic for the sake of recreating it as original fiction.
To sum up - I don't want to create a dummy email or have to go to extensive lengths to get my fanfic because if there is one thing online fandom and the fic it entails is supposed to be - it's easily located, easily enjoyed, and, perhaps most importantly of all, free
Rounding back to the original fiction bit - I'm happy for anyone who, like myself, is working on original fiction in an effort to get published. But it just seems like there should be a distinct line between fanfiction (which doesn't cost anything and can generally be written by anyone) and original fiction (which is neither in the case of published material.) I'm very big on being obliged to your readers. If a person has taken the time to read your story for however long, the least you can do is respond to their reviews - which most authors do. When I discontinued a multi-chapter serial in the Rurouni Kenshin fandom, I made sure that I posted a note on FF.net making sure that my readers knew that it was discontinued and also what I'd had planned for the remainder of the story. Fanfic authors, if they are going to take the time to post their work online and ask for feedback, owe their readers for whatever it is those readers provide them with (be it inspiration, reviews, flames, anything.)
By posting a multi-chapter story on FF.net that you have taken the time to complete, you are telling your readers, "This is something I started for myself and am finishing for you." If an author is saying any different, they are deluding themselves. By posting your work online, you are already making some sort of commitment to those who take the time to read. If you didn't want the valuable reading time and opinions of those readers and you were indeed simply writing for yourself, you would never have posted it on the internet.
It just doesn't seem fair to me that these people are taking away from readers something that, almost absolutely, belongs to both the author and the readers, as well as the original creator of whatever the fandom is about.
Okay, to wrap things up here, let me re-emphasize what I'm trying to say.
1. I completely sympathize with the dream of publishing original work.
2. I completely sympathize with the loss of motivation that sometime accompanies fic-writing.
3. What I do not think is okay is to take a story that you have written for FANDOM about characters that do not belong to you in a universe that is not of your creation and change the appearances a little, the names, and a few of the circumstances and completely claim it to be original fiction.
4. I also do not think it's okay to take a fanfiction that you have had online in one place for years and one day, out of the blue, change it and make it partially unavailable to the ready audience unless you are willing to host ONLINE an easily accessed unedited version. (And by partially I am of course referring to the removal of any kind of questionable content from a fanfiction - be it violence, gore, or sex.)
I'm sorry if this comes across as rambling, but it's 12:00 AM and I'm very tired. I just really needed to get this off my chest.