So you were intrigued eh...
I found fanfiction.net completely by accident. When I was about 11, I was obsessed with Harry Potter, as many of us were in the late 2000's. I stumbled across the site whilst googling more in depth fan theories. I was fascinated by all these stories that people had come up with, surrounding the Harry Potter universe - their theories on what would happen when the characters grew up, their careers, their struggles. There was a whole world on further imagination that I had never even considered.
I wanted to join the party, and being a giant Romione fan (Ron+Hermione fan for those of you who aren't fortunate enough or nerdy enough to have been a part of the fandom), I thought I would rewrite Deathly Hallows, from the perspective of Ron and Hermione. I'd always felt their love was so strong and interesting, and I wanted to know more...so I invented it.
The Whole Story As You Didn't Know was published on 21st July 2011, and to date it has been read over 20,500 times, and reviewed 55 times, most recently in 2018. 20 chapters, and it's not even finished yet - it's something I have dipped in and out of over the last 11 years, and will probably continue to do so until I reach the end. That's the beauty of the website - there's no finite end to any of it, as long as people keep going back to read, write and review.
Over the years, I've written 6 stories, based around Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean (I know, rogue). Honestly, I loved it. It was my little secret - no-one knew except my family and a very close circle of friends. No one from school, I didn't post about it on Facebook. It was for me and me alone, like a secret space where I could be my complete self. Now I'm not saying what I wrote wasn't cringy and a little weird - if you're savvy enough with a google search you can find it all for yourself, but that was not the point. It was about practicing, and about writing, and people did seem to like what I was offering. I worked hard at it too - at home I have about 25 notebooks filled with page after page of ideas for stories, chapters written out. I would hand write them, and then type them up afterwards. Honestly, I worked harder at maintaining my fanfiction account than I did on my GCSEs - my grades would definitely attest to that.
Oh I know what you are thinking - fanfiction, that's the site where EL James started her dirty book...it's a dirty place for smutty dirty writing. And yeah, ultimately, a lot of people do use it to write some pretty graphic stuff - who hasn't imagined themselves getting a little intimate with someone from their favourite book? But most of the content on there is just people writing stuff using the characters from literature, films, comics, tv, honestly anything. There's even some original content on there. It's an ideal playground for wannabe writers and who knows, maybe future novelists... you've got to hand it to EL James, she does have it made now!
It's free, it can be as anonymous as you want it to be, and most importantly it does feel like a safe space to mess around with your imagination. Opening your work up to the public, to reviewing, can seem a little daunting but what better way to see if you have something than to test it out on other aspirational writers who are in exactly the same boat as you.
I spent so long hiding what I loved doing, being ashamed because it wasn't particularly cool, but I'm 24 now, and over time I have realised that I am not cool, and cool isn't important, or rather everyone's making their own way in the world and as such their own brand of cool. Maybe after this, fanfiction will become cool, who knows.
I wonder if you've ever come across fanfiction.net before, or perhaps you have a hidden part of your life that you've always been ashamed of sharing because it's not considered to be a cool thing. Imagine, we were all fanfictioning in secret when we were younger and told no-one... that would be funny.