"Fandom, after all, is born of a balance between fascination and frustration: if media content didn't fascinate us, there would be no desire to engage with it; but if it didn't frustrate us on some level, there would be no drive to rewrite or remake it."
- Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture
I'm serious - which is something a lot of people aren't when they talk abou fanfic without knowing what it means in general and, more importantly, the millions of writers who pour their soul onto the screen without receiving a cent in return.
The best way to explain is by telling you how I found my way into fandom, this eclectic community of people from all around the globe who share a love for a work of fiction. Be it a film or tv show, or a book like in my case - strangers on the Internet or in real life connect in an instant because they are fans.
Henry Jenkins' quote is so true. I fell in love with HP when I was 11, as many did back then and many have done since. But I wanted more than the books - more of this world, more of my favorite characters. My big sister had started reading fanfic when there used to be printed fanzines for Star Trek and embraced livejournal as a new source of stories.
She printed out two fics once I had mastered English enough to give it a try. One was a funny story about Draco Malfoy getting turned into a rat and being adopted by Gryffindors. It was hilariously written and gave me so many feels as it went on, until Draco emerged, forever changed, and completes his journey to reformation. The second fic had a similar structure, but this time the catalyst is Harry Potter himself, whom Draco meets one night. Or rather, Harry catches him - crying.
Checkmate introduced me to slash, aka male/male romance in fandom. Since then, Harry/Draco have been my one true pairing (otp), though I ship other pairings as well, like Harry/Charlie, Harry/Wood... Basically anything if it's well written.
The leap from reading fic to actually writing fic occurred... I actually can't tell you. I did write a fic for "Alexander". But I really began writing in earnest after the seventh HP book had been published. I didn't care for the epilogue and wanted to explore what happened immediately after the Battle of Hogwarts. I wanted to see Snape posthumously appreciated and witness the Death Eater trials.
So I wrote it. I was 16 and English is my second language, plus I hadn't thought much about storytelling or having a thorough beta. No publisher would ever have looked at it, but I needed to write it and I did. I posted it on AO3 as soon as I got an account, in 2012. It's still there. I've switched it to members only, so you can't read the first two parts without an ao3 account (simply because I don't need people with no idea about being nice to fanfic authors judge me by my typos and plot holes).
I haven't deleted it because I want to show how far I've come since then, thanks to fandom commenting, giving me feedback, criticizing me, thanks to reading what others wrote, and complimenting them, asking questions in the comments, or realizing for myself what doesn't work for me as a reader.
All of this has taught me how to tell stories the way I do. That process is still ongoing. Every comment is valuable, beyond just making me happy because someone took the time to type a response to my creative work.
Words can't express my gratitude to fandom for this. I've found a home, not just as a person but as a writer, and look forward to all the adventures we'll share in the future.