Saturday, 10 December 2016

Why I don't write original fiction

Note: this article was written a few days ago, so is not intended as a response to anything in horizon's recent Fimfiction blog. The timing is entirely coincidental.

There's an "original short story" Writeoff round this weekend, and if you're interested in that sort of thing then please do check it out. There really isn't anything else like it... but, as you may have guessed from the title of this post, I won't be participating. Admittedly I've only ever done one Writeoff even in the ponyfic rounds, partly since weekends are not full of spare time for me, but at least that one entry eventually led to Like a Flower to the World.

Here's the thing, though: I have no ambition to write original fiction on any sort of serious basis. It just doesn't interest me enough right now. And while I like writing for its own sake, I certainly read far more non-fiction than fiction: I'd estimate that only about 20% of my reading falls into the latter category, something that hasn't changed in years. (While I'm on the subject, though: go and read Lindsey Davis's Falco series about a Roman private eye. It's great.)

I'm old enough to have been around since before the web, but I have never written anything like as much fiction as I have in this fandom. I did put out one significant story and a few other little things for the Watership Down fandom years ago, but beyond that? Well, here's my FictionPress account, untouched for eight years now. Some of what's there is pretty cringy stuff, but I'm still quite pleased by elements of a few of those pieces.

I'm hardly alone in picking out Fimfiction as a reason for enjoying writing ponyfic. Although its actual editor is still a pain in the rump to use, most of the site is approximately a zillion times nicer than the equivalents for other fandoms. I'd still write ponyfic if I were sent back to the days of GDocs, but I can't pretend it would feel quite as fun. The Fimf community helps a lot there – I've never had a story, no matter how short or pointless, that hasn't got feedback.

Everyone points out that the Friendship is Magic fandom will end one day – though actually I'm not sure about that. At UK PonyCon the other month, I met people who still write G1 fanfic, more than 20 years after G1 itself ended. I confidently expect an active, though much smaller, G4 fandom to exist in 20 years' time. And, of course, G5 may capture my imagination too; there's a difference between being a strictly FiM fan and being a more general MLP fan.

But you know what? The thought of that smaller, quieter future doesn't make me more motivated to break out of ponyfic into original fiction; it makes me more motivated to write more ponyfic while the going remains good. I haven't gone into all the personal details why this fandom means so much to me, but it is really, truly no exaggeration to say that it played a vital role at a very hard time in my life. FiM is not, and never will be, "just another show" to me.

I think I'll continue to write all sorts of things if and when my desire to write ponyfic dies down – and the "if" part of that is a big one. But I don't think I'm ever likely to be a significant author (even at a strictly amateur level) of original fiction. I simply don't owe it the debt that I do the FiW fandom, and it doesn't capture my imagination in the same way. I don't see this as limiting, or "thinking small" – I see it as writing for enjoyment first, last and always.

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