It seems odd, but the world at large is just discovering something that we, ahem, geeks have been aware of for years. My first “fanfiction” wasn’t even that—it was just a way to read more stories in a series I loved (I was eight, reading the Hardy Boys) and I had run out of books. Later, I dove into more serious stuff, starting with—of course—Star Trek. It was the beginning point for many writers, not just fans.
Over the years, I kept that awareness and love of “fanfiction”. It was always for just myself, or for a friend or two, never out there in public. The internet changed that, and suddenly the closet writers of fanfiction were out. Maybe not loud and proud, but out and sharing their stories on a larger stage.
This altered the world in subtle ways. No longer were the writers a few, quietly trading photocopies at cons—no they were posting in a very public way and that is both good and bad. It’s good because it allows writers from around the world to share their stories, their love of a particular universe with like-minded readers and writers. It’s bad because it has polarized fandoms, created the idea that fanfiction can be “canon” and at it’s worst, can lead to ugliness. Which is sad, somewhere along the way, people forget that it’s all about love.
I will always love fanfiction, whether it is playing in someone else’s world or reading what someone has done in a world I have created. What makes me happy is that the world is becoming aware of it, I just wish the awareness had a more positive cast.