Róisin O’Donnell is a 19 year old leaving cert survivor and writer. She was a participant in the first ever Young Playwrights Programme. Her play ‘Bernie’ premiered through the programme. She lives in Cork, where she spends her time writing fiction and plays, obsessing over books and her dog.
Youth, the Internet and Fiction – Blog 2
There are millions of stories on Fanfiction.net. 791K of those stories alone are listed under Harry Potter.
Meaning: Thousands of mostly young people around the world using their keyboards to enter the writing world. All because of words someone else has written.
I think that sounds amazing.
But attach the label ‘fanfiction’ and people start cringing.
Using the incorrect form of ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ shouldn’t automatically make you a joke. Writing isn’t easy. And I can relate.
On my way to becoming a writer, I went through the terrible years of primary and early secondary school feeling average. I had nothing in front of me, so much energy and nowhere to put it.
According to school there are only three categories to slot into. Athletic, brainy or social butterfly and if you aren’t a superstar at one of those things – tough shit. To the end of the pecking order, please!
One day, out of boredom, I typed 500 words on my phone and called it a first (bad) chapter. I wanted nineteen years later to be more than a just happy ending at a train station. Those 500 words turned into 230,000 words and counting. And that, I can safely say, drew me to more books, made me see things from multiple perspectives and start to question things. English class didn’t improve my editing skills, get me into the Young Playwrights Programme or give me the opportunity to write this blog. Writing something I loved did.
Yes, there are the scandalous stories but isn’t there Mills and Boons lining the shelves of every library? You just need to know where to look. The most followed stories on the site are under the genre adventure and are longer than any of the books I have on my shelf.
The readers and writers work together. They learn to improve their writing technique by editing and even beta-ing. People constructively break down each other’s work and work together to build each other up. Even the reviews are kind and supportive for the most part.
You wouldn’t believe the number of teen writers testing the waters and spreading their wings. They are trying to teach themselves. They want guidance and acknowledgement.
If you type fanfiction into any search engine late-night talk show segments will show up trying to get a cheap laugh and articles trying to teach parents what it is like in the depths of the community will appear. No one on the sites cares. That’s the outside world. The writers and readers do what they do with confidence. Confidence that would be benefitable to schools and societies in this cynical world.
And I’ll end this first blog with the lessons online writing has taught me. Lessons I should’ve learned in school:
Ability, even a magical ability like creativity takes works.
The only way to really succeed is to push forwards through the shitty phase every writer goes through and post that next update.