I stayed in a barn this weekend. I was on vacation in the Berkshires, a rural part of Massachusetts, for a family event. The barn, in fact, had been converted into an inn. Such was my relief when I realized I had a bed with a queen mattress instead of a bale of hay to sleep on.
A few days before I went on this journey, I had started writing a fan fiction story. I brought my notepad with me, hoping there would be time to work on it. My family occupied the entire inn, and we were isolated from nosy strangers.
The inn seemed like an excellent setting for writing. It was practically in the middle of nowhere. A long, winding drive through the mountains led to town. Amenities were sparse- no television, no cell service. There was wi-fi, but only if you stood in certain spots in the barn. The snow added to the isolation. There was lots of snow in the Berkeshires at this time of year. I found the climate welcoming. Winter had bypassed Detroit, and I was glad it was still winter, somewhere.
The only problem with the barn was the draft. While rooms were temperature controlled, the lobbies were not, and you could really feel the cold. That’s where I intended to do writing.
We had left on Friday for the Berkshires at a brutal hour of the morning, and I was actually working on my story at 2 am the night before, feeling restless. I was exhausted Friday and fell asleep early that night. I woke up feeling refreshed Saturday morning at around 6 am, which seemed like a perfect opportunity to do some writing. My girlfriend was still asleep, and I hoped my family was still in slumber as well. I wanted my cherished solitude to work on my erotic fan fiction.
Oh, I forgot to mention, it is an erotic story, similar to a lot of fan fiction. What’s unique about my story is that it’s erotica for men, mostly. It takes place in a universe that I have never seen in fan fiction, which is the He-Man and She-Ra universe. Netflix revived these cartoons recently, and I am a bit of a toon fanatic.
I watched a handful of them, especially the She-Ra series. What I created is not fan fiction in the literal sense, in that I am using original characters that I have adapted. However, I use names like “Manskull,” and call the world “Saturnia,” and anyone familiar with the cartoons would recognize the universe instantly.
I was writing that morning in the drafty barn resting my notebook on a pillow. Minutes later, family members started appearing. I hadn’t woken up early enough. What I thought would be an hour of calm and solitude turned out to be a very noisy and disturbing hour. Nevertheless, I got a significant portion of a scene done.
That afternoon, I was blessed with a few more hours of alone time, which I utilized for writing. I found a desk with a chair, so I didn’t have to prop my notebook on a pillow. I opened it and started crafting my He-Man/She-Ra erotica. Unfortunately, my little cousins were making tons of noise in the room next door. My one cousin was actually playing rock music on his phone. One of the most annoying sounds to me as a writer. Not the rock music- the crappy, semi-audible sound that comes a smartphone when someone plays sounds on it from the other side of the room. If shit had a sound, that’s what it would sound like.
That afternoon was no better than the morning, even if I was in a barn in an idyllic, peaceful countryside. There was no escaping the tyranny of the smartphones. Nevertheless, I managed to write a scene.
One family member did ask me what I was writing on my trip, and I said I was writing fan fiction. That’s it. There was no discussion about it. Not about the theme, or anything. The word “fan fiction” tells all.
Of course, it doesn’t. There’s a whole world of fan fiction. It’s a pleasure to write, and to share. And it’s worth it, even if there is no hope of remunerations. I don’t write fan fiction because I want money or notoriety. I do it because it’s fun. If I wanted those things, I wouldn’t be a fiction writer. Few fiction writers can make it in the publishing world and have full time careers. That is much rarer nowadays, if not impossible.
Fan fiction is about writing for the thrill of it and belonging to a community of other writers who share the same interests. The pay off is the likes, comments- knowing that your work is shared, and is being discussed. I don’t know who is going to read this He-Man/She-Ra story. All I know is that I will have enjoyed writing and sharing it, without being concerned about “getting published.” Isn’t that what creativity is all about?