Expect the Inquisition, and Get the Flying Circus

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Title: Expect the Inquisition, and Get the Flying Circus
Creator: Rana Eros
Date(s): June 23, 2004
Medium: online
Fandom:
Topic: Fanfiction
External Links: Expect the Inquisition, and Get the Flying Circus, Archived version
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Contents

Expect the Inquisition, and Get the Flying Circus is an essay by Rana Eros.

It is part of the Fanfic Symposium series.

A response to this essay is Sit Down and Shut Up: Authors and Criticism by Emily Brunson.

Excerpts

Let me start out with what I feel is a very obvious truth, but which often gets overlooked in kerfuffles on this subject: I am a fan of fanfiction. I love reading it, I love writing it, I love talking about it, I love that it exists in this world, the product of character-love and universe-love and the fertile imaginations of human beings unafraid to get creative. Like everyone of my fannish acquaintance, I am not here because I would otherwise have nothing to do with my leisure time. Indeed, there are several other activities I forego because I choose to be here, and my love for fandom, fannishness, and fannish end products is so great that I have been known to cut into non-leisure time in order to pursue them more fully.

So, just to be absolutely clear on this point, I engage in fandom because I choose to, because I love it. My engagement in fandom includes, but is not limited to, writing fanfiction, reading fanfiction, discussing fanfiction, beta-reading fanfiction, editing fanfiction, and critiquing fanfiction.

Yes, I did just say that my critiquing of fanfiction arises from my love for fanfiction. If this surprises you, perhaps you should rethink your assumptions about the purpose of criticism, and the motivations of critics, in fandom.

Look, I love my fannish sources. My books, television shows, movies, comics, manga, and music are sources of great joy to me. I wouldn't bother with them if they weren't. For years, I enjoyed these things alone. Then I stumbled across fandom, and it tickled me to death that here were other people who enjoyed these things just as much, and--wonder of wonders—were also inspired by these sources to create their own works. I happily read said works, and happily engaged in discussion about them. I discussed which ones I felt were truest to how I saw the source. I discussed which ones seemed to deviate from the source, and how successful I felt that deviation ones. I discussed which ones I thought fell apart due to internal logic errors, poor research, or mischaracterization. I discussed which ones I couldn't really get into enough to judge for the above qualities, due to misspellings, typos, grammar issues, etc. Just as I was engaging in my own fannishness when I wrote fanfiction, or read it, so I was engaging in my own fannishness when I critiqued it.

Imagine my surprise the first time somebody accused me of critiquing fanfiction because I hated fans, or the fannish source, or other people being creative. Imagine my puzzlement the first time somebody accused me of critiquing fanfiction because I wasn't creative myself, especially since said somebody had just sent me feedback for one of my own stories not two days before. Imagine my confusion the first time somebody accused me of critiquing fanfiction because I had no life, because to me that's such a non-sequitir. Nobody accuses me of having no life because I love my husband. Nobody accuses me of having no life because I go to the beach. Yet non-fans have accused me of having no life for being involved in fandom (and how seriously do they expect me to take such accusations when some of them play golf?), and certain fans have accused me of having no life for how I am involved in fandom. If I had no life, people, I'd be occupying the ass-ugliest urn my best friend could find at a place of honor during my own wake, then my husband would hire a ferry to go scatter my ashes over the Pacific. As it is, I sometimes have too much life, and would happily trade some of it in for seaQuest DSV on DVD.

And while I'm dreaming, I'd also like to win the lottery.