When I was fifteen, I discovered the world of fanfiction.
I was a passionate young writer at the time, and until that point, had been writing my own YA novel.
Concurrently, I went through seasons of obsession with different film franchises and television shows; they were often my escape from the throes of adolescence and bullying, and were my happy place.
Side note: Watch the horoscopes and self-care. Post continues below.
Fanfiction was the marriage between two things I loved, and it became my secret world.
I began writing my first fiction out of pure love for a show, and didn’t realise that the level of recognition it was achieving within that online community was substantial.
To date, that story has 372,418 reads – and it continues to chug along each day, even after a decade.
I remember printing out the first five chapters of that story and popping it in a display folder – beseeching my best friend, Melanie, to read it. I was incredibly self-conscious, but I wanted tangible feedback from someone I knew.
“This is really good, G. You shouldn’t have to hide it,” she had encouraged.
This bolstered my confidence to share it in my English class.
Some of my classmates jumped on and read the first couple of chapters, and so did my teacher – they were very supportive, and for a fleeting moment, I was chuffed.
My teacher had been so impressed she had shown her colleagues in the staffroom what I had done. Teachers began to stop me as I walked between classes or even approached me during lessons, to encourage my work.
“I heard about your online writing, that’s fantastic!” they would say. Some would go on to ask what it was about, and I would go bright red while I tried to come up with a vague response.
A handful of kids used this as a platform to tease me, as kids do – and the embarrassment swept back in again. How many people knew my pseudonym? Was it even my secret world anymore?
When the boys’ bullying became relentless, I told them I had stopped writing; that I was over fanfiction and had moved onto something new.