Apr. 19th, 2012

lazypadawan: (Default)
In all of this time, I never mentioned how I got into fan fic.

The first time I had ever heard of media fanzines (I’d certainly seen or heard of alternative culture or music-themed zines) was when I was in college in the late ‘80s-early ‘90s. I’d picked up a book about Star Trek and Star Wars collectibles. To think you could fit both into one volume! There was a section that mentioned fan-created publications and even considered sending letters to a couple of them, then thinking better of it because who knew if they were still in business.

Fast forward to the spring of 1991. I was leafing through an issue of Starlog and in its fan clubs/pen pals/fan publication column, there was mention of a Star Wars fanzine with original stories. That got my interest but it was $25, a princely sum for a college student at the time. I mean, I only spent like $15 to get Heir To The Empire a couple of months later. Ironically, it was “Heir” that kicked my Star Wars interest into overdrive. In December of 1991, I picked up another issue of Starlog and saw an ad for another Star Wars zine, a smaller and much cheaper publication. That time, I sent them a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE was part of the fannish lexicon once).

In early 1992 I got some flyers from the zine publishers and decided to purchase an issue; the zine was a quarterly. The first issue showed up a few weeks later. For years I seriously thought I was the last person on Earth who cared about Star Wars. As I always say, I thought I was single-handedly keeping West End Games in business by buying its sourcebooks. When “Heir” came out, I thought I was the only person buying it. These new zines were faint signs of life but I had no idea there were other fans as hardcore as I was until I read this zine. Wow, people doing their own artwork? Writing their own stories and stuff?! In the back I saw ads for more zines. Since I was working by that point, I was able to buy them and spent the next several months during the spring and summer of 1992 busily reading away. Fan stories were great filler in between what were once yearly shots of Timothy Zahn books (“Dark Force Rising” came out in May 1992) and bimonthly issues of “Dark Empire.”

It didn’t take long for me to say to myself, “Hey, I can write even better stuff than this.” So humble, right? I’d always enjoyed creative writing. I’d submitted stories to my elementary school’s “literary” magazine. I’d entered a red-ribbon winning story at the Dade County Youth Fair when I was in junior high. I scribbled out badly-drawn but widely-enjoyed comic strips in junior high and high school. I wrote stories for class. In college, I tried to get my material into the literary journals but I guess my stories lacked the requisite sex, curse words, drugs, alcohol, and suicide attempts. I took a creative writing class during my senior year. I wrote just for laughs and giggles. Oddly enough, very few of my stories were science fiction or traditional fantasy. I was interested in taking a science fiction creative writing class offered at my university but it required X amount of science classes taken first. Basically it was creative writing for chemistry, physics, and engineering majors. Go figure. I liked to write comedy, horror, and thrillers but in my own wacky way.

Write Star Wars? Better yet, write Star Wars AND get zines for free if they accept my submissions? Sure, sign me up!

The odd thing was I didn’t quite feel comfortable yet writing about the actual movie characters. I didn’t know if I could get them right. So, I took one of my very few comedic vaguely sf-stories, spray painted it with a little Star Wars varnish, and then submitted it to a zine. It was about a Rebel pilot who crash lands on a planet and is attacked by giant carrots or something, which got published in the next issue of that zine.

My very first attempt at writing any canon characters was also accepted to a zine but it really wasn’t very good. I think I’ve admitted to it before, but I went against my own instincts and what Star Wars is about and wrote what I thought people wanted to read. Sometime after that cringe-inducing story, I decided I was going to try and have my stories reflect Star Wars. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be. There were hits and misses for a while after that. But boy was I a fan fic writin’ fool! With lots of time in between classes, work breaks, and riding the Metro to school/work, I could dig into my latest creations at leisure. It was an exciting time to be a fan and there was plenty of inspiration. Soon I was one of the most prolific fan fic writers around.

Then the internet came along...

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