Madeleine Marsh


Guilty Pleasures

I've learnt a valuable lesson in the last few days. If a story involves a road-trip of anything over a hundred miles, plan it before writing the book, not after it! Mapping the road-trip around South West USA, that actually takes place before the start of The House at the End of the World, has meant re-writing sections and choosing a different town for my heroes to end up in.

This is the start of my two months out of work, set aside to finalise the novella and everything needed for the book launch and the convention at which it's going to take place. I'm not just launching a book at this convention, I'm co-hosting a programme stream which involves writing quizzes, making panel notes, and gathering up props (chocolate champagne bottles and inflatable guitars for the most part).

But I did take Christmas "off". The muse - the creative part of my brain which is capable of keeping me awake at night if it doesn't get its own way - has been so well-behaved over the last six months, I let it off the leash and it's been playing in an all new sandpit.

Writing fanfic is definitely one of those instant-gratification things they talk about when they do news reports on internet shopping vs. high street browsing. The feedback, good and bad, is immediate. But that's not why I, and most of the other fanfic writers I know, do it. The House at the End of the World will be one of the first things I've edited for other people, very different from the story it began life as during NaNoWriMo. Like NaNo, I write fanfic for myself. I write it so that the muse will shut up and let me sleep. I write it because until I get those persistent ideas out of my head, I'll be incapable of writing anything else.

Fandom, and writing in one, is like an addiction. Sooner or later, if I don't get that fix, I start to go a little crazy. And while I'm writing it, I do go a little crazy. But I love it. I love the instant if distant connection with complete strangers, the shallow but nevertheless emotional attachments that form quickly with the characters and break just as fast.

Some fanfic writers stay in one or two fandoms their entire writing careers. I've written in forty. Stepping into a new fandom is like getting a new toy; exciting at the start when you're learning how it works, the sense of joy whenever you play with it, and then over time a comfortable familiarity with it. Until it does something nasty and unexpected, then you either need to fix it or throw it away. Fanfic is the fix.

I've had fun over Christmas, but now it's time to redirect the muse back to the book for two months. That's going to be like taking candy from a baby. It'll pout for a while, then it'll either forget about it or throw a tantrum. Could go either way. I'll let you know.

Last updated: 2013-08-25 13:08:34

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