Tomorrow is the fourth anniversary of my entry into the world of fanfiction
Not the day I started reading fanfiction, mind - that was actually at some point in the middle of exams my freshman year at college - but the day I first started writing/posting fanfiction of my own. And it's kind of a big deal to me, because almost all of my closest friends and nearly all of my emotional support I've gotten in the years since has been found online because of people I've met through my stories.
I was in a really bad place, RL-wise, back in January of '09. And I mean bad. I was supposed to have moved out of my parent's house that previous December, only to get laid off my job litterally the week I was supposed to move out and a whole lot of other BS that it would take twelve years to explain. But simply put, I ended up going back to school, for a major I really wasn't feeling at the local community college (which i loathed) and was using nearly all of my free time to be my schizophrenic younger sister's caretaker while my dad was deployed and mom was working full-time.
I'm pretty sure fanfiction was the only thing that kept me sane.
Oh, I'd written before. But that was all original stuff I'd never showed anyone but my mom, and I'd reached an impasse in that series about the same time I had to leave my first college for medical/financial BS that's really not worth getting into here. I needed something to take my mind off RL.
And so my first fic - an HP gender-bender, "Someone To Run To" - came about. It gave me not only much needed feedback on my writing, but emotional support I couldn't find elsewhere. Not with most of my time being taken up by taking care of my brother and sister. Not that my brother needed it much at that point, but someone needed to drive him to school and buy groceries and make dinner while mom was working and dad was overseas. And the less "raising" he needed, the more my sister needed.
It's strange how fast committing your sister to the psych ward becomes normal. Almost as strange as having to toss her room on a regular basis to make sure she's taken her pills and isn't hiding a knife, or having to stay up all night watching her because she's overdosed on something not bad enough to justify a trip to the emergency room.
(I still remember the exact moment I gave up on her, in May of that year, while I was tiredly trying to do homework at the kitchen table while keeping an eye on her in the living room, where I'd duct-taped oven mitts onto her hands in attempt to keep her from trying to slice her veins open with her own fingernails. It was the Monday after Mother's Day and no amount of crying or pleading could make her understand.)
That fic's been finished for almost 3 years now, but I still get the most wonderful reviews for it.
Shortly on the tail of STaRT cam The Guide Series, a Twilight AU from Leah's POV that I honestly think I'm the most known for in the online community. It started out to be a quick thing, just to get out all the pain I was in emotionally at the time. Looking back over it, I can easily see just how much of myself I poured into Leah - all that anger and frustration and fatalism, causing her to lash out everyone around her.
But, again, I found people who understood online. Who commented on my stories and who helped me through RL and gave me a reason to smile in the mornings after I posted a chapter and saw an inbox full of reviews. People who I'd talk to for hours about everything and nothing, and who'd calm me down after Dad and I got into another argument about my inability to find a job in the Recession and who'd give me something to focus on other than my sister, whose primary caretaker I'd pretty much become by this time.
A year passed.
I finished The Guide Series - I still get lovely reviews for that as well.
I dabbled in Star Trek: Enterprise fic, but found the online fandom quite hostile, even if the people themselves were wonderful, and left when I got distracted by a Star Trek (2009) fic idea I got in the car on a family trip to Colonial Wiliamsburg for Thanksgiving the first year after we finally managed to get my sister into a group home and were still learning how to be something other than soldiers in an emotional war.
Another year passed. And then I discovered Stargate: SG-1 - and, more importantly, Stargate: Atlantis.
I've been a SyFy girl all my life. I was raised on Star Trek (TNG, not TOS). I've read all the classics. But nothing ever really captured my imagination like SGA - or McShep. I mean, I'd had ships before - I clung to Harry/Ginny for quite a while online before I was brave enough to explore the non-canon ships. I'd even had OTPs - I was a Trip/T'Pol girl through and through - and slash ships - Jim/Bones all the way - but nothing, and I mean nothing, ever gave me feels like McShep. I wrote my first fic for the series less than a month after having gorged myself on the entire series.
That fic was "Pastor" and that was a year-and-a-half ago.
I've never been in a single fandom or worked on a single series this long. But, then again, I'm in a very different place than I was four years ago, or even last year. My sister has been in a group home for almost two years now. I've not had to deal with her issues on a day-to-day basis in a while, which tended to result in tumultuous, angst-riddled, dark fics like nobody's business. Instead my issues have been my own - finding a job, getting my contract with the navy, getting ready to leave for Basic Training on the 12th of next month. I don't want to say it's made my writing more mature - my parents will both happily tell you I've been middle-aged since I was born - but I think it's given me a chance to, well, not "grow up" but "settle into adulthood."
I still struggle with things. Perfectionism is still an issue for me, but I'm learning when to let things go. I still worry about things I can't change, but nowhere near as much as I used to. I still obsess over tiny details, but I confine that mostly to the internet these days. But, more importantly, I've stopped trying to justify my life and my life choices to my parents. I love them and am forever thankful for all they've done for me, but I've stopped trying to live up to my father's expectations - something my online friends and my involvement in various online fandoms has taught me. I've learned to let my mom's perpetual state of worry slide right off me (though it still grates me that she's more worried about me now than when she was ten years ago; but then again, ten years ago I didn't have half the problems I have now and the world still looked like it was my oyster).
My point is tha I love you bb's! Without you guys - and I mean all of you, even the ones I lost track of after moving onto different fandoms, or different sites, or the ones who just disappeared, - I honestly don't know where I'd be without you. Not half as emotionally/mentally stable as I am now, that's for sure. Quite possibly dead, or well on my way to drinking myself there if family tradition had held true. You saved me, in every way it's possible to save a person, and no amount of <3 or kudos or online love can thank you all for what you've done for me without even knowing it.
I suppose this is the point where I recap everything I've written over the last year, but I'm just not feeling it now. I'm all teary-eyed and full of love for everyone I've ever spoken to online. ::squishes you all to bosom::