I'm going to share something with you that may or may not come as a big surprise to those who know my cat is named Snape. I started writing five years ago, and my inspiration was someone whose name I'll never know. Let me explain.
I was hopping around the internet as I was wont to do with my evenings after work and I had the notion 'Hm. I wonder when book six is due out...' So, like any good fan of Potterverse, I hopped over to mugglenet.com to find out. I browsed around some articles, and in the side bar was the line 'a great fan fiction story you should check out.' So, I did.
They weren't lying. It was pretty good. Not great, nothing to make me email everyone I knew, but pretty good.
But it wasn't done. At the site, they updated a chapter at a time and hadn't updated in over a year. This was disappointing. I wanted to know how it ended. Then, I swear, I have NO idea where this randomness came from, but I said to myself 'well, I guess I'll write one and give it my own ending.'
Up until that point, I was a poet. A bad one. I had written little things since I was a wee lass, but never tried to do anything more than five pages long. But something CLICKED in my head. I can't explain it. I started my story and wrote 52,000 words in six weeks. I didn't know how fan fiction websites worked at the time, so I posted the whole dang thing at once. Seven people read it.
At the time, I was all 'wooHOO!!! Seven people read my story and loved it!!!' *Cloud nine euphoria.*
I started a new one, and posted a chapter at a time this time. It became a beast. It was this epic tale of woe and heartbreak that capped at 250,000 before I said to myself, 'self, it's time you tried to write your OWN characters, don't you think?' I probably wouldn't have had the thought if not for my reviewers constantly saying 'why are you writing fanfic? you need to be writing stuff that you can sell.' I was all 'sell? no one would PAY for this tripe.'
Then I decided, 'hey, wth, why not?' So I started the story that became Lesser Evils.
I'm explaining this because I had a rather shocking moment yesterday morning. I saw an author had gotten a bookdeal on her three-part series, and the story line was remarkably similar to my fanfic. At first, I was pissed. I'll admit it. I won't say anything that will give away any of the plot or ANYTHING, because the truth is: it might be coincidence. People say there are no NEW ideas, just rehashes of old ideas, but that's not entirely true. Sometimes there ARE new ideas and when we read them or see them in a movie, it blows our mind. Remember the first time you saw The Sixth Sense?
Not that I'm saying my work is on the same calibre of that, but that's my point. My idea was a little out there, like me. So my first reaction was 'OMG, you hack! You totally stole my idea!!' But I calmed down pretty quick.
The truth is, even if they did read my story and drew inspiration from it, that's actually a good thing. It meant I inspired someone to write, just as someone else had inspired me once upon a time. Even if this person goes on to be a bazillionaire with their trilogy, that's cool. I would not be where I am today if not for the fanfic I posted. I would still be watching television every night or... yeah, I don't know what else I used to do before I wrote. I don't regret posting my work online. I needed the feedback and encouragement and I got it from other writers.
Which is why I'm not afraid to post my little shorts I share with you. Maybe they'll inspire you, maybe they'll just make you laugh. Either way, I did a good job, and that's all I ever wanted. I want to do a good job. Only, yanno, not where I work. I hate that place. :-)