Conventional wisdom holds that reading fanfiction you wrote six or seven years ago should be a cringe-worthily horrible experience. So… am I weird?
Because I’ve spent the past week reading through stuff I wrote in the last year or so of college and slightly after, and I don’t hate it. After all this time I’m basically my own, relatively unbiased beta reader and I’m polishing things up to post on Archive of Our Own.
Of course, I’m being selective. It’s only one specific fandom and only one specific pairing from it. Well… mostly. I have, like, three favorite characters that didn’t lead me to write things that make me want to dash my head against a wall and/or get a super-sized insulin shot from all that sugary sweetness crap.
That said, even some of the stuff I still like is pretty weird. Like, ‘oh my god why did I write this’ weird. But in a funny way.
… Okay, I’ll come clean. It’s Metalocalypse fanfiction.
See, I never finished watching the show. At some point during the third season I caught, ironically, a really brutal summer cold. I was coughing whenever I tried to talk, tried to breath, or tried to exist. My mom had to call and schedule an ASAP doctor appointment for me, which fell smack dab on my birthday. They prescribed me some real cool codeine pills and a two-week-use inhaler. My favorite birthday present that year was a bottle of CVS brand benadryl. By the time I felt like a human being again I was already behind, didn’t have any way to catch up, and ended up doing other things.
So the other week when I had (you guessed it) another cold, I got bored of plain old insomnia induced ceiling-staring and started reading fics from the ol’ fandom on Archive of Our Own. Where I’d never posted my fics based on that show because, you know, too self-conscious at the time. Reading stuff set past where I’d left off was full of confusing spoilers though, so I started rewatching the show on Hulu.
Time does funny things. I still enjoy the interaction between and stupidity of the band members, but when it comes to the excessive gore I could take it or leave it. I’m watching to figure out what on earth is going on with the prophecy and the Tribunal and the Dead Man. (Although the episode with the submarine and Abigail is a nice bonus, ahahahaha.) My partner doesn’t like it at all because of all the blatant misogyny and toxic masculinity… which is fair enough. It’s definitely there, not gonna lie. But the thing I keep trying to explain that it’s all part of the way-over-the-top joke that is the entire show. If there’s anything I haven’t seen it lampoon, it’s probably in the episodes I still haven’t seen yet.
I like my old fics too, at least the ones involving those characters I like. All the dumb jokes and ridiculous antics that I still love about the show.
It’s weird to acknowledge that I still like at least some of my old writing. There’s only one that I both feel is worth salvaging but kind of want to revamp entirely, and I’ve even started playing around with some new ideas. Not that I want to make writing fanfic my main creative outlet again, but it’s fun.
So I guess what I’m saying is, don’t discount all your old work just because you wrote it back before you learned all the stuff you know now. Even if wide swaths of it make you want to die a little on the inside, power through and look for the diamonds in the rough, because when you find them… Well, it’s a really nice little pick-me-up and remotivator.