If there are two words that are synonymous with “bad writing” they are without a doubt, “fanfic” and “message fic”. Fanfic is legendary for being badly written, horribly plotted, and depending on what corner of the internet you’re hanging out at, really fucking creepy. And message fic? Well, lets just say there is a reason that the Sad puppies, and the Rabid puppies aren’t happy puppies. Message fic is almost universally boring, preachy, condescending, and just not any damned fun. So what are the odds that a work of Fanfic, which is also explicitly message fic, would be any good?
Up until this weekend I would have said it was damned near impossible. And then, by chance I stumbled upon “Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality“. Well you might as well butter my ass and call me a biscuit, because I honestly couldn’t put it down. I was literally shocked by how much I enjoyed this. At first I just decided to check it out because the concept was so delightfully weird. Harry potter, as a childhood genius who used the scientific method to try and undercover the hidden secrets of Magic while at Hogwarts school of Wizardy? I had to check that out.
At best I reckoned it would be an interesting idea, badly executed, and I was half right. At worst I thought maybe it would make me feel better about my own stumbling efforts at being a writer. On that, I was dead wrong. I started reading it Saturday morning, and I didn’t stop until I finished it Sunday evening. Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t read straight through for 48 hours. I took breaks for sleep, and to eat, and to preside upon my porcelain throne, but that was really about it. I was sucked in damn near immediately.
And then I got a bit…. Perturbed. Because I have yet to produce anything even close to being this compelling or entertaining. Now at first, I wanted be jealous. At least a little bit. But that’s never really been my style. SO instead I figured I’d give credit where credit is due, and try to use this as inspiration to spur myself ont greater heights in my own efforts. And then I spent I an hour producing some of the worst pages of my life. Utterly insipid writing, that I could barely even read myself.
Well like they always say, if it was easy, everyone would do it. But I’ll be damned if I let one bad day of writing get me down. You don’t learn to put lead on steel by quitting the first time you miss the target. I learned that lesson a long time ago, but I guess some lessons we have to relearn over and over again in each new context. That or I’m just a dumbass.