International Fanworks Day celebration, featuring fandom-themed emoji and representations of fanworks around the globe

What Fanworks Mean to Me 2019

International Fanworks Day is coming up on February 15. To mark the occasion, the OTW called for submissions on “What Fanworks Mean to Me.” We are thrilled with the responses we have received, and we would like to thank everyone who submitted! Below are some of the responses we received.

For those of you who missed our challenge, we’d like to start a conversation on how fanworks are part of your life. For example:

  • What devices do you usually use to access fanworks? And when do you enjoy them?
  • How do you save fanworks to find again? Do you recommend them to others?
  • What are your favourite tropes to browse? What are your favourite fandoms to browse?
  • Do you prefer one type of fanwork (art, fic, vid etc)? What makes this your favourite?

Leave your comments here or drop in at our social media to tell us more!

What Fanworks Mean to Me

Mary-Catherine Berger, via e-mail

Fanworks to me, really mean a lot. Fanworks, and the community that has evolved around them, has opened me up to a whole new world of acceptance and love. I’ve learned a lot in just this past year about writing. I’ve been challenged in so many ways by myself, as well as by my fellow fanwork creators. The amazing creations that my fellow fans have created have opened my eyes to the amazing depths of exploration and creation that I hadn’t been exposed to before. Fanworks mean acceptance, love, devotion, talent, dedication, and a million other things that have brought positivity and joy to my life.

rya_204, via AO3

1. Per me, a volte, i fanwork sono quelle opere che superano di gran lunga l’opera originale e ti viene da chiederti dove si nascondano queste persone così talentuose perché, come dice il giovane Holden, vorresti che gli autori fossero tuoi amici e vorresti poterli chiamare ogni volta che vuoi.

2. Fanwork vuol dire passione, dedizione, curiosità, scoperta. Rappresenta anche rassicurazione, conforto, sostegno, abitudine (perché nulla dà più sollievo del ritrovare qualcosa che già si conosce e si ama profondamente). Vuol dire commuoversi, vuol dire dolcezza e vuol dire anche porno.
Significa imparare, meravigliarsi, insegnare, comunicare, sentirsi parte e contribuire a qualcosa di più grande. Significa rimanere stupiti di fronte alle infinite declinazioni che una stessa cosa può assumere.
Ma sopra ogni altra cosa per me vuol dire libertà. Libertà di non seguire nessuna regola, preconcetto o pregiudizio. Libertà di riscrivere e reinventare completamente anche norme così radicate che abbiamo dimenticato che possano esistere alternative. Persino, addirittura, la libertà di ignorare totalmente anche le leggi stesse che dovrebbero regolare una storia (soprattutto per quanto riguarda una fanfiction), libertà di prendere uno spunto e spingerlo oltre fino a creare qualcosa di paradossale, perché non esistono limiti all’immaginazione. Libertà che nessuno, dall’alto di una sua cattedra o di un suo ruolo di prestigio, si permetta di dire cosa è o cosa non è bello, cosa possa meritare di essere studiato e considerato arte.

3. Infine, per me i fanwork sono semplicemente inseguire un’idea, uno spunto, un barlume scaturito dal lavoro di qualcun altro e concretizzarlo in qualcosa di tangibile, perché un’opera (se è meritevole) non esaurisce in se stessa cosa ha da dire e se l’arte fosse solo in grado di creare con il suo pubblico un dialogo muto e unilaterale, senza stimolare una risposta dall’altra parte, allora vorrebbe dire che è già morta.

greatvaluegay, via Twitter

I think the main reason it’s my dream to work on character and concept design is bc of how special it is to me to find characters I id with, I wanna be a part of making that experience for someone else to like….give back what I’ve received if that makes sense. I know id with characters in fanworks more than I do with their actual canon characterization, but I think that’s even more reason why I wanna create the characters like the ones I’ve grown to love and see myself in.

goldfinchex, via Twitter

in terms of writing it’s both practice and expression, as well as translating thoughts to paper to ground myself in my present but at the same time make something that’s entirely personal and imaginary a shared commodity.

Shyla Ramos, via Twitter

#WhatFanworksMeanToMe it allows me to get my ideas out and gets people to read and enjoy what I write.

3 thoughts to “What Fanworks Mean to Me 2019”

  1. Discovering and exploring the fanwork community in AO3 is a tremendously valuable experience for me. I improved my English by reading something that I’m into (and by reading I mean spending hours upon hours every day reading fanfiction, even fanfiction for shows/movies/books I haven’t read or watched), and I also learned more about life and social norms in the US and the UK, which I would be thankful for later on in my life. Fanwork’s something I go to when I feel down or bored, and the quality of the works sometimes could rival that of something published and well-known. So thank you, writer, artists and creators of fanworks, for the positive being you’ve been in my life, and I wish all of you a fulfilling life full of love and lived to its fullest.

  2. “What devices do you usually use to access fanworks? And when do you enjoy them?”

    Laptop and mobile phone, depending on time and setting.

    My laptop is my (ostensibly) “main” computer, but I tend to just keep it at home. Much of my fic reading on the laptop and most of my (admittedly occasional) vid/podcast enjoyment is done in the afternoon or evenings/wee hours when I’m just chilling at home and “settled in” (usually in My Room, but occasionally on the patio if the weather’s nice!). I often do this when binging fics, especially if I know it’s one I’ll be tempted to comment a LOT on (because commenting on mobile is a pain – easier than anywhere else, on AO3, but touchscreens are no fun to type on, really), and most especially if it’s one my best fandom buddy(s?) rec’d to me because then I can liveblog my reactions to them on discord haha.

    Phone is best for fic rather than vids or podcasts, I find (a million thank yous in every language for making AO3 LOAD SMOOTH AND CLEAN ON MOBILE OMG!!!!); this is because it’s as portable as a book or more so! Usually for over breakfast, on break at work, in the bathroom as I’m brushing my teeth, or while waiting for a doctor’s appointment or work shift to start. Recently I even used reading “the next chapter” of a multichapter fic I was hooked on as reward incentives to get out of bed, set up/take medications, etc, which, fun fact: was completely successful and the person I’m seeing for some of my medical stuff actually applauded because HEY IT WORKS (I have ADHD; we’re very….reward/stimulus driven). I also sometimes read on the phone at night before bed because it’s less cumbersome for reading in bed (I can shift position, etc), and less likely to wake me up so long as “dark mode” is active.

    I also used to download fics as PDFs to my harddrive and put them on my Nook, and I used to read them on break at work and whatnot for a good couple of years, but I lost the charger, which happens to double as the download thing, so it’s harder these days, especially after moving and the WiFi changed and just, eh. I kinda miss it though – it’s actually a surprisingly nice way to read fic if you’re binging a bunch (it even works surprisingly well for unfinished fics; I discovered that “downloading whole work” and letting it override the previous copy lets you “update” your copy nicely)!

    Admittedly I didn’t have a smartphone then, though, or at least, not one that could handle as much data that I could semi-reliably use it for internet browsing (my current one has TABBED browsing! so much more convenient for fics). I recently refound the actual Nook though and I may fiddle with it since it kinda-sorta charges on my phone charger (imperfectly, but if you line it up right…).

    “How do you save fanworks to find again? Do you recommend them to others?”

    I bookmark/rec my absolute favorites here on AO3, sometimes also sharing links to tumblr and if it’s something a particular friend of mine might like, I share it on Discord (we have a chat channel specifically for that on our private server!). I used to share a lot of recs with several friends over Skype, but Skype is….buggy and I haven’t used it much recently.

    (I may start downloading my favorites again, though, especially if I can get the Nook up and running again!)

    “What are your favourite tropes to browse? What are your favourite fandoms to browse?”

    Oh man, the trope depends on the fandom, and it’s weird, first off I go on “kicks” in particular fandoms. My favorites are probably FFVII, Doctor Who (especially the 13th Doctor!) and sometimes Inuyasha, and I think Sailor Moon, based on ones I repeatedly circle back to, but I’ve read at semi-random in anything related to fandoms I’m familiar with, including MCU (which has a GREAT fic community) and Harry Potter (weirdly, the more JKR frustrates me the more I want to read fanfic lol). I’m also prone to binging works in another fandom from an author I like in one.

    Generally, I love anything character-centric that builds off the traits I’m interested in, I ADORE canon divergence stories in many cases though, or things that build off little pieces of canon.

    Fandom specifically: FFVII also has some AMAZING Time Travel stories with all kinds of different cool takes, tons of great slash and polyshipping some good femslash, a ton of modern or other AU takes that are awesome, some great humor and “nothing hurts” AUs, a jillian interesting canon divergences, as well as sequels and prequel stories and side stories and honestly there’s a ton of great works I love here in all kinds of tropes and genres?? (so long as it doesn’t make the female characters shallow and unlikable for no other reason than to pair up the guys, anyway, but a lot of the writers I follow most don’t do that thankfully).

    Sailor Moon has been my go-to for femslash since I was a teenage weeb, haha. But I increasingly like it for humor and crossovers lately (there’s at least one REALLY cool Sailor V/Harry Potter crossover for instance).

    Buffy is most fun in crossover, for some reason. But I recently got rather taken with Buffy/Faith in general.

    Doctor Who, I like canon divergence, “missing adventure” stories, and occasionally romance. I am HOOKED on Thirteenth Doctor stories lately, because I’m so in love with her and I really like her current companions and there’s several writers in the fandom, new or otherwise, who really capture them all quite well (with a TV series like that, if I can’t quite hear the actor saying it in my head, it bugs me)

    DCU I’d love to read more widely in things like idk, time travel or canon divergence and crossover, but it seems like it’s best selection is for romance, especially if you like slash (though I was pleased to see Jessica Cruz has increasing numbers of pairings; she’s my favorite DC character right now).

    Inuyasha I love humor, various shipfic, AU, sequelfic, and crossovers.

    Venom movie…I might be the only person in the fandom who explicitly likes the un-explicit stories most lol. It’s got a definite kinky undercurrent, I see it, but I love most the things that fill in alternate POVs and missing scenes, because I adored the movie and characters.

    “Do you prefer one type of fanwork (art, fic, vid etc)? What makes this your favourite?”

    FIC.

    Hands down.

    I’m a reader, always have been; I’m a writer, have been since like third grade. Additionally, I’m finding a lot of the stories in fanfic are more engaging than a lot of traditional mainstream prose or nonfiction works; I was worried to realize my “attention span” for those seems to have gotten smaller, until I realized that it’s just I like writing to be breezy and engaging, and I like character-centered work, and fic communities are great for those.

    This is followed very closely by fanart and fancomics (because I’m also extremely visual!) as well as Meta for certain fandoms (especially Inuyasha, FFVII, Sailor Moon, MCU and Doctor Who)

    I sometimes watch vids (either meta vids, or tributes/music vids) but not often because it requires more attention than prose or fanart do (and I don’t always want to play sound where I’m at).

    I OCCASIONALLY listen to podcasts (OTPodcast’s episode on A/B/O fiction was EYE opening for instance) but since I’m neurodivergent and highly visual/physical my attention for audio-only material is……….iffy. It’s frustrating but I’m learning to live with it.

    Anyway, fanworks (particularly fanfic) are a huge part of my media consumption these days and a huge component in my social interaction and have even made a difference in my mental health! I love fanworks <3

  3. *What devices do you usually use to access fanworks? And when do you enjoy them?*
    I basically have my laptop which is my main computer and it’s what I use for most writing. I have my phone with me all the times so it’s where I do most of my reading and some writing. I used to struggle a lot with technology when I first discovered fanworks about ten years ago.
    I do enjoy them every time I don’t do anything. Especially if I watch a movie and crave specific stories about it. And mostly I read to pass time at work since I mostly get to work with harpies and evil people fanworks help me keep my sanity and soul intact.

    *How do you save fanworks to find again? Do you recommend them to others?*
    I save them either ”read later” list or keep a tab open on my browser of particular story or whatever until I’m done with it.
    Yes I do recommend to others. I have recommended quite a few stories that has left me truly emotional and over the moon (because what truly moves you should be read by others too)

    *What are your favourite tropes to browse? What are your favourite fandoms to browse?*

    I’m not particularly for tropes yet but my favorite fandoms at the moment are White Collar, CSI:Miami, Sherlock, NCIS, Iron Man, Avengers, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. And then I do mostly character related tag searches.

    *Do you prefer one type of fanwork (art, fic, vid etc)? What makes this your favourite?*

    I’m open to all kinds but my most favorites are fics, vids and art. It depends on mood which particular one I chose for the time being.
    What makes it my fav is because I grow closer to types I’ve done myself and then I mostly get attached to what I’ve done by myself and what of that type can spark my inspiration or challenge my skillset.
    That and what my mood/craving/vibe is at given moment.

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