I think we can all agree it's been a trying few days? weeks? years? For a long time now, reading romance has been one of my surest ways to escape into worlds that, no matter how dark, promise hope, human connection, and love. Lately, however, I've been in major reading slump.
Thus, fan fiction. I spent a couple of days in the hospital with my husband this week (he had appendicitis, he's fine-ish now) and a lot of those hours were passed devouring fanfics at an alarming rate. I read thousands upon thousands of words expanding the world of two beloved characters and their relationship (so, still reading romance. Give me all your domestic fluff, please). And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that a huge part of what was driving my consumption was that reading fan fiction doesn't ask me to take a chance on characters or a story I might not like. I already love these two dorks, and this way I get to hang out with them more. There's a slight risk that I might not like the way an author has interpreted their character (guys, Viktor is so clearly not happy-go-lucky by nature) but it's highly unlikely that I will wholesale hate what they've done. Some of them are terribly written excuses to have one's OTP get smutty. Some of them are cleverly-crafted and extremely well-written and edited. And all of it comes from a place where people love something so much they want to write about it, at length. People are out there writing novels, for free, because they love a thing that much. And that's amazing.
I used to be one of those people who turned her nose up at fandom. I was a snob, plain and simple. I went to art school in a time and place where ironic detachment was king. Where doing something, loving something, for the sheer joy of it, was met with raised eyebrows and more than a hint of mockery. Sincerity was for the naive. I learned to hide the soft parts of myself that wanted to be allowed to unapologetically like something.
At some point, I learned to say fuck that, and thank god. Sincerity matters. Now more than ever. Hang on to the things you love, the people you love. Don't apologize. Fight for them, in whatever way you can. We need you.