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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Reading is one of the few things that kept me sane growing up. I’d devour books by the hundreds, and I’d lose myself in their stories. It was only fitting that I’d never want them to end.

Enter fanfiction.

I can’t remember at what age I discovered that people wrote their own stories about characters that I loved, but once I did, I was hooked. The worlds I had found myself immersed in didn’t have to die as soon as I finished the book– they could live on within my world, thanks to strangers who loved them just as much as I did.

It wasn’t hard to fall in love with the concept of fanfiction (it never is), and as I stumbled through these new, familiar worlds, I found myself falling.

Fanfiction isn’t necessarily the topic you bring up at Christmas dinner when the relatives who only know that you like reading ask if you’ve read anything interesting since they’ve last seen you. You can’t exactly blurt out that you read 50,000-word enemies-to-lovers fanfic about a couple of side characters in the latest series you’re obsessed with. It’s not really a topic people understand. Talking about your love and enjoyment of fan-created works is more taboo than talking about your Fantasy Football league. But we don’t have to talk about the internalized misogyny there.

When people ask what my hobbies are, I can’t really say reading fanfiction without getting odd looks and thinly veiled judgement. People tend to view works by unpublished authors to be childish and immature which, fair enough, they can be. But, if fanfiction was so bad, there wouldn’t be such a large community surrounding it.

If you’ve ever read a book or watched a show or movie that has even relative popularity, you can probably find some form of fanfiction about it. Certain shows, like Supernatural, have fanbases so invested in characters and their relationships that the biggest ship for their show isn’t even canon. Some people write stories better than the original for characters that aren’t even real.

There’s a certain kind of magic that comes from a love so deep- that inspires you to create. It’s the type of magic that has kept me company in the darkest of times. Times where I can’t bring myself to read something new because I crave familiarity, but I can’t bare to read the same old story again. So, I turn to fanfiction, where the characters are the same but the stories are not, and I can lose myself and my overwhelming emotions in something safe and predictable. I know what I’m getting into when I search for a coffee shop AU, I know what to expect when a tag says, “no beta we die like [insert fan reference here]”. I know that no matter what I read, I’ll find myself transported into a story I love, told by a stranger I’ve never met but that I’m connected to.

Long story short, fanfiction is something special only certain people really appreciate. It’s a simple type of magic.

Her Campus at Wilfrid Laurier University
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