FanWorks Policy

(Copied from Livejournal, Oct 2014)

I’ve been debating whether to post this or not, but I ran it over Twitter and people were supportive and at least two people suggested I should have it posted somewhere so… I’m gonna take the leap.

Fan fiction is a major trigger for me, so I would deeply appreciate it if people don’t write or request it. When I was first starting out writing, I had a couple of traumatic experiences that I’m going to write down really quickly before I start shaking, but in basic the first involved someone deciding I needed to be punished (they told me this privately with great relish) for not wanting them to publish their fan fiction in my setting, and they did this by writing some really icky-content stuff and putting my name on it as if I’d approved it, and posting that and refusing to take it down, and that followed me around for several years until it faded away (thank God) with my maiden name… and another time when someone used two of my characters in some cruel/non-con stuff and actually mailed it with my postal address to editors of magazines I was submitting to as if it was a legitimate submission from me.

The people in question were fans I thought were really wonderful people until I asked them not to share the stuff they’d made in my settings or using my characters, and then they just… just did these things and I still don’t know why. Maybe I deserved it for being an elitist jerk and telling them not to write stuff in my settings, maybe I asked for it, I have no idea. But to this day, just hearing that people are writing, want to write, or want to request fan fiction in one of my settings or with my characters gives me panic attacks and nightmares and wrecks me basically for days, and the only way I can leave that behind is by pretending I didn’t hear or know about it happening.

So, please don’t.

A couple of folks have asked how they can prevent this sort of thing, and whether other kinds of fan art also act as triggers. I’ve been thinking about this for days, and I think I can distill it to these two things:

  1. Consent. Did you approach me first? Asking me first goes a huge, long way toward defraying my reactions. I often say ‘yes’ to people posting stuff, but sometimes I say ‘no, please don’t’ and when I do that I have panic that the answer is going to be ‘screw you, I’m going to do it anyway’ because that’s what happened to me before, so keep in mind that I’m working very hard to be calm and normal during these conversations and forgive me if I sound like I’m hyperventilating or doing the textual equivalent of hyperventilating. But consent is the biggest issue here, and if you meet me halfway by asking me if I’m okay with something, I will do everything in my power to work past my fears and give things a fair hearing.
  2. Can it be mistaken for canon? Because both of the incidents involved people claiming my work as theirs, anything that reminds me of that is problematic (which is probably why fan fiction triggers me faster than fan art: my art style isn’t impossible to mimic, but it’s easier to evaluate it quickly than it is to find the clues that a piece of fiction isn’t mine).

This is also why things like jewelry and crafts don’t set me off. I am not a crafter! Crafts are obviously going to be fan-made homages. Ditto things like Cynthia’s Kherishdar recipes (I am not a cook)… though I will note that before she started designing them, she asked me if she could or not, and I was delighted to be asked, and to say yes.

(And for those of you who are now worried: if I’ve pinned your stuff and told you thank you/you’re awesome about this already then don’t worry, you haven’t wrecked me!)

Final point of clarification: I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong or evil about fan fiction or any other fan-made creations! I think as long as the relationship is consensual–the creator’s fine with it, or doesn’t care–then it’s fantastic and wonderful. The fan art I’ve received that I’ve been capable of enjoying I cherish deeply for what it is: the manifestation of someone’s excitement and love for something I’ve made! And I wish I was capable of accepting it and encouraging it in all its forms! Maybe one day I will be. But that day is not today.

(Please don’t hate me for this. I hate telling people no about stuff. But this is important to me, and I recently ran into this problem again and I’m still having anxiety attacks about it, and I’m shaking just typing this. I feel ridiculous. :/)