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Regressing to My High School Self: How 6 Months at Home Reintroduced Me to Fanfiction


Photo (with edits) by hackNY / CC BY-SA 2.0

I've always loved reading and writing. When I was five, I wanted to read every book in the library. At the age of seven, I only responded to "Sylvia" as in Sylvia Plath or "Virginia" like Virginia Woolf, two of my literary idols. At 13, six of seven report cards described me as "an avid reader." Naturally, once I got to Penn I chose to major in English. 

Since coming home in March, I've spent much of my free time reading and writing. Sure, I write some of my own poetry and short stories and, of course, I read high literary art including the likes of Joyce, Faulkner, and Marlowe. Sometimes, however, after a long day of scholarly pursuits, I find myself indulging in my high-school guilty pleasure: fan-fiction. 

Fan-fiction was my high school passion. I loved reading and writing it. I loved my adoring fan(s) who praised my writing. Now, I've found that fan-fiction gives me a way to escape my childhood bedroom and enter the smut-filled rooms of fictional characters. While it's a little embarrassing (I always open an incognito browser so that AO3 doesn't come up in my search history), I can tell it's making me a better writer.

I've been bored in quarantine, so at this point, I've read the majority of Johnlock stories rated T and up, every story with the 13th doctor, all three Harriet the Spy fanfics, and I dabble in Percabeth fics. When I'm feeling nostalgic, I go through Harry Potter and see if there's anything I haven't read. But I don't just read. Currently, I'm working on a Cask of Amontillado Mrs. Dalloway crossover where Septimus Severus replaces Fortunado. It's really intense.

While fan-fiction is always fun, I'm sad to admit that my former hobby is becoming more of an obsession. Lately, I've been having trouble concentrating on my classes and find myself scribbling my fantasized conversations between Hamlet and Ophelia or different pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales in the margins of my readings. Not that I mind, of course. I think I'm really making progress! 

Professors, if you see me writing something off-camera, please don't interrupt me -- I'm busy writing the next great American novel.