About two years ago, I lost touch with someone very near and dear to myself: me. Up until that fateful day, I could be found toiling away in my house, creating new recipes, cooking things from scratch, and sewing by hand. I collected aprons, Depression glass, and old time radio shows. Then, I turned a corner. In some ways, it was fantastic. In others, though, it was detrimental.
See, two and a half years ago, I published my first fanfiction story. It was the first time that anyone had read my writing (outside of blogging) and the absolute first time that anyone had ever read any work of fiction by me. I did it because I loved to write, believed that I had a skill for it, and wanted to try it out. As it turned out, the community for which I wrote the stories was very receptive, loved my stories, and wanted more. Because I have an addictive personality, I threw myself into fic writing. Now, I have over 800,000 words of fic archived on fanfiction.net and when I look in the mirror, I don’t know who the hell I am anymore. Don’t get me wrong – sharing my fiction was wonderful because I realized that maybe I really did have a talent for turning words into stories that both captivated and touched the reader. Had I never published that first story, I’d still be wondering. The problem is that when you write fanfiction, you normally get involved in the fandom of the show/movie/book you’re writing fic for. And getting involved in the fandom is the problem, at least for me. (If you’ve never been involved in a fandom – let me explain it simply. “Fandom” is when you get really worked up about the most trivial and pointless of things regarding the show/movie/book that you love.) I have opinions on everything and everyone and I don’t like it. I don’t like the fact that I get irritated by people I’ve never spoken to, other than in a Tumblr ask box or on Twitter. I really don’t like the fact that I’ve literally become addicted to writing two characters. A novelist has to move on from her characters when it’s time to focus on the next story. I struggle with saying goodbye to this couple that I’ve spent so long writing, falling out of “love” with them in a way, and moving on. And the thing is, I want to move on. I have two gorgeous characters (okay, actually 8 total, but I’m only focusing on two) waiting in the wings and their story deserves to be told. And the best part of all of it is that they’re ALL mine! No Hollywood conglomerate owns these two characters; they are completely my creation. They are beautiful and flawed and they have a strong story to tell – I just have to tell it.
So all of that brings me back to my first thought – reconnecting with myself. I have to flush fandom and those characters that I don’t own out of my head. I have to get up from my desk, log off Twitter and Tumblr, and do the things I used to do. It’s only once I shut off those influences that I’ll be able to dim the voices that have lived in my head for so long and let two others begin to speak loud and clear. That might mean picking up my yo-yo quilt for the first time in two years, or focusing on that unfinished cross-stitch picture. I have to reconnect with the person I used to be in order to move forward. It feels like a bit of self-detox and it’s highly challenging, but it’s my reality and what I’m ready to tackle. This past weekend, my husband and I did a few things around the house that allowed me to feel like the old Rachel, the one not chained to her laptop. It was nice. I actually like that woman. I need to let her shine through more because she has a fantastic story to tell. She just needs a little push in the right direction.