Sexuality Love + Sex Love

I learned about sex through fanfiction, and it’s a bit questionable

I love fanfiction. I think there’s something about it that you can’t find in published novels or tv shows, it’s unique and hard to explain. And while it might sound odd, there’s a lot you can learn from fanfics.

Most people don’t realize what’s out in the vast web to be discovered. For example, you might be scrolling through the works of your new favorite tv show and finally decide to brave the uncharted territories of mature-rated fanfics. You’ll click on one with a funny summary and then fall down the fascinating rabbit hole to continue reading more. And in doing so, you might actually learn about sex through fanfics.

That’s what happened to me anyway. You see, I never really had the opportunity to learn about sex in my family. My culture treats sex as taboo and then expects girls to grow up wanting to have babies and get married into a life of pleasing their husband. And all this without telling girls about potential dangers that come with sex or trying to make sex sound appealing.

I went through the basic sex ed in school, but that didn’t explain a lot. Most of what I remember was the teacher telling us to use birth control if it came down to it, but we should abstain from sex. Senior year Biology was where I learned about my body properly; I was finally told about the many changes that the body goes through due to our hormones. But most importantly, I learned about male anatomy. At no point before this had anyone explained what sex is. I knew it was performed between males and females, but not how. Before that class, I thought it was code for lying in a bed with a member of the opposite sex. 

And all this without telling girls about potential dangers that come with sex or trying to make sex sound appealing.

And while that class helped clear up some of my more significant questions, it wasn’t enough. But I had nowhere to turn to for learning more. My parents weren’t an option, and asking someone seemed awkward. So I turned to the internet. For the first time in nearly four years of exploring fanfiction online, I dove into what I thought was the dark side and looked at the selection of M-rated fics. 

Thinking back on it, they weren’t even particularly spicy fics that I stumbled across. I was jumping back into the PJO (Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan) fandom for like the third time, and I had exhausted my supply of tried and true teen and lower fics. These fanfics primarily served as a way for me to learn specifically about sex and what it was, how it worked, in a setting that wasn’t overly scientific. It was all very vanilla, but that was fine back then.

Then I jumped into some Yu-Gi-Oh fandoms and looked around at the selection there as well. And that was the first time I learned about sex being possible between same-sex couples. Then I switched from my usual fanfic website to a more known and better one, Archive Of Our Own. And this was where things got interesting because there were tags for everything. If I wanted to explore a specific kink, I could check the tag for it and look at all the options in every fandom. 

And I did exactly that; I jumped through different fandoms and checked out every type of M or E rated fic that was unique and then added the new knowledge to the ever-growing list of things I knew about sex. I explored lots of different kinks. When Fifty Shades of Grey was coming out, and everyone was complaining that it didn’t show BSDM accurately, I went to fanfics to learn what they were all talking about. I’ve read many an ABO fic and several femdom stories. And I thought by reading all these fics; I suddenly knew everything there was to know about sex.

Then one day, an online friend talked about a time that she was sexually harassed and how some of these fanfictions we read lead her to think that it was normal. And I started to rethink the fics I was reading. 

It occurred to me that a lot of the stuff I’ve been reading wasn’t always safe or consensual. These were works of fiction, and therefore not always meant to be an accurate reflection of reality, but I had spent years normalizing the lack of consent that came with some of these stories. I didn’t even realize until a month ago that it isn’t normal for someone to cry during sex or for most people to get off to that. Many of the kinky fics I read also never really detailed much about the relationship outside of the sex, which made for a very twisted view on things. 

None of this means that I plan to stop reading smut fics. I’ve come to recognize that most of what is in these stories is simple fantasy. I should have never expected it could replace the learning that comes from talking to people about their experiences or having sex myself. 

But if anyone else out there is like me, then now is as good a time as any to look a bit more critically at the fics you read and made the conscious distinction between them and reality. I know it’s awkward to talk to others about sex, and let’s not lie on the internet, it can be dangerous

I don’t claim to know all the answers, and there’s no right way to learn about sex. But at the very least, I think it’s better not to put all the eggs in one basket. When you want to learn about something you should look at several different places. I’ve begun taking a more thorough route to my own learning, one which involved properly researching whatever sexual topic comes to mind in fanfics but outside as well with the help of google or asking some very close friends who I can trust.

This new system has been working so far, and I find myself enjoying some of the conversations I can have with people about these topics as well.

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The Ultimate Guide to Dating Love + Sex Love Advice

Here’s why your single friend always gives the best relationship advice

Not to toot my own horn, but I think I give excellent dating advice. However, if you were to ask me for my dating credentials, I would hand you a blank piece of paper.

For some, being serially single is not a choice. But for me, it’s a lifestyle.

I have been single for all of my adult life, and I thoroughly enjoy the independence and solitude—which I know freaks people out. While some single people date, I do not.

So how does this make me—and other serially single people—expert at giving dating advice?

Let me let you in on a few secrets of the trade.

The first secret is not actually a secret but a well-known fact: Almost all forms of content are about love.

Save $20 off pleasure products at Lora DiCarlo for Vagina Appreciation Day. Sale runs April 23rd - April 25th.

Even content that exists outside of traditional romance genres usually includes love and sex. For example, that action movie you just watched, was there a romantic arc in it?


Most movies, television shows, and books have provided blueprints for all kinds of relationships. A lot of these blueprints have helped me understand what healthy and unhealthy relationships look like.

I’ve also read more than a fair share of fanfiction. Honestly, when you asked for my dating credentials, I could have sent you the link to AO3 and, if you’ve ever read any fanfiction, you’d have immediately understood why this gives me so much credible dating insight.

Even being someone who grew up alongside the Internet has made many of us mini experts on random topics. Most of us didn’t necessarily seek this information out; it just appeared on our Tumblr, Twitter, or Instagram feeds.

Here’s the real secret: All relationships are the same.

Whether platonic or romantic, open or closed, monogamous or polyamorous, all relationships are made of the same ingredients. The dictionary definition of relationship describes the connection between people. And we all have experience with that. I may not date, but I do have lots of friends.

Some of my friendships have failed while others have thrived. This has helped me gain insight on communication, boundaries, and respect—insight that applies to both platonic and romantic relationships.

I’ve also watched most of my loved ones experience all kinds of different relationships. As you can imagine, being single gives those of us who are serially single plenty of free time to observe other people’s relationships—and, if you’re a Virgo like me, judge these relationships in order to perfect the advice we give to those who may (or may not) ask.

Just because your single friends haven’t dated anyone—casually, seriously, or at all—doesn’t mean we’re not familiar with the territory. All of our observations add to our dating advice credentials.

In fact, we’re kind of like therapists.

Because we’re removed from romantic situations, we have clarity uncolored by personal bias and experiences.

Most importantly, your serially single friends arguably have the most experience with prioritizing themselves and their needs. This makes us adept at keeping your best interests top of mind if you come to us for romantic advice.

We want you to be yourself and to love who you are. We will encourage you to take the time to learn more about your wants, needs, and goals before diving further into romance.

The best advice I can give as a serially single person is to try out being single. Being single has a lot of perks, the top of which is that it can give you the time, space, and energy to explore you who are.

I’m not saying everyone should be single. I’m just saying don’t knock it till you try it.

And, don’t worry. I promise I won’t say “I told you so” when you realize being single helped you become a better romantic partner.

Happy dating!

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LGBTQIA+ Standoms Pop Culture

Fanfiction has become an avenue of sexual identity for queer youth

For a lot of people, fanfiction is something they would never openly admit to reading.

Its reputation in the mainstream media may have something to do with this. As with anything on the Internet, we are often drawn into discussing the most out-there examples of the phenomenon. From 50 Shades of Grey‘s origin as a Twilight fic, to the recent New York Times piece about the Omegaverse, to… well, incest pairings — yep, those are a thing — it’s easy to see how these unofficial, often sexual spinoffs have developed a bad rap. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s valid.

Like anything else online, there’s an infinite variety available, and the vast majority of fanfiction holds another appeal altogether. We can all appreciate the value of creativity and community. But there are a few things offered by fanfiction in particular which have helped it evolve into a beacon for queer and questioning teens and young adults worldwide:

1. A modern-day twist on a near-timeless medium

Fun fact: most fanfiction is written with the same purpose as olden-day romance novels.

Sure, fics are set in the world of pre-existing stories — but people have been writing this way for centuries. Well-known characters have always been repurposed and depicted in new and creative ways — Shakespeare, anyone? — which typically involve new plotlines with satisfying romantic endings.

Modern fanfiction can range from micro fics of a few hundred words to multi-book sagas, each with a novel’s worth of chapters and detail.

2. Queer. Sex. Ed.

How does queer sex work? What do safe sex practices look like for queer couples? These are questions that fans are often looking for answers to, and they’re finding them in these stories. More importantly, including these details in an informative and accurate way is a job many fic writers take incredibly seriously. (If only the same could be said of our education systems…)

In addition, fics can offer a low-risk opportunity for readers to engage in shame-free kink exploration, with many healthy portrayals of BDSM — including an emphasis on safe word usage. Search results on all popular forums can also be filtered by maturity rating, searched for using keywords, and excluded via trigger warning tags, promoting safe and appropriate consumption for all.

3. Queer love and relationships

Queer folks — especially those still questioning or coming out — are STARVING. We need positive representation in fiction. And in the absence of accurate world depictions in media, it seems we’ve decided to take care of it ourselves.

These fics really do have it all! I’m talking queer weddings. Children raised by queer parents. The introduction of partners to families in controlled and supportive environments. Dating milestones through a queer lens. First queer relationships in otherwise sexually experienced characters. Older characters finally feeling safe enough to question their orientations. Genderbending and the embrace of gender fluidity. There’s a rich, vivid history here, and we aren’t getting it anywhere else.

4. Defiance of social norms and restrictions

I think this is where we can begin to understand the true beauty — and even political power — of fanfiction: its radical, intersectional acceptance.

Let’s think for a minute. Why on earth would a group of people who have been historically ostracized and oppressed by society be drawn to a genre that actively works to eradicate the oppressive norms that very society has built?

It’s worth looking at the ways in which fanfiction is making a real-world impact:

Fans often pick up on homoeroticism and subtext between characters that show creators are being actively discouraged from exploring by network executives.

The rejection of heteronormativity in the majority of these stories then becomes a method through which many women, regardless of orientation or relationship status, are immersing themselves in depictions of relationships where equality is expected between partners. This is allowing alternative gender roles and healthier relationship dynamics to permeate the broader culture.

Writers are most often female. This allows a different perspective on romance to emerge that isn’t often expressed in original media, which is still overrun with male writers, directors, and producers. Women are giving themselves the opportunity to express the way they’d like to be treated by a partner, and to depict the way they think love should unfold.

By existing outside the standards of capitalism and corporate media, disabled creators can provide themselves with the accommodation they deserve. Company deadlines and network schedules do not exist, and writers can set their own timelines — and, in doing so, their own boundaries — as regularly or inconsistently as needed. In this way, fanfiction is dismantling a major barrier to disabled contributions and voices in arts and literature.

On top of all of this, the work is all done by fans for free — and for the love and fun of it. Forums where pieces are posted allow for support and feedback from readers, allowing aspiring writers to improve their work — and this can be especially valuable to those who are unable to seek formal training or education in the field.

So yeah, fanfiction is changing the game. In taking control of a narrative, fans are also taking control of the norms of creation itself.

And what could be bolder, more radical, more unapologetically queer than that?

Standoms Books Pop Culture

Confession: I haven’t read books for fun since I was in 8th grade

One of my biggest obsessions used to be reading books. I was that typical fangirl “tween” who even wrote for a fandom magazine at one point. Hearing about all these different stories and worlds was exhilarating and I just got so involved with them. Picking up a good book, reading it all the way through in one sitting, and getting invested in the characters and plot was so easy for me. I would cry with the characters and throw my book across the floor when the author killed someone I liked.

Books were my thing.

From Harry Potter to Divergent, I was one of the most passionate readers you’d ever meet. I even used to write a bit of fanfiction, if I were to be completely transparent. In fact, I attribute my writing journey beginning to 8th grade journalism. However, it actually started before then in 6th grade when I started writing about my favorite books. And most of the kids at my school would make fun of me if I ever told them. Right off the bat, I think it would be kind of unfair to attribute all of why I stopped reading to just academics taking over. I will say this – judgemental teens suck. That didn’t stop me throughout middle school from reading the cheesiest, best Wattpad and YA stories ever. But, it did in high school.

In addition, once I started high school, academic reading became increasingly important, and reading quickly became more of a chore. At first, I still read novels to keep me sane in between all of it, because here’s the thing. Academic reading can be BORING. But as I progressed through high school, the readings became harder, the time became smaller, and the leisure reading became nonexistent. Going to the school library to check out a book is unheard of at my school, much less taking the time to go to a public one. I think this stigma around reading at my school actually stemmed from the fact that everyone cares so much about getting into college.

Reading a YA book can’t possibly get you into Harvard, right?

But, I think it totally can. Reading is an incredibly valuable experience. It can teach understanding, acceptance, and other values that you just can’t get from anywhere else. Books contain thousands of new words that you’ve never heard before. They have rhetorical strategies (that DO NOT need to be analyzed so in-depth in my opinion). In academic reading, we tend to read too much into the book, which makes it so unbelievably boring. But when you read simply because you want to read, there is so much more to gain, as your brain is also more invested.

I do miss reading a lot though. I want to go back to reading the best YA novels I’ve ever read and dressing up as Hermione from Harry Potter and simply enjoying living in a different world. Reading was kind of an escape for me, and I need that escape now more than ever. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get back to it while in quarantine.

For now, I’ve amounted to reading digital magazines, news publications, and, of course, the books that are assigned to us in school. There’s nothing wrong with any of these, and if it’s your style, you should definitely check out some great digital magazines. However, for me, reading was about romance, fantasy, and the stories that just won’t appear in a news publication or a magazine, or even an academic book. Reading was about the things I dreamed of and the things I desired. It wasn’t ever about why the author chose to write a capital ‘S’ rather than a lowercase ‘s’. Ultimately, reading still is and will always be one of my most favorite things to do in the whole world, but I just don’t do it anymore with a real, 500-page hardcover book. But you should.

Have YOU submitted your book nominations for our Reading Challenge yet? Hurry up, you only have until April 30!


My secret life as an undercover fangirl (and how I finally came out)

Remember when being a nerd was considered bad? When “nerd” and “geek” were used as insults for socially awkward people with glasses? Luckily, we have progressed.  

Once upon a time, there was a big stigma towards people who admittedly loved fantasy and sci-fi, now the world is obsessed with Game of Thrones and the Marvel films have broken all kinds of records in every country.

I remember middle school and being teased for liking books with dragons at age 13. I remember bringing books on class trips and getting eye rolls when I explained that yes, there’s magic in this one too. So after a while, I started becoming super secretive about my passions. Not that I ever denied them, but I created a different Facebook account to discuss “nerd things only.” It was the age of Facebook groups and pages.

Then one day I discovered fanfiction. I was reading theories about the upcoming Eragon book, and I stumbled upon a fanfiction site. I was completely sucked in. I’m positive that the number of hours I’ve spent reading fanfictions up to now amounts to several months, if not years. Soon I found myself writing fanfiction. I realized it was something I’d always done, in my own way: even as a child, when sometimes I didn’t like how a certain scene played out or a certain book’s ending, I would rewrite it – albeit in my childish way – and pretend my version could replace canon. I can’t say that I ever became notorious for my fics, but I had a decent following. People would email me asking for updates and send me reviews or comments.

I signed up for Twitter long before it was cool, and I was told by a peer fic writer to use my fanfiction username. I discovered fandom Twitter in its early days when it was merely a safe space for us to freely discuss without being judged before it became the problematic and toxic place it is now. Then I signed up for Tumblr. All of this undercover. Never once did I ever mention my name on these platforms, and it wasn’t because I was afraid the “creepy people from the internet” would see me; on the contrary, I lived in fear that somebody I knew IRL would find out I blogged about fantasy books at night.

As the years passed and fandoms grew on social media, I became ““popular”” (note the double quotes) and respected in several fandoms. This gave me the confidence to stop being so secretive about what I did online – it was nothing bad, after all – and I started opening up to my closest friends about it.

Popular culture also underwent a huge shift: thanks to many successful franchises in the 2000s like Harry Potter, Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, etc., fantasy became more and more normalized. By 2011, when the last Harry Potter movie came out, nobody used “nerd” as an insult for fantasy-loving people anymore, because you had children, teenagers and adults alike crying in theaters about the end of an era. An entire generation wasn’t afraid to show their emotions because we all grew up with these films and books, and it was the case that the rest of pop culture kept up. In the 2010s there have been hundreds of fantasy films and television shows that were blockbusters. You didn’t have to be a nerd to like them, you simply had to go see them.

Six years ago, Game of Thrones was “that show with swords, sex, incest and dragons” to most of my friends. Now I can’t name more than five people who don’t watch it. In the same way, the Marvel Cinematic Universe normalized comics and superheroes, a genre that had always belonged to the underdogs.

Recently I came out of hiding. My Twitter and Tumblr handles are easily attainable. They’re connected to my writing profiles, thus linked to my full name, and I feel comfortable sharing every aspect of me to my friends and the world.

I completely came out of the nerd closet when I founded a Fandom Club at my university, a place for nerds to meet and discuss our favorite books, shows, films, video games, etc., and only then did I realize how many undercover nerds like me there are out there.

There is still a stigma directed at fantasy, that’s undeniable. Being obsessed with a sports team is still more socially acceptable than being a fangirl, even if the former entails staring at dudes running after a ball and the latter includes reading and analyzing pieces of literature, reviewing, theorizing, and often producing your own content. But for millennials, being a nerd is more than acceptable now. It has become cool.

Pop Culture

21 things you feel on a spiritual level if you love fanfiction

Between an increase in published examples, especially insanely popular ones like 50 Shades of Grey, and writers like George R.R. Martin opposing it, fanfiction has recently become a rather polarizing concept. But to those who love it, it’s just what we’ve been reading for years, probably since we were 11 and really wanted to see more going on between Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy.

If you love fanfiction as much as I do, here’s some things you might be familiar with:

1. It’s kind of embarrassing/confusing to tell other people

People tend to either not know what it is or they assume it’s something weird, when it’s basically individual artists showing off their art!

2. But at the same time, you don’t get what the big deal is

It’s just stories? You have no idea why fanfiction gets so much mockery and is presumed to be bad writing when most people agree that reading is great.

3. There’s no accounting for all the great content you read

You read all the time but does your Goodreads account reflect that? Nope.

4. It’s a procrastinator’s worst nightmare

What do you mean I shouldn’t start a 120k word fic the day before an exam? I can start and finish it.

5. There is no escaping truly bizarre kinks

Sometimes, you’re pretty sure all the strange fetishist, incest lovers and straight-up weirdos of the internet congregate as fanfic writers because some fandoms have straight-up strange things happening in their fic.

6. Often, the examples published are a pretty poor representation

The Mortal Instruments series? 50 Shades of Grey? Um, why? Fanfiction writers have done so, so much better.

7. There’s a good chance you’ve written some yourself

Chances are, in some dark forgotten corner of the internet, some (possibly really questionable) fanfiction penned by a pre-feminist awakening 11-year old you still exists. It’s not pretty, and you kind of forget it even exists most of the time.

8. There is no better bonding activity

I have no shame in admitting that I’ve found most of my closest friends through fandom, okay. My eighth grade best friend and I still talk every once in a while about the fic we’ve read.

9. Some fics are iconic jewels that may never die

Meet anybody who ships Rose Weasley and Scorpius Malfoy and there’s a 98% chance they’ve read Delicate. All Jily fans know of TLAT and Commentarius. It’s just a rite of passage in most fandoms.

10. Getting your fanfic fix for pretty much any pairing becomes totally normal

Often, when you finish a really good book or movie or TV series and are left feeling vaguely bereft because you don’t know what to do with your life once you’re done. Luckily, if you’re into fanfiction, the fandom usually has your back and has continued the story.

11. In fact, sometimes they even make the original better

The Harry Potter series, for example, sometimes leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to how the female characters are represented, but fanfic writers can totally make it better. Some, like this incredible series, are completely canon-compliant yet manage to improve the canon.

12. It’s where you can find your people

Do you really think you’re alone in guiltily shipping Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe just a little bit, in all their literary sassy glory? Think again, my friend.

13. Two words: fandom hate

There are way too many people who hate my precious mess of a son Ron Weasley and feel the need to write fanfiction about it, and that’s gross. Surely, they have better things to do with their time?

14. A lot of people shame the smut, but it’s actually pretty good

Not all of it, of course, but a lot of fanfiction tends to be written by younger, more progressive women than the ones writing actual romance novels. As a result, the smut in well-written fanfiction tends to be much better than the published writing

15. It’s the ultimate love letter to fandom, and you love it for that

The act of writing (or even reading) hundreds and thousands of words with no return and no motivator apart from sheer love of a story and desire to see it continue is pretty much the ultimate act of love for a fan.

16. There is no way to miss the Real People Fiction, to be very frank

One of the best fanfics I ever read was a One Direction fanfic called These Inconvenient Fireworks – just because somebody described it as “more quotable than Mean Girls” – but there is something undeniably creepy about real person fiction. And yet, there are apparently 192,396 fics about RPF on AO3 alone.

17. The most visited website on your mobile browser is definitely or

It’s just so easy to read fanfiction on the go. In queues, while waiting for people, on your commute… you name it, and fanfic is basically the best way to spend time.

18. It’s low pressure reading

Especially if you’re a student who spends most of your time reading convoluted thoughts and pretentious academic writing, fanfiction is just the most relaxing thing to read.

19. There is no escaping the bitterness that comes with bad writing…

The terrible affliction that is interesting plot suffering from grammar or writing that makes your eye twitch is the worst, because you know the writer put in a lot of effort but you just can’t read it.

20. …but you know being one of the entitled jerks is not an option either

No writer owes you anything, and you can appreciate that and be thankful for it. Even when they don’t update for 2.6 years.

21. Eventually, reach that point where the associated shame is obliterated

The shaming associated with fanfiction is inescapable. It’s like pumpkin spice lattes, selfies, and scented candles—basic just by association with teenage girls. And some people think it’s pretty damn misogynistic, but you’re over the whole shaming thing, honestly.

TV Shows Movies Pop Culture

20 signs you’re an absolute fangirl

There are some people in the world who can consume media casually. They can watch a new film or finish a television show and think “Wow, that was great,” and then proceed to carry on with their day and, shockingly, the rest of their lives.

If you’re anything like me, though, media consumes you. More often than not you can be found thinking about, dreaming about, and obsessing over your fandom of choice. If you’re a full-blown fangirl, you’ll definitely relate to everything on this list.

1. Referring to your fave exclusively by their first name and casually dropping them into the conversation.

Your friends and family have also (begrudgingly) learned to refer to your fave but their first name.

2. The pure elation you feel when your favorite show gets renewed for another season.

Yessss. Another 22 episodes of pure indulgence.

3. Reading fan fiction when the canon doesn’t quite meet your expectations.

Sometimes you’re lucky enough to find a fic that’s even better than the canon.

4. Losing hours of sleep because of an especially great Netflix-binging session.

“Just…one…more episode!”

5. Going to a fan event or convention and finally feeling like you’re among your people.

Let’s stay here together forever and ever and ever.

6. When you overhear strangers talking about your fave and you must resist the urge to rudely butt into their conversation.

You must continue to resist even when they’re getting facts about your fave so very wrong.

7. When someone you’ve just met asks about your fave in passing and you have to go to great lengths to not expose the true depths of your love.

“Oh, uh Harry Styles? Yeah, I think I’ve heard of him once or twice.”

8. Being willing to empty the entire contents of your bank account on your fave.

Merch? Concert tickets? Movie premiere passes? UM. YES PLEASE.

9. Having to skillfully dodge spoilers on social media.

For the love of all that is pure and holy, USE YOUR TAGS. Think before you spoil!

10.Gasping aloud when finding out important news about your fave and scaring unassuming folk around you.

Oops. Sometimes it’s just genuinely impossible to contain your excitement.

11. Flexing your creative muscles through a fandom-related outlet.

Writing fic? Reading fic? Making fan art? You can and have done it all.

12. Hating ship wars and all of the drama that comes with them.

We’re all friends here and getting along is so much more enjoyable.

13. Meeting a core group of fangirl friends through fandom and a mutual love of your fave.

You love them almost as much as you love your fave.

14. When you have to stop watching a great episode and venture out into the “real” world.

Sunlight and fresh air are both completely overrated.

15. Learning viable knowledge like HTML, Final Cut, and Photoshop through the making of .gifs and edits on Tumblr.

Don’t forget to add it to your resume! Fandom helping you out in your future; who would have guessed!

16. The utter devastation you feel at the cancellation of your favorite show.

You’ll never get a chance to find out what happened to the characters you loved like your own family. What a cruel, cruel world!

17. The sheer terror you feel when a coworker finds or asks to follow one of your fandom-related social media accounts.


18. Gently dragging your fave and calling them out on their bullshit (from a place of love of course).

No one wants a fave who contributes to the cis-heterosexist-patriarchal bs that’s already prevalent in our society.

19. Scrolling through your camera roll and realizing that it’s 90% full of pics of your fave.

Houston, we might have a problem.

20. Discovering a new show/book/film/podcast and starting the specific brand of fangirl love and over-zealousness all over again.

Listen, it’s a hard job but someone’s gotta do it.

Love Life Stories

Writing fanfiction pushed me to pursue my dreams, even though I was completely terrified

Although I was interested in many things growing up, I don’t think I ever would have described myself as a “fangirl.”

Fanfiction to me seemed like an obsessive world for teenage girls – yes, I was very ignorant. I read and watched a lot, but never to the extent where I wanted to get more involved. Then, I got extremely hooked on the CW’s The 100. It was dark, violent, made me question how much life was worth and it had some badass women. Obviously, I adored every twisted little thing about it.  I was heavily invested in the characters and in my search for spoilers I came across some fanfiction.

It was like entering a whole new universe full of other people just like me. I love to read and I already knew I loved the characters. It took a while to adjust, but once I got into it there was no going back. It fascinated me how people could put their take on something and change it entirely, but keep the essence of the characters the same. Within a week I had read all of The 100 fanfiction in existence. I just couldn’t get enough. While I waited for new fanfic to be uploaded, I re-read my favorite stories multiple times.

I was pretty much living in my imagination.I had about a dozen fictional stories playing out in my head and I kept wondering whether any of the stories I’d thought up would make an appearance. As much as I adored what I was reading, nothing was hitting the spot. I know this sounds weird, but it wasn’t as dark as I wanted. 

When my patience wore out I had a weird thought; what if I wrote the ongoing stories in my mind? Writing was not something I’d considered before, but I was bursting with narratives that I wanted to be written down. So, I decided to make an account anonymously, try my hand at it, and if I was awful no-one would ever know.

It took me some time to get my first fanfic done. The last time I had done any creative writing was during my school exams. I hadn’t appreciated how much work went into writing a story. Although I thought the story in my head was great, putting it down on paper was a struggle. So I googled writing techniques, I made a Tumblr account and I wrote what I could.

I don’t know what was scarier; the thought that no-one would read it or that someone might actually read it.

What I ended up with was overwhelming. People commented and liked my piece. People on Tumblr messaged me to offer their help. I had people who read and edited my work for me. Others gave me some helpful tips and links. I built up the courage to message a few people whose work I had really enjoyed and was surprised by how happy they were to give feedback. So many people took a lot of time to help me get the flow of writing and some people genuinely liked my work.

I wasn’t instantly famous and offered a book deal as I may have dreamed, but it turned out I could write well.

The good response encouraged me to explore different types of narratives and I tried as many different writing styles as I could. Before I published each fanfic, I would still have that anxiety and think about quitting it all. Putting your own work out there is one of the toughest things to do. But the kind comments left on my work kept me going, some people were eager to read my next addition. It was addictive.

I had seen a few fanfic poetry contests and decided to give it a try. I fell in love with poetry and began producing my own pieces. By this point, I had some friends on tumblr from the fandom who were supportive and assured me that I wasn’t a complete failure.

As much as I enjoy fanfiction, I can admit that my obsession got slightly out of control. I’ve now moved away from fanfiction and I am excited to see what else I can achieve. In addition to poetry, I am attempting to write my own novel and to create characters that inspire others. But I’ll always be grateful to the great people of the fandom who taught me how to believe in myself.

Had I never discovered fanfiction and the beautiful people within it, I would have never believed that I could actually write. More than that I never would have considered trying writing. The support, the advice, and the love received helped me become more confident in myself and my abilities. I owe a lot to the kindness of strangers.

I know people tell you that binge-watching is unhealthy, but hey, I found my passion through it.

Books Pop Culture

The forbidden love story between Draco and Hermione was something most didn’t know about – for good reason

We should all be reading fanfiction.

Don’t listen to George R. R. Martin or Anne Rice or Diana Gabaldon or whatever other successful authors have totally written off fanfiction. It’s awesome, and if you have any interest in fandom, you should also be reading fanfiction.

My ventures into fanfiction began with, of course, Harry Potter. Back when we still had dialup internet and shared a massive desktop computer with my mom, I stumbled onto a fan forum where, mingled among discussion about the upcoming film release and speculation about Voldemort and what was next for the Golden Trio, were stories. And the ones that drew my attention?


Most fanfiction has a romantic or sexual component (though it’s not always the main part), and you can’t talk about it without talking about the romantic pairings it features. Dramione – Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger – was the first to grab me. I loved (and still love) reading about them, determined enemies who’d never hold hands much less make out but do in this particular corner of fandom. They inexplicably hook up in a final year at Hogwarts, forced to share living quarters as Head Boy and Head Girl. They unite post-Final Battle, well into adulthood to butt heads at the Ministry of Magic and then begin an affair. There have been marriage laws and Veela mating rituals (never could get into that one), forced partnerships in taking down Voldemort and memory charms that leave their past, and mutual disdain, conveniently out of the way until it returns for maximum dramatic impact. And of course there’s kissing and depending on the rating, super smutty sex.

[bctt tweet=”And of course there’s kissing and depending on the rating, super smutty sex.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Dramione had all the forbidden love trappings that were attractive to an adolescent me, and it was the first inexplicable and impossible fandom pairing I adopted as an OTP (One True Pair). I doubt anyone expected Dramione to happen in canon, but canon compliance isn’t usually what any consumers of fanfiction expect. Fanfiction picks up on elements unseen or not prioritized by the narrative because writers know know it’s unlikely to appear in the canon. Maybe it’s because of a narratively absurd coupling like Draco and Hermione that J.K Rowling (even the 2016 Rowling making a mess of the HP universe with her new additions) would never have touched. Or maybe it’s because of the gender, racial and a myriad of other biases creators have that ensure some stories won’t ever be told.

[bctt tweet=”Fanfiction picks up on elements unseen or not prioritized by the narrative because writers know know it’s unlikely to appear in the canon.” username=”wearethetempest”]

So it’s up to fans to make these stories happen. That’s how I got into writing The Vampire Diaries fanfiction. Once a treasured show, my love of it plummeted as it became clear it had nothing to offer Bonnie Bennett, its single black female character, but racist tropes and the promise that she would, nine times out of ten, be treated like dirt. So I wrote about her, correcting the show’s mistakes and telling a story it never would have considered much less written.

I finished two lengthy stories and started two others that now linger in fandom corners as unlikely-to-ever-be-completed works in progress. The fanfiction I wrote was what I wanted to see happen onscreen, my way. For this time I was obsessed, scribbling notes in a notebook about plotlines and character beats I wanted to develop that the show never did. It was a labor of love, as it is for all fanfiction writers, who aren’t compensated with anything more than positive feedback and knowing that someone else sees the same potential you do and wants to see it realized. 

I spent hours on my own fanfiction despite being a college student with a full course load and a part-time job. I filled notebooks with ideas and scenes and was always happy when someone told me how much they’d enjoyed an update or how sad they were when the story was finished. This was also incredibly kind to my ego, another plus of fanfiction for aspiring writers who need that jolt of confidence to really dive into original work. But what I really enjoyed was the community and the new role I’d taken on in it. 

My disdain for TVD coincided with the creation of a Tumblr account and my introduction to the TVD fandom. It was entirely different from my experience with Harry Potter, where it was a shared love of the original material that sparked my consumption and other people’s sharing. With TVD, we were bound by mutual disdain (and for a while, our inability to finally cut the cord and stop watching). It was distinctly smaller than Harry Potter’s still massive fandom, and it was even smaller with fans of Bonnie Bennett (fandom, like any other place, isn’t often kind or welcoming to black women). None of the TVD fanfiction I read or wrote could be called popular. That is, it wasn’t going to be picked up by a publishing house and turned into the next 50 Shades of Grey. But the consistent and tiny band of readers formed a space where it wasn’t just my writing being validated, but a worldview that gave a black female character a story she deserved.

[bctt tweet=”It wasn’t just my writing being validated, but a worldview that gave a black female character a story she deserved.” username=”wearethetempest”]

I don’t write fanfiction anymore, but sometimes I remember something wonderful I had planned and consider starting up again. But after I dropped TVD, my need to fix its flaws faded just as my interest in it did. But I still read fanfiction.  New stories that crop up or old ones that I loved so much I just want to see again. I’ve found favorite fanfiction authors who I revisit over and over again, and I’m still disappointed that real life or a lack of inspiration or something else entirely has inhibited their ability to continue writing.

I’ll keep reading it, as long as it exists (hopefully forever). Fiction is supposed to open doors and windows we may not otherwise find, but that doesn’t mean it always does what its consumers need. That’s what the fans are for. We sometimes know what fandom needs more than creators do.

Books Pop Culture

Nifty steps for dealing with a fictional character’s death

You’ve only just started being attached to that character when BOOM the sound of his/her life on the pages sizzling to a stop. Oh, and in the background you can hear your waning sanity.

Here are some steps to getting over the fact that you just lost another piece of your heart.

Step One: Denial.

Ron Weasly looks confused.

You have to believe deep, deep down that the character didn’t just disappear due to the author’s negligence.

Step Two: Wear this shirt. Or just go all black.

Don't talk to me my favorite character just died T Shirt.

Aren’t mourning colors just sublime?


Step Three: Binge eat chocolates. Actually, don’t.

Binge eat chocolate cake.

It’ll just remind you of all the foods your favorite character no longer can *sob* eat.


Step Four: Start believing in parallel universes. That means you just got a, um, dud author… right?

Alternative universe


Step Five: Threaten to sue the author.

Snape clapping in approval.

This will DEFINITELY work.


Step Six: Pick another favorite character.

Crying at the movies.



Step Seven: Go to therapy and the occasional support group. You’ll need it.

Prolonged hugging.



Step Eight: When all else fails, write fanfiction.

Typing furiously, writing fanfiction.

…It works. I know.