Good fiction gets under our skin. It can change the way we see the world. But whatever its effect, it’s a significant experience. It would be a bizarre thing—unnatural, even—for writers to not engage with that experience. They always have. I could show you stuff centuries old—heck, some of it’s millennia old—that’s fanfic by any modern definition.
Of course, it would have to be a modern definition. In a purely literary sense, fanfic doesn’t exist. There is only fiction. Fanfic is a legal category created by the modern system of trademarks and copyrights. Putting that label on a work of fiction says nothing about its quality, its creativity, or the intent of the writer who created it....
I’m just a tad cynical about authors who rage against fanfic. Their own work may be original to them, but even if their writing is so outre that it’s barely readable, they’ll still be using tropes and techniques and conventions they picked up from other writers.
Some interesting reading in the comments as well, all the way from pure praise to criticism to the same old tired "must be inferior to origfic by definition", but overall it's nice to see a piece like that that's mainly positive toward fan writing.
I wonder, sometimes, if there are just some people who are predisposed to fanfiction. I never really thought about it until recently, but the fact is that I've always been a 'ficcer. I like closure in my stories, and if I don't get it from the source, I'll make it up in my head. My dad tells me that, instead of getting a bedtime story from him, I used to make up stories about the characters in M*A*S*H. (Apparently, Klinger was a particular favorite. I have no memory of this.) I've done it for TV shows, books, movies, anything that catches my attention. Heck, I'm involved in an RPG right now, and after the first session, an offstage conversation between two of the NPCs buzzed in my head for over a week. So fanfic isn't really new to me. It's just that the Final Fantasy X/X-2 universe is the first one that ever pushed me over the edge to write about it.
Someday I still need to post about The Democratic Genre. I read it, but I want to read it again to digest some of it a little more fully. I do recommend it, though, if you're interested in the topic of fanfic as literature.