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By the age of nine, I had already mentally prepared myself for the no-benefit, broke ass life of a writer. I was ready for it. I daydreamed about my TV appearance the morning after my massive book launch. But I also daydreamed about none of that happening and becoming a chain-smoking ghostwriter instead.
I was bored by my '90s suburban existence. Growing up as an only child, I spent endless days riding my bike in front of the house and reading those Olsen twin mystery books.
By the age of 12, I knew I loved three things: sex, even though I was far from losing my virginity; drama, even though I had never experienced any; and violence, although I had never laid a hand on anyone — at that point, at least. All these things I had seen on Jerry Springer and The Young and the Restless enthralled me. I was waiting impatiently to see what life had to offer.
The first time I fell in love with rock music was upon hearing Blink-182’s “All the Small Things.” I was hypnotized. I turned into a wannabe punk at the most acceptable time to be an angry, head-banging teen — the early 2000s.
I became a hardcore pop punk fan, fawning over Good Charlotte, Mest, and Fall Out Boy. I spent days pretending I was in their worlds; that’s how I got through elementary school and the stupid kids that tormented me. Instead of flipping to the next page in my Fully Alive textbook, I opened up my scrapbook full of band pictures that I had wasted all my ink printing up.
In 7th grade, I befriended a girl who was going through the same band T-shirts, heavy eyeliner, and pink eyeshadow phase that I was. We’d surf the web for fan fiction, reading male-male coming-of-age love stories. At our sleepovers, we’d giggle ourselves to sleep at the thought of being a girlfriend, wife, or baby mama to these beautiful music men.
Then one night, I giggled, but not because I was dreaming of Gerard Way taking me to prom.
I thought of a way to start making these dreams a materialized, literary reality. I was a sex-obsessed teenage fan, like many preteens at that time. But I needed an outlet. What better time to work on my skills as a writer than to contribute my time to band fan fiction? It was genius, and my friend was up for the adventure.
The next day, I bought several blank notebooks from the dollar store as my mom looked on, confused. I went home, ripped a page out to start making an outline of my new story, and began writing.
My first story was set in high school and was about a girl who was hometown friends with the teenage guys from Good Charlotte and Mest. It detailed their complicated sexual relationships with each other as they grew up and the bands became famous. I thought it was brilliant.
My friend and I read each other’s notebooks during recess, writing new chapters each evening. We pinky swore each other that if either one of us died an untimely death, we would immediately go to the other’s house, take the notebooks, and burn them before our parents found them and were traumatized forever by our degenerate minds.
But my friend wasn’t always as enthusiastic as I was. I got angry when all that she produced was a page. I questioned her passion for writing great prose. Didn’t she take her craft seriously? Her notepad should have been smeared in blood, sweat, and pen ink, not blank and full of cookie crumbs.
I turned into a preteen slave-driver, a 12-year-old editor-in-chief tyrant, barking orders, taking my red pen to our works, yelling on the page about the lack of conflict and drama. I wanted more. I needed it.
When I turned 13, I came across the late Fandomination.net. The music communities were tight-knit and competitive — those that made it to the “Most Popular” tabs were untouchable saviors. However, the works were tiresome, often male-male stories.
I decided what greater time then to start a new kind of story, and post it. As my tastes in music became more angsty, I started writing a From First to Last (starring Skrillex before he was Skrillex) story. It revolved around a young girl named Autumn, her daughter, Sadie, and a love triangle between two of the FFTL guys who may have fathered her daughter. Cameos were made by Pete Wentz, M. Shadows, Davey Havok, and Bert McCracken.
I decided on the username MrsGeeWay (which I pronounced Ms., because even then I was a pre-teen feminist), and typed up my first chapter in their CMS. After reviewing it several times, I closed my eyes, clicked submit, and then went to bed.
When I woke up, I had 20 emails in my Fandomination.net inbox, praising my first chapter.
It had to have been a fluke, I thought. But I uploaded another chapter the next day, hit submit, and went to bed.
Double the messages.
“You write so well!” one message read.
“This is the best fan fiction I’ve ever read!” read another.
“I’m a huge fan!”
The messages fed my 13-year-old ego. I was on some next level shit.
So I began writing more in my crummy little notebooks, retiring to my bed early to scribble in them under the covers. After school, I’d head downstairs to type up my fancy fiction, thirsty for the praise.
I started adding pregnancy scares, kidnappings, and breakups to my plots, getting messages in all caps about how addicted they were to my story. Many stories were rated PG-13. That was boring. My story was rated R. I started thanking some special fans at the top of each chapter like all the other popular fan fictions writers before me.
I started signing off, “Love, MrsGeeWay,” and making the stories interactive:
A) Hook up with Travis? Or,
B) Should they argue and something bad happens?
I also started holding contests:
Tell me what your favorite chapter is and win a chance to be featured as a character!
My inbox was flooded with detailed explanations of why they loved their favorite chapters — and for good measure, why they loved me. I wrote the winning user in as a character named Faith, the best friend of Autumn.
At the peak of my success, a copycat wrote an FFTL story with the exact same plot and even stole my character’s names. I unleashed my fans on her, a Mother Monster of my time, to seek justice. Within an hour, her story had disappeared from the ranks. The power was intoxicating.
On the home front, my egotistical, teenage behavior had taken a massive shit all over my friendship. My friend was distancing herself from me. She was starting to move towards new friends and new hobbies. I paid no mind. I was a true and loyal fan fiction servant.
More writers began uploading stories in the From First to Last section. Soon, it was me on the “Most Popular” list, MrsGeeWay, dominating the charts, putting other writers to shame week by week. I was a God, an untouchable fan fiction fatale. My reign continued into my first year of high school. I was leading a secret double life: quiet, straight-A student by day, and Harlequin romancer by night. It was delicious.
As I wrote through my 14th year of life, I started feeling ashamed. What was I doing? Shouldn’t I have friends instead? What would they think?
I left hints before posting chapters, implying that the story would end soon. Emails flooded my inbox, begging me not to stop — their lives would be ruined. They lived for my story.
Once I made friends, I was so busy that I would forget to update. Weeks would go by before I’d post anything new. When I sat back down to write, there was no excitement to get my words down. It was dread.
I began planning my exit. I was slipping from the charts, anyway. I ended my story in my notebook, but like most perished writers who grew up before me, it never made it online. I received less fan mail. My account was inactive. I put all 37 of my notebooks in a bin and hid it in my closet.
As my 16th birthday rolled around, no longer was I an emo child. I had evolved into a top-40s loving swan, trading my black cuff bracelets and chain wallet for lipgloss and a short kilt. The reign had ended. So did Fandomination.net a few years later when it became a health food site.
Sometimes I’m nostalgic for the early 2000s music and fan fiction community. Shit, I was a chart-topping writer before I was even out of training bras and drawstring pants. As much as one can argue, band fan fiction has died out. It’s just not the same.
Sometimes when I return to my parents home in the suburbs, I read through my journals, the pages thinning, shaking my head in amusement at how eloquently I wrote — and what a nasty ogre I was. I found out last year that I have mild carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands. My mom was floored that all my writing and typing in university had dealt me such a cruel fate.
If only she knew that these crippled hands were a testament to a preteen fan fiction legend.