Friday, 7 May 2010
Today's request comes from one of my newest online buddies, Leesh. It's sort of fitting too, because the topic she suggested was HPANA - the very first internet home that I adopted - and also the place where I originally 'met' today's requestee (that's not a real word, I know, but you know how I like to make up words).
Where do I begin? Well, I should probably start by mentioning that yesterday was the fifth anniversary of my joining one of the most popular Harry Potter fansites on the web. I don't know why I chose this particular site - it wasn't the first 'hit' from google when I originally decided to type in 'Harry Potter' in the search bar. I think I was attracted by the simple layout more than anything (me being one of the most computer inept people on the planet). I'd only been actively using the internet for around three months when I joined HPANA, so a simple format to navigate was a must.
I initially ventured into the canon discussion areas, where I dived straight in and posted a theory about one of the characters. I don't know how it happened, but eventually the topic became so popular that it became one of the elite 'pinned' threads. Nobody was more surprised than me, let me tell you. Anyway, a few months after joining, I gained a bit of confidence and began to explore the site. Up until that point I hadn't ventured much further than a couple of topics, and I really only posted in one or two.
Then I clicked on the link for Fan Fun - and opened up a whole new world. For the first time in my life, I discovered fan fiction. I seriously had never heard of it before, and it wasn't long before I became addicted to several of the ongoing fictions. It was only a small leap between reading and writing fanfic, and that's how I started writing again.
I've always loved writing, but in the years filled with stressing over bills, working horrible shifts, and bringing up a family, I sort of forgot my dream of one day being a novelist. Now I freely admit that my first fanfic was truly atrocious. Honestly, I look back on it now and cringe at how badly written it is - the plot was mediocre, the structure was terrible, and as for spelling and typos.... well, you probably get the picture. Nevertheless it proved strangely popular, despite its failings. Buoyed by the fabulous comments that I received throughout the posting duration, my brain started connecting my serious HPANA self to my fanfic madness HPANA self. I decided to make my original theory - that was still going strong in the discussion forum - into a fanfic.
And so the dream truly became solidified in my head. My second fanfic was probably my most popular story on the boards, and nothing I have ever written since has ever surpassed it. I've written three complete longer length stories, am still procrastinating over another three, and have numerous short stories under my belt, not to mention my 15,000 word novella that doesn't fit in either the 'short' or the 'long' category. They've all been fun to write, and when you compare my initial work to my later stuff, I firmly believe that I have improved a hundredfold. It's definitely a brilliant way to hone those writing skills.
The Burrow was originally a member on HPANA, and it is on that site that we first connected (The Burrow as a name loosely inspired from our Harry Potter roots). I don't think I'll ever be able to express just how grateful - and proud - I am to be a member of this group. These people are fantastic in every way possible. They encourage my writing, they are enthusiastic about everything, they give honest feedback, and most importantly for me personally, are just the best friends you could ask for. A few of us managed to meet up in 2008 - no mean feat when you consider we are all from different countries - and it was astounding how well we got on together, it was like we had known each other for years. Which, of course, we had, but only in an online way. That's pretty incredible. The picture, left to right, is Jess, Leanne, Tami (Confessions of a Watery Tart), me, and Mari (The Giraffability of Digressions)
Of course, now that the Harry Potter books have long finished, and the movies are almost done too, the participation on HPANA has dwindled a fair bit, but we still have that lovely community that, for all its smaller size, is still as addictive and fun as it ever was. I'm still making friends on there, even after five years, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. I'll always have a soft spot for Harry Potter, but I believe that it is HPANA that will inspire the fondest memories for me in the years to come.
Don't forget, first person to post gets to have control over me for my next blog post!