• Millie Liao

What being a fanfiction author taught me

Many years ago, I was what many would look upon as an embarrassing profession, and by that I mean I wrote Harry Potter fan fiction.


But before you come for me, I want to defend myself by saying I wrote fan fiction of all new characters who were witches and wizards at Hogwarts, I never wrote the fanfics that shipped characters together.


The reason why I bring this up is because I am actually very thankful for what this experience has brought into my life. But first, let’s talk about how I got there.


In elementary school, my group of friends and I were all huge fans of Harry Potter, to the point where we gave ourselves new names and everything. I was Lily Potter (I know, so original), the great-great-grand-niece of Harry Potter, and two of my other friends were my cousins and also some delineation of the Potters. But essentially, during recess everyday we would pretend to be witches/wizards at Hogwarts, and go on quests across the school playground to fight dementors or duel V*ldemort.


My brother and I Halloween of 2015, in a homemade robe sewn by my grandma.

I eventually grew out of this phase, as most do (no disrespect to any adult potterheads, I’m wishing for your safe recovery soon), but there is one thing that will haunt me forever- the fan fictions I wrote down recording our amazing wizarding world. As we continued to play each day during recess, I had the idea to record down our lives and create a book of our own (using google docs, obviously) explaining our unique characters and recounting our amazing adventures. To this day, I can still scroll all the way down to the bottom of my google account to find this 200+ page document relaying everything from new potions to love interests to historical events in our universe.


And while I can’t help but cringe at the cliche, novice writing that I had at the time, as well as the poorly developed characters we created for ourselves, at the same time I am filled with pride of my younger self for working so hard on one thing that was actually going to be useful for the future me - building a foundation for my love of writing.


Many times, kids are introduced to writing first in school with mandatory assignments that aren’t necessarily fun to them, like essays or book reports. But little me found a way to use writing for something I enjoyed, allowing me to grow up viewing writing as something that should be enjoyable and fun. The way that we craft a narrative with our words, the way that we can express ourselves to one another through language, all of that is so taken for granted when in actuality without writing our civilization would barely be able to communicate.


But all of that aside, I wish that every student could see the necessity and the enjoyability of writing. If only schools were able to teach writing through topics that kids were already very passionate and interested in, like Harry Potter or Pokémon or maybe now it’s Stranger Things.


But either way, I think we are naturally programmed to love stories, which is why we enjoy watching movies of tv shows or reading books, and sometimes, schools can take that love away from us and make us view writing/creating stories as work.


So encouraging younger kids or siblings to write as much as they can, about whatever they want, is something I believe in as absolutely essential. It’s something I’m trying to do with my younger brother. If we as family members, as older siblings, or as young people ourselves, can relearn to do whatever we want with our words and make worlds that we love, we can conquer the overarching message that writing shouldn’t be fun.


In conclusion, while I’m not asking every kid to have a fan fiction phase, I think that being able to turn something you love into your own through writing is truly a transformative experience, and I would highly recommend to people of any and all ages. Write your own fan fiction about some piece of media you love, or even your own life if you’d like. But either way, just write. Rediscover how much you love to create your own story. And as always I write this


With love,


Millie.