How Writing Fan Fiction Has Helped Me Own My Sexuality And Desires

by Virginia Duan
Originally Published: 
Scary Mommy and George Marks/Retrofile/Getty

I have a confession to make. Actually, it’s not much of a surprise for those who know me, but I suppose telling my friends and YouTube subscribers is one thing, telling the internet at large on Scary Mommy is another.

I write fan fiction. Not just any fan fiction — fan fiction of the smutty variety. (The best kind, really.) And this year, I have written over 175,000 fictional words — almost all of which were fan fiction — and for the first time, many of these words were sexually explicit.

In retrospect, it’s inevitable I started writing adult fan fiction. As a child and long before I knew what fan fiction was, I fantasized about NKOTB or Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation (the best Star Trek, fight me) and imagined scenarios featuring myself. I was fascinated with sex and regularly raided the romance section of the library. However, I was so ashamed of my curiosity that instead of checking the books out, I would smuggle them out of the library and back again.

Sex was a hidden, immoral thing.

Add on being raised in a conservative Taiwanese Christian household with a hypocritical and adulterous father, sex was vilified and restricted. Verboten.

Fast forward a few decades and a lot of deprogramming, and I’m no longer embarrassed or ashamed about it. Staunchly in my 40’s, people wish I would stop talking about sex, want, and how that relates to my ultimate obsession — K-pop band BTS.

And because I’m a writer, have written non-explicit fan fiction in the past, and read a lot of adult fan fiction, of course this would progress to writing sexually explicit material. (We all have to cope with the year of our Lord Corona somehow.)

While some folks may find fan fiction a less legitimate art form because I’m either writing about characters I personally didn’t create — or famous people who are real and actually exist — I don’t really care. Writing fan fiction has not only improved my skills as a writer, it’s allowed me to explore my values, desires — sexual or otherwise — and consent in a low stakes arena.

By now, most people are aware that many book franchises started off as fan fiction — the most notorious (or notable) being the “50 Shades of Grey” series based off of Twilight fan fiction. Come to think of it, there are a LOT of published books based on Twilight fan fiction. One day, I will be able to stomach reading the books (or watching the movies), but today is not that day.

Besides, you know fan fiction has gone mainstream when even major cable channels like Lifetime have KFC fan fic masquerading as a movie. Although, perhaps it’s not the fan fiction people judge — it’s the written porn.

Like, go ahead, write your stories about imaginary people based on real or imaginary people, but like, why the sex? (And so much of it!)

I mean, why not? I write stories about people — and some people have sex. Some people have sex a lot. Some people have sex a lot in positions and scenarios that I would never want to experience for myself. Like ever. But I have zero problems writing it. It’s as if — now, work with me here — it’s pretend.

Also, I got tired of reading sex scenes featuring wetness leaking down thighs (that’s not sexy, that’s incontinence), vaginas requiring “stretching out” to accommodate gigantic phalluses (is the circumference of this penis the size of a baby?), guaranteed multiple orgasms (ha!), and hours-long sex marathons (think of the chafing).

I grew weary of only reading about the young and sexy and longed to find myself — a woman of a certain age and decidedly not white — reflected in these stories. I wanted to see sexy middle-aged people fucking and maybe, not always having orgasms or occasionally being interrupted by children or life. And since I couldn’t find the stories I wanted to read, I began to write them.

The truth is, I’m very vanilla.

I value expediency over effort and I’d much rather read, write, or watch people having sex than actually participate. After a full day of considering the needs of four tiny humans and a middle-aged human, the last thing I want to do is consider the needs of someone else — and I really do think that while having sex with someone, I should consider at least some of their needs, wants, or opinions on the matter.

I’m not a monster.

This is not to say that I do not have sex with my husband. We do — at a mutually agreed upon frequency — but that is outside the scope of this article and none of your business. After all, why do I have to justify writing and consuming content about sex with details regarding my own sex life? Whether I have a ton of great sex with my husband or not has no bearing on my sexual fitness, efficacy, or ability. It certainly has no bearing on what sexy times I choose to write about.

Some folks find it upsetting that I, a grown consenting adult, write about sex between other grown and consenting adults. But if there’s anything I’ve realized (in particular in these past few weeks), it’s that people hate women on the internet — especially women who want.

And I want. I want a lot — of which sex (or at least, written sex) is one of many.

The more I write adult fan fiction, the more my work reveals my values and beliefs (conscious or unconscious). As a result, I take my responsibility very seriously. It has forced me to re-examine my biases about casual sex, sex work, consent, heteronormativity, race in relation to sex, power, and the ways our history — sexual history and trauma, too — affects our decisions.

I think through and question my usage of certain tropes. I research and try to find original source materials about particular sex acts and choices. (If I’m ever investigated by the FBI, you’re welcome in advance. Some of that shit is quality content.)

But most importantly, the act of imagining and then writing sexually active characters permits me to explore and determine what I would like or allow to my person — which then informs my real life sexual experiences and choices within my marriage.

And if it happens to lead to more orgasms for myself and for others (admittedly, a lesser concern)? Sign me the fuck up.

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