“Unpublish that story with 63,000 views”: Why I stopped writing fanfic
Corinna Ng // March 11, 2020, 6:28 pm
Being an avid writer from a young age and hungry for an avenue to share my work with the world, I joined an online website that let me publish and read user-generated stories for free.
Writing story after story since Secondary 1, none of my stories were ever a hit until this one I published in August 2018.
Readership started off cold and slow until one day, the number of votes passed 1,000. Then, comments started rolling in. People were adding my story to their reading lists, and it became the top story on multiple hashtags.
But after a conversation with my mum about my passion for writing fanfics, I began to realise that my romance stories did not represent a godly picture of love.
And God spoke to me some months later: “Unpublish that story with 63,000 views.”
One unhealthy belief I had was that cohabitation was okay.
I included it in my stories thinking that as long as nothing sexual happened, it was fine. Besides, living together before marriage was something widely accepted and portrayed in all the media I consumed.
But the truth is, there’s a high chance that such an arrangement could lead to sexual sin.
I realised that by including cohabitation in my stories, I was perpetuating a wrong belief in my stories as well as reinforcing it in myself.
Dwelling on sensual things eventually opened the door to impure thoughts and sexual fantasies.
While I did not include pre-marital sex in my stories because I knew it was blatantly wrong, I pushed the limits by including other sensual things like making out (also wrong).
Dwelling on sensual things eventually opened the door to impure thoughts and sexual fantasies (about my characters, not directly on myself). These fantasies were really hard to get rid of because I had been feeding this stronghold, so it was a constant struggle for me.
I tried many ways to stop it, but without dealing with it at the root, those attempts were useless.
Matthew 5:28 also says this about fantasy: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart”.
All this started when I first read romance fanfics (some were rated mature).
I used to skip over the parts with heavy sexual content, but curiosity still made me peek. Though I stopped reading fanfics a few years ago (upon God’s conviction), the messages had already infiltrated my mind – they were already apparent in the way I wrote.
I began bargaining with God to allow me to continue writing on the condition that I changed my story angles to include godly values and healthy boundaries.
And I was on a roll after that. I planned out my stories so perfectly, and even included paragraphs of godly advice to my readers – even while I knew writing fanfics opened a door to sexual fantasies in my mind.
Some time later, after writing an Instagram story entitled “Father God knows best”, I started thinking again about how what I was doing with fanfics was wrong.
The growing conviction wasn’t something I could brush off like I did in the past. This feeling became physical, which made it almost impossible to ignore. It was a discomfort in my chest that just wouldn’t go away, coupled with the recurring thought to unpublish my story.
I asked God to “wait” and tried to sleep it off. But I woke up the next morning with the discomfort still there, and that thought to unpublish my story just kept coming back.
I felt guilty. Deep in my heart I knew I was disobeying God. My mind was swirling with excuses, justifications, bargains – but also the truth about God’s intentions and my own deceptive heart. I couldn’t be my usual cheery and talkative self, and for once, I was afraid of talking to God.
Deep in my heart I knew I was disobeying God… I was afraid of talking to God.
That day I bargained till after lunch, repeatedly telling God I wasn’t ready to give my story up. I asked Him to allow me to test out my plan to redeem my story. I told Him that if it didn’t work, I would then give up gladly.
I even reasoned that ending the story abruptly would leave readers with the wrong view of romantic relationships, so it was my “duty” to present the godly truth.
Of course, these were all excuses. I knew in my heart that I shouldn’t ignore this conviction or it would open a door to more compromises; a day might even come when I cannot hear God anymore.
I was still trying to distract myself when I knew it was time to face it.
God brought me to tears. I had to face my pride in my personal achievement. I had to face the truth that I was still unwilling to let go of some things.
I had to face the true condition of my heart – one that didn’t love God enough to let go of selfish pleasures.
To let go of reading fanfics was easy, but to let go of writing them was beyond painful. My fanfics were my pride and joy.
Then, “Leave Me Astounded” started to play in my head. The opening lines in particular stood out: “All my hands have made, I’m laying down. All that I hold dear, my many crowns.”
I prepared my heart by filling it with Scripture.
I read about how Simon Peter and Andrew left their nets “at once” and “followed” Jesus in Matthew 4:20. And I was reminded of the man who “sold all he had” when he found the treasure of the kingdom of heaven in Matthew 13:44.
Those verses were about letting go when you’ve found something more worthwhile – something of eternal significance.
I was crying and grieving so much during this process. My finger hovered over the unpublish button, and I left the page again and again until I finally told myself to make a decision there and then.
So I let go of what I had placed my value in – 63,000 reads and 2,000 upvotes. Instead, I remembered that Jesus gave it all for me, and what I was giving up suddenly seemed so small and insignificant.
God knows how much writing means to me.
He wouldn’t ask me to give it up unless He had something better in store for my life. If I was allowed to continue writing and gain more popularity, it would be even harder to let go.
Furthermore, in the future, I know I’ll have to make choices much harder and more painful than this. So this was good training.
Ultimately, I know God asked me to let go because He loves me.
I know I will miss writing fanfics. But, more than that, I don’t want to miss God and all the plans He has for my life.
I believe God wants to change my value system from the inside out. Otherwise, the stories I write in the future would hardly be godly. And to be honest, the nature of fanfics will almost never allow them to be godly because their singular focus is secular romance.
Fanfics serve the purpose of fantasy and are an escape from reality. A godly angle would very much be tied to reality, and wouldn’t meet the needs and wants of fanfic readers.
To stop writing fanfics completely is my act of obedience, submission and surrender to God. I can’t serve both God and myself, so my decision reflects my commitment to give up my selfish desires for Him.
In the future, I believe that my creativity and flair for writing will be used by God for better things – not fanfics but articles focused on Him and His truths.
THINK + TALK
- What is your treasure in life?
- Could you give it up if God told you to?
- What is one practical way you could start treasuring the things of God instead?