Tag Archives: comics

Fan fiction through the lens of schizoaffective disorder

Until my breakdown at age 23, I read a shitload of fiction.  I’ve always been a big reader, but back then it was mostly novels.  After I started recovering enough to read again, I found I could only read non-fiction.  And I’ve figured out over the years why I can read some things but not others.

I don’t trust my brain.  I can’t.  For too many years it lied to me about what was and was not reality.  Novels require too much imagination.  I get lost.  It makes me deeply uncomfortable.  So instead I took up weird history books, because history is (more or less) true stories.  I still get to enjoy a good tale, but it’s a tale based in reality.

But about a year ago, I discovered I can read fan fiction.  It was a huge breakthrough for me.  It doesn’t require as much imagination, you see.  I already know what the characters look and sound like, because I’ve seen them in comics or films or television shows.  I know how the rules of their universe work.  I know they are played by real people.  So I can lose myself in fanfic, because I don’t completely lose myself.  Fanfic leaves me an anchor to the real world.  And I adore it for that.

I can also read comics for the same reason — I can see the characters and their world, so I don’t get lost.  I don’t have to trust my brain to fill in the imagery, because it’s right there on the page.  I read a fair amount of comics these days, but most of them are short reads.  For long reads I like novel-length fanfic works, if they’re written well.  And many are.  Ao3 has been a lifesaver, in terms of new reading material.

Sometimes I try to read regular novels.  I do.  But it’s incredibly difficult for me.  I’m so lucky I have other options.  Because stories are wonderful things, and I’d hate to not be able to read any at all.