As long as I can remember fanfiction has been a large part of my life. From writing cringy self-insert Harry Potter fanfictions when I was 13, to reading fanfictions that could simply change the characters names and be considered a masterpiece of literature, I have always been in love with fanfiction. Which is why when I read Fangirl (Rowell’s first book in this ‘series’ if you will) I fell in love with Cath because … well Cath was me. She had heavy debates on whether or not Magneto and Professor X were gay, something which my housemates and I debate whenever we watch X-Men (I ship it) but she loved something so much she wanted to keep it alive by any means possible.
Despite the fact that Cath’s story was so like my own there was always something I was super curious about when I read the book. Whilst my obsession had been Harry Potter, Cath’s was Simon Snow, her in-universe Harry Potter if you will (not the same in plot but wizards and such). Despite the fact that Simon Snow was a completely fictional construct I longed to know more about this book, simply because it was something that the main character was so obsessed with so I was curious. What was so great about it?
So when it was announced that Carry On, a book containing the fanfiction that Cath wrote, I was ecstatic. Finally, I was going to get that hit of Simon Snow that I couldn’t have before but one thing stuck in my mind; this wasn’t going to be the story of Simon Snow. This was going to be the story of Simon Snow through Cath’s eyes. And originally that was something that bothered me deeply. After all, I wanted the true Simon Snow experience, not just a fanfiction.
However, the more I read and the more I reflected on this realisation, the more I figured what my interpretation of the purpose of the book was. Carry On is a love affair to fanfiction. Carry On is every time I’ve hunted for hours for fan material because I love a media so much I need more. Carry On is every time I’ve hated the way the canon has worked out and I need a better alternative. Carry On is every time I’ve watched a serious series but loved the characters so much I want to see them live out mundane lives with mundane jobs like baristas. Carry On is every time I’ve wanted a slight change, like to see Simon end up with Baz, or for Agatha to get a better ending or to get the closure I’ve wanted from something.
Ultimately the story for Carry On is a fanfiction. And I wouldn’t change that for the world, because whilst fanfiction is generally regarded as a trashy medium for people who can’t create their own creative outlets, fanfiction has always been there for me. Maybe one day I won’t spend hours reading flower shop au’s into the early hours of the morning, but hopefully, that will be a long time in the future.