Why the hell are you here in fan fiction?
Or a variant on the question, delivered with a smirk and/or a snort:
Why the hell are you here in Twilight fan fiction, of all places?
Yeah, I know. They won't ask me to my face why an intelligent woman of my age, education, background, and status is hanging out in what looks like a pop cult centered on unrequited teen desires.
But I'll answer their questions, both the open ones and the unspoken ones.
First, fan fiction is a great way to take a plunge into creative writing. One can take short cuts on character development and concentrate on construction of a story arc, development of themes, tone and language usage while extending pre-developed characters. (It's a win-win for published authors whose characters are used as springboards since fan fiction sustains interest in their works.)
For someone like me whose body of writing has been nonfiction for more than eight years, this is a real treat -- a cheat of sorts to help me get the bugs worked out of writing fiction before I concentrate on an actual non-fan fiction novel.
Secondly, fan fiction as a whole is very, VERY open and diverse, extremely liberal. For example, authors and readers alike are willing to explore a spectrum of expression in human sexuality and through a virtually unlimited range of scenarios. Topics from poverty to infertility to global politics are plumbed by authors whose backgrounds are as varied and in many cases highly knowledgeable about the topics they use in their work. This openness is a strong fit with my personal values; it feels like home. I don't have to compromise while exploring creative writing.
Thirdly, with specific regard to Twilight fan fiction -- there is an enormous concentration of creative feminine energy. It boggles the mind how many well-read and creative women offer up their hobby writing for free. There aren't many places where women can congregate in these numbers and work so freely in tandem or collaboratively on creative projects.
Fourthly, the Twilight fan fiction community is extremely supportive in a way that the next largest fan fiction community is not. It's not absolutely clear that this is a result of the overwhelmingly female percentage of participants, but it's hard not to think that this is a factor when the most active proponents of other women's work are women themselves. They've developed networks and social media tools to flack their fiction works, and in some cases the promotional efforts have led directly to print publishing for profit.
Lastly, fan fiction is a really tremendous place to learn not only about writing but getting one's works published. The social networks entwined around fan fiction are linked to book agents, published authors and publishers, so many of whom are willing to share information about getting published.
So that's it, in a nutshell, the reasons why I allow myself to pigeonholed with those folks. Yeah, we know outsiders look askance at us and point fingers, snigger and refer to us as if we have a third eye in our foreheads. But they don't get it and likely won't; when they cough up money for a published work written by someone who once dabbled in fan fiction, maybe they will clue in.