tl;dr Fanfiction novel now, middle grade original fiction later. Almost ten years ago, mere weeks after graduating from college, I realized the time had come for me to write my Someday novel. Since I no longer had classes and homework to keep me away from doing the thing I'd always meant to do with my life, I diligently buckled down to do it. Problem was, I had no idea what to write about. I also quickly realized I had never actually written a novel before. Prior to that I had almost exclusively written short stories and fanfiction, and it was becoming clear that a novel was an entirely different beast. I had no idea what I was doing, and I knew I needed to learn. But rather than jumping in the deep end, I had the brilliant idea of writing an "easy" novel as my first. You know, to get a feel for the format, figure out this story structure thing, ease myself into it. Not a terrible idea I guess, at least on the surface. However, it is to my everlasting shame that what "easy" meant to me back then amounted to just... teen romance. Just the whole genre, one I neither read nor enjoy (no shade on those who do!). I read one Sarah Dessen novel as research and plunged into fixing up a Nanowrimo project I'd abandoned years earlier. Needless to say it didn't go well. In fact, the experience was so bad it made me question whether or not my lifelong goal of being a novelist was something I even wanted to pursue anymore. I felt like I'd failed at something that, before then, had been foundational to my very identity, and I wasn’t ready to face the idea that I’d been wrong about my purpose in life for so long. So for almost 8 years I buried myself in fanfiction, constantly kicking the decision of whether I'd ever try again down the road. Towards the end of 2017 a series of events that included a kind review on my fanfiction page and my father's advancing age, stopped the can dead in its tracks. It was time to put up or shut up: was I a novelist or not? By this point I had begun to suspect what the problem with my first attempt had been, and so I devised a test. This test would isolate whether it was my lazy, prideful attitude that had been the problem, or whether it was the very writing of novels itself I had found so unpleasant. If I wasn't meant to be a novelist, I wanted to know, so I could throw my energies into something else, and if I was, I wanted to, you know, do that. My brilliant plan this time was to write a novel-length fanfiction in the Dragon Ball Z fandom, something I'm already enthusiastic about and doesn't involve character or world building, thus proving to myself that it was not the novel format that had been the problem. I outlined for most of early 2018 and by March I was writing. By mid-May I had reached 50,000 words and the end of my first draft, and I’d already realized that, yes! Of course I want to be a novelist! Don't try to write books about subjects you aren't interested in, stupid! Hindsight, you are a cruel teacher. So now I'm happily stuck in this project I enjoy but that doesn't further my career very much. Not that past me was wrong about everything: everyone has to write a few duds before they get published. Why not let one of those be fanfiction?