Fiction to Fanart: Fangirl

Above are Levi (left) and Cath (right) from Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell opens on main character Cath trying to find her way in the colossal world that is her new college campus. For the first time in her life, she and her twin sister Wren aren’t sleeping in the same room and Cath is nervous about exposure to so many people so fast. Everyone in college is grown-up and confusing. Her red-haired roommate is sassy and bold, the upperclassmen in her fiction writing class intimidate her, and Wren, sporting a new pixie cut, pulls away from Cath to hang out with her new friends. Meanwhile, Cath hangs back in her dorm, furiously writing chapter after chapter of her life’s work: a fanfiction piece called “Carry On, Simon.” Based on characters and events from her favorite books the Simon Snow series by Gemma T. Leslie, “Carry On” means everything to Cath, and her plan for freshman year is based solely on finishing it before the last book of the original series is released in the spring. However, as the months go by, it becomes harder and harder for her to stay on her path.

As her workload increases, she stresses about her grades and begins to doubt the quality of her writing. She drops her favorite class, fiction writing, because she’s so afraid of failure she doesn’t even want to try. Wren becomes increasingly distant and careless, putting herself in danger, while Cath gets caught up in boy drama for the first time in her life. She secretly crushes on her classmate, Nick, until he betrays her and steals her writing; advertising it as his own for a writing contest. Cath cuts all ties with him. She grows closer with her roommate’s ex, Levi. When they start dating, she begins to build up her self-confidence again, discussing her situation with her fiction writing professor and adding the class back into her schedule. Feeling brave, she confronts Nick about his actions and takes back her writing so he can’t use it. With the release date for the final book of the “Simon Snow” series approaching rapidly, Cath continues to write chapter after chapter of her fanfic. She publishes just in time and her life feels complete. After so much hard work and dedication, she finally gets the success that she deserves.

When I read Fangirl, it acted as a reminder to me that I should do what I love. Cath is dedicated to her writing in a way that I can only dream of with the multitude of commitments and activities that distract me every day. I need to take more time in my life for myself and do things that I really enjoy, not what is expected of me or what is “good for college.” By reading about Cath’s experience with setbacks and failures, I also realized that my writing doesn’t have to be perfect for it to be great. Often times I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed, and my love for what I do gets compromised in the process of perfecting my work. To anyone out there who is unsure about their talents or unconfident about their abilities, I want to personally ask you to explore and support art in your life. Wealth and recognition alone through well-paying jobs can’t make people happy, and it’s important that people be invested and excited about their jobs so that they can live a fuller life. Creativity through art is a great way to start exploring things that bring joy and enthusiasm into your life, and passion for your work is the first step to true success.

Enjoy these shots from my process for this post 🙂

Model creds to the lovely Charlie! This column incorporates photography, digital drawing, lo-fi hip hop (for concentration), and crippling frustration, all as a part of the process!
Shown here are Simon and Baz from Cath’s fanfiction, “Carry On, Simon.”
Drawing can be really exhausting, and sometimes I just feel like giving up. In those times, wonderful art pieces like this are created…

Thank you so much to everyone who has stuck with me on the path to finishing this column (and to Jennifer, for occasionally drawing various body parts for me when my artistic abilities falter). It’s been a wild ride, but I’ve my had my supportive family and the staff at The Wave helping me every step of the way. I couldn’t have done it without y’all!