I had this moment when I realized that the Kvothe erotica fanfiction that I wrote for the WorldBuilders fundraiser was totally eligible for the Hugos. Totally.
Further, I realized that if I pointed that out to Patrick Rothfuss’s fans, there was actually a darn good chance it could make the ballot just because of the way the rules are structured. I laughed and laughed and laughed.
Then I told Pat and he laughed with me.
And we decided that we needed to make sure that neither of us mentioned the story in connection with the Hugos. Ever. Because if people voted for it, it would have been because the idea of having this particular erotica fanfiction on the ballot would be freaking hilarious.
But I love the award. The last thing I wanted to do would be to cheapen it by having something nominated just because the idea of it being on the ballot was funny.
That said, I could completely see a world in which a piece of erotica fanfiction made the ballot because so many people loved it. If a thing is popular with enough readers, I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t make the ballot.
The key, though, is that the readers nominate it because they genuinely love it. In other words, for the love, not for the lulz.
There’s this thing my husband talks about in wine, that I think is relevant here. People ask him all the time if a particular wine is good. He responds, “Did you like it? Then it’s a good wine. It might be flawed, but that doesn’t change the fact that you enjoyed it and if you enjoyed it, then it’s good wine.”
I think the same is true of fiction. If you enjoyed the work, then it’s good. It might be flawed. It might be technically compromised. It might not appeal to other people, but if you enjoyed it, then it’s working and therefore it’s good.
This is the thing that leads people to be surprised, every year, when a work they didn’t like winds up on the ballot.
If a lot of people thought it was good, then it’s popular. And if there are a lot of people who enjoyed a work you didn’t like then… yep. It’s going to wind up on the Hugo ballot, because that reflects the popular vote. And you know what?
That means the work is good. Maybe not to you or to me, but it is to the people who voted for it.
But with that particular fanfic, I knew that it would have hit the ballot for reasons that had nothing to do with the story. It would have been a joke. Which is why I never, ever mentioned that the Kvothe fanfiction was eligible. It’s an honour to be nominated for the Hugos, and I didn’t want to make it a laughing matter.
I want my work nominated for the love, not the laughs.