Writing our own stories

The series of merlin finished last night in the uk. I’ll try not to give direct spoilers, but let’s just say many people enjoyed most of the episode but were unhappy with how things ended. Within 24 hours stories were appearing on fanfiction.net with different endings, as people rejected the BBC’s version of events and substituted their own. This isn’t the first time this has happened, of course: fanfiction writers are constantly expanding the universe for their characters, and when a series comes to an end it gives a special kind of freedom for writers to speculate and imagine without the threat of new canon (official episodes etc) to render their imaginings inaccurate or outdated. When Buffy the vampire slayer ended the fan world continued writing, with at least one more complete season of episodes on the net. Blake’s seven continued far beyond the tv series. I’m sure there are many more examples out there of semi-organised, co-ordinated creativity, as well as the millions of individual contributions.
The magic comes for me when one writer produces their version of the continuation/alternate ending and the readers say “yes, that’s the right version. That’s what should have happened.” And that writer’s contribution becomes accepted as canon by readers and further writers, to the extent that their stories and ideas are developed further still.
So often now the literary universe no longer continues in linear fashion, but splinters off into different directions as writers exert their own influence. Some authors get very upset and protective of their work, while others tolerate or even welcome this creativity.
To me this becomes part of the magic of the Internet, as the line between writer and reader, creator and consumer, becomes more and more blurred, until in the end we all become creators in some form or another. Some might say we construct our own meaning every time we read and this is just an extension of that.
As for me, I’ll read the new versions of merlin, comment on them and either find one that I can live with or work out my own version, so the story can continue in a satisfying manner, and I might even end up sharing/publishing to see what others think of it, so that I too will play my part in negotiating the way the story should go. There’s magic in discovering someone who has the same ideas as you about how things should go, and even more magic in being the one to first express those ideas.
I will also look forward to receiving delivery of my wireless keyboard for iPad, as it’s a pain writing on it without or having to step up to a larger machine. I find it amazing that one of those stories already posted on merlin was written in English by an Italian writing on her iPhone!