cutting my teeth on the gristly parts of TV

Linda, who blogs over at Wires for Veins, has been making noises about wanting to write some fanfiction. I am all for this. Participatory fandom is my favorite thing, and, plus, free porn! No downside. 

And I’ve never been cagey or shy about my career as a fanfic writer and TV nerd, but for posterity and the nice people who visit this blog, I’ll slap up my fannish CV. It’s been a long, strange trip, cats and kittens, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

It’s a bit like going to school, to college, to camp; you immerse yourself in a fandom, meet people, make friends, and then slide off to the next fandom hoping your buddies will stay in touch. I spent about eight years on Livejournal (the de facto fannish melting pot — or at least it was in its heyday), amid thousands of fans who read and supported one another and exchanged gift fics and prompts and encouraged one another to write more, write better, write absolutely anything.

I think of it like this. Like I went to high school in Star Trek, my first fandom. And like high school, I was dumb enough to think I was brilliant, I wrote bad poetry, and everything I worked on was draped with melodrama. I wrote some TNG, but mostly DS9 (my pairing of choice was Kira/Dukat; I love the genre that’s been dubbed “nemesis fic”), and I made some good friends, but, like high school, I’m not really in touch with most of them anymore. I was in Star Trek in the mid-90s, before Livejournal, before the web in earnest, and I posted my fic on newsgroups and BBSs. I was lousy, man, but I had a marvelous time. Before I stumbled upon Star Trek fanfiction I had no idea that other people were riffing off of what they’d seen on TV; I thought I’d invented the medium. The fact that there was an enormous world already in place to embrace me was the biggest gift the internet’s given, before or since. If you must, read Dislocation, Condemnation, Revelation, In Temptation (Kira/Dukat, 2760 words, rated T for Teen).

And then I graduated. Moved on with my class, out of the kindergarten madness of Star Trek and into my next fannish obsession, The X-Files. Like college, I spent about four years there, and like college, I made some of the best friends of my life. Meet Punk Maneuverability, who blogs at see punk run. We met in X-Files, clung to one another, and started co-writing fanfiction, a process that taught me more about writing and more about collaboration than any professional endeavor I’ve embarked on. We published a handful of fic under the name V. Salmone (read, if you’ve got it in you, How to Fake an Orgasm, Mulder/Scully, 23,000 words) and began a friendship that would last long after the X-Files was an embarrassing memory of fist-shaking at Chris Carter. Punk’s still my bff, and still the best writer I know. 

And then I graduated, and discovered slash. In, let’s call it, graduate school, the time in a young academic’s life when she sort of learns what it is she’s been trying to say all these years, finally learns how to put together a sentence and a paragraph without pretension (one hopes) and with some semblance of trained craft. Slash, for the weekend warrior, is the term for fanfiction that queers the characters; in other words, when you write a gay pairing for characters who are canonically straight, you are slashing the characters. Slash has a bit of a reputation in fandom for being the purview of the edgy, and in my graduate school era, it was just what I wanted. Punk and I dove guns blazing into Sorkin fic, the umbrella term for fic based on the shows of Aaron Sorkin, namely Sports Night and The West Wing. Because Dan and Casey were a great, epic love story, and so were Josh and Sam. And Punk and I were getting good at this writing thing, and we felt ready to tackle bigger issues, Sorkin-y issues of politics and linguistics and wild, rapidfire banter. I tried some experimental stuff (like April in Paris, West Wing, Natalie/Jeremy, 2543 words, which I wrote in the style of Hemingway), and I tried some broad lefty political stuff, and I tried the epic slashy love affair between writers in what would prove to be one of the most renowned, widely shared, critically acclaimed (!!) stories I’ve written in my fanfic career, the Sports Night story Where Have You Gone, Tom Glavine?, Dan/Casey, 15,000 words. 

And then I graduated from Sorkin fic, and there was nothing left to do but go out into the great wide world and try to seek my fortune. At this point in our careers, Punk and I were becoming more multifannish — where historically we’d done most of our writing in a single fandom (monogamy), we were broadening our horizons and learning to write in multiple fandoms at once (polyamory). I loved that freedom, I was all over the map. Some choice pieces from my multifannish, livejournal era include the Stargate Atlantis story The Pegasus Society (John/Rodney, rated NC-17, 5853 words), and the Firefly story Time Flies You Can’t (River/Mal, 6200 words). As I watched more shows my world kept expanding, from Slings & Arrows (I played with The Taming of the Shrew for my Geoffrey/Darren story And So Are You) to Doctor Who (I tackled the missing year in my experimental Doctor/Master story Give Up The Ghost, 4222 words); from M*A*S*H (and the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Hawkeye/BJ story The ACME Judgment Company) to one of my other critically-acclaimed hits in Scrubs, My Big Breakup, which has the dubious distinction of being one of the first JD/Cox stories on the internet.

Along with multifannish polyamory came the desire to write in more rare or obscure fandoms, as played out each year in the Yuletide fic exchange, and it nudged me toward things like the graphic novels Love & Rockets (Cross Country, tacit Maggie/Hopey, 1062 words) or the musical Into the Woods (To Get The Thing That Makes It Worth The Journeying, Baker’s Wife/Cinderella, 2888 words); from House (HUGE EGO SORRY, House/Wilson, 3000 words), to Band of Brothers (General, Your Tank is a Powerful Vehicle, Winters/Nixon, 2822 words). 

I haven’t written fic in a while, not since the Remix holiday a year and a half ago, and it’d been a year before that the last time I’d written. It’s not a decision I made, I’m not retired, or GAFIATEing, or dismissing my fannish history: I’m working on a novel. It’s a big project, and it’s been taking up my writer brain, but nostalgia’s starting to tug at my heels and my heartstrings. 

Under the right circumstance, I’d write more fic. I will probably do Yuletide this year, and maybe Remix too, if the mood strikes me. I miss my fanfic friends, my college and grad school friends still kicking around on Livejournal while I strike out in solitary here on wordpress. I’m doing an X-Files rewatch, and it’s like going to a college reunion. I may have to write some good old-fashioned Mulder and Scully, but this time it’ll be with the charity and reverence that can only come with distance, with retrospect. Scully in her weird 90s pantsuits and Mulder with his floppy hair: the scent of memory and strawberry shampoo. 

So, Linda. If you’ve read this far, welcome to the world of fanfic! Here’s a prompt:

Daniel Jackson, sex pollen, and the words “scarab,” “angular,” and “cockblock.” 500 words. Post your story in the comments here. GO.

Advertisements

While We Tell of Yuletide Treasure, or, free holiday presents!

So. Yuletide is this marvelous online institution set up as wish fulfillment for a holiday present. Here’s how it goes:

To the people who read Apocalypse Weather (here) or Eating Hard Candy Alone (Livejournal) but aren’t part of fandom, per se, people who have never written fanfiction though you are aware of its existence, or people who are on the fringes of fandom and just don’t know how to get involved, Yuletide is a great place to do this.

In general, “fandom” refers to two things. First, a group of people involved in the practice of being fans, ie, “we met through fandom” or “we’re going to a conference to speak about fandom”, or, second, a specific group of people and their stories, art, etc, focused on a single object of fannish interest, ie, “there are some crazy people in Doctor Who fandom,” or “I like House, but I’m not really in the fandom.” Either way, it’s a noun. Does that help?

Yuletide, on the other hand, doesn’t restrict itself to the second definition, isn’t organized around any specific fandom or even “fandom” in the first definition. It’s not a commitment to fannish practice — again, it’s a present.

There are many, many, many “fandoms” listed, though they’re not necessarily “fandoms” at all. Here you’ll find the books of the Bible, Greek Mythology, Aeschalus plays, shows like Scarecrow and Mrs. King or movies like Lost in Translation. Go give [this list] a lookover.

In many cases, creative works on that list have little or no “fandom” surrounding them; they’re just books or plays or movies people would love to see a sequel to, or a look at from a different point of view, or offscreen “missing scenes” or happy endings. And in many cases — most cases — these works are listed and screened by the moderators, with a profound focus to make sure the project sticks to those works that don’t already have stories written about them. Sticks to the non-fandom works.

What you do is go through [the big list] and see if there’s anything out there that piques you. Sometimes it takes seeing it in writing to remember that you’ve always wondered if the Scarecrow and the Tin Man had sex while Dorothy was off with the Wicked Witch, or that you always wanted to know what Horatio does after the play is over, or how Mary Magdalene dealt with her boyfriend’s death.

If you see something you like, or several somethings, give it a thought and ask yourself whether you could write a story based on one of these works. Then ask yourself what you’d request from a gift-giver. You can be specific in your requests — “I want a story where Antigone has a lesbian affair and then goes into suspended animation and wakes up in the 20th century looking for the descendants of her lost lover” — or you can be much more general — “I’d love anything set in the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time universe” — there is room for all things in Yuletide.

Then, if you’re excited about the project and are already anticipating both the finished present (that another writer will write at your request) and the prospect of writing a story in a cool universe or arena that you’ve always loved, first read the [faq] — the dates on the schedule are wrong — and then [go sign up]

The close date for signups is tomorrow (Monday, for Americans) at 9pm Eastern Time (that’s 6pm Pacific or 2am Greenwich and other times in other time zones for which I am incapable of doing math). You’ve got over 24 hours to think about it, read the big list, read the faq, ask me questions here or your other friends who may have participated in Yuletide before.

This annual event has been going on for at least five years to thunderous applause, and with each passing year more and more people participate, and more and more new “fandoms” (for svv of fandom, as I said above — creative works is a more apt description) show up. The more people who participate, the better chance you have of getting matched with a writer who shares your interests, and the more presents at the end!

In sum: read this post. Then read [the big list], then give it some real thought, then read the [faq] and the rest of the [website], and then take a deep breath, think about what you want to receive from another writer and what you’re interested in writing yourself, and then [go sign up].

#

I think the idea of Yuletide is one that extends beyond fandom proper and extends to anyone who has an old, favorite book or ever wondered “what if?” after a movie. I love the idea of bringing it out into the larger world, where people who don’t consider themselves fannish/people who don’t know that they’ve got a fan deep down inside/people who have a more mundane or academic relationship with texts and creative works can come and enjoy a cool holiday experience, write something new and exciting, and at the end, get an awesome present (as well as the opportunity to read all the awesome presents everyone’s got). We’re already at 1272 participants. The more, the the more awesome for all of us!