andraste: The reason half the internet imagines me as Patrick Stewart. (Default)
Hanging around the internet as I do, I've seen grumbling in various places about the AO3's Kudos button. This is mainly because some people feel that it discourages readers from leaving actual comments. I just felt moved to say that that this is not true for my work - I get more kudos than I ever got comments on things, and the kudos keeps turning up. It's always been rare for me to get comments or e-mail about a story or vid I posted years ago, but kudos never seems to stop coming. Both from people I know have been reading my work for a long time (you know who you are - and thanks!) and from people who, as far as I can tell, have never communicated with me before in any way. (Also from people who either don't have accounts or don't post logged in, so I cannot tell who they might be. Thank you, mysterious internet strangers.) People who have something to say other than 'I liked this!' still seem to comment, as well.

This came to mind today because, as some of you already know, I've been having kind of a rough time lately. It's just really nice that every afternoon I get an e-mail amounting to 'hey, people like that thing you made!' Even though I've barely posted fic in ages, it reminds me that there are still readers out there.

Reading on the AO3 has also got me sending way more feedback than I have in years. I used to be pretty good back in the mailing list days (when dinosaurs roamed the earth ...) but became terrible after everything moved to livejournal. Now I can bookmark things and go back later, and if I can't think of anything to say I can just hit the kudos button to express my general positive feelings.

So, y'know, I am grateful for the attention and encourage you to continue pressing the button if you feel moved to do so *g*.
andraste: The reason half the internet imagines me as Patrick Stewart. (Default)
I swear, half the reason I keep reading [livejournal.com profile] fandomsecrets is because every now and then someone bashfully confesses to 'shipping Londo and G'Kar and I get to point and laugh. (Not in a mean way, I hasten to add, just at the whole idea of fandom shame. We all know I have none.)

Anyway, this time there's a comment thread about it, complete with incipient wank, over here. Some anony-mouse makes that argument about slash I always find rather confusing: Believe it or not, no matter what our sex-obsessed culture tries to tell us, men can have extremely close and--*gasp*--even physically affectionate friendships that are COMPLETELY PLATONIC. It's beyond sad to me that people constantly feel the need to warp them into something pervertedly sexual.

First of all, I don't think Londo/G'Kar tentacle sexorz is perverted in anything but the 'hooray! perversion!' sense, although I don't expect everyone to agree with me on that. Second of all, there's a flaw in this logic that's especially obvious in this particular case. I think most people who ship Londo/G'Kar are well aware that men can have close friendships that are platonic, because Vir is standing right there. Most Londo/G'Kar 'shippers I know are also very invested in the Londo & Vir relationship, and don't see it as sexual. Many of us write fic about it! Moreover, I haven't noticed anybody slashing either Londo or G'Kar with Garibaldi, whom both of them are close friends with at different points in canon. They both have other important bonds with members of their own gender: Londo with Sinclair and Urza Jaddo, G'Kar with Ta'Lon and Marcus Cole. (I did write a story where Londo and Urza were friends-with-benefits during their youth, but it's hardly the only way to interpret things.)

Slashers do acknowledge that men can have platonic relationships with each other. Yes, even those who don't also write gen. Sometimes I want to write ampersand about platonic relationships between guys, sometimes I want to write slash. Sometimes I put both in the same story! The two are not mutually exclusive.
andraste: The reason half the internet imagines me as Patrick Stewart. (One Of Those Days)
I am torn about moving from livejournal. I have no strong personal investment in the issue at hand, since, I doubt I've ever produced fanwork that would get me TOSed.

On the other hand, half my friendslist seem to be moving because of their appalling failure at customer relations, and obviously if you lot go I'll have to go with you. My preferred username was taken on Greatest Journal, but I have set up on Insane Journal just in case. Anyone planning to go somewhere else that I should know about?

It annoys me that I don't know if my past and future pornographic stories are acceptable to livejournal or not. What if I write pr0n about a character who is only a week old, but also a giant robot? Or a character who appears to be fifteen but is actually several thousand years old? Can I trust lj not to TOS me if someone reports me for writing either of the above scenarios? I need clarification!
andraste: The reason half the internet imagines me as Patrick Stewart. (Business Associates)
You know, sometimes the characters are (in the past/in the future/on the astral plane/having interspecies tentacle sex/evil giant robots/omnipotent) and condoms just don't seem relevant to the situation. And other times, the characters are idiots.

I mean I care deeply about whether the characters in the story I'm writing practice safe sex, but I'm not entirely sure that they do. It's the mid-eighties, so they definitely should use protection. But given that they walk around with nuclear accelerators strapped to their backs, unsafe sex is probably not high on the list of stupid things that are likely to get them killed.

Probably I will solve this dilemma by putting this argument into the story, but it occurred to me that this has cross-fandom applications. Maybe one of the reasons condom use isn't universal in fanfiction is that many of the characters we write about take ludicrous risks of other kinds.

Now, I think it's entirely in character for Buffy Summers to endanger her life fighting vampires every night but demand that her lovers (well, the human ones) use condoms. Taking risks in one area of life doesn't necessarily mean that you'll take them in another. But if you're stuck on a desert island with invisible monsters, is not catching an STD really that much of a priority? If you're with the brain-eating serial killer who murdered your father, are you actually going to try to discuss safer sex?
andraste: The reason half the internet imagines me as Patrick Stewart. (Default)
If you have any sort of involvement in fandom as creator or spectator - and if you're reading this, I'm pretty sure you do - then get thee hence and join [livejournal.com profile] fandom_counts with all your fannish journals.

As I type this, it's topped 25,000 members. I'm both staggered and delighted by that - I had no idea we could call upon such numbers!
andraste: The reason half the internet imagines me as Patrick Stewart. (Default)
I have no reason to fear that my journal will be suspended; it's rare for anyone under the age of thirty to get laid in one of my stories and I've not yet got around to writing any Justin/Iris. (Or Vash/Knives, for that matter.) I'll probably be safe unless someone decides that porn involving tentacles, evil robots or plain old gay sex isn't 'family friendly' enough for livejournal. I don't think that's remotely likely at this stage.

This still concerns me deeply. Artists, of whatever sort, should never end up beholden to those who apparently can't tell the difference between fiction and reality.

How is it that HBO can put a full-on smooch between brother and sister on screen in Carnivale, and Arrested Development can joke about incest for three seasons solid, but someone who lists 'incest' in their lj interests as a result should have their journal suspended?

I've written a story where someone gets raped (Chimera) and story where a teenage girl has a sexual relationship with a man old enough to be her grandfather (Near Enough). Neither of these things is portrayed positively in the stories concerned. I'm not confidant that this would be sufficient defence for people who think communities and journals should be deleted based on user interests alone, with no regard for context.

I can't fault Livejournal for wishing to provide themselves with legal protection. I can fault them for not communicating better with fandom at large about this issue, and letting panic reign. I can definitely fault arseholes who go around reporting people writing about fictional characters as paedophiles.

My other concern is that I don't know what the hell 'underage characters' means in the context of a global internet, anyway. Underage in the US? Underage in Australia? Underage in Japan, where in parts of the country the legal age of consent is thirteen? Does it matter where the characters are in in the story? What if they're in Narnia or it's the 13th century? This is why context matters!

If your children are wandering around unsupervised on the internet, of course they might find things that disturb them. The solution here is not to make the entire internet safe for eight-year-olds. It is to properly monitor the internet use of those who are not old enough to protect themselves from things that they don't want to see/read. Adults, and even older teens, are more than capable of hitting the back button if they find something they don't like.

My journal will remain unlocked, and since I've been on lj for going on six years, I'm in no hurry to pack up and move. I do, however, find this disturbing trend.
andraste: The reason half the internet imagines me as Patrick Stewart. (Default)
If you had me under your command and could make me write anything, regardless of whether or not I know the fandom or if anybody even writes fiction in that fandom, and no matter how crack-addled it might be, what would you love to see me write?
andraste: The reason half the internet imagines me as Patrick Stewart. (Default)
This article sums it up. Ten percent of men surveyed had sex with other men but said that they weren't gay. The article doens't mention bisexuality at all, as a letter in this week's edition of the Sunday Age sensibly pointed out. I've no idea if the original survey asked if the men identified as bi.

Still, I dare say at least some of that ten percent would say they were straight. And this is why 'but he says he's straight!' is really not a good argument against slash. Who's to say what percentage of the men we're writing about are in that ten percent?
andraste: Livia = Awesome (Livia)
So fandom is having another one of its periodic 'is fandom sexist?' kerfuffles. I used to feel guilty about not writing enough women ... until I actually counted the number of stories I'd written with major roles for female characters. Not to mention all the female characters I love that I just haven't gotten around to writing yet.

As a side debate, we're also on round #3927 of 'is slash misogynistic?' which is an argument I've mostly stayed out of. I'm pretty confidant that my slash is not misogynistic, and I can't really answer for anyone else. (Oh, and I'm pretty sure it's not homophobic, either. At least, if it was, I'd expect the non-straight among my friends to be shouting and throwing rocks. Or at least not harassing me to write them more slash ...)

Also, the day I start writing lots of femslash? Is the day I find a fandom containing the femslash equivilent of Xavier/Magneto, Londo/G'Kar, Jack/Irina etc.

But! This post does have a point, because out of the kerfuffle came a meme about great female characters. Here are ten of the many I love. (See also: icon.)

1. Lynda Day (Press Gang)

The beloved heroine of my teenage years. (See also: Daria and Lisa Simpson.)

'I want it on your wall between the framed first edition and the staff photo.'

'What?'

'Your head!'

2. Sikozu Svala Shanti Sugaysi Shanu (Farscape)

Also Zhaan! And Farscape is just full of nifty female characters in general. But I've forced myself to choose one character per fandom, and Sikozu won the coin toss. I think I fell for her the moment she demanded to know why Crichton couldn't just walk up the wall with her. Surely any idiot can manage that?

3. Dr. Angie March (Ultraviolet)

She's a cancer specialist, a mother and a full-time vampire hunter. You can't get much more awesome than that. (Frances also rocked. We'll just ignore Kirsty, shall we?)

4. Ruth Evershed (Spooks)

Ruth is the fictional character whose livejournal I wish I could have friended. She's a spy who has a cat and sometimes does battle with desk lamps - I'm sure she'd fit right in around here. (I loved Tessa and still miss her like hell, and I have a soft spot for Zoe. Still rather undecided about Fiona.)

5. Supreme Commander Servalan (Blake's 7)

Alara Rogers, who introduced me to this show, once said that she'd rather face Aeryn Sun with a pulse rifle than an Servalan unarmed in one of her fabulous evening gowns. I think that sums up her supreme emminence. (Cally is also really cool, and I'm fond of Soolin, Dayna and Jenna on their good days.

6. Kai Winn Adami (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)

What can I say? I have a thing for evil Renaissance popes *g*.

7. Iris Crowe (Carnivale)

I can't even tell you why I love her so without revealling the Giant Spoiler from the end of the first season that nobody should be spoiled for. Just know that I do.

8. Irina Derevko (Alias)

Ah, SpyMommy. You're the coolest person on Alias, and that's really saying something given the competition. Your sisters and daughters are also great characters, as is Emily.

9. Laura Roslin (Battlestar Galactica)

I wish she was my president. (Not that she's perfect, but have you had a look at our head of government lately?)

10. Romana (Doctor Who)

'You are wonderful.'

'Am I?'

'Yes.'

'I suppose I am. I hadn't really thought about it.'

(Also Sarah Jane, and Leela, and Ace and ...)
andraste: The reason half the internet imagines me as Patrick Stewart. (Default)
OK, so I feel horribly guilty for spending what was left of my afternoon after the daily dose of work and packing were done finding a shiny new Farscape fanfic list and posting to it rather than answering all the stuff piled up in my inbox. Sometimes you just need a break, right? I'll get back to you guys when I've got some enthusiasm.

Anyway, free add for a cool list if you're a Scaper: "Leviathan" on yahoogroups is a new list attached to an automated archive, for fanfic and discussion. Quite high membership for a general Scape list, and pleasantly active on the discussion front so far. And they gave me feedback, which is a bonus. I can't actually *read* much of the fic since it's mostly choc full of Season Three spoilers, but I can see from a cursory glance that there's more to it than mushy J/A angst.

They were having a discussion on slash, so I thought I'd chime in. I usually stay out of that debate in comic fanfic, but I thought I had a good outside perspective. Here's my post, unedited, since it used up my ration of intelligent thought not directly related to Petrarch for the day:

I like slash, but it's one of those topics on which there is a huge division between Andraste the Writer and Andraste the Reader.

I've written the odd slash story, and I plan to do more, but it's not a genre I write a lot. This is largely because I don't often see it in canon, and I am a canon addict. I have one slash pairing that I come back to over and over again in X-Men fic, because I *do* see it, because they're my favourite characters, and because I think they're fascinating together. In the first version of X-Men continuity I ever got interested in, they were practically a couple, to the point where the plot made more sense if you presumed they'd screwed like crazed weasels in the past. So I write them. However, they're the only slash pairing in X-Men fandom that I've ever actually posted stories about,because they're the only pairing that jumps out at me.

When I'm writing, I am a continuity junkie - even if I'm contradicting canon I'm doing it in a systematic and organised fashion. There are moments when I wander off into an AU where what I say goes, but they are rare and brief. In "Farscape", I just don't see slash potential for me as a writer. I don't see UST between John and D'Argo (which doesn't mean it's not there from your perspective.) I really can't see either of them getting involved with Crais, and I dislike noncon which kind of leaves Scorpius out altogether. (Pause for a note to the Scorpius fans in the audience: no, I don't think it's especially odd that someone would want to sleep with Scorpy - I'm sure he's very interesting indeed if one is into leather - I just don't think that Crichton, D'Argo, Stark or Crais would be inclined to do so.) Now, John and Stark . . . if I had the slightest interest in John as a subject for my fanfic, I suppose I could make that work. The point is, though, that I'm unlikely to write Farscape slash at this time because I don't see any exploitable m/m dynamics in canon. That might change after I see the rest of the eps, of course.

When I'm reading things are completely different. Firstly, I don't think that a fic necessarily has to be believable before it can be enjoyable - silly humour and PWP are both fine in my book, and quite a lot of slash falls under the heading of "fun, if implausible." I first got into slash based on the "one naked man good, two naked men better" theory, and that still works for me.

Secondly, I learned long ago that a good author can make me believe anything. For some reason, X-Men fandom is full of excellent stories based on what should be stupid ideas. The most popular slash arc in our relatively small genre is about two characters who have barely spoken to each other (Gambit and Iceman), and yet the author managed to make it real. In part, this is because many of the readers and writers in X-Men comics fanfic have been calmly ignoring canon for years now, so people can go play in their own little worlds without anyone objecting. On those grounds, I can imagine someone making me believe John/D'Argo, or any other het or slash pairing, for the duration of a story.

On a slightly different point, "but Insert Character Here is straight" is not a objection that often enters my head when I'm reading slash, especially science fiction based slash, probably because I'm a history student specialising in gender. I know that 'straight', 'gay' and 'bi' are labels that a particular society happens to pin on people in a particular time and place, not solid definitions of real things. In a setting like "Farscape", I'm inclined to applaud anyone who chucks that system out the window, insofar as it applies to people who are not early 21st century earthlings. If John is sleeping with a man, that's an issue for him. If Zhaan and Chiana are sleeping together, who's to say that Delvians and Nebari have the same expectations and prejudices as John? One of the nice things about science fiction is its ability to unsettle people's expectations of culture, society, technology, gender . . . stuff, in other words.

There. That's my ration of eloquence for the week.
andraste: The reason half the internet imagines me as Patrick Stewart. (Default)
I'm a bit late leaping onto this particular bandwagon, but I haven't got time for a real post today. (Xander, your post was fascinating, and I don't mind that you took the question out of e-mail in the least :-). My feelings on the subject are quite different to yours; I'll get back to you tomorrow.)

What fandom(s) do you read/write in?

So far? X-Men is the biggest one (comics, movie *and* the original animated series, and I'll probably do Ultimate as well pretty soon. If I ever see someone or something worth writing about on X-Men: Evolution, I'll let you know.) I've also written Sandman, Astro City, The Authority, Ultraviolet, Watchmen and Farscape. There are more than a dozen other fandoms in my notes that have a potential story attached to them. I'm mercurial with my affections :-).

What characters do you prefer to read about?

I'll read anything with Charles Xavier in it. Not sure I'd say I prefer to read about him, though - I've waded through a lot of crappy fic for that man :). Magneto is my second favourite; beyond that, almost anyone, in any fandom. Xavier aside, I'm more likely to follow authors than characters.

What was the first story you . . .

Read?

Gee, that takes me back :). I stumbled upon Hawk's Archive, and pretty much started from the top. The first one I *remember* (for all the wrong reasons) is the infamous "Mhairie." What?

Wrote?

Started, or finished? The first one I started, I don't want to talk about. The first one I finished was a little piece about Xavier set in the very early days of the X-Men. I dug it up recently and decided it wasn't so bad, at least in essence. I'll probably re-write and post it when I have time.

Posted?

Distant Voices.

Who/What is your favorite...

Author?

You want me to pick *one*? Um. OK. I'll pick three.

- Dr. Benway has to publish a real book so I can force it on my family and non-ficcer friends and make the world a better place.

- Alicia McKenzie's talent and production rate make me green with envy. Wish she'd write more Authority, though :).

- I still wanna be Alara Rogers when I grow up.

Honestly, though, there are something like thirty people on my "must read everything this person writes" list. That's the tip of the iceberg.

Single story?

That one's surprisingly easy: Alara's "Body and Soul." She makes Magneto breath and bleed in that story. And Charles has an absolutely brilliant scene in Chapter Three, which I started betaing not long ago :). Beyond that, check my Xavier list from a few days ago and anything I put up on the Itty Bitty X-Men Archive.

Story arc?

Um . . . drawing a blank here. There's so many. Valarie Jone's Betrayal Arc is the thing that made me stay in X-Men fanfic at a time when a lot of the stories were unappealing to me although I loved the central concept, so I'll pick that.

Archive?

Chuck Amuck, obviously. And the IBAs - always my favourite general archive, and now I'm part of the fun.

Mailing List?

OTL, without hesitation. We don't know how lucky we are to have it.

How do you feel about...

Slash?

One guy good, two guys better :). I like the central point of slash, even if a lot of the individual stories don't appeal to me, and I've written some myself. Plans for more in the future.

Stories featuring real people?

Um. Shades of grey, here. Are we talking historical fiction? DM's "Superman and Man"? Boyband slash? Help me out.

Subreality?

A fascinating concept I've got no objections to, but at the same time not something I've ever gotten into.

Shared universes?

That reminds me, there's an XXY fic I should be working on . . . Depends on the universe, really.

Round Robins?

Again, not something I'm into, although I'm enjoying my first taste in the current Aussie RR. I don't usually play very well with others :).
andraste: The reason half the internet imagines me as Patrick Stewart. (Default)
The latest stoush on the R&R board seems to be over before it really started, which is good to see. I like it when we're surprisingly mature and polite. However, it did get me thinking. It seems to me that I've had a surprisingly smooth ride in the year and a half or so since I first started posting. I've won an award, written for the CBFFAs, become a content editor for the IBAs, been archived on numerous websites, and received quite a lot of feedback. I've made some good friends and no enemies that I know of. So what did I do right?

I doubt that this will reach it's target audience here - the only newbie that I know reads my journal seems to have worked all of this out all by himself :) - and the tiny minority who need it most would probably just call me a mean dino for daring to advise them at all. but I felt the need to get it off my chest. Anyway. These are just my opinions, some of them rather close to rants, but this strategy seems to have worked for me. Come to think of it, there are some dinos who could try this too ;).

1. Subreality does not owe you a living.

Or much beyond basic politeness, actually. Now, I know that a lot of newbies feel that dinos don't treat them with respect, but that's a two-way street. You have to earn respect. The pillars of fanfic were once newbies like you, but since then they've written stories and feedback, built web pages, and generally done a bunch of stuff to create the community you want to join. That doesn't mean they're allowed to treat you like a doormat, but it's something to keep in mind. Fanfic always needs newbies, but more specifically it needs creative, polite people with something to say. If you want the admiration accorded to an established writer or archivist, get off your backside and do the work.

2. Don't take things so personally.

Here is a newsflash: the world does not revolve around you. If it's your first post or your first day in chat, no-one knows who you are. Whatever they say is directed at your behaviour, not at you. If someone tells you off for breaking the rules or pushes one of your buttons, they probably didn't mean to upset you. Similarly: if you didn't get feedback, or people ignored you in chat, or someone didn't reply to your e-mail, it may have nothing to do with you at all.

Sooner or later, someone is going to say or do something to make you sad or angry, deliberately or unwittingly. You can posture, cry, act like a drama queen and threaten not to post any more, or you can suck it up and deal. If you do the former, you're the one who loses.

3. Try lurking for a bit.

You're reading the words of a woman who discovered fanfiction in 1997 and first posted in 2000 :). That's probably excessive, but I think that having a fair idea of what the structure and rules of the place were before I plunged in helped me make fewer silly mistakes. That goes for actual writing as well as the meta stuff - the first four stories I finished are still sitting on my hard drive, unposted. Get the lie of the land before plunging in.

4. Play by the rules

Ignorance of the law is no defence. Whatever mailing list, message board or chat room you find yourself involved with, it will have rules. Find out what they are. Pay close attention to the way others behave, and don't be afraid to ask questions.

5. Try writing some fanfiction.

You'd think this would be obvious, but apparently it's not :). I've got nothing against people who want to hang out with the fanfic community as readers/artists/RRers/chatters/etc, but I also think it's wise to recall that stories are where the whole thing started. Generally, it's easier and quicker to establish yourself as an author than it is to get to know people without fic to back you up. Besides you might get feedback. And feedback is the nectar of the gods.

6. Try writing some good fanfiction.

I'm not going to sit here and type out a definition of good fanfiction - there are plenty of writing tips out there if you need a hand. Try getting a betareader. And for heaven's sake, use the bloody spellchecker.

7. Try writing some fanfiction that people might read.

This is where Andraste gets controversial, and you should probably treat this as a suggestion rather than a rule. Like it or not, some characters, ideas and genres are more popular than others. I'm all for artistic freedom, but you owe it to yourself to give yourself a fair chance, with characters people have actually like. I'm speaking here from personal experience - although Charles Xavier is my favourite x-person, his name doesn't appear in the header of my first story. He doesn't even have a speaking part. This was a calculated move, taken because I didn't want to shoot myself in the foot first time by putting an unpopular character in the spotlight. By labeling "Distant Voices" X-Men instead of Xavier, I got a better idea of my own ability as a writer.

Also, if you're an inexperienced author you might want to leave the fifty-chapter epics for later - make sure you can crawl before you try to run. Oh, and while I'm at it, readers are more likely to welcome your "new character joins the X-Men" story if you've established yourself as a good writer first and they trust you not to inflict Mary Sue on them.

Bear in mind that I'm not saying you *shouldn't* do any of the above things, just that it might take longer to get known if you do. Think about it, and pick and choose your story ideas with care 'til people get to know you better.

8. Leave the revolution for your second year.

Often, people see fanfic, see something they don't like or an unfilled niche and immediately declare that *they* will be the one to change the world for the better. Often, they fail. Someone who's just walked into fandom probably doesn't have the stamina or support to create their own large general archive, hubsite, shared universe, etc. Give yourself some time to adjust to reality before you try to remake it.

9. Get involved.

Every second mutant is a mindreader, but the other writers aren't. If you want to be involved in any particular aspect of the fanfic community, it's your job to take the first step. Write stories, send feedback, help out with archiving, do some RRs, go into a chat room. Talk to people. Contrary to popular belief, most dinos are quite friendly - they wouldn't be involved in the community if they didn't want to meet other writers - but they don't know you from a bar of soap. And remember, a little politeness goes a long way.
andraste: The reason half the internet imagines me as Patrick Stewart. (Default)
This is really a tangent from the discussion I'm having with Xander et al over a post I made about online identity, but I made the mistake of mentioning the question of how a fanfiction writer's identity comes through in their stories, and saying that it was a whole different kettle of fish. Then Xander asked if it really *was* a different kettle of fish, and opened a can of worms :). I didn't have room to go into this in my brief addition to the comments there, so I thought I'd drag it out here instead. It's probably more interesting than what I would have written otherwise, anyway.

So. The issue of author identity in a non-autobiographical piece of work is a vexed issue [1]. The issue of author identity in fanfiction is even trickier - most of the time we don't create our own characters, although of course we choose and embellish them. Working with materials that others invented, do we impose our identity on the source material, or does it impose its identity on us?

I'm not given to creating original characters often, and in one of the cases where I did I was extrapolating a woman who had to exist in canon, not pulling things out of the air or my own innards. In my year and a half or so of posting fanfic, my narrators/protagonists have included:

- a vampire-hunting priest turned vampire himself.
- an international mutant terrorist or two.
- a naked blue woman.
- a 5th century Breton warrior fallen in among fairies.
- a mother whose child died five years ago on Christmas Eve.
- a mother who has just found out that her son has been declared irreversibly contaminated [2].
- a thief-turned-goddess-turned-X-Man
- an ex-superhero with a borderline sociopathic criminal for an ex-partner.

(And that's not even counting the multiple speakers in "Distant Voices", because none of them is technically a narrator. We're hearing the story from Charles's point of view. That may not be immediately obvious, but it's how I've always thought of the story.)

Where am I, in all of that?

Rossi said one of the nicest (and most perceptive) things I've ever heard about my work when she called me a literary chameleon, able to blend in with the characters and genre I'm writing. It's certainly something I strive to do - the reason that I think "Happiness" is my best-written story is that I don't see myself in there at all. Andraste has turned invisible, melted down - all you get is an uber-powerful Dutch junkie, so close you can nearly smell the smoke.

Often, I choose protagonists with whom I have little in common beyond some kind of 'hook' that lets me into the character, which can be extraordinarily tiny [3]. Most of my central characters are male (for which I have a lengthy explanation that I'll expand upon another day). Most of them are older than me, often much older. Many of them are depressed or otherwise disturbed. I pick these guys because I like to write what I *don't* know. I don't need to imagine what it's like to be a reasonably well-adjusted twenty-on-year-old white Australian woman. Writing for me is, in part, a way of trying on identities other than my own.

That aside, I meant what I said when I called Charles Xavier my avatar. I'm not going to sit here and explain why; except to say that I have too many of his faults and not enough of his virtues.

(Sometimes, I worry that my attachment to the character might damage my ability to write him well, but I suspect that the worry stems from the attachment itself. I'll never be completely happy with anything I write that dips below Xavier's surface because deep down I believe he deserves a much better writer than me :). Second best might be OK for the Doctor or Crais or Rorschach, but it won't do for Charles.)

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Author identity is a tricky question for fanfiction authors, especially those of us who jump around between different characters and settings like I tend to do.

So, where are *you* in your writing?

[1] ... and the identity of an author in an autobiographical piece of work is an even more vexed issue :). But not one I'm going to talk about today.

[2] For all the non-Scapers in the audience: that's a bad thing. Trust me on this.

[3] An esoteric example to illustrate my point and show that I've got "Farscape" on the brain today: I'm seriously considering writing a fairly sympathetic Scorpius story simply because I hate being cold. I can imagine all too well how *I'd* feel in a constant state of metabolic flux like that. No wonder he's bad-tempered.
andraste: The reason half the internet imagines me as Patrick Stewart. (Default)
Thank you, Xander, for distracting me from RL. I needed something to do other than complain about feeling sick (I'm slightly better, in any case. Going to get the other half of my chapter in by the end of today, with any luck.)

So. I'm reading Xander's post about livejournals as a new fictional space, and thinking about the curious fact that I don't lie to people online. I lie to people in RL all the time for the usual expediant reasons, but I've never told a single untruth to anyone in the fanfic community, as far as I can remember. I'm a lot more honest with you people than I am with those I know in person.

It took me a good twenty seconds to notice the big, obvious lie at the top of the page.

Isn't the name up there a fiction? Well, yes and no. Back when I delurked at the start of 2000, after hanging around comic fanfic circles saying nothing whatsoever since February '97, I had no intention of using my birth name. So I called myself after a Celtic bear goddess instead. I had several reasons for this, which I'll list in order of increasing interest:

- I'd been told not to give away my real name to strangers online as a security precaution. I seriously doubt that any of you are axe murderers, and if you did want to stalk me you could probably find me pretty easily anyway, but still.

- I wanted a name that would prevent me from getting mixed up with other writers. My own name isn't particularly memorable, but as far as I can tell I'm the only Andraste who writes fanfiction of any kind. (There are some others who move in Pagan circles, but I'm not likely to run across any of them.)

- I'm a closet fanfiction writer. I don't want people I know in RL, particularly academic colleagues of the future who might type my name into a search engine looking for journal articles, to find "Close Enemies" and have heart attacks/fire me.

- The superhero thing. I *like* the idea of being a rather different person in the fanfic community from the person I am in my daily life.

The whole 'handle' thing says interesting stuff about online identities. There are people here that I know by their real names, and people I know by nicks. Then there are grey areas - I know Rossi and Kielle's RL names, but I *think* of them by their handles. I don't know Yasmin's real *last* name. I don't make any mental distinctions between birth names and screen names, and I feel no need to know the RL names of people who always go by handles. This seems to imply that people can just pick titles freely around here, at least as far as I'm concerned.

Hmmm. Interesting stuff. Does whether someone goes by a nick change the way you think about them? Feel free to discuss :).
andraste: The reason half the internet imagines me as Patrick Stewart. (Default)
What is it about fluff that makes people sit down and write feedback? I mean, "Hurricane Eye" is a sweet little fic. I enjoy looking at it more than a lot of my more ambitious works because it actually says what I wanted to say, they way I wanted to say it. But, frankly, I didn't have to try very hard. It took me less than 48 hours, inspiration to posting.

This is the most feedback for a comic fic I've gotten in a single day since "Happiness" back in January, which wasn't fluff, but which was also very easy to write[1]. "Writing Home" (my first Farscape story) got plenty too, but I don't know what's normal for that fandom so it's rather hard to calculate the effort to feedback ratio.

I slaved over "Close Enemies" for seven months, on and off, much longer than it should take to write a PWP. Six people have commented on it, and two of them were my betas. (I'm not counting the guy on fanfiction.net who obviously hadn't read the bloody author's note.) Of course, one of the people was Benway, which always makes me feel better, and three of the rest were 'rith and Dannell and Alara, who rocketh mightily. But still.

"Between Salt and Stone" has had five 'official' responses in almost a year. It was more than a week after I posted "Wake" before I got any feedback at all.

I appreciate the response I got today, honestly - I'm delighted, in fact. This isn't whining. I just don't get it. Are the fics that strike like lightning really that much better than the ones I actually work on? Should I just sit around and wait for inspiration?

Personally, I think that "Wake" is a lot better than "Distant Voices", and that "Hurricane Eye" isn't a patch on "Bright Lights and Dark Dancers", the Logres Cycle story that I'll be posting in the near future. "Happiness" may well be, in its own way, the best thing I've written, but I can't wait around for stories like that to come along all the time. I'm royally confused. But still happy - feedback is feedback, after all, and Storm and Xavier chatting on a bus is still pretty neat, right?

On a side note, I swear to god (or an appropriate substitute that I actually believe in) that I was going to beta "Body and Soul" today. Then I sat down at my computer, and lo and behold the next chapter of "Twin Poles" was waiting for me. If Alara wants me to beta what I've got, she really has to stop posting such lovely fics and distracting me . . .

[1] The story of that writing process goes like this: I'm in the comic shop with a copy of The Authority #22, and my Doctor fictive is reading over my shoulder, the way he always does. When we get to the relevant page, he starts a monologue that opens "Dead? No f*cking way am I f*cking dead! I can't believe they gave my corpse one f*cking panel! And no death scene!" and continues in a similar vein, with graphic descriptions of what Jeroen will do to Mark Millar if he ever gets hold of him. After ten minutes of this, I'm back in the car on a boiling summer afternoon with my laptop, waiting for my parents to drive me home. So I told him to explain why he *wasn't* dead. After an hour or two of writing and three days editing so that it would make sense to someone who wasn't high as a kite, it turned into "Happiness."

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andraste: The reason half the internet imagines me as Patrick Stewart. (Default)
Andraste

June 2017

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