I don't remember where exactly I was going with this, which is irritating because I do remember having a very good idea of where I was going with it at one point. I need to keep better notes. Anyway, the gist of it is clear from what I did write: consensual sex with explicitly nonconsensual knotting, and the emotional fallout in Stiles' later relationship.
I am so bummed that I never actually wrote this, but it's time to accept that Teen Wolf is not a fandom I'm ever going to write in again. So here's the text prelude + a couple paragraphs + an outline of the rest of a fic I'm pretty sure would have been awesome.
If you're not attending Bitchin' Party this weekend and you'd like to contribute to my The Truth About Fandom panel (description here) by filling out a survey about your fannish experiences, please shoot me your e-mail by comment or PM.
Okay, so I want to talk about what I was trying to do with this remix, and then you guys can tell me what worked and what didn't. If you're going to listen to the piece, I really, really encourage you to do that first before you read this.
The concept of remixing podfic like this is not original to me. A lot of podficcers have talked about it, and fire_juggler once created a poem by manipulating their own podfic. I believe, aside from that, no one else has actually done this. If you know of any others, or if you decide to make one yourself, please link me! I'm very curious to see how other people would go about this. (Someone should do it for Night Vale! I bet that would work really well.)
The general concept of this story is a Killjoys AU: the kid was taken in by Dr. Death Defying instead of by the Killjoys, and after he died, she took over the radio station. The Killjoys are dead too, except for Party Poison, and the two of them join forces. It's a story about trust issues, about the costs and benefits of giving a shit about another person. I messed with characterizations as much as possible given the constraints; I tried to portray her as more of an adult, with more confidence and agency, and him as less rational, less of a leader, lost without his gang. Both of them are pretty fucked in the head, as I imagine anyone would become under their circumstances.
I used eleven podfics of nine fics, all Killjoys. Two of these podfics were created specifically for this project, though the fics existed already: "Katabasis" performed by me, and "RAY GUN" performed by Rhea314. The "B/L/I/N/D" podfic was never posted, but I got permission to use it; all other source podfics were posted publicly. I drew from both of crazybutsound's "Haircare Tips for Zonerunners" podfics, and two people have podficced "Born to Motorbabies"--which was convenient because that story is longer than the rest and provided me with more material to draw from, so having two voices helped preserve vocal variety.
The creative process for this, for me, is actually a lot like vidding. You start with a bunch of source material, you spend a long time sorting through it choosing bits and pieces you want to use, and then you recontextualize them to make something new. That kind of creativity requires a lot of flexibility; my vids tend to go through a lot of reshaping as I'm making them, and they often turn out very different--and usually much better--works than originally planned. This was even more fluid in the making; the flow of it depended on which lines worked together, and I had to figure that out by playing with them. You can't just use the text to do this; natural speech involves a lot of mushing sounds together, and if there's mush around the edges of the part you want, you can't always cut it off intelligibly.
I didn't want to do too much piecing together of individual words and phrases, partly because I think parsing it would be irritating, but mostly because the main thing I wanted to accomplish with this was playing with context. The idea was to take existing lines and put them together in ways that altered their original meaning. For example, the line "Party Poison doesn't ever have to pay" originally referred to acquiring hair dye, but I put it directly after a line about consequences to be paid. "Everything else is forgivable, but not the radio" is from a scene about the kid accidentally breaking equipment, but here it means Korse's attitude about the zonerunners. "They don't age; they're not built to" was about Korse, but in this story it's about radio mixes. Finding these transformative juxtapositions was hands-down my favorite part of this project. There's some unavoidable splicing of short phrases, but mostly I tried to take at least entire clauses if not complete sentences. I also tried to work around dialogue tags, using surrounding lines to make it clear who's speaking instead of just pulling a bunch of "he says" and "she says" clips. (A handy technique for writing, too!)
I'd really love to hear people's thoughts on this. Was the piece coherent on its own? How was your understanding/interpretation of it affected by reading this post? How did my attempts at characterization come across? Which combinations of lines worked, and which ones confused you? If you're familiar with the source podfics, did you recognize particular lines as you listened, and did the context seem to change them? What potential do you see in this mode of transformative creation? Bring it on, I am all ears.
I have a lot of experience identifying and tearing down fiction tropes as applied to relationships. Basically the entire year I was 17 consisted of various aspects of figuring out how my own behavior was affected by fictional depictions of human interaction and then figuring out ways to address that. It was important psychological work and I'm very glad I did it.
But it's only just occurred to me that the same thing might apply to fanfic tropes. (Well, aside from sex. A lot of what I knew about sex as a teen came from fic. But I was very aware of that, and it never really took me off-guard.) Today I found myself in a situation I am very familiar with from fic, and I had to stop and notice that I was automatically reacting the way a character in a fic would.
This whole relationship has been very fic-esque. He's on my beer league hockey team, sort of--we have factions in two divisions and he's in the other one, but our games are always back-to-back at the same rink, and we all do stick-and-puck practice and go out for beers together. He's cute and witty and very thoughtful on the ice during practice, which somewhat surprisingly was the thing that made me realize I was into him; he kept passing to me right when I was looking for someone to pass with. What a sickeningly appropriate metaphor, right? Totally something you'd roll your eyes at but be smiling anyway if you read it in a fic.
I invited him to a hockey bar for Canadian Thanksgiving, and he invited me to a drop-in hockey session, and this week we started texting a lot, and it's gotten to the point where I need to find out for sure whether he's interested or else I'm going to start acting weird and pushing him away. (I know myself very well. I don't always understand myself, but I'm pretty predictable about this kind of thing.)
So today on the way to the rink I was thinking about what I actually want here, because I don't know him well enough to jump into a relationship and I have a couple of concerns about compatibility anyway, and I had this great character development moment where I realized: oh! this is why people go on "dates"! I've never been much for traditional dating, but in this situation I think it would actually make a lot of sense. I came up with a plan for when and how to ask him, and I walked into the rink, where he was already on the ice with the Div7 team. I watched them for a while, then went to get my gear on for my own game right afterwards, and then I went back out to watch the rest of their game.
And then this guy I'm crushing on stumbled off the ice and collapsed against the wall right by me.
I asked if he was okay. He said no. I tried to ascertain what was wrong; he couldn't seem to tell me. No one else was helping. I tried to ask the scorekeeper what happened, and in the meantime he dragged himself into the locker room to sit down. I followed and sat next to him. His eyes were watering and unfocused. He kept trying to smile at me, probably in an attempt at reassurance because I was pretty clearly freaking out.
Concussion. I had never seen one before, and had no idea how to check for severity or what else to do beyond ask for medical help, which I did. I stayed with him for another five minutes or so before the rest of the Div7 team trooped in and told me to go play my own game, and my immediate reaction to that was NO. I was seriously five seconds away from changing back into street clothes and driving him to the hospital myself. Which was ridiculous, because the Div7 game was over, so there were plenty of people available to help him out. They told me this and ushered me out, and that was when I realized I was automatically playing the C part of an h/c fic.
I guess this kind of thing has never happened because incidents like that don't usually fit into relationship narratives quite so neatly. Like, what were the odds that I would be the only one standing in that hall, and that he would be the one injured right then, after I'd been thinking about the two of us? How probable is it that no one would check up on us in the locker room long enough for all the worried gazing and brave attempts at smiles? That's the kind of unlikely moment we read fic for.
Anyway, in a fic I would go over to his place tomorrow and check up on him and argue with him about his ludicrous insistence on playing in next week's game and probably wind up getting into a conversation about personal things that we only now feel comfortable sharing because we bonded in crisis, or something like that. But in reality he's got someone taking care of him, the doctor said it's not too bad, and the bullshit about playing next week is something he'll just have to take up with his team captain. Still gonna ask him out, probably, but I'll let him heal up first.
Here's my general plan for hitting the Geek Girl Con programming on Saturday 10/10. Asterisks are the ones I'm really super interested in (idk what the hell I'm gonna do at 12:30). I'll probably decide between conflicting panels based on who else is going. Let me know if you're planning to be at any of these!
10:30 diversity in specfic and romance 10:30 gender v ex 11 female authors in SF/F (librarians!) 11:30 game design * 11:30 gender in worldbuilding 12 women in STEM discussion (USB party favor!) 12 QUILTBAGs in Nerddom * 12:30 tabletop playtesting * 12:30 how to engage with problematic media * 1 Women's Issues in Publishing 1 geeky cosmetics 1:30 I'm Not Like Other Girls 2:30 game design 2:30 fanfic and academia 3 disability politics in Daredevil 3:30 fandom in performing arts 4:30 using pop culture and fandom daily inspiration 5-7 costume contest 5:30 scientists in pop culture 8-10 fashion show
ETA: There's also a slash-focused afterparty happening Saturday night, let me know if you need the deets on that.
I want to talk about a mid-'90s sci-fi TV show called "Space: Above and Beyond." A few people on the internet seem to think it was amazing. I watched a couple of episodes, and I might just be spoiled by recent sci-fi shows, but I thought it was awful. The writing was terrible, the acting was horrific, the storylines were cliche, and the characters had no dimension. I was really disappointed.
Why did I care? Because this fic is so fucking good.
I'm thinking about this because I've had Hozier's "Like Real People Do" stuck in my head for days, and I feel like that song would make a fantastic Cooper/McQueen vid. But I don't want to vid the canon! I want to vid that fic. I want to match we should just kiss to images of them looking at each other, like real people do to images of the in-vitros' neck-navels, I will not ask you why you were creeping to Cooper standing outside McQueen's stateroom trying to get up the nerve to knock, I could not ask you where you came from to the in-vitro facility.
I probably won't actually make the vid. Even aside from the state of my wrists (if I do any ill-advised vidding anytime soon, it'll be the Fury Road/Na Na Na vid I've been itching to make for months) there wouldn't be much point. No one would watch it, because no one knows anything about this shitty show that got cancelled after one season. And I'm not going to waste time watching the whole show so I can clip for it, anyway. But I still want to--and I want to because of this fic, this 90k epic someone wrote twenty years ago for a TV show everyone's forgotten.
This is why I like the word "transformative." Because someone can take this premise that seems silly on the actual show, and these characters that make me cringe, and turn it all into an story that keeps me up all night every time I reread it. It's not derivative. It's not a weak reflection of the canon. It turns the canon into something better.
I know the author of the story probably wouldn't want to hear that, because they clearly love the canon. There's this whole thing in fandom about exceptionalism in feedback--I hate this character but I love this fic, I can't stand this kink but you made it hot, etc. Authors often don't like that. I usually don't tell Teen Wolf authors about my feelings regarding the canon for that reason, even though it's not exceptionalism for me but preference for fanon--if they've spent so much time engaging with the thing, they probably don't want to hear about how much I hate it, even in the context of explaining my love of the fanon. I try to keep that kind of analysis in my own space.
But to me, this power fandom has--the power to pick something up and take it apart and find the interesting parts and build them into something new and different that can be appreciated in its own right--understanding this is an essential part of understanding tranformative creation. Engaging with the canon is incredibly valuable too, whether you love it or want to criticize it or both (Play It Again certainly requires familiarity with the canon, and ask me sometime about that if you have an hour or six to spare) but it's not the only thing fandom does well.
I just finished a book called "Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting" by Robert McKee that articulated something I've been trying to say for a long time about writing and rewriting.
So there's this piece of advice on just about every writing advice list ever that goes: don't worry about quality, just spit out a crappy first draft and make it good when you rewrite. I've known for years that this doesn't apply to me. When I write something without worrying about how good it is, and then try to turn it into something good, I can't. I just start hating the project altogether and wind up giving up on it.
The prevailing advice on that issue is: let go of your words. Figure out what you're really saying, what's important about each scene, and start over with that in mind. Don't hang onto individual sentences or phrasings just because you like them. Find your story, and rewrite with the story in mind. And that makes sense, for someone whose process of figuring out their story requires writing it, as I gather many people's do. Mine doesn't. I can't write my story until I know what it is.
This book I just read advocates my way. It actually does so in kind of a douchey holier-than-thou way, but I'm so fed up with people being douchey about this the other way around that I'm fine with a little douchery in my favor. Anyway, he thinks stories need to be written "from the inside out"--that is, from act structure to scene structure to full treatment (essentially not!fic), with actual wording as the very last step. He says two-thirds of the time he spends writing a screenplay is spent on this part of the process, shuffling around index cards and summarizing scenes and such.
I'm working on a novel right now, and people keep asking me how much of it I've written. And the answer is: twenty-eight pages of outline, five pages of character notes, two pages of meta-planning, two pages of notes on style and voice, a page and a half of worldbuilding notes, two fanfic-style pieces working through character backstory, a physical bulletin board full of index cards color-coded on three levels... and one chapter of actual novel, in need of a major rewrite to fit the changes I've made to the outline. And I sure as hell don't feel like I've barely started to write. If I have a scene fully planned from start to end complete with overall tensions, emotional arcs, actions and reactions, that's not a scene I haven't written yet. It's a scene I'm in the middle of writing.
Not that wording isn't important. It is; it's one of the most important aspects of writing to me. I think that's why I need to do it like this--because this way I can rewrite everything else without getting stuck on the words. I'm still going to need to be able to edit and cut my words after I've written them, but (if done well) this strategy keeps that to a bare minimum.
There's another piece of writing advice I see a lot that goes: don't get stuck endlessly tinkering with your outline. At some point you just have to sit down and write. And that's true, if what you're doing actually is just endless tinkering. But if you're actually rewriting, and making important changes to improve the story, and getting more detailed as you go--that's not tinkering, that's writing from the inside out, and there is nothing wrong with it.
(I highly recommend that Robert McKee book, with the caveat that the guy is a douche. But if you can hold your nose through all the white straight male privilege, there's some awesome writing advice in there that applies to all forms of storytelling.)
1. I came up with an idea for a novel about five weeks ago, and I've been making steady progress on it ever since. I'm really optimistic about it--I think the premise will appeal to agents and publishers, and having read a bunch of similar novels lately, I'm confident that I can execute it to current genre standards. And it's really, really nice to have a big project that I'm legitimately excited about every time I open up my notes.
2. I've been more active on Tumblr since I got into Check Please! fandom, and it's been fun to toss off little not!fics here and there and get a bunch of reactions. I have been essentially without a fandom for a long time--I'm always active in fandom, but there's a difference between that and being in a fandom, and CP has given me that sense of community and squee that I've been missing.
3. I've met a couple people through that fandom who seem really neat. I love hitting it off with fannish folks. :D
4. One of my new CP friends is in that fabulous brand-new-hockey-fan stage where you're constantly discovering awesome things about the sport (the Avery Rule! You Can Play! Dudes punching each other in the face while chatting about their dogs!) and keeps prodding me for explanations of things. It's been incredibly helpful to me emotionally, as Maloney sheds stars left and right in favor of Katamari-ing everybody's draft picks, to remember that there's a lot to love about this sport. Granted, she's a Devils fan, so she'll learn about the heartbreaky side of loving hockey soon enough, but for now she's all eager and happy and it's lovely to see.
5. I met up with a fandom friend I hadn't heard from in a while, and it was really awesome to reconnect. She's dipping her toes in CP fandom too, so I got to yammer excitedly at her about my D/s threesome fic while the other brunching yuppies around us slowly inched away.
6. I've been spending plenty of time with other fannish friends in meatspace, including a fantastic group trip to Vancouver to see the Penguins. Fen are so great. ♥
7. Watching Malkin in warmups made some things click in my brain and all of a sudden I'm totally rocking my outside edges on the rink. I think I'll sign up for a rec league in the fall and start playing for real. I'm so goddamn glad I decided to start skating regularly--it's been the best thing in my life on multiple levels this past ten months.
8. Queer movie night has been going strong since August, and I've found a bunch of amazing new movies in the process of deciding which ones to show. I should do a recs list here for you guys.
9. The boything realized last night that Dileep Rao, the guy who played Yusuf in Inception, plays in his trivia league. Further investigation revealed that the dude actually participated in the trivia set the boything ran. Also, boything beat out Yusuf on the topics of typography and fruit. I am endlessly amused by this.
10. Those dudes Ngozi found on Vine who look like Ransom and Holster. Oh my god, you guys. I watched 476 Vines on Wednesday and laughed until I literally injured my throat. SO GREAT.