Seperis (seperis) wrote,

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the language of fannish subtext

eliade recs The Tale of the Shining Prince by Illuferret, and did it at enough length that really, irresistible. To see her comments, go here. I don't think I got the same thing out of it that she did, but to be honest, I'm not sure *what* I got out of it. But I'll remember it when I forget what I wrote today, and I'll probably remember it when I forget most of what I've read this year. So yeah. It stays.

But then, I *like* very stylistic stories. Which the term itself is kind of meaningless, but risks in narrative and storytelling are half the attraction of fanfic itself. Where writers don't *have* to start from scratch and waste precious time expositioning, but go right for the jugular off the bat. Which is why I like the classic format of a novel and short story, but I'm most intrigued by those that throw that out the window and go about it like *fanfic writers*, not like mainstream novelists. The rules stop applying. Except keep the spelling and punctuation thing. Please.

It really is a completely different--I don't want to say genre, because that doesn't fit, but I can't think of a word that's been invented for the demarcation line either. It's always been high praise in fannish circles to be told that you wrote a story so good it should be published, but sometimes, the highest praise is that it can't be. It's very uniqueness, what creates it, makes it impossible to be anything else. Lots of people can write stories that fall into readable (more than you think, actually, but I'm flexible on the idea of readable), and many can write stories I'd pay to read, and even some write stories that could be published and be great. But there's this small, fascinating group that write a story that belongs only to the fandom that created it. It's like having a treasure you never have to share. It wraps itself in the canon and fanon and the author's own mind that created it and takes it as its own so perfectly that you are so damn *glad* you went into that fandom, just *grateful*, just absolutely *thrilled*, because you get to read *this* And no where else would it have worked, if you'd been in a different fandom when you read it, it wouldn't have, you wouldn't have gotten it, but here, it just blows your mind.

Maybe context really *is* everything.

Sometimes, going through other people's rec pages, I get the feeling that I'm missing something when I read the stories. Not always, not even most of the time, but enough. This feeling like something very obvious is hovering just out of view over the horizon that I just don't understand. I *could* if I just tried hard enough, like I could learn to read Latin if I studied, and it's sometimes a faint annoyance and sometimes a mystery I want to solve, and sometimes, it's bittersweet, because there's the feeling of something missing that I'd have if I knew more.

Not just the show, though. The fandom that created it. The conflicting views and thoughts and works of God alone knows how many authors and meta-its and ramblers who influence each other in the weird communal bath of fandom. It gets even odder on LJ, actually, which is why I sometimes wonder how people not involved in the community at all feel when they read some of the stuff we write. Sometimes, our work has a twisty kind of genealogy, a place of birth that's so mixed that while the story belongs to one fandom, the spirit's borrowed from many. The plot and the style, the voices, the flow, each from an entirely different source. The reason the inspiration hit for *this* Smallville story was *this* Buffy story you read last week and you got into the style of this RPS that's being posted in parts and you're just *waiting* to see where it goes. Which also makes me wonder if there are stories that only make sense when read in LJ, in the community that helped create them.

This isn't a weakness, though I think it's sometimes seen to be. And sometimes you can see the fight between classic and fannish in the very words of the story itself, the way the author tries to use a formula that won't apply to what they're trying to create.


HP has that effect on me a *lot*. This faint awareness of being at least half a dimension away from what everyone else is reading and feeling. I know the books backward and forward, but I don't know the fandom at all--I don't know what attitudes and fanon originally influenced the writers, I don't know if they're rebelling against fanon, working it into new shapes, or creating it anew. Or hell, if they're even using fanon. I'll *never* know, because I don't know Latin. And I'm not at the point yet that I really feel desperately in need of learning it.

And oddly, I'm okay with that, even if it's frustrating. There's something magical about a story that has subtext in the subtext. She's not just writing about, say, Harry and Draco, she's also sayig fuck you to this clique of authors. *grins* Or she's bending something so fannishly ingrained that it just bends the mind to think about it. Out of context, you only know a lot more is going on there than you're reading. Sometimes, through fiction, you can see the results of a flame war among the fans, the indelible fingerprints of a single powerful author, reactionary results of new canon, a long night arguing with another fan about *that* episode or *this* Meaningful Look. You can read a fandom's history in some stories, in some *groups* of stories, in the trends they follow, from narration to characterization and style. In a single author's work over a year in the same fandom, you can sometimes see the shift in their thinking, not just in their view of the characters themselves and the show, but their feelings on the fandom they belong to.

I wish there were more second point of view stories. And broken timeline ones. And ones that rewrap canon into strangely shaped packages that only fit when you shove and push at them very hard. Ones that aren't afraid to live inside their own skin as what they are, fanfic. Also, I want them to be good. Very, very good, so I can wallow in them. Even if I can't always understand their subtext, I always love the fact they exist, and one day, if I learn their language, I'll understand them better.
Tags: meta: fanfic
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