December 14th, 2007

snail power

i'm tired of shakespeare

You know, the reason you will never see me arguing about fanfiction as a legitimate creative enterprise is because I can't conceptualize the idea of a hierarchy of creativity. It causes a communication breakdown from the first word; I stare blankly at the counterarguments that might as well be sanskrit for all the sense they make; how do you answer sanskrit? In sanskrit. You see the problem.

As much as I support the Organization of Transformative Works and all that comes with it, I can't quite get past the fact that with this movement comes this: as a fanfic writer I'm being asked, my culture is being asked, to prove why we should have the right to exist.

I resent it on behalf of myself, who luckily won't be asked to personally stand up and represent--I leave that to those who are involved in the OTW, to the scholars and the intellectuals, what I am not and what I will never be. But I resent my culture is being asked to do so; worse, I resent the fact we are being asked to represent fandom as a single culture in itself, asked to homogenize ourselves into something singular instead of plural, and asked, in essence, to explain why we want this.

I read about the transformative process, the history of literature, Homer and Shakespeare and Chaucer; modern reinterpretations of Cinderella and Jane Austen and the Illiad. Here's the thing; they aren't my ancestors, not in what I write.

My genealogy is a long one; my creative ancestors were poor bards and village elders and traders who wandered the world and brought stories back from wherever they went. Shakespeare doesn't legitimize what I write; it is legitimate because I wrote it. I'm following in the footsteps of those who did it as I did; not for money, for compensation, for a king's pleasure or a publisher's profit. I do it because I love to tell the story I heard and I want to share it with others.

Here's the thing:

I've always wanted to be able to create a perfect sentence; a sentence that encapsulates a concept, an idea, that can speak an absolute truth. I think all writers do; we spend a million words searching for it, read for it, hope for it, and sometimes, we're so close we hurt. I'm not even close right now; I don't know how to argue something I've always known.

I respect the arguments made for my hobby: yes, Shakespeare and Chaucer and Homer. I just don't think that they are our only models.

Mostly, I want to not be tempted to read these damn discussions. It's bad enough to read how your hobby is the equivalent of letting the terrorists win; it's worse when you realize that even as a practitioner, you don't have the necessary authority to defend it.