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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation

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sometimes things change
children of dune - leto 1
NOTE TO out_there - I FOUND IT! And I was stupid. Let's leave it at that. Email me? I--don't have your email addy.



Saved Convos

Before the days of trillian auto-logging, one had to save convos the old, hard way, hitting Save and putting it in a folder and so much stress. But I was going through some looking for something and ran across a rant to a friend I saved back in 2002. It was--hmm. Surreal.

Related tangent: I reactivated my diaryland account and it is now readable. it reminds me how much *easier* my life is in LJ comparatively speaking. The convo I read the other night covers a period of time of about three entries there as well as some earlier ones.

Here's eomething I realized.

I almost never delete fannish content. In LJ, I might lock to friends every so often, but I don't think I've ever deleted anything, even the stuff where I fuck up publicly. Part of that is laziness, to be honest. But part of it is also the feeling of needing full disclosure. Fandom is rumor-filled, we all know this. To me, it's a lot easier to just have it out there and let it be found than someone, say, muttering under their breath, back in 200X, jenn did *this*.

It also acts as reminder and history lesson, warnings of what to do, what not to do, but more than those things, it's *me*. And a lot of the way I think has altered in the three-four years since I used it last, but a lot also has developed into a fuller version of what then I was only just learning.

This this started a series of critique I did on a story by Hope. There's about three or four entries on the fic.

This is why I stopped publicly critiquing fic for a very long time and still don't do it very often.

It was--hmm. Never mind. I was wrong--not in critiquing, but in not being careful, and in *dragging it out* because people were agreeing with me and that felt awesome. I don't--like myself for that, not least of which because the second entry I linked to was written after the author and her cowriter contacted me tell me they were flamed as a result of my--er, overly critical reviews. I don't remember now if it was once or more than once, but that freaked me out badly and for a long time after, and I still don't really forgive myself for it. I can't fix it. And I can't imagine how on earth the authors must have felt--authors I *knew* and liked and exchanged email and betas with--having to hit my diary for days and see me yet again slamming that story.

Of course, a bit later, liviapenn does something similar to my A Handful of Dust, which was so karmatically justified even at the time, I was like, wow. Payback *fast*. Diaryland was a fairly good practice ground for me, better than lj would have been, since commenting was a lot different and discussions in comments almost impossible. But looking back--four fucking entries on a fic I didn't like? What the hell was I thinking?

A lot of that was selfishness (I DO NOT LIKE AND I AM PISSY, Jesus, the entitlement, at least I learned to lock down that shit so people can bang sense into me instead of losing my shit in public), and some of it was enjoyment of discussion, and some of it was even the enjoyment of attention. SV was very new and a diary was very new and people were reading it was this--huge thing, this surprising thing for me.

Anyway, digression--the convo I found was one I was bitching about what I thought was an unfair critique of one of my fics. Yes, I know, irony. I cover a little of that in the diary somewhere, but most interesting to me is the reasons for it, which now, being oh, five years later, I'm objective enough to read what i wrote about the critique (which is now lost to history darn it) and see what I hadn't really understood earlier and *couldn't* understand until I'd experienced it somewhat and was more familiar with slash fandom.

The concept of the grovelfic.

I ran across it in SV a *lot*, but since I was Lex centric, I only noted the Lex ones, as the Clark ones most of the time seemed utterly justified. QaF had a lot of those, and that was the first time I really had a coherent concept of the phenomenon, thanks to one truly disturbing fic that had Justin doing housework and being the equivalent of a sex slave to make up to Brian for leaving him for Ethan. I remember it hitting my humiliation squick like a mach truck and never letting up, and I kept reading. I can still remember that moment of pure horror and then going over every fic I'd ever written to see if I'd done it. Which I had. Not at that level, and I dont' think I ever hit the level of true grovelfic, but wow, I merrily skirted the line quite a bit and never noticed.

SGA was the first time it drove me nuts, because the first ones I saw were Sheppard-centric--apologizing for being a homophobic military guy, apologizing for not being okay with being outed as in a gay relationship with Rodney, God, post-Chaya cannot even deal. And the post Siege I of John not taking Rodneys' feelings into account when he tried to nuke the hive ship. But then came the post-Trinity Rodney fics where both characters were by turns groveling themselves into the dirt and oh God, that was bad. And the beauty of post-Irresistible, where John explains how he totally deserved being drugged for making a lemon joke. I love those. I do. They make me think longingly of the good days of killfile.

Then my personal favorite is the one where John apologizes post-Common Ground to Rodney for something he said right after he was brought back to life/ That, my friends, is the gold standard right there. Charming.

But--back then? I didn't have the concept of it at all, though in retrospect, there's just as much in het fic as there is in slash, though I called it something differnet and categorized it differentally in my head. I just called it crappy fic. It was especially prevalent in a certain section of Logan/Rogue, anti-Jean X-Men writers, and I dislike them enough to actually want to link it, but see above. *sighs* Maybe one day when I'm feeling *really* crappy. Ask me when I'm in a bad mood, but so do not flame me when you find yourself with a spork in hand.

Okay, the reason the above is mentioned is because of this--it took me a long time to realize that reception of fic in a fandom has a lot more to do with the climate of the fandom at the time than the fic itself. People are surprised when a certain fic suddenly gets canonized and/or picked on. Or rather, surprised at the level of vehemence against it occasionally. My reaction to sex-slave fic is a case in point--a lot of it got posted, and at the very best of times, it's a stretch for me to buy that characterization of John Sheppard (by stretch I mean, I do not buy it at all unless you are adding in either lobotomy or drugged highly), so around the time the last one rolled out, I'd hit my limit. Etc, etc, etc.

So while re-reading my initial reaction to the critique of A Handful of Dust, the intriguing part to me was that it was about the fic, yes, but also about the *trope* itself. It carried a history I didn't intend because I hadn't known there was a history. And the truth is, all fic carries a history when it's posted--the history of everything like it that was posted in the fandom, everything like it that was posted in other fandoms, and the flamewars or arguments that might or might not have occurred at the time of those fics. It also carries the history of the person who wrote it, which can be bad or good depending--say, if you are writing Evil!God!Clark fic, you might want to go back and note that you spent a lot of time critiquing Clark's behavior in terms not altogether reasonable or even-handed, so don't be too surprised the fic was examined on a meta-level as well as a storytelling level.

I think sometimes authors are blindsided by that. I was, and I actually *do* occasionally pre-judge a story by the meta of the author. Such as, Sheppard/McKay writers who spend quality time lovingly detailing how much John sucks? It's instant no-read on their fic, because I carry the memory of the meta with me when I read. A few Rodney-dislikers, where I quickly flip backward and out and avoid avoid avoid. And fact--the more you talk about something, the more you tend to believe it, even if canon proves you wrong later, which is why we still have the slut-Sheppard characterization or the Clark-evil-asshole or anyone, anyone called sociopathic (been there, said that, regret it mightily in two fandoms. I really do wonder, in retrospect, how on earth people could stand me). And it *does* show in fic, no matter how much a writer wants to be fair to both characters. Preference always does. Almost invisible or stamped across the fic like a fingerprint.

So, hmm. A part of me thinks it's unfair a fic has to carry that weight--not only of canon and of itself, but of its author, of its fandom, of a *lot* of fandoms, of the judgements that came before and after. OTOH, it's fascinating that fannish history *can* be traced like this.

Jesus God, it's one in the morning. You know, my original thought here was totally different when I started, a segue into what constitutes fannish responsibility to other fanpeople and the community as a whole, with reference to the otw_news project. I was mulling things I've done that I was not proud of in fandom, and the different ways we all look at our personal responsibilites to our fellow fanpeople.

I did not go there. Hmm.

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all fic carries a history when it's posted--the history of everything like it that was posted in the fandom, everything like it that was posted in other fandoms, and the flamewars or arguments that might or might not have occurred at the time of those fics. It also carries the history of the person who wrote it

You know I'm gonna agree with you 100 % :)

So I'll just go down memory lane with you...I was still lurking when you were on Diaryland, and you were my top bookmark for all things SV. And I remember not realizing when you switched to LJ and there was a period where I panicked b/c you were just gone ...Until I found your LJ :)

As for grovelfic. Isn't the term also denoting the *author* groveling to a list or whatever? But, yes...it's realy interesting how a characterization that seems perfectly fine to you is anathemata to someonee else.

(I still like Handful of Dust...if nothing else, how many stories do you actually, like *remember* years after you read them? :)

*grins* Thank you!

I remember back then being totally floored at the *idea* that my fic was judged by my meta, much less by earlier fannish works. Now it's like, *of course* but then? Whole New World. It makes it interesting when reading critiques or recs, because sometimes, or most of the time, I think fannish history has *way* more to do with it than we want to admit.

hey...speak for yourself *bg*

i seem to try to make a cottage industry out of that little tidbit. LOL

Seriously, though, I can totally see where it'd have come as a shock!

In fact, it'd be interesting to try to remember how meta worked and functions just 10 years ago...I mean, we have some older stuff in ML archives and whatnot, but I wonder how much LJ and the total multifannish metaness and metafandom and all *really* have affected folks (or whether they've only enlarged that self-aware group a bit...)

You know, I--livejournal, if it did nothing else, did amazing things for the fan meta person. In my opinion, I mean. With the larger fannish audience, the ease of communicating new ideas across fandom, the fact we *all* go and check out some people's brilliant thoughts, people that in ML days I wouldn't have seen unless they'd been on my ML or they just happened to be on a forum I frequented. I just love that. When I get really nostalgic for ML, I remember that now I have access to a truly *staggering* number of incredibly well-read, intelligent people who micro-analyze fandom *every day*, and that's something I couldn't have gotten anywhere else.

thanks to one truly disturbing fic that had Justin doing housework and being the equivalent of a sex slave to make up to Brian for leaving him for Ethan.

That fic is verrrrrrrry popular in QAF fandom, too *g*.

I think we all have fandom history we're not proud of. I used to go over to areas of a particular fandom where I didn't belong, just so I could 'debate' with people who didn't agree with me and would never see my point. Basically, I'd go and poke people who were already pissed off, thanks to that fandoms history. I don't know if I would've callen myself a troll - it was always actual discussion, didn't become name-calling - but it wasn't right. At some point I realised I shouldn't be there, and the 'friends' I was hanging around with most of the time and were influencing me were actually tools *g*. I stepped away from them and got myself some awesome friends who may not always agree with me, but respect me. Open minds are a wonderful thing :D

As for your thoughts on fic history and its affects on new fic, I just want to say one thing:


Dude. I did not watch the same QAF as ANY of these people.

Right, um. Open minds, yay ;)

*twitch* Mikey bashing. God preserve us. Especially the "Michael rapes poor angelic Justin" oh GOD I AM HAVING FLASHBACKS DO NOT WANT MUST KILL...

*breathes* Sorry. Better now.

God. Just reading you list all these types of fic makes me want to bleach my brain.

It's a cross-fandom phenomenon, and now, here, in this medium, it's almost impossibly easy to see it. It's so--cool, I guess, how much I learned the last five years. For that matter, how much hasn't actually changed in what I saw then and didn't understand, just recorded as part of my fannish day, and what I see now.


I had literary theory at university and, in hindsight, I realize that I never really understood the whole - it's not about author intention, it's the reader that brings his own experience to the text - on more than a purely intellectual/theoretical level until I starting reading fanfic and the critiques on said fanfic.

My professor would probably be horrified to read this- he made us read "If on a winter's night a traveller" to make us grasp the concept - If on a winter's night a traveler (Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore) is a novel published in 1979 by Italo Calvino.- probably no one in my class completely grapsed the concept then.

It's not just about the "Bring Your Own Subtext", that you bring to a text, it's indeed the meta knowledge that you have about a particular fandom community, a particular fanfic writer, discussions that they have participated in, even meta knowledge about the actors and writers influence your reading experience.

I don't think it's a matter of fair or unfair, it just is the way it is, and I'm for one grateful to finally "get" it. Thankyoufanficwriters!

Yes! Exactly! There are actors that were unpleasant enough that I don't want to write fanfic about their shows. And I still twitch when I see actor interviews and almost never read them, because what they say *does* reflect on the character in my head, whether I want it to or not.

I was having similar thoughts as I read this post, and what struck me is that in the literary world there is a much sharper division between the critics and the writers. Sure there are some who do both, but if you counted them up they would be far outweighed by those who do only one.

In fandom, on the other hand, there are very few fic writers taht don't meta on some level. I meta very rarely, but even I have had my share of 'squee' posts and ruminating on a character, etc.

While in the arena of literature and modern fiction a reader will probably have NEVER read the author's writings on critical theory [UNLESS they are taking a lit class! :-) ], in fandom a reader almost never reads a story without also reading some of that author's meta, either immediately before or after. The mechanics of how the reader interacts with the fictional text is the same in both literary and fannish arenas, but how much the reader interacts with the meta texts is completely different.

Ahhhh grovelfic. Sometimes it's hard being a Sheppard fan in this fandom.

Plz to be stop doing that. Not you. *Them*. As they traumatize me and make me want to publicly mock *so much*.

I remember you on Diaryland. You were one of the authors I was reading before my area got SV, and likely your writing influenced my perceptions of Clark before I saw him. IIRC, it seemed you genuinely liked him and Lex, were sympathetic to both of them.

I'm actually going to post this weekend my earliest published fic, from back when I first discovered fandom, when there were zines instead of the internet. Gosh, back then, I was writing under my own name, because I didn't know any better, or about anything fandom at all.

Re-reading it is...interesting. ;)

*fondly recalls days of yore*

Ooooh, what fandom? You're going to *post* it?

*intensely interested* I can't wait to see it.

I am! Actual pages scanned from the zines, complete with all typos, both mine and the zine editor/typist's... This was when actual text on paper was sent through the mail and re-typed for the zine layouts, in the distant past of 1991-1994 or so. *g* It'll be in two or three posts on into June, because I haven't finished scanning the zines yet.

You probably don't know the fandom - Blake's 7, a British show that ran 1977-1981.

I got into SV late, so I ran across your diaryland account just before you switched to LJ, I think. Even so, I know the dynamics you're talking about. I did some similar things. I thought I was passionate. Now I know I was just a self-involved pain the ass.

I'm still self-involved (hobby and all), and I'll still share my opinions, but now I try to be less focused on the things that bug me, and more aware of how what I say affects other people's feelings. I firmly believe in the right to crit, but the right to make the author aware of the crit and make her feel bad about this thing that you hate? Not so much.

Also, word on how history impacts the reception of fic, and how you read it.

*grins* God, yes. Some of it is enlightening, some of it is--really embarrassing. And some of it is interesting in that I was running across fannish attitudes and practices at the time I was still trying to work out or had never seen before. A year in very, very isolated Logan/Rogue, even with my non-Logan/Rogue movieverse work on another list, shows thorugh fairly intensely, I think. A lot of it was some fairly confusing boggling at other people.

NOw I read it and go, that's *normal*, jenn. Stop freaking out.

The long, strange trip of fandom

Man, I remember how isolated my first few years in online fandom were, and how mindboggling certain concepts were. And I was coming from speclit fandom, so I had a headstart on a lot of terminology and fic types. This is actually something that I've had to remind myself of more frequently of late: people don't know. This is all new to them. And you have to have a certain amount of patience for the missteps, and a willingness to explain terminology and share links to past discussions, if you have them, and let people hash these things out for themselves, because we all need to. It's not just fandom that goes through stages, it's us. There are discussions no one can have for us, you know? Epiphanies and such.

Really, I think that's what a lot of that old stuff is too. Seeing your own growing pains as you figured fandom out. It can be really embarrassing, but I think it's also good in helping you achieve/maintain a certain amount of zen. That earnest young fan who's driving you crazy at the moment is likely to undergo some drastic opinion changes in the next six months, and so are you. It's a cycle you've gone through before.

Heh. I remember the shock and horror of discovering a lot more people were reading my diaryland account than I thought, and yeah, I said a lot of shit that was just thoughtless and dumb, mostly because I thought nobody was paying attention. I learned just how wrong I was pretty damn quickly.

But yes, to the weight of history, meta, and all the other fannish interactions - it can work both ways: trying to read fic that's not my thing because I know and like the author and want to like her writing (and feeling guilty when I don't); and avoiding fic by people I think are insane who hold radically different interpretations of the text etc.

God, I remember that moment of Jesus, *what*? PEOPLE ARE READING THIS? WHY? It was surreal. Very, very surreal.

Oh, hmm. True, it really *does* work backwards too. I always wished there was an objective way to study it, especially the movement now of fannish tropes and styles now that they can spread across the entirety of Fandom, not just an individual fandom.

QaF had a lot of those, and that was the first time I really had a coherent concept of the phenomenon, thanks to one truly disturbing fic that had Justin doing housework and being the equivalent of a sex slave to make up to Brian for leaving him for Ethan.
I think I read that one. It managed to traumatize my newbie self wonderfully. :-/

And there are a few SGA authors I completely avoid because of meta they've written that made me raise my eyebrows.

Yep. It's one of the downsides of lj--we get the unvarnished opinions as well as the fic.

I remember my early days of SV love well - you and Te were people I sought out (I'd started watching the show midseason because of TWoP), along with LaT and Thamiris and maybe Hope? Although I think I might have discovered Hope a bit later. But all of you were into fanfiction, and I'd been active on Buffy and Angel boards for two years, but not the fanfic side (because my first foray was BADFIC, OMG and I ran shrieking).

And I remember that I sent you an email about Handful of Dust, because the second part seemed like such a swerve to me, and you were incredibly *nice* about it, and we went back and forth a couple of times, and it really informed my reaction to concrit once I started writing in earnest. Even if you don't agree, be polite about your response, oh yes.

I'm in favor of public discussion of stories, but there's a delicate balance to be maintained between only praising and only damning the work, one that takes into account positives and negatives and the way your comments are phrased, and you still don't know if the author is going to go nuclear on you for daring to say that her baby isn't 100% perfect. The personalities involved are so key, because even beyond the author, her friends might decide to become offended and it's such a mess at that point.

There are a *lot* of well-known stories in SGA that I dislike, but if I'm going to discuss the reasons why there almost has to be something positive I can say about it too. And I decided a while ago that the best thing to do to counter the stories I wasn't as fond of was to recommend those I *did* like, because that's not giving into negativity and trying to make a contribution, and those are two important ideals for me. But sometimes it's hard, especially when the characters I adore are written in such a way as to make them complete strangers, or points of canon that I think are obvious are ignored for no reason I can discern, or *real world* reality is discarded, again for no apparent reason (if there's a reason that comes through in the text, I'm much likelier to go with the flow of the story).


Why is fandom this hard?

On a sprightlier note, have you ever watched Criminal Minds? It's kind of my new obsession, although it won't ever displace SGA. I'm multi-fannish enough to like having a roster of shows I can play with, and CM has been making me especially happy the past couple of weeks. Since it's all about catching serial killers, I thought you might find it of interest. There's also plenty of meaty angst situations - the first episodes I watched saw one character captured by a serial killer, who then proceeded to tie him to a chair, beat him up, and shoot him up with drugs. If only the killer had sold himself on the streets to pay for his drug habit, it would have fulfilled *every fanfic kink* I have.

The first season is out on DVD, and if you think you're interested, I could probably help get you the second season, after this weekend.

And the truth is, all fic carries a history when it's posted--the history of everything like it that was posted in the fandom, everything like it that was posted in other fandoms, and the flamewars or arguments that might or might not have occurred at the time of those fics.

...I was, and I actually *do* occasionally pre-judge a story by the meta of the author.

...see, I wanted to say something meta-like and important, but instead, I've blanked. But I emailed you, so all should be well.

I have to say your story 'A Handful of Dust', always sticks in my head, not so much for the story (which was brilliant by the way), but an association with something that happened to me that day, something that was truly awful.

So, and this is probably not the expectation of your writing you expected, every time I see your LJ name, and particularly that story, I think of that event.

And the event that happened that day, had vague similarities to the story, so it intertwines in my memory so much I get a physical response when I read about it, or when it's mentioned.

So, it's not just fandom expectations, but life. And you take this in a good way, because it's just like a song one listens to which brings back a memory, or a smell. Your story had that particular impact.

Eh, that sounds rather bad doesn't it? But you do understand what I mean? About the power of art association with life events, etc, etc.

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