?

Log in

No account? Create an account

The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


Previous Entry Share Next Entry
i'm tired of shakespeare
snail power
seperis
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.


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.

THIS.

If a bunch of people who scrap book put together an ultimate scrap-booking site, no one will ask them to prove why they love scrap-booking or how it can be 'legitimized'. No one looks oddly at the millions of upon millions of sports sites out there, which is just as much a fandom as what we are. They just utilize it in a different way.

I think, seriously, that a lot of the problems come down to the fact that we aren't in this to make money. We're a choir that gets together and sings and sings and sings and blinks when people ask us, as a whole, why we aren't trying to sing professionally. Some of us want that. Many don't. And no one can seem to understand that both are okay.

I have a hobby. It is a hobby. I'm not killing babies, I'm not actually stealing dollars out of anyone's pocket (that argument is getting so. damned. old), and I'm not forcing anybody to look at what I'm doing.

Why the fuck do we have to prove anything?

I think, seriously, that a lot of the problems come down to the fact that we aren't in this to make money. We're a choir that gets together and sings and sings and sings and blinks when people ask us, as a whole, why we aren't trying to sing professionally. Some of us want that. Many don't. And no one can seem to understand that both are okay.

I agree with this completely, considering the pressure I get from family to publish something; the unpleasant kind of pressure, the kind that intersects with the idea that being good and being happy can only be achieved with monetary award attached.

I don't know how many times and how many ways we can say this: we do not want money. I want my writing, what I love, and my community, that I enjoy, and my culture, that I help (we all help) to build and maintain. I want to write a fic, read comments, read fic, send comments, mock literary tropes, discuss with my friends.

How is that hard for anyone, anyone at all, to understand?

See, and that's what I think whatshisname doesn't get: it's not that we're suddenly deciding that we now need a piece of the pie but that cultural forces around us are doing similar things (often with the intent to make money) and at the same time copyright law is gaining power and strangleholding all forms of previously acceptable cultural expressions. So, between publicity and changing contexts, we kind of need to define ourselves and why we are falling under fair use.

In a way, OTW is very much reacting rather than preemptively striking...And yes, I agree it's sad that it even needs to exist! (Though I can't be sad about the journal and the wiki and a great archive!)

It's not--I hope that didn't come off as hostile to the archive. I understand and appreciate the importance, and I support it completely. It's not even the archive that's bothering me; it's that we have to push to gain something that's given for free to crocheters and knitters and gamers and stamp collectors without question. If I do a blanket from a crochet book--a pattern written by someone else--it's not assumed that I'm taking credit for their pattern, only the work I did using it. And hobbyists tend to do it for free. That's assumed, too.

The fact I have to be told to explain myself--and not just explain, but critique it, examine it, defend it, and finally, finally, even with those things, even after fighting for something that I should be given as a right, I get the feeling that right is conditional on my acceptance of my status as less.

My status will be: I am not an author, a writer, I am not as creative, as innovative, I'm not as good, and representing myself as any of those is anathema. Nothing I do in this culture can be the bootlaces of the worst of published fiction because of what I've chosen to write.

That's what I'm afraid of; that what we will settle for is a a legitimacy based on suffrance, not on our merit. I'm afraid we'll compromise our claim to our own creativity in search of acceptance. That's not who we are, and I refuse to accept these things.

God I hope that made sense.

I am never happier after engaging in one of those discussions than I was before.

I really need to learn better. But the logic! There is no logic!

::beats head against the desk::

It would help if the internet wasn't full of pricks. *sigh*

I absolutely empathize here. I realize there is a need to defend my culture, and I want it to be defended, but I just do not get why it needs defending in the first place. How is any writing less legitimate than any other? How is any creativity inherently wrong? And then - I mean, within fandom we understand that fandom is not a single homogenous entity, it is a million people all with different interests that overlap in some places and with the single common interest of liking something that exists somewhere.

I'm a self-taught writer. I don't have a family history of words, I have a family history of farmers. Even though I have never submitted anything to be published anywhere, in paper or in archive, I consider myself an author, because what I do is exactly the same as what any other author does. And I do not understand why other people think it's different, and I never will.

Shakespeare doesn't legitimize what I write; it is legitimate because I wrote it.

I'm a self-taught writer. I don't have a family history of words, I have a family history of farmers. Even though I have never submitted anything to be published anywhere, in paper or in archive, I consider myself an author, because what I do is exactly the same as what any other author does. And I do not understand why other people think it's different, and I never will.

Yes. Yes.

Perfectly said. Yes.

Mostly, I want to not be tempted to read these damn discussions.

Boredom does that, for me. Doubly so, in Scalzi's comments, where repetition counts as argument.

If OTW does anything at all, I want them to do a basic FAQ, so that I can legitimately tell morons to STFU until they RTFM. BBQ!

They do seem to get around the entire "answer the question" with--er not answering the actual question. It's very odd.

ha! this is a beautiful post, thank you. I just told Twitter how I wish I could read Scalzi's post and the comments thereof (these are "my people", some, and I do like Scalzi), but what is a rousing thread in Naomi Novik's healthy view is a garanteed sickness in my stomach and headache for me, because of how goddamn sour I get when I have to justify my existence, my creativity, or point out that all the "when the lawyers decide to bear down on you your culture WILL DIE" are just a deluded little boy's scare tactics - fandom as we know it is nothing but a phoenix. kill the cheerleader, go ahead! The minstrel will fucking rise again.

I have so much rage about this, god.

Actually, it's not too bad. It's frustrating in a "the point is over there. Do you see it?" kind of way, but it does clarify some things.

Yeah, when the lawyers come, I wish them well on taking me for all my monetary value. They are totally welcome to my hairspray and camera and three year old bed. *grins*

Yeah, I wish I hadn't looked at some of the discussions. It just makes me feel tired, and pissed, and despised by both sides. Which is stupid, and irrational, and probably hormonal, but I'm just having that kind of day.

If all the world recognized and adhered to the idea of Frank Lloyd Wright and Antonio Gaudi as the only authoritative models for architecture, not one roof would ever be built to cover our heads.

Good models are to be observed, not followed without deviation. Divergence creates new good models, creates improvement, creates momentum which spins the world without needing the axis.

Go. Hog. Wild.

Preaching to the choir, you are!

I just unfriended a guy I've had on my friend's list for about 4 years partly because of his bitchy insults re: the OTW. (The other reason was that he posted a virus-site link as a joke in his next posted entry; it was a potent one-two punch of "I have had enough of you!") It seems to me most of the criticism of the OTW and the concept of fanfic is coming from the male contingent, who just do not *get it*.

I've always resented the fact that guy hobbies are considered by society to be a great way to spend one's time, but not women's hobbies, which are to be insulted and minimized -- in fact for the longest time, there was a bizarre resistance in fandom to even merely identifying our form of fandom as a mostly-for-women's hobby or interest. I remember being on a Forever Knight list years ago and talking about the fact that fandom is a female thing, and all of the women on the list who replied were adamant that they "knew a guy" who wrote fanfic, therefore it wasn't a woman-only thing. I pointed out that yeah, I knew a guy who wrote fanfic, too, but I knew about a hundred women who did, but nobody wanted to talk about it further. A friend told me, "we just don't want to be identified as a hen party, I guess." Can I just say, "GAH!@!!" But it makes me wonder if all those people telling tales around the campfire were women. I suspect it took men to pin those stories down in books so that they stopped evolving (ie, the Grimm brothers and Charles Perrault), but women to come up with the stories in the first place.

The same thing happened when Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for making successful microloans to the very poor... he'd be interviewed about what he was doing, and NOBODY wanted to hear about the fact that 98% of the microloans were going to women! If it got brought up at all, the interviewers would cut him off at that point or change the subject. It was as if something women did could not be important or of interest, therefore it wasn't to be discussed.

At any rate, sorry to go off on a tangent, and thank you for taking your stand, above!

Re: Preaching to the choir, you are!

I agree with all of the above. Yes. And yes.

This thread made me wince, because today I came out and told my best friend - a housemate of four years, the girl I run a business with - what I get up to alone in my room in the evenings. She falls instinctively on the Shakespeare side of the debate. I don't think we'll mention my hobbies again.

But you know what? I don't wish I could un-say it. I love fandom, fanfic writers are my people. I want to wear a pin, or something.

Oh, we should totally have a pin! Or at least a symbol of some sort, representing fannishness.

Or we could create a new hanky code, so we can identify each other and our affiliations at a distance (pink hanky with dolphins worn as a headdress = SGA slasher, McKay as bottom, kinky. *g*)

Shakespeare doesn't legitimize what I write; it is legitimate because I wrote it.

Near as I can tell that's a perfect sentence. It certainly captured how I feel.

For reasons I don't fully understand academic discussions of fandom always annoy me. Sometimes, on rare occasions, I have the patience for them, but mostly I don't. But then I never had much patience for the humanities, so maybe that's part of it.

As much as I love fandom, I can never get the past the urge to say, "Can we discuss something that matters now?" I know people love fandom. I love fandom. But we live in a country at war, with a government being run by people who care nothing for the rights of others. Given that reality I just can't get excited about how people outside our community view it. I frankly don't care if "they" regard it as legitimate or not.

It's just not something I can commit emotional or intellectual energy to.

I feel like some sort of bizarre political snob, but I care more about the Farm Bill, because funding for the Emergency Food Assistance Program is in that bill, and the motherfucking Republicans have been filibustering the Senate version while the nation's food banks are running out of food. That matters to me in a way arguments about the transformative nature of fanfic never will.

I can understand that and it makes sense.


Well, it's all horseshit, of course. And I say this as someone who teaches Homer. One could say the Iliad and Odyssey are some of the earliest fan fiction we have - all based on favorite characters from familiar stories. And I find that people who sneer about types/styles/genres of writing haven't done enough reading, or the reading they have done has been more about gaining status than understanding the richness of human storytelling. If reading Dante doesn't make them superior, then why bother?

I find these debates interesting - not the content, because *ugh*, but the fact of them. They remind me of all the other debates which have risen over the centuries when something new has gotten big enough to attract the general public's notice. It can no longer be ignored, so it has to be sorted and categorized and analyzed and put in its place. The idea of professional vs. hobbyist is kind of interesting, too - there were times when if you wrote for money, you were a hack.

Sorry to ramble. I think you're a terrific writer and I don't like to see you angry and frustrated (which is kind of presumptious coming from a lurker, but there you are).

And a word in defense of my beloved Homer, whose influence was so wide-spread that he's practically *everybody's* ancestor - earlier this year, our study of Book 18 of the Iliad coincided with the finale of The Sopranos. In Book 18, as Achilles cold-bloodedly skewers a Trojan soldier begging for his life, he says, "There. Lie down with the fishes!" So, whenever you hear a Mafia hitman growl, "Go sleep wit da fishes," he's quoting Homer. ;-)

Eurydice

*giggles*

Okay, lie down with the fishes/sleep wit da fishes--I want that as a motto.

*eyes you* I count something close to twenty comments from you. YOU NEED AN LJ SO I CAN FRIEND YOU.

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.

Oh my Gods yes. THANK YOU! I really wish I had something more clever or deep to say, but...this is exactly why the whole project makes me bristle. I admire many of the people behind it, I admire the idea of a good flexible open source archiving software, but some of the other stuff....

It just sounds like a cry for legitimacy and that bugs me, not just because I like the whole counter-culture aspect of fandom, but also because I don't think we need outsiders to legitimize us.

*nods* Exactly. Iknow that they're reacting to what's happening arleady, so it's not blame, so much as--*frowns*--frustration.

telesilla pointed me here. I've been arguing extensively on the Scalzi discussion; it's been, umm... interesting. (Actually, I'm rather pleased with how it's been going. Nobody has dragged in any bizarre "save the children from Teh Pr0n" tangents; there's been no weird vicious name-calling; the arguments about economic worries, while a bit vague, are rooted in reality. I don't know if it's felt productive, but it hasn't felt like pointless wank.)

I'm getting to see aspects of anti-fanfic arguments that I wasn't fully aware of.

I'll occasionally mention Shakespeare or Homer; it's occasionally important to remind people that "make stories with other people's characters and plotlines" has a long and respected history in literature. But that's not my main explanation of fanfic and the motives for it.

I talk about kids playing Batman and Robin. About girls dressing up Barbies (and that's maybe sexist, but dammit, I didn't know any boys who played with Barbies). I talk about all those "what happened next?" writing exercises in school.

I talk about how this is an innate human activity, and that refining the skills involved doesn't make it some weird market-oriented activity. Yeah, some people would like to make money on their fanfic. And some kids grow up to be stuntmen, wearing capes and jumping off buildings in someone else's name.

But kids aren't expected to justify jumping around the yard as "stuntman training," and it's just freaky-baffling that fanfic is expected to justify itself as either "profic training" or "continuation of the noble bardic tradition."

Feh. This is continuation of the grand bardic tradition of "yeah, Little Red Riding Hood had a bike, just like yours, only its wheel got flat just like yours did when you rode it over the railroad tracks, and so she walked through the woods, carrying a basket full of peanut-butter sandwiches and Coke and Nilla Wafers, because those were her grandma's favorite foods..."

Btw, can I just say thanks for continuing to engage over there? I'm still following the discussion, and you and other fannish contributors to it have been awesome so far. It *is* ridiculous how there just has to be some big godawful reason behind why we fic. Like the fact that we want to do it for its own sake has no meaning in and of itself *facepalm*

(Deleted comment)
And who or what, in heaven's name, is the grandiously named "Organization of Transformative Works"? Seriously, I realize I'm so far out of loop these days, it's ridiculous, but what the fuck?

An Archive Of Our Own, but they needed a parent organization to become a non-profit, so that's the name they came up with. Basically, the idea was to be the anti-FanLib