Since that does feel like a semi-significant milestone if you are me, I thought I'd indulge in a navel-gazing look back at what I've actually managed to write over the last ten years.
In the beginning
I was bad. I was really really bad. I feel like a lot of people come into fandom with a lot of original writing that they've done or side projects or something like that. Writing in fandom was my first real brush with 'real' writing, and I was so awful.
Here's a sample of how bad my first fic was:
John Lennon picked him up off the floor.I even preserved the formatting, just for your viewing pleasure.
"Come on mate, time to go home"
Paul decided John was cute when he was watching out for somebody. That was usually Paul’s job.
I know that most people are bad when they first start out, but I feel like a lot of times, they do a better job of hiding their bad early work or they let it fade into obscurity or the transient nature of the internet. I have a tendency to look back at it and boggle at it, since I posted all of it underneath my current LJ name.
I think what's interesting, looking back, is how much of a struggle it was. The act of writing, just getting any words on the page in the correct order and to convey the correct meaning, was such a chore, and I think it shows. I see that a lot in immature writing, where the words feel awkward and heavy, like you can see the effort that went into every word.
It's also interesting the way certain tropes start to pop up. Weather is a big one, structural experiments that I was not skilled enough to really pull off at the time, a sparseness to the prose that overdoes the sparseness. You can see me attempting to feel my way around how to write details, how to pick the ones that stick and avoid the ones that fade away.
You can see it even in my early House fic, which is always interesting to look back on. I have been writing second person for a very long time.
those awkward middle years
I think House fandom was a huge turning point for me, as a writer. It was when I learned how to really put a story together and really sustain a plotline for more than a couple thousand words at a time.It was the fandom that really showed me what I was capable of. I'm glad that I still have friends kicking around from this era, even if the fandom itself felt like it crashed and burned.
It was also the fandom where I first figured out how to write humor, which I think is still a skill that comes in handy every once in a while. This is still one of my favorite lines that I have ever written:
"He's a penguin," House said. "What else do I need to know?" Wilson looked like a penguin; he flapped like a penguin; he honked like a penguin. House had seen March of the Penguins. He knew what they looked like.And then I ended up writing a series of fics where House and Rodney McKay went to high school together. Seriously.
SGA is probably the fandom I have loved the most, where it was just this neverending stream of good fic and happiness and sunshine and critical, analytic discussion that really made me think. The football AU still holds the record for being the longest single thing I have ever written, and it is one of those stories that sometimes I peek in on, just so that I can wallow in those feelings all over again. I started writing Sheppard's Eleven during this time period. Too bad it took me four years to finish it. /o\
Star Trek was my next big fandom after that, and I still think Not All Those Who Wander is still one of my favorite things that I have ever written. I can look at it and see its weaknesses, the things that I could do better if I had started writing it now, but there's something about the way I got to really explore worlds and people and relationships that I wish I could do better and do more of.
the rest of that shit
Sherlock was my next really big fandom after that, and it's marked by a certain amount of darkness. I don't know if that was just because of the source material and the fandom or if it was something I needed to get out at the time, but it's interesting to go back and see just how brutal I was back then. Sure, I had a lot of sweet, warm fic, but I also had John cut Moriarty open with a knife, so who even knows. I still get a slow, steady trickle of comments and kudos on the stuff I wrote for this fandom, and it still remains some of the most popular stuff I've written.
And then there's TSN. Oh, what can I say about TSN? I blame ninhursag, first of all. Then I have to say that I'm really proud of what I wrote in TSN. I think the movie is overrated and that Mark Zuckerberg in both RL and fictional forms is a total douchebag. But it was also a fandom where I could really write a lot about the things that I love and the things that I hate. The Mafia AU was a thing of joy and beauty to make. merisunshine36 and I still talk about it, sometimes. (Okay, it's really like all the time, but in that sort of nostalgic 'remember when?' sort of way.) It's so sprawling and messy and epic, and I love it so much. Cryptography for Beginners remains one of those stories that remains a mystery in some ways, even to me. How the hell did I manage to write it?
It's also a fandom that really taught me what words and storytelling can accomplish. Some of the most amazing comments I will ever read have come from this fandom. I know that I can change people's minds with words, but it's not something I think about all that much when writing fic. And yet, it seems like I did manage to reach a few people out there and make them consider things in a new light. I still don't know how to convey the magnitude of what that means to me.
XMFC fandom was mostly me feeling angry all the time that fandom wasn't writing the stories that I wanted to read. I think I wrote some decent stuff there, but by the end of it, I felt like I had run out of things to say that I hadn't already said before.
where do I go from here?
I don't know, man.
I like writing stories that move people, and I like writing stories that make people think, and I like writing stories that take on new shapes and new forms. I want to make people laugh, and I want to make them cry, and I want them to be able to look at the world and see it in a new way. I feel almost grateful that I've had the privilege of pulling that off a few times over the past ten years, and I'd like to keep doing it.
I like putting my computer science degree to good use. I don't want or need a 'take fandom to work' fic (though I guess that doesn't explain why I was in TSN fandom for so long), because I can take my work to fandom. Maybe I'll figure out how to write that Twine groundhog day story. Maybe I'll get around to writing that chatbot that will act like a character and also slowly spin you a tall tale. Maybe I'll actually poke around ren'py and make something with it. Maybe I will give up this whole fanfic writing thing and become the indie game developer I was clearly meant to be.
I don't know, man. The future is wide open. Here's to another ten years.
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