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I used to be either indifferent to fan fiction (what I knew of it) or vaguely amused at it, or sometimes disturbed by what I heard of it. I'd tried reading it/writing it back in the 90s when I was hooked on Sailor Moon and had no ability to access any of the series other than the terrible NA dubs. I just didn't find what I was looking for (whatever that was) in the Sailor Moon fandom.
I also tried to write for the Firefly fandom, but at the time I was mired down in school - Lit. majors just don't have a lot of time for their own writing outside of the myriad papers - 10- and 20-pagers - so it seemed silly to spend time working on something I would never publish at the expense of something I might be able to publish. Oh, my naive years!! I should have written that fanfic and enjoyed it, but I was a Very Serious writer, you know?
You hear lots of stuff about fan fiction, about how much crap is out there. I don't remember when I first heard the term "slash" - I wish I could remember, I'm sure it's a funny story waiting to be told, or maybe not - but I remember wondering why anyone would want to write about characters they didn't own. Wasn't it much more interesting and fun to write your own stories??
Then I hit a wall of years during which I found myself unable to string ten words together. Those years are only just behind me, and I can still feel the hurt of them, the sense of failure in myself, the anger at myself for ever thinking I might be a writer. Writing, fun? How had I ever thought it was fun? That's what I thought during those years. To be honest - and I never expressed this until right now this minute - I hated writing. I hated it like I hated myself.
I think a lot of that had to do with the job I took that maybe I shouldn't have taken. It wasn't all bad, but it wasn't good for me to work in a place where I spent most of my day being bored with no challenges or raison d'etre
, as it were. A lot of it also had to do with myself - I was tired, eating bad food, anti-social, depressed - lots of stuff went into it. I can't just blame the job. I have to also acknowledge that even without the job, I was in a very bad place, mentally.
I promise I've got a point, and it lies in fan fiction's coordinate plane. So, I quit that job, blah blah blah, if you've been reading my journal, you know all about that and my subsequent trip to Europe. You probably also know that I spent the rest of the summer after returning from Europe curled up on my couch watching Stargate Atlantis.
So there I was, loving a show more than I'd ever loved any show ever (yes, even more than
Firefly, despite the fact that I don't think it's as good as
Firefly - I still love it more
). I wanted to talk about it, write about it, discuss it, pick it apart. But the show was already ended. Finito. Done. Never have I been so disappointed to have missed out on fandom.
Luckily, the fan fiction community was around, but it took me a while to get there.
I remember when I first really started delving into fandom. It was right after cleolinda wrote up the latest Harry Potter movie
. It included this line: [Snape tenderly uses his wand to nurse Draco back to health, and a thousand hurt-comfort fics spontaneously spring into being.]
I read that and thought: what? o_O;
I love internet culture, but I had been incredibly sheltered from fandom culture, and I had no idea what the hell a "hurt-comfort fic" was. So I looked it up.
And, naturally, in doing so exposed myself to all of the fan fiction vocabulary, which was a whole lot of overwhelming. I mean, I didn't even know
. (This all ended with me spending three solid days researching the Entire History of Fandom Culture, but that's a whole other story. I could totally write a book on the subject if I wanted to.)
I was smack in the middle of Season 2 of Atlantis at the time, and I wondered, "Do people write this stuff for Atlantis?" Sure enough...
Now, as I mentioned before, we've all heard horror stories about fan fiction and its terrible potential for true badness. Yeah, that's out there. But when I went looking for Atlantis "fics", I found a fandom with a truly astonishing number of super-talented writers.
What was wonderful to me was the way the Atlantis fan fiction writers played with story form with what seemed to me to be reckless abandon. I learned later that many of these forms had been around fan fiction communities for years - like "Five Things...", which I believe started with a fic in the Smallville fandom, and others. The way the writers used and exchanged language, colloquialisms, speech rhythms, the ellipsis and the parenthetical. The stories were beautiful indeed, but the forms of some of the stories were just so brilliant. And that's not even counting the multimedia stories.
The fan fiction wasn't just for playing with the characters, either, I realized. Fans of Atlantis were, through their fiction, actively critiquing
the show, demonstrating where the show writers fell sadly short, extending the moments when the show writers were brilliant. Fan fiction, I realized then, isn't just about borrowing someone else's world, someone else's characters - it is a way of interacting with the media and the message, of discussing it and extending it, even evolving it. I was fascinated.
I spent days reading, mostly in sga_flashfic
, then waiting waiting waiting for the SGA Big Bang fics to be released. (When they were, I gobbled them down whole.) One night I stayed up all night writing my own fanfic - writing with complete abandon for the first time in five years - and it felt so great, so amazing. I was flying. It wasn't a great story, but I had a great time writing it, and somehow, from that night, my whole attitude toward writing changed
, somehow. The next day (after sleeping most of the day!!), I started a new, original story and again wrote through the night. I almost cried for being able to write again.
Fan fiction and fandom sort of saved me, in a way. These days, before I work on my original fiction, I write a little bit of fan fiction to warm up. This spring/summer, I'm writing for a couple of challenges - Atlantis Big Bang 2010 and SGA Gen Ficathon - alongside my own writing. Which, honestly, doesn't seem as pressing anymore, and yet I'm still writing it. I don't even feel a need to publish - part of that may have to do with other factors in my life, like my new career goals, etc. - and with the burden of having to be a "good" writer (as in, good enough to be published) lifted off my shoulders, I take more joy in writing. And am, in fact, a good writer - better than I ever was before, really. I think publication may be in my future, or maybe I'll just send my stories out to the internet to be stumbled upon and enjoyed in their own time, in their own way.
So, yes. I love fan fiction, and fandom. It really did save me when I needed saving, and I hope there will be another show in the future that I will love the way I've loved Atlantis, so that I can be in on the fandom while the show is still running. For the moment, I'm grateful that Atlantis still has such a strong fandom, as well as Firefly, Buffy, Babylon 5, Deep Space Nine, and other beloved shows whose fandoms I'm slowly starting to explore.
And here: in celebration of fan fiction, I will link you to my favorites (all Atlantis, of course, for the moment.)-.-. --- -. -. . -.-. - .. --- -.
- I think this may have been the first Atlantis fan fiction I read, I'm not sure. I had dug around at random in sga_flashfic
, but I remember absolutely loving this one.Songs of Athos
- A gorgeous Teyla-centric fic, as well as a critique of our music culture. This fic is multilayered and complex, and I love it deeply.Never Quite What You Expect
- An adorable little fic, done in the "five things" style (but it's seven things, really). Just, you know, adorable.Five Post-it Notes Found Around Atlantis
- This should really go in Multimedia, but it's so short and so cute and could in fact be text-only. I grin for an hour every time I look at these post-its.Five Authors Who Didn't Write Stargate Atlantis
- Another one that I end up smiling, after. I desperately want to read more of the Teyla-in-Jane-Austen-land fic. The note at the bottom is funny, too, and so true.Multimedia ficRodney Mckay's Scrapbook of Death
- Multimedia fics ftw! This was the first one I ever read... little did I know how many amazing multimedia gems I would find in the SGA fandom. The Pegasus Galaxy Darwin Awards
Short, funny, and so very, very THEM.Missed the Saturday Dance
(direct link is here
, but do read the intro on LJ) - This multimedia fic pleases the ARGer in me. It must have taken an incredible amount of time and skill to put this together, and although I didn't love the story as much as I have loved other stories, I love the form. I have read that it caused consternation in the fandom at the time it was released, and I am reminded that I need to go looking for those discussions so I can read them and understand them.Postcards to Jeannie
and its sequel, Pictures for Jeannie
. This made me so homesick for the Pegasus Galaxy that I suffered a couple of bad nights where I couldn't. stop. watching. Season 1.
OK, you know what? I'm just going to recommend Friendshipper's whole archive
, because it's all good. Pick something at random - you won't be disappointed. OK? OK.sga_post_secret
More multimedia fic - a whole community of it. Inspired by Post Secret
. Sadly, some of the earlier, more heart-wrenching postcards are gone forever because of photobucket's new 30-day activity policy, but the ones that remain are still lovely.Poetry (!!)Everything and Then Some
Stargate Atlantis POETRY. Genius poetry. And anyone who knows me knows how very, very, VERY picky I am about poetry. I can't even LOOK at it if it's bad because it makes me physically ill. This, however, is so very, very, very GOOD that I re-read it quite often and still marvel at how great poets can be so clever with language.Long FicsA Clear and Different Light
- I don't remember if this was my second or third time reading an AU, but oh, how much I loved it! Whales! Atlantis! RODNEY! And also, great art - the art for this fic is some of my favorite, yet.
(Confession: I passed over "A Clear and Different Light" several times - there were, you know, whales, and I'd been buuuuuurned
by "whale!fic" and "dolphin!fic" a couple of times. I MISTAKENLY thought that ACaDL was about some of the characters as
whales, and at the time, I was NOT familiar with the names of the authors or the kinds of stories they write.
Well. There is that element in every fandom that likes to turn the characters into, you know, animals, and... everyone has got their squicks - transformation fic hits my squick button. But, to be fair, original transformation stories ALSO hit my squick button - just ask my husband, who writes the stuff. Original stories about transformations, I mean.
Anyway, I'm glad that I gave the fic a chance and discovered that not only did no one turn into a whale, the whales themselves were characters made of awesome and win. I feel kind of silly for assuming that whales==transformation fic, but if I were to link you to the two fics that burned me... you would totally understand my hesitation. ;_; (yes they were an fanfiction.net :P) )Bridges
by Busaikko - What made me read this fic, which I might not have necessarily been interested in, was the preview
of it that was posted before the 2009 Big Bang stories were released. The bulletin board was so cute, and the music video (no longer there) was especially attractive. She even used scenes from Joe Flanigan's appearance on "Dawson's Creek" to sort of set the scene. And I love fics where Jeannie and Rodney are together. This story is so peaceful and restful to read; I love the slow unfolding of relationships, the way she wrote Rodney, and all of the characters together beside the ocean.Sheppard's Law
- John's whole life. I just love this fic unreasonably
. I downloaded the podfic and listen to it in the car. A lot. More than I care to admit.The Magical Number Seven (Plus or Minus Two)
I'm going to confess again, here. I haven't read this fic all the way through. It is a gorgeous, intricate piece of work that I'm wishing desperately to be turned into a podfic so that I can just lay back and listen to it. But it deserves to be read, and so it is here in my list, and I need to make time for it this week before classes begin again. And then maybe I'll podfic it myself.Unfinished, but hopeful...Wild Power
by FlameDancer33 - unfinished... and yet, I keep hoping she'll add more chapters. This was the first "AU" (alternate universe, for those who don't want to go look up the term), and I didn't think I would like AU. Note: What's so awesome about AU stories is that alternate universes are totally, totally canon for Stargate, and Atlantis has "Vegas". Anything, anything is possible in fic. <3
And in looking for all of this fic, I have realized that I really need to organize
my freaking bookmarks
because I am remembering fics that I know I bookmarked but cannot find, somehow.
know where I can find that wonderful fic where John Sheppard chooses his team by balancing the SG-1 equation of "warrior, woman, scientist, alien"? I can't believe I don't have it bookmarked.