Pick Up That Pen

Wrote this today on Tumblr:

I finally have an account on AO3.

I put myself in the queue this summer and just now got an Invite.

Maybe I will start writing fanfiction of my own, again.

Like I sometimes say, I am fuckin’ old, in contrast to most people on Tumblr, it seems. Back when LiveJournal.com was relevant, I got into various fandoms, and also ended up on Fanfiction.Net. This was a big relief to me, since my classmates in high school weren’t as enamored with TV and movies as I was.

I left FF.Net, however, and LiveJournal, (and when I was in middle school, I had a website on Angelfire; oh man, who remembers that host?). It was time for Real Life, and I had always been too shy to share hardly any of my writing, anyway.

I was always a writer, privately, throughout my life, ever since 4th grade. I always wrote creative nonfiction, for the most part, which is quite obviously code for journaling and writing personal essays.

I dipped my toe into fiction for school assignments, but then dove headfirst into fanfiction. Sloppy, messy, terribly out-of-character fanfiction. I loved it, though, and got to explore all those avenues that weren’t in canon, as you do. Like we all do.

I had an English Lit professor my freshman year of college who said, when we mused about the possibilities of a continuation after a book was closed and put aside, that there is no “world” outside that which is described by the author. There is no point in wondering about that which we do not know in, as Internet fandom began calling it, “canon.”

canon 1 |ˈkanən|

noun

a general law, rule, principle, or criterion by which something is judged: the appointment violated the canons of fair play and equal opportunity.

• a church decree or law: a set of ecclesiastical canons.

a collection or list of sacred books accepted as genuine: the formation of the biblical canon.

• the works of a particular author or artist that are recognized as genuine: the Shakespeare canon.

• the list of works considered to be permanently established as being of the highest quality: Hopkins was firmly established in the canon of English poetry.

I was never good at keeping characters “IC,” or “in character.” This was proof to my best friend/boyfriend, at the time, that I was supposed to be writing original fiction, like a normal person who wasn’t wasting her life composing lengthy works that could never be legally published.

A waste of talent, they say, because sometimes my nonfiction is praised by teachers, professors and family as high quality, with lots of potential. People are startled when presented with something I wrote that exceeds expectation. I had that rare gift back in highschool. I was enrolled in public school, which in America is at times looked down on by privately educated kids and their parents as “lower class,” despite the fact it isn’t. It’s how about 95% of the country’s youth is educated. By state schools, too, which in the U.S. is the term for public colleges. Penn State. UMass. UNH. Yes, I’m naming Northeast schools because I’m honestly unfamiliar with the rest.

Apparently “public school” in the U.K. means “private school,” and “school” means K-12. Juniors and seniors end up at what we’d call over here a community college, but you just call it “college.” We go to university, or “uni,” and call that college, and everybody calls grad school “postgrad,” anywhere, and you’d think a girl like me, having gotten a Masters degree from one of the finest schools in the country wouldn’t be wasting her time talking about fanfiction on Tumblr.

I sat in on a media group, recently, here in Boston, and they were like busy bees, hyped up on caffeine, all working in advertising or P.R. or technology, and they like Tumblr and find it useful. It’s like Twitter with images, and is perfect for that very reason. I found it exhaustingly confusing, at first, and I still do. I bounce between this site and WordPress, and an independent musician, or their agent, or something, some guy who wanted a website for his business, stood up and commented, at the meeting, that he couldn’t stand WordPress, and a 15 year old boy, who I couldn’t stand (but who I’m Following on here, anyway) and some others, commented he should just use Tumblr.

I asked the boy if he remembered LiveJournal, but he was too young to, although he was familiar with its history. He was Tweeting and texting and trying to establish himself as a journalist and guitarist, like 15 year old boys do. He was at the meeting with his mother, who told me she was in advertising, but quit. Advertising sucks the life out of you.

But anyway, I ended up stopping and starting my fanfiction. Stopping and starting my original fiction. Embarrassed to share, and only two things I discovered for certain: I can’t write a play or a screenplay to save my soul. It’s probably that relinquish of control, to the actors, to the director. That tricky ability to convey what you want them to do, while also giving them free reign to do something else. Telling a story solely with dialogue is hard for me, because I’m so verbose. Because I live in my head, maybe. I have friends/classmates who are becoming TV and movie writers. Kudos to them.

So now I’ve got an account on AO3, and for some reason, three abandoned accounts on FF.Net, because I wanted to discard my past, or something strange, and they don’t let you delete them.

The only reason I liked the creation of AO3 is because it still allows erotica. I’m not sure why we’re so obsessed with sex and romance, but we are.

I don’t know what I’ll do now, but at least it’s there. I’m afraid of criticism – from teachers, professors, friends, classmates, parents, boyfriends, strangers. I didn’t get a beta. I never reached out for a beta. I was always too embarrassed/fearful one would say, “This is garbage. Either start from scratch, or stop trying.”

I forced myself to take some writing classes and writing workshops over the years, and my inkwell ran dry. I always got scared, once I finally sat down, to share what I wrote. Sometimes I skipped classes for this very reason, or “forgot” to bring my work in. How absurd! To be a part of fandom and not share my art. To pay a professor to teach me writing, and not hand over any scraps of it.

Awful.

But anyway, I have an account, now. And I have erotica sitting in notebooks, and shoved into nooks of the Internet like LiveJournal and WordPress under pseudonyms, and hidden in folders of my harddrives – all short stories and drabbles and one-shots, of course, which is why they piled up, over the years, and I sorted them into folders with fandom names, and I shredded my old notebooks, but saved the text files on more than one harddrive, just in case I wanted to re-read them and glean some kind of line, sentence, paragraph, turn of phrase that was actually golden and actually useful, someday.

Blargh.

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