With a cat.
Here’s where we start. As Julie Andrews states: the very beginning.
Actually, that’s not the beginning. Because the very beginning, for me, was the Fellowship of the Ring. Penny of Inspector Gadget. Martin of Redwall. Batman the Animated Series. Robotech. McGyver. Ember of Elfquest. Kung Fu: The Legend Continues. Creations not-mine which I absorbed, which became part of how I move in the world, how I view it.
Enter Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Book I spotted top-shelf in the Portland Oregon’s Multnomah Public Library, which I didn’t read until I checked it out during a visit to the East Boston Library. I fell into that book in a big way and this prompted me to notice the chasm of fanfiction. I leaned over the edge to peer into sparkling depths, tripped . . . and the rest is millions and millions of words read, thoughts expressed rabidly enthusiastically to whatever poor fool whomever wandered near, and ruminations as to whether I should give up all my other aspirations and go back to college to study this shocking, new (to me, but not to the world) art form.
Reading as a writer is always an interesting experience, and I’m sure I’ll have more to say on the subject, but through the lens of fanfiction, I can say I’ve discovered:
Reading fanfic has prompted me to go back and revisit my younger artist-self. I learned young that, for art to have validity or be of note, it had to be original. Conversely, as I grew older, I learned nothing is original. What’s an art-maker to do, squished beneath this smothering contradiction?
I believe people embracing “transformative works” via consumption and encouragement allows legitimacy to bloom. Thus, for all of my selves – kid, teen, adult – a gate lifted, one I hadn’t realized I was living behind. I see in these works a conversational reflection: I see you/I see what you’re making/I respond/you respond. Echoing rings of ideas connecting the originator, the receptive enthusiast, and the audiences of both.
Now, I understand copyright exists for a reason. We grew it to place protections around intellectual and artistic property. I don’t have quarrel with that. This is what first shocked me about fanfiction -all that writing, all those words, for FREE, because they must be (otherwise, illegal.) And, as with much of life, when money is pulled from the equation, the outcome morphs -not necessarily into something better, but into something different, creative, interesting. Such as Captain American falling in love with Ironman. Apparently. But that’s a curiosity for another blog post.
For now, I’ll share a few of the stories that so opened my mind (all are safe-for-work, some have swearing and violence)(also, there’s intense stuff in many fics out there; be cautious/take care of yourself when reading):
What have you got against Denny’s? (Cap and Thor lured by America’s cheap eats)
Brother-friends stuck in a cabin with a sock-stealing cat (Legolas and Aragorn struggle to survive a mishap, incomplete)
Don’t hang out with Deadpool, ’cause whoa (Poor Hawkeye; yikes)
My Venn diagram will EAT yours (!!! & Ironman)
So! More to say on this subject later, particularly about gender (such as: why do the stories Phoebe spotlights here center around white male protagonists? hmmm), sexuality, voice, and themes I’ve noticed that seem to span what I’ve read. Meantime, happy reading, and watch out for the edge of that cliff. It’s a doozy.
For all that is said about how connectivity via the Internet can be a path to real-life loneliness, for as much as I love sliding open the narrow, wooden drawer that contains my letter writing supplies, in 1996 I was handed a gift: my first email address. They called it Eudora.
Eudora was clunky and eventually I transitioned to a version of Hotmail that bears little resemblance to the app I use today on my iPod Touch. (ring, ring. 1996 is calling, it says: an i-WHAT?) (blip, bloop. hey, 2013 texted. It said: surrender your antiquated email client!)
Things happened. And things happened. I grew into a “full-fledged adult” and I rolled my eyes and said: what’s this you say about a face book? I’m not in college anymore. I don’t want to be found. No thanks.
And things happened some more. I carefully ignored then fell victim to numerous web-based communication forms. I hoed my new digital world with a plastic rake.
One day I glanced up and realized the sheer number of people with whom I would no longer have contact without the advent of curious computer languages, (with their funny “<” and “;”), that somehow keep me better informed of new babies, passed on grandmothers, and the hilarious antics cats get up to, than a telephone ever did.
So thank you Internets for round-about bringing our friend, professional photographer Kristy Rowe of Moodeous Photography, to our door, all the way from Denver, Colorado. We shot some awesome pictures in the real-life world, though statistically the three of us were more likely to be separate and lonesome in our homes, serenading our computer mice clickety-clack while bench-pressing bottles of Dr. Pepper.
Also, thank you cats.
When I leave the apartment most mornings, the usually last sight I see of Jack (orange puffball who lives with us and commands food and “pets” daily) is him sitting quietly in the living room. I wonder what he gets up to during the day when we’re not around.
My first guess is sleep, though sometimes I discover otherwise.
Staying home affords numerous luxuries, however infrequently I convince myself to partake in them. Laundry and folding and Studio 360 podcasts. Yarn crafts and Desert Island Discs or On Being podcasts. Baking. Movies screened on a window shade draped over our wooden clothes dryer, via the fancy hi-tech projector. Hand quilting and talking dreams and desires with my partner. Dancing alone to many fabulous vinyl albums, played scritch-scratch free on a stereo I’ve had since age eleven.
Staying home is also fairly cheap. Being out means dinners out and, for my partner, gas usage as his car eats up the miles between work, band practice, and game nights. Me, I’m more likely to fall victim to some gift item I NEED to purchase for friend or family. Similar, the compulsion to purchase things to be creative with, instead of using what I have, which is plenty.
It’s hard. The world beckons and I itch to follow the whistle.
Lovely are the moments when I can ignore the piper. (Bet you wondered where that analogy was going.)