Sex in Fanfiction – the good, the bad and the awkward

My best friend and I have been having the same discussion about sex in fanfiction for the last 13 years. In fact, fanfiction was how we first really met. We were both at the same college, and one night, very late, it we were in the same computer lab pretending to work. In fact I was on Fanfiction.net and trying to look inconspicuous. As she tells it, she, a fellow secret fanfic addict, caught sight of what site I was on and thought ‘yep, I’ll be friends with her.’

We share some of the same fandoms, we have others that we laugh about, in general we tend to find the same things in fanfiction that we like – the same pairings, the same types of fic, the same sort of plots. Although I have more of a lust for slash than she does, and she gives Draco far more credit than I do.

One of the main things we agree, and discuss endlessly, is sex in fanfiction. (Well, sex in any sort of fiction I suppose, but it usually comes up when we are reading fanfic.) And specifically how unrealistic it is.

Everything is perfect. Despite all evidence to the contrary, the bodies under the clothes are always ‘unexpectedly perfect’ and everything fits exactly where it’s supposed to, and the sex is amazing (he goes down on her and never gets a pube stuck to the roof of his mouth, she goes down on him, and swallows and it tastes ‘lovely’ [yeah, right] and then they get down to business, minus condom) and they both come at the same time and then cuddle until they are ready to go again. Sometimes someone cries.

…..Yeah.

Don’t get me wrong, I like a good steamy sex scene as much as the next person, but I also like when the sex is awkward, uncomfortable, embarrassing or just more realistic.

There was a big push a couple of years ago in fanfic communities for writers to start including contraception in their sex scenes. This was not only to encourage a more sensible attitude towards sex in fanfic readers – many of whom are younger females – but also to show a more realistic side of sex rather than present and unattainable ideal.

It seems to have worked, with more and more writers joining the movement, showing that safe sex is sexy sex.

But there was still the other issues around sex that weren’t being addressed – when sex isn’t nice, when it’s not slow and loving, when it’s awkward, inexperienced, sore or when the characters just don’t know what to say to each other before or after. When the sex seems to make everything worse.

I’m kinda tired of reading about ‘perfect’ which is why I think I gravitate towards certain fandoms with a higher number of battle weary, physically imperfect, mentally scarred characters. I like fandoms where sex is something that takes characters out of their comfort zone. Characters who are not used to trusting people, not used to physical intimacy, not used to being wanted or loved. I like characters who simply don’t know how to handle the emotions and confusions that sex can bring – both good and bad. And I like slash. A type of fic that tends to allow another added depth to complexities of sex.

This morning we were talking about some fics I’ve been reading my a very talented writer (Myurra-K, check her out over at https://www.fanfiction.net/u/1773653/ – her ‘Sapien’ fic is something else!) who deals with the awkwardness of sex very well. The use of character is very important, and sometimes in fic it can be jarring when a character does or says something that isn’t like them. It stops being fic sex and starts being something else. In the case of the fic I was reading, sex only seems to add to the awkwardness of the couple, it causes tensions, fights. It’s not a pleasant thing in the situation they are in. I also really liked how the issues around discomfort and pain were addressed, something that often is ignored – especially in m/m slash.

My friend was wholeheartedly in agreement saying, ‘If they have one boob lower than the other, or someone complains about the smell, I’m completely on board.’

Now, that’s not say that we are all craving comical sex scenes, but you know what, fanny farts happen sometimes. Sometimes you can roll over after sex and immediately think to yourself ‘what the fuck did I just do that for?’ Sometimes sex can be so out of sync that you get bored halfway through and it all just sort of peeters out. Sometimes you really can’t be bothered and the other person pawing at you is just annoying. Sometimes it’s dry. Sometimes it’s angry. Sometimes you just can’t bear to look the person in the eye afterwards. Sometimes you really shouldn’t have done it at all.

And that’s what good sex in fanfiction is. It’s the use of good characterisation in fic. What would those characters do, how would they react? I mean, currently I’m a little obsessed with Rickyl fic, and I’m finding it really interesting to see how two such straight guys cope with that sexual attraction and what happens before and afterwards.

So, ‘good’ sex in fanfiction isn’t necessarily all about the climax, it’s about the whole experience and how it changes people, and how people change it.

Now, go forth and if you can’t be good, at least be careful.

Love, etc

C

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Twisting the knife

I was forwarded a blog post today, written by someone I’d credited with more sense and sensitivity and who really should have known better. This person is intelligent, so the comments written were not written by accident, and were not ‘taken the wrong way’ by the people who read it – including me. I’ll not discuss it further because it upset me enormously – just like it was designed to do.

It brought me back to my running discussions about social media being the curse of the devil. Even the most intelligent and rational people cant use it properly. It’s used as a tool to hurt people. Bully people. Twist the knife.

I’ve seen my fair share of nasty things on the internet, and not all of those things have been crazy ranting and raving. No, some of the most upsetting things I see are the thinly disguised nastiness. We’ve all, I’m sure, seen those posts and blogs, the ones that are talking about one thing but are clearly about something else. When called on it the writers will claim innocence – ‘But I was writing about cheese’ or ‘I was influenced by something else’ or my favourite ‘You’ve taken it out of context.’ They will swear blind that it wasn’t an attack. It’s passive aggressive bullying. And it’s horrible to witness.

One of the issues with this type of bullying, which is incredibly common in adults rather than teenagers, is that it’s so hard to prove. Even though you can see it, maybe know the story behind what is being written and why it’s being written and who it’s really aimed at hurting, it can be difficult to make someone outside see that. Often you end up sounding paranoid or crazy. It’s a clever way to upset someone in that respect, and I’ve seen it a lot in various workplaces.

Ex-friends and partners, too, are very good at this sort of thing because they know you best and know the right buttons to push. The things to say that will hurt and upset you most, often twisting facts or rewriting history to add credibility to what they are saying, while making sure they come across like the victim. Because that’s how bullies see themselves, as victims.

No one is exempt. Just take a look at some Twitter comments made by couples who have just broken up, or friends who have fallen out. Have a look at your ex-friends Facebook page and you’ll see a lot of the ‘some people’ type of comments and targeting slogan/picture postings. Have a look at your ex-partner’s blog and see how your life together has been re-written.

It’s not pleasant. Social media is not the place to take pot shots at people, or stick the knife in. It’s not classy, and it’s not appropriate, and it always ends up dragging other people into the situation, which isn’t fair on them. Again, you’ll have seen this on Facebook if you know any teenagers.

And it’s easy to do. I’m sure many of us have done it in anger, knowing that what we put out there will get back to the person, that we will get our message across to them, that they will know what it’s about even if no one else does.

I’ve had posts aimed at me. Comments made about personal things, private things. Comments that allude to things that only a very few people are aware of. When you try to explain this to other people – friends who don’t know the situation, colleagues, solicitors, it can be very difficult to show what is really going on, which makes combatting this sort of thing very difficult.

So, what to do about it?

Well, most people get bored after a short period of time, so sometimes you just need to ignore it. Often it will only happen once or twice. Sometimes though it can develop into a pattern of behaviour that is tantamount to harassment, and that actually helps your case in the long run, although the mental anguish can be too much for some people.

Keep everything.

And I mean everything. Screenshots are a girls best friend. Keep a folder on your computer where you store everything so it’s easy to access. And it helps if you can keep a note of the context which will help explain even the most innocent sounding of comments. It will take time to build up enough to prove your case, and that can be really shitty. Not to mention upsetting. It’s good if you can get someone else to do it for you. For instance, if you run into your bully on a night out and later they post something general about alcoholics, that could just be a co-incidence. But if something like that happens every time you see them, then that’s a pattern of behaviour. Likewise, if comments or posts appear following a change or update in your own social media activity, keep a record of it to explain when their comments appeared and following what. It’s a laborious process, and can be really upsetting, but if you need to prove things then it needs to be done. It’s not enough to go to your boss or your teacher and say ‘they’re being mean to/about me.’ Unfortunately the onus is on the targets to prove things, which is really shit.

And, and I can’t stress this enough, don’t retaliate. That’s what they want. Bullies want a reaction, they want to know that they’ve upset you. Talk to your friends about in private. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of making comments yourself.

I realise, of course, that in addressing this sort of issue here I am, I suppose, reacting too. But I’ve talked a lot about bullying and anti-social media, and had been planning on addressing some more issues. I guess this just triggered me into addressing them sooner than I had intended. (you were supposed to get a piece about POV and bad guys, but that can wait.)

All in all, it’s an unpleasant thing for anyone to go through, and often what hurts people the most is not the comments made, but the fact that someone spends so much of their time and energy trying to cause upset.

Best thing you can do, if you can, is let them get on with it. Be the bigger person. See them for what they really are.  Try not to mourn for the person you thought they were. Walk away.

Sorry for the long post, but it’s an important, and sadly all too common an issue, most of us will have it directed at us at some stage, and like I said, it can be really hard to deal with it.

Take care folks, behave yourselves online, and don’t eat too much chocolate tomorrow.

C

Feeling sad.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

How do I tell my children?

Don’t worry, it’s not bad news yet.

Most of you won’t be aware, but I have a mildly serious brain condition. I get crazy painful, but short lived headaches up to 30 times a day, each one of them rendering me helpless for a minute or two. It also causes the right hand side of my body to shake uncontrollably. On a good day it’s barely noticeable. On a bad day I can’t lift so much as a glass of water without spilling it everywhere, or dropping it completely.

I’m right handed, so this is a pretty big thing for me and has meant that, in unthinking moments, I’ve dropped endless cups of coffee, spilled numerous glasses of wine and dropped several saucepans of scolding hot contents all over myself.

I get nerve blocking injections into my spinal chord every three months. Each time carries a pretty severe risk of permanent physical paralysis. Not to mention infection, allergic reactions etc. I’ve had more scans and neurology consultations than I care to admit. I tend to brush it off as being ‘my brain thing’ and only a few select people know how serious it is, or how an impact it has. I’ve been like this since I was a small child and I hide it well. I can be having a terrible session of crippling headaches and people sitting beside me won’t be aware. I use my left hand for as much as possible. I half fill cups and glasses. I ask someone else to ‘grab the casserole dish.’

I tend not to talk about it for several reasons. Some people dismiss it as being all ‘in my head’ – which of course it literally is, and others tend to make unhelpful comments of jokes about it. One person in particular spent several years referring to it as my ‘DT’s’ which was both inaccurate, offensive and incredibly insensitive.

Lately though my daughter, who is 7, has started to notice things more and more, and has passed several comments when I spill things. It’s all led to me wondering how to explain things to a child so young without scaring her. I don’t want her thinking I’m gravely ill (I’m not) or dying (I’m not), but she has questions and is reaching that age where I think that perhaps I need to explain to her why Mummy sometimes stops the car and closes her eyes, or why Mummy sometimes drops things, or why Mummy sometimes freezes altogether and starts to cry, or why Mummy sometimes calls out in her sleep. The latter I wasn’t even aware of until my daughter brought it up casually one day. After talking to a friend, she confirmed that apparently it’s been ‘happening for years.’

As a writer words should come easily. I should be able to find the right things to say to explain and reassure without causing worry or upset. But I find myself floundering. I need my kids to understand why I’m ‘broken’ (as was so eloquently put by 7 year old E) but to also understand my limitations and my strengths.

I know a girl my age who is living with a terminal brain tumour. She has three kids. I have another friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple of years ago in between her babies being born. Another friend who is undergoing chemo right now while trying to look after a toddler. These people I respect, and when I asked them how they told their kids, the responses varied from ‘just be honest’ to ‘don’t ever tell them unless you have to.’

So I don’t know what to do. I’m not going to get worse, but I’m not going to get any better either. Eventually I’m going to run out of reasons why I dropped my coffee cup, or why I’m crying over the sink, or why I have to go back to hospital again, or why I can no longer pick her up and swing her around. Part of me feels like I should just be honest, explain the facts and leave it at that. She’s an incredibly intelligent and perceptive young girl, so that might be the best option. But part of me also feels that she is too young to be burdened with the worry that kids always feel about these things, regardless of how they are explained to them.

Either way, it’s time to talk to her. I just don’t have the right words.

C

 

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Irresponsible journalism

So angry right now that I can barely speak.

Liz Jones has gone beyond the breaking point. Either the woman is seriously fucking insane and need psychiatric help, or she’s an attention whore who will say anything to get her name out there. Either way, today’s ‘article’ (and I use that in the loosest sense of the word) is a shameful attack on victims of sexual assault. Yes, the victims.

Liz Jones is a ‘journalist’ for the Daily Mail, which should tell you just about everything you need to know.

In the past she has attacked anyone who is not like her – women are her main target, especially mothers, but the rich, the poor, the sick, students, children all regularly come under fire and are subject to her vitriolic rants. The fact that a national newspaper actually publishes this dross makes me sick to my stomach. Veronica Guerin she is not.

The offensive article in question can be found here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2603464/LIZ-JONES-The-answer-drunken-letches-Sober-women-sober-clothes.html

In it you will find some desperately worrying statements, including men grabbing men as just being ‘cuddly’ and how if you don’t want to be manhandled and assaulted then you ‘shouldn’t hang out in a bar.’

Additionally, Liz Jones then goes on to attack how women dress, insinuating that they are somehow responsible for any assault that happens to them. This is so incredibly ill informed that I really don’t know where to start. It’s victim blaming, pure and simple. How a woman dresses IS NOT an invitation, and for the record, it’s not only scantily clad young girls who get assaulted – women (and men) of all ages and appearances get assaulted including the elderly, nuns and children. Where they all inviting that assault by how they dressed?

Jones goes on to tell us

If a man puts his hand on you, or flirts, or is lascivious, you tell him to bugger off, and report it at the time, but only if you really, really believe him to be dangerous.

These women who feel so affronted need to put whatever happened, or they think happened, behind them, and get on with their lives.

So, basically you should just forget about being raped or assaulted and grow up. What’s that saying to victims? That those assaults meant nothing, they are insignificant and could impact that man’s life now? Well what about the victim’s life? What about someone who has been carrying the knowledge and pain of that assault around with them for years? The passage of time should not, EVER, be used as an excuse for not punishing those crimes.

And assault is assault. Whether that’s rape or violence, or just someone grabbing your ass in the pub. If it’s unwanted and uninvited sexual contact then it’s assault.

But apparently

Ghastly things happen to all of us. Digging up events that happened decades ago is not useful.

Well…….

Jones then goes on to advise women not to dress ‘like prostitutes’ which is the most unhelpful piece of advice I have ever heard and is blaming the victim. Disgraceful.

Now, in the ‘article’ she also mentions the impact that false allegations have on people, but her point is entirely lost in her ill-informed, ill-advised, misogynistic rant against victims.

Both Jones and the Daily Mail have gone too far this time. I have complained to both the DM and to the Press Complaints Commission. Enough is enough.

C

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A sad day

I don’t usually write these sort of posts, but this is a very sad time. Yesterday we lost Merri Hiatt quite unexpectedly. Merri was a wonderful person and a talented writer who always had something kind to say to those she came into contact with.

She gave her knowledge and her support freely and with love, and was always the first person to offer reassurance in bad times. She was a long time contributor at Absolute Write, where she was well respected and very much loved, and will be sorely missed. She was always a voice of reason, even in the most heated of debates, and because of all these things I had a huge amount of respect for Merri, and always will do. She taught me a lot over the last couple of years, and I am so grateful that I knew her.

Everyone who came into contact with her will miss her, her support, her voice of reason, and her sense of humour, her talent, her vast capacity for encouragement and support and her seemingly unbound love of books.

Life is short people. Too short. Time to put things into perspective and realise what you have, because you’ll not have it forever.

You’ll be missed Merri, but I hope your happy and safe where you are now.

C

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

And you found me how?

This week I have seen quite a large spike in followers which led me to look at the search terms being used to find me.

I was interested, and to be honest, a little freaked out, by some of the terms people are using to come across my blog. The single most common search term was ‘Beth and Daryl’ and the second was ‘Beth and Daryl Fanfiction’ despite me not having any fanfiction on my blog, and only one post where I mentioned Beth and Daryl (albeit in the context of fanfiction). ‘Sleep and creativity’ was third on the list, and from my analytics seems to have accounted for a large portion of the new readers (hi there by the way).

Some of the search terms were, well, less than pleasant and I’m not going to repeat them there. And other readers linked though from some very strange websites.

 

All in all it’s ben a bit of an eye opener, and has really reminded me how small the world can be sometimes.

 

c

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Sleep and creativity

I don’t sleep very well. I’ve had serious chronic insomnia since I was a child, and have been known to go for several days at a time without sleep. Specifically I have both sleep-onset and sleep-maintaining insomnia. In recent years my sleeping habits have improved, mostly due to complete physical exhaustion. And wine.

Lately though I’ve been experiencing a regression, and am only getting 2-3 hours sleep per night, if I’m lucky. I don’t feel tired, I’m fully functioning. Typically I am up at 6am, having finally gone to bed at about 3am. Insomnia is not like having a restless night. You don’t feel tired and sleepy the next day. Don’t get me wrong, it does have an effect on your body, but not like general lack of sleep will.

Usually I have medication that will help me sleep. But since becoming a mother I haven’t taken it. I’m too frightened of not being able to hear my kids crying at night. So, when a bought of insomnia comes, I just have to struggle though it.

I’ve been reading a lot this week about the link between creativity and sleep, and am fascinated by how much sleep can improve creativity. It’s a well known fact that it’s during sleep that we process the things we have learned and experienced that day – which is why sleep is so important for children. It’s the point at which they are storing away all the new information they have learned. It’s the time of the day when they make sense of things.

As an adult the need for sleep does not diminish. We still need that time to recharge, to process, and to come up with solutions.

However, there has been much research done into sleep and creativity, with studies showing that doing creative work while deprived of sleep can actually lead to better outcomes and creativity. It’s all to do with the way out brains are wired – when tired they don’t function as well, and things don’t tend to link up properly, so the analytical part of our brain doesn’t function quite so well. However, this is great news for the creative part, which relishes the leaps in logic and non-linear thinking that lead to ‘thinking outside the box’ – making connections that we normally wouldn’t make when fully refreshed.

I’ve certainly noticed that I get more done on days where I haven’t slept well, I work better and feel more creative. I have better ideas and I don’t feel as lethargic as  do when I’ve slept all night.

There must be something in this link if the number of successful and creative people with insomnia is anything to go by. Insomniacs include Charles Dickens, Marcel Proust, Mark Twain, Alexandre Dumas, Franz Kafka, and many, many others have suffered with insomnia.

Now, for all it’s ‘benefits’ insomnia can have some serious health implications. People with insomnia are 5 times more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, and twice as likely to suffer congestive heart failure. This is in addition to general wear caused to the body by lack of sleep.

Unfortunately there is very little that can be done about insomnia, even with medication. Most over the counter medications won’t help with insomnia, and prescription drugs will only work until your body becomes immune to them.

So, for now I’m hoping that this bought will pass quickly, and until it does, I’m getting five chapters a day done.

Sleep well folks,

 

C

 

 

7 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

When everything is happening at once

So, it’s been a strange year all in all. It started off very badly with a lot of personal and creative apathy and stress. Slowly it’s improved, although I still found it very hard to get myself motivated and I found that the more I stressed bout things, the less I was to actually get anything done. I found also that the more time I had on my hands the more I spent staring at blank pages without doing anything -a very common problem among creative types I’m told.

Now, a year on, and I’m inundated with more work than I can cope with, and am fully embracing life and it’s opportunities. And while I seem to be doing so much more than ever, both professionally and socially, I also seem to have so much more time to do the little things that matter.

So, what happened?

Well, 2013 was a tough year. After a very difficult start I found my energy levels were low, as was my self esteem and my beliefs in myself and what I can do. I found that I just didn’t WANT to do anything. I was, I realised, wallowing.

I was blaming other things for my own procrastination. Other people, events…things. I wasn’t taking responsibility for myself because it was easier to blame everything and everyone else. It was making me apathetic and bitter. And I was using it as an excuse for my own failings and situations. It’s an easy trap to fall into, and most of us do it at some point, whether we blame out friends’ partying on our own dismal exam results, or blaming your poor performance at work on a colleague, a failed relationship on your mother in law, or stifled artistic progress on a difficult love affair.

But there comes a point when you need to take a good look at yourself and have a moment of self-realisation. Your friends aren’t MAKING you party, that’s your choice. You could chose to stay at home and study. Your colleague is not responsible for the quality of YOUR work, so sit your ass down and do it properly. The only people who should be in any relationship are the ones who are in it, so tell interfering relatives and friends to fuck-off and mind their own business. And work on that difficult love affair to improve things – he/she is not to blame for your lack of creativity or output.

And this was the moment I had in spring 2013. It was at that stage that I started to do things that made me happy. I started to slowly work on things again, small projects, articles, craft and cookery. I realised that no one else could make me happy and no one else could get me where I was going, I would have to get there myself.

Things hit a bit of a low in early summer following a very difficult personal loss, and I found myself hitting that low again. I ‘could write because I was upset’ or I
couldn’t go out ‘because xxxxx’

And again, once I realised that’s what I was doing, I had to have a change in mindset. I was approaching 31 and while I have achieved a lot in my life, I was starting to feel a little frustrated. After a rather stellar period in my 20′s, I had settled down with a family and a quite high profile and responsible day job, and I found that my day to day was occupied with other things that didn’t leave a lot of room for me to be me. Looking back I should have quit my job sooner, if I had done that I would have been taking responsibility for the way my job made me feel and it might have removed a lot of the other associated issues – exhaustion, stress, anxiety and frustration which I allowed to bleed over and damage personal relationships, some of which did not survive the flood. But it was not my job, or even the effects of my job that caused that, instead it was me ALLOWING them to do that by not doing anything to change it. Lesson learned. Too late for some things perhaps, but learned nonetheless.

The run up to Christmas was a hectic one, which saw me starting my own business, something I had been talking about for a long time, but always put off, blaming it on ‘not having enough time’ or ‘not having the money’ – see a pattern here? The dream wasn’t being put off because of those things, but because I allowed them to put it off. So, I realised that if I didn’t do it now then I never, ever would. I would still be sitting here talking about it in five years time, just like I’ve spent the last five years talking about it. Lesson learned.

It was then time to address other issues. I’ve always wanted a big family, and since the birth of my daughter seven years ago I have been desperate for another baby. But I put it off because either the time wasn’t right, or the relationship wasn’t right, or there wasn’t enough money, or I wasn’t in the right job. And it got to the stage where that desperation and longing bled over into resentment and jealousy which ended up causing a lot of permanent damage to several treasured relationships. And so I did what I do, I blamed other things – other people’s reluctance, my job, my age, where I was living, how much I was earning, what time of the year it was. In the end I realised that there is never going to be a right time to have another baby, and, in hindsight, I should have done it when I wanted to instead of looking for excuses. Perhaps if I had then things might have been different, I might have chosen a different career path, ended up in a different place, and perhaps saved some friendships and relationships that have suffered, and I might not be in the situation I am in now with questions over my fertility. It’s my own fault that I don’t have what I want, and that I might not get it now. Lesson learned.

It wasn’t until I was filing some paperwork and I realised that I hadn’t published anything properly since 2011. Looking back I could see that I was feeling stifled and exhausted, and mentally drained, which led to me preferring to veg out on the sofa with a bottle of wine and some crappy TV rather than try to create something. But again, I didn’t do anything to address those things, I just let them become excuses. So I cut out other things, made more time, moved house to reduce money stress and commute, and suddenly I was feeling more creative again and started to write, started to paint and craft. I’ve since booked into several craft fairs and expos where my speciality blankets are proving to be a big hit, and I’ve been bold enough to start putting together an exhibition, something I’ve always wanted to do, but kept putting off. Lesson learned.

It wasn’t until I was asking a friend her opinion on a dress, and putting it back on the rail when she said she didn’t like it, that I realised how much I had been allowing other people’s opinions to sway me recently. I LIKED the dress. It wasn’t for her, so it shouldn’t matter if I bought it or not. Following that moment of realisation, I started to notice how often I allowed other people to influence my choices, my thoughts and my opinions. It was quite shocking. I’ve always been very clear in what I thought and what I wanted, so to suddenly realise what I had been doing was a horrible moment. I know now that as fuelled by self-doubt and stress caused by other things. But I also realised that I was, subconsciously, I was seeking approval from people, and by allowing them to influence what I did, I was guaranteed that approval. I’ve seen this in other people too, and it generally always ends in resentment – people choosing university courses to keep their parents happy, people not taking a job of a lifetime because a boyfriend doesn’t want them to move away, people allowing their friends or family to influence who they date or marry, people allowing other people’s approval to dictate their wardrobe choices. Eventually, when you realise how you have allowed this to happen, you’ll feel resentment, and that can impact your relationships with people who meant well and perhaps didn’t even realise how my they were influencing you. It was time I took responsibility for my own choices. If I wanted a particular dress I was going to buy it, even if my best friend said it was the colour of vomit, if I wanted a particular relationship to work then I would fight tooth and nail for it rather than be talked out of something potentially amazing by someone else, and if I wanted that great job then I would take it because I don’t want to waste the best years of my life being a waitress. So I started to think about what I really wanted. I still asked advice, but I was careful to separate the good advice from the bad, and still reserved the right to not take any of it at all if it didn’t feel right to ME. I’m now happier most time, sadder sometimes, and I have some rather interesting items in my wardrobe. Lesson learned.

I used to complain that I never did anything, never went anywhere. Allowing money, or distance, or time to become excuses, when in reality all I had to do was get off my ass and do it. So I called up some old friends that I haven’t seen much off, and have started to go to every event that comes my way – and I have found myself in some very strange places over the last few months. But it’s been wonderful, and something that I can’t believe I allowed myself to talk myself out of. Lesson learned.

I realised, too, that opportunities weren’t going to come to me, and that I’d been spending far too long waiting for something perfect to come along, for someone else to spot my talent. So I decided it was time to shove it in their faces. As a result I’ve taken part in some things I never thought I would have, including modelling, TV auditions, attending film premieres, taking courses in subjects I know nothing about, submitting writing and pitching scripts (yes, scripts! I know)  to places and people I would never have allowed myself to feel confident enough to do before. I’ve even written a stage play, something I never imagined I would do, which is getting a lot of attention from several small theatre companies, and I’m even pitching a script to the BBC this month, which is something I’ve always wanted to do, but allowed ‘no experience’ and ‘not having an ‘in’ there’ and self doubt, or not having the time to become excuses. So, if you want to do something, do it. Lesson learned.

I’ve made other excuses for things too, like my weight, blaming it having ‘just’ had a baby. When in reality it’s been ‘just’ cake. And have lost almost 2 stone since Christmas. I also cut off all my hair and had a full wardrobe and lifestyle clean out.

I’ve also brought all of my fanfiction out of storage and have been thoroughly and openly re-immersing  myself in fandom and geekology, strewing the house with all my m/m slash rather than reading and writing it furtively in my study when the house was empty. Now the long phone and Skype conversations with likeminded friends have returned.

I hit a difficult patch, and in hindsight I can see that it happened a lot longer before I initially realised. And I allowed that to carry on into other areas, and it had such an impact on he next few years, an impact that can never be undone. But I’ve learned from it. And I’m not making excuses or things anymore. I’m feeling more like myself now than I have for a long time, and I just wish that everyone could see that, but sadly, I fucked a lot of things up with a lot of people. Lesson learned.

If you don’t like something, change it. But make sure you are changing the things, and not the excuses.

Now, go forth, take a look at your own lives and see where you make your own excuses, apportion the blame, and then have a good, long hard look at yourself and try to see what the real issues are, and how you can change them.

Love, etc

C

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Is that REALLY appropriate?

This week I’ve been quite shocked and saddened by the sudden death of Peaches Geldof. The 25 year died suddenly in her home, leaving behind two young sons.

Naturally, the outpouring of sympathy on social media sites has been quite nice to see. However, I was more than a little surprised to see comments on Twitter from her sisters and father and husband.

I mean, I guess when you are public figure even your grief isn’t private and at some stage you’ll have to make some kind of statement, usually of the ‘please respect our privacy at this time.’ And that’s fine.

But honestly, ON THE DAY one of your family dies is it really appropriate to take to Twitter to talk about it? Is that the first port of call for someone in grief? Is there nothing else you have to do that is more important on the day of your sister/daughter/wife’s death than to take to social media to talk about it? How were you even putting together coherent sentences? And what part of your brain thought ‘I know, I must Tweet about this.’ ?

Maybe I’m just old fashioned, or maybe I’m out of touch. But has social media become such a crutch that we simply can’t go through any aspect of our lives – even the most private and painful and shocking – without feeling that we need to tell the world in 140 characters or less?

Perhaps it was a team of publicists and management taking over and posting. Or perhaps some people are just losing touch with reality. Either way, and you are all entitled to your own opinions, I just can’t fathom why anyone would feel the need to post like that at that time.

Is nothing sacred anymore?

C

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

On FanFiction pairings, slash and other things

Daryl and Beth - wrong, or oh so right?As I’ve mentioned before, I have many fandoms that I adore. I write and read a huge amount of fanfic, something I love with a huge passion. I prefer certain types of fic about certain characters, something that seems to be common in fic readers and writers. Romantic pairings / angst / romance account for about 3/4 of all fanfiction, with slash pairings making up a very large portion of that.

I’ve heard people say that fanfiction is just gay porn. Which shows how uninformed people can be.

Obviously the slash element is massively popular in fanfiction, but we have to look deeper than that to see WHY certain pairings remain popular among the fan community, despite what the creators of the original piece intended.

Now, I’m not saying that fans always have other ideas, or that we are all rabid for some m/m action among our favourite characters. No. Instead it’s simply a case of exploring the chemistry between certain characters that just seem to work. Sometimes they are m/f, sometimes m/m or f/f and sometimes they are even canon!

It’s not always about what is there, sometimes it’s about what could be there, or pairing up characters who actually have very little interaction with each other, but who individually have a chemistry and a personality that readers and viewers can see would work very well together in terms of fic.

To try and explain it a little better I’ve tried to break it down into the various pairings:

Canon

This one is pretty self explanatory. It’s where characters who are involved in the original work are involved in the fic. Examples are Jack and Ianto, Veronica and Logan, Ron and Hermione, Connie and Guy, Bella and Edward, Katniss and Peeta.

Little interaction characters

There are some characters who don’t really interact with each other all that much, but who seem to be paired up a lot by fans who can see something in them that they like and think would work well together. Often there seems to be no reasons for this, but many fans seem to be instinctively drawn to pair these characters together. Examples would include Ginny and Draco and Mac and Dick. These characters will often be polar opposites of each other, but will commonly have a shared issue or trouble or experience that only the other can relate to – these experiences are almost always canon but are pulled into a fic.

High interaction characters – no romantic hint

These are the characters who spend a lot of time together but with whom there is no hint of romantic feelings in the original work, not even flirting. But who fans pair up, very often these are slash pairings. Examples would be Dean and Castiel, Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, Rick Grimes and Daryl Dixon. They tend to be very close friends, or occasionally enemies, like Clark and Lexx. The pairing here is usually built around a friendship / relationship so close that in other circumstances, with other people, it could easily spill over into a romantic or sexual relationship.

High interaction characters – romantic hint

These are the pairings who are usually wither very close or who seem to hate each other, but still have a friendship / relationship that contains an element of sexual tension, flirtatiousness or who are skirting around the edges of a relationship without ever really getting there. Daryl and Carol, Daryl and Beth (he’s a busy boy), Chloe and Clark, Mulder and Scully (back in the day before they Became Couple – see below). They are usually the characters that the fans really want to see together, and that the creators are almost putting together.

Became Couple

These are the pairings who tend to be high interaction characters, usually after skirting around each other and producing reams of fanfic, end up together in the end. Examples would include Buffy and Spike, Max and Liz, Joey and Pacey, Mulder and Scully, Bones and Booth. Jack and Ianto. John and Aeryn. The issues with these couples is that the fans have spent so long imagining it and hoping for it, that by the time it happens it can seem to be a bit of a let down. The sexual tension goes out of the relationship and the characters you loved and their relationship and chemistry changes. Fans understand that. It can be very hard to maintain that chemistry after what often seen as the conclusion  to a love story. Often this is the point where you see fans actually drift away from fandoms if the transition isn’t handled well enough. The key, it seems, it to provide the characters with enough continuing tension to keep their relationship interesting. Logan and Veronica, Lois and Clark and John and Aeryn do this very well. Their relationships being together are just as simmering as they were beforehand. On the other side of the coin are the couples who manage to pull off the ‘contentment’ factor and just seem cute, able to separate their relationships from the drama going on around them rather than let their relationships become the plot, Chianna and D’Argo, Jack and Ianto, Willow and Oz, Ron and Hermione. These tend to be supporting cast rather then main cast, and their relationships are usually an aside rather than a plot point that the creators dwell on for too long. You usually won’t see these characters having a lot of angst in terms of their relationships, at least not to the level of the main cast, and it’s often played down or played up for comedy effect.

The Controversial Couple

There are always couples in fanfic who, even if they are canon or hinted at in canon, are very controversial. I’m not talking about slash here – after all, slash is wholeheartedly embraced in the fanfic community. No, I’m talking about those pairings that can often make people feel uncomfortable because they push the boundaries of what is usually considered acceptable in the real world. Incest and underage are the main two. Strangely, some fanfic communities have a lot more of these fics than others. Dean and Sam (brothers) have a huge amount of fanfic written about them, and their fandom even has a name for it – Wincest.  More recently, in the last year or so, and seemingly a huge explosion of it in the last couple of months, has seen The Walking Dead fanfic community really going into overdrive with Daryl and Beth fanfic. On the face of it this doesn’t seem too controversial, but bear in mind he’s in his 40′s and Beth is 17, so, despite the 25 year age gap, she’s underage too. To be fair though, the creators haven’t helped matters with all the fan fodder they gave us in season 4.

The pairings fans hate

Okay, sometimes you get a couple, who may often be canon, that fanfic writers don’t really take too all that well. There will always be some fics about them, but they are very much in the minority. Often this is when two characters don’t really seem to have a lot of chemistry, or when the relationship (if canon) feels forced by the creators. Case in point is Veronica and Piz. No one likes Piz. No one. So, despite it being canon, fanfic writers and readers have replaced Piz with Logan and carried on as it was before. Harry and Ginny have a minute fanfic base because the community has recast Harry with Draco. So, when fans don’t like canon, they rebel and recast.

So, that’s the types of pairing in a nutshell.

One thing that I really want to explain is why people write and read fanfic. It’s not because we want the creators to change and create out plots or characters as we like them, after all, Harry Potter wouldn’t have been Harry Potter if Ginny had been with Draco – They would have killed him in his sleep and we’d have had a whole different story with a whole different dynamic that would never have led to us loving those characters and seeing them in the way we see them.

Instead it’s simply a case of putting down our wishes, daydreams or random thoughts onto paper. We’ve all, at some stage in our lives thought, ‘I wish X would end up doing BB with Y and then-’ but in reality we really don’t want that, because then things would be different. They would change and it wouldn’t be the stories, the characters and the personalities we love. It would be something else.

Fanfiction is for the fans – they understand it.

If you haven’t tried it, give it a shot. There are loads of great writers out there who really capture the feel of the original works and characters while giving them a whole new story. http://www.fanfiction.net is one of the biggest resources out there, and there are apps you can get like Fanfictiondownloader which will download whole fanfics direct from host sites onto your computer, tablet or e-reader.

Stay tuned for upcoming discussions on slash and jumping the shark.

Have a good Tuesday folks.

C

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized