Friday, July 9th, 2010

In response to Separis: "the history of warnings 101"

Separis on livejournal: Anyone have more information on that? I get the impression this was also an issue before regular 'net access as well and that it might have come from cons originally, but a complete perspective would be interesting to know about and read. A lot of discussion during these two debates makes a lot more sense if the original purpose of warnings was to restrict access and exclude certain groups of fans entirely.

When I first found slash fandom, "warnings" were both a signal to other slash fen that there was What We Were Looking For inside those covers, and something to shield us from those manic anti-slash fans going "I READ THIS STORY WHERE SPOCK AND KIRK WERE LOVERS OMG I NEARLY THREW UP!" This was in 1983.

(Also, the "over-18" requirement was fairly serious - as one editor noted to me, when I confessed to having sent her a slightly inaccurate declaration of age (I was 17: she wanted over-21) the first time I bought one of her zines, the reason she asked for age statements was so that if angry parents contacted her, she could show them the age statement their innocent flower had sent the editor: "hey: your kid told me she was over 21, not my fault!")

And, to the best of my knowledge, that remained the chief purpose of "warnings" and "age statements" for the next twenty years. The first time I saw "warnings" more complicated than "Slash pairing" was sometime early on in the 21st century, I'm pretty certain. I've published stories before that in zines in which a major character is raped or dies, without a warning being called for or absence of complained about.

I didn't care for the new system of warnings because they struck me basically as systematic spoilers. When I set up a website, this is what I posted as my non-warning-list.

And I added a note that people were absolutely welcome to e-mail me to ask me about any of my stories before reading it. No one ever does, though.

PS: See also Without doubt I am going to go to hell and What's wrong with this kind of argument from June last year. (How time flies: it's Annual Warnings Fight again.)
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Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Meta slaveficcery meta

Things that shouldn't need saying... )
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Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

House MD: review/meta "Revelations"

Via the House/Wilson community on LJ, I discovered and read a really good story, and it bothered me a lot.

(Author's name: Alternatealto. It is important to note that the story would not have bothered me nearly so much if it had not been such a good story.)

spoilers for the story under the cut: also spoilers for 6th season House to 'be not afraid' )
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Thursday, February 11th, 2010

I am derailing the discussion! Oh wait, I'm not, no one's paying attention.

One thing about posting on IJ: you cannot be accused of derailing the discussion...
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Sunday, January 31st, 2010

On being a lesbian writing m/m slash

The discussion is probably all over by now, but here's my thruppenny bit:

Last August, in one of the last panels I went to at the Worldcon in Montreal (on writing historical fiction) I was sitting near the back and listening to the four writers' voices talking with each other (one of them was Connie Willis: I cannot recall who the other three were) it occurred to me that all four voices were North American, and yet all four of them were, when they talked about writing historical fiction, talking about writing in the history of Europe.

This struck me as an interesting question, and I hadn't thought of a better one to ask, so I raised my arm and asked it: Why do you think North American writers, and you in particular, write about the history of Europe instead of the history of your own country? (One panellist corrected me to say he was also writing a historical fantasy set in Japan, which, while interesting, did not change my main point.)

Connie Willis's answer was the one that stuck in my mind, for entirely egotistical reasons: she said, quite abruptly, that the question demonstrated that I did not understand how a writer's mind worked.

That response, all these months later, still mildly irritates and mostly amuses me: evidently Connie Willis presumed that a voice unknown to her from the back of the auditorium could not belong to another writer. (On a panel a couple of days earlier, where we were discussing the writing of despised literature, I (as the representative fanfic writer) said that one thing about fanfiction was that it empowered writers to make the most astonishing literary experiments: a fanfiction writer can try anything because none of us have any literary reputation at all to lose.)

I understood Connie Willis when she said she had climbed to the dome of St Pauls and looked around her at the 1950s buildings surrounding it and understood that everything around St Pauls had been destroyed in WWII and she'd suddenly wanted to write that story. Of course I did: what writer wouldn't? What I was interested was why she felt that impulse had never struck her when considering the history of her own country: and since she dismissed my question as that of a non-writer, I was fairly sure her real answer to my question was "I don't know: I've never thought about it".

I am a lesbian who writes, by preference, m/m slash. I have written f/f slash (I wrote some of the earliest f/f Blake's 7 slash) but I do mostly write about two guys. This has never been an unmarked decision, not even in slash fandom. And so I've thought considerably about why I do it: why I want to write, with such intensity, about two men and not two women. And come up with clusters and trails of reasons, sources of interest, justifications... but all that is just me as a writer exploring backwards through the roots of the stories. I can begin to see why: seeing why doesn't change the impulse to something else.

But if someone had asked me at the very beginning, back twenty-five and more years ago, when I was only warily beginning to be able to say "I am a writer" on the basis that I did write... like Connie Willis on the platform at the Worldcon, all my answers really amounted to "I don't know: I've never thought about it."

What makes me now able to answer the question is not the hundred and more stories I have written - it's the hundred and some times the question has been asked, by people who, justly or not, felt that if I were doing something so inexplicably weird, I ought to be able to explain myself somehow. Because fanfic writers are outsiders, because slash writers are outside the outsiders (were, certainly, for a large part of the 25 years I have been writing it), because lesbians are outsiders and lesbians who write m/m slash are regarded as weird by other lesbians (I have a friend who never told her girlfriend in five years that m/m slash was a turn-on for her - though she read it, not wrote it) - for all these reasons, people more inside the circle than I am felt empowered to ask me to justify writing what I did, and I felt I needed to try and explore my reasons.

But there was a certain truth to Connie Willis's answer, as any writer would understand: though you may or may not explore the reasons and ways by which a story arrives, as I have and as Connie Willis evidently never thought of doing, a story does tend to feel as if it just arrived - as if Zeus really could birth Athena fullgrown from his thigh.

We write the stories we want to write when we want to write them. That's true whether you're a lesbian writing about Avon and Vila (or Spock and McCoy!); or a gay man writing about Ivanova and Talia; or a genderqueer individual writing about Transformers; or whatever. You can spend a lot of interesting time looking at the whys: but that won't change the need to write.

Update, 26th February

Quin Firefrorefiddle on DW thinks: "And I figure that any and all of these questions are going to lead to conversations about who linkspam and metafandom are linking to, eventually."

I find it ironic that a post (on DW) purporting to discuss:
The way the latest fandom discourse on derailing is going, I'm willing to bet that eventually there's going to be a conversation about "how do we define inside and outside the discourse?" and "to what extent do [community]linkspam and [info]metafandom define the discourse?" and "do BNFs have different responsibilities in discourse?" and "who is a BNF?" and such.

While the above sentence proves that my grammar abilities are occasionally lacking, I do have a talent for attention to detail. And I figure that any and all of these questions are going to lead to conversations about who linkspam and metafandom are linking to, eventually.
Yet her list of names linked to on metafandom does not include which journal the post was posted on - and nor does the followup list in comments on the journals linked to in Linkspam, though the commenter there does specifically say that Linkspam only goes to LJ or DW journals.

Who is inside or outside the fannish discourse?

Fans who are not on LJ or DW are outside the fannish discourse. This post is not part of the fannish discussion on writing slash or on derailing the discourse, because it is not on either of the fannish journal sites: it is on IJ.

For me this links in to my experience with being excluded from OTW and then from Yuletide because I did not have a livejournal: for fans on LJ and/or DW, fandom no longer exists outside those two journal sites.

PS: I knew that fandom would have a word for it! "Fafiation": Forced Away From It All.
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Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Saffic in House MD

Years ago at Redemption I was on a panel about "How come there isn't more f/f slash in slash fandom"? (Or at least, that's what the panel turned into. I can't remember at this distance in time if that was anything close to the original topic.)

Someone on the panel (might even have been me) talked about how even in series where there are two or more characters and they talk to each other and have their own relationship, etc, they never seem to be depicted with the same kind of emotional intensity we see on onscreen m/m relationships.

Someone from the audience asked the panel "Okay, if that's why, what f/f relationships on TV/in fiction can you see as having that kind of emotional intensity?"

And I said, when it was my turn to answer, having had time to think about it: "Cuddy and Stacy".

They clearly know, like, and talk to each other, independently of the relationship each of them has with House.

But, as I realised when thinking it over afterwards, one reason why I could not see myself writing the story is: none of the scenes marching into my mind were passing the Bechdel test. They kept talking to each other. But always, always House came up.

What else might Stacy Warner and Lisa Cuddy talk to each other about besides Greg House?
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Sunday, September 6th, 2009

An odd side-effect of SurveyFail

A while ago, Dusk Petersen noted to me that a problem with my website was that none of my stories had blurbs: I acknowledged that I write lousy blurbs and prefer "none" to "lousy".

One of the questions in SurveyFail (Q54) was "If you write m/m slash, how do you study male anatomy and physiology in order to write more convincing stories?"

and as both the question and all of the multiple-choice answers contained too many false assumptions to be answerable, in comments to a post discussing that and other poorly-worded questions, I listed the topics I researched for Sins & Virtues.

Six people in the next six days asked me for a link to the story. To give perspective, I think the total number of people who ever read Sins & Virtues prior to 1st September this year is something like 15. (I sent out a dozen hard copies: not all of those got read...)

Okay. I really do need to write blurbs. Even crappy blurbs which consist entirely of a list of research topics.
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Monday, June 29th, 2009

What's wrong with this kind of argument

This (via metafandom):

Read stories with warnings and skip stories without warnings:

May exclude you from some fandoms that don't do warnings, or don't warn for canon events that you find triggery. Well, if you have a problem with fanfic written in those fandoms, maybe you shouldn't be reading fanfic in those fandoms? Seriously. If you need not to read about characters you love dying, and want to be warned if the story deals with it, you should probably not be reading in Star Wars Episode One, or Blake's 7, or Harry Potter, or ... well, any one of a number of series where, canonically, people die. Repeat as needed for other Sometimes Bad Things Happen In Canon fandom.

Just check with the author. They will, of course, be willing to tell you if the fic is safe to read:

OMG, the horror - you might have to communicate with the author. You might have difficulty finding the author's current e-mail address. You might have to wait for the author to reply! Why, it's every fan's right to be able to read any fanfic they stumble across immediately, no waiting, no communicating with the person who wrote it!

Ask a friend to read for you:

If you have no friends with whom you are prepared to communicate your love for a specific kind of crack!fic, you should make some. (You know, here's a thought: the person who wrote the story, the author of this crack!fic, is - if approached nicely - a potential friend! someone who likes the same kind of thing you like, well enough to write it f'godsake: so if you can get over your need not to communicate with the author, you may have made a future friend who could read/rec this kind of story to you without embarrassment.)

Check Delicious for warnings:

Yeah, I concede: this may not work too well.

Only read recs:

Yeah, the horror: you might have to skip the fanfic no one's recced. Or you might have to communicate with the author, or have a conversation with one of your friends. Or you might have to wait a little bit, not get to read the story immediately. Which, oh the horror, is a frustration of one of your essential fannish RIGHTS, to get to read all fanfic in any fandom you choose IMMEDIATELY.

The internet/fandom/life is not always a fair place. Stop whining and deal with it:

Yeah. Sometimes it's not fair. Sometimes you have to communicate with people you don't know. Sometimes you have to communicate with your friends. Sometimes you have to ask questions. Sometimes you can't just click/read all the fanfic ever written. Sometimes life sucks.

Complaining that the people who write the stories you want to read so badly you can't bear to wait even 24 hours aren't helping you in your quest to read fanfic without ever having to communicate with the writers or talk with your friends about the stories because you're embarrassed you like them... well, yeah, I do think that's counterproductive.

Maybe we can't bring about world peace and end all suffering, but I don't understand why we can't make our little part of the world easier for everyone to navigate.

We can. You can, oh hermit soul: you just have to let go of your idea that writers of fanfic ought to be content to produce fanfic without ever hearing from the people who want to read it, and especially not when the people who want to read it want to know something about the story before they read it.
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Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Without doubt I am going to go to hell

I read this.

And it made me think two things:

1. I do get the point of having "If you want to read it, there's a warning associated with this story". Except I also agree much more strongly with this (from livejournal, three years ago) and this from fanfic symposium: warnings are not obligatory.

2. But given that, as she outlined very clearly, a trigger may be something as unexpected as calculus - ought we all then to warn for every event in the story, since any event may be triggering?

I don't want to cause anyone unwanted distress.

But if you read my stories, you should know that I want to harrow up your emotions like a fork in butter frosting: to make you cry, make you laugh, turn you on, startle you like a thin knife that pierces your heart before you know your skin is broken, suck you in as if I were a black hole and you were my light, make you shake, make you shiver, melt your brain, make you keep coming back -

...if you want me to do that to you.

If you don't, you shouldn't read my stories.
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Monday, July 23rd, 2007

Disability and fanfiction: House and Mulcahy

Over at the Six Apart place, [info]vescoiya writes:
All of the current discussion of race in fanfiction and the whole issue of pay attention to what you write has made me think about another minority. The disabled minority. ..... Now oddly enough it is not that disability doesn't come up in fanfiction. It does. It is the way that it does most frequently. Normally what happens is that it is used as a plot device. X is horribly injured so now Y can help him and he realises his true feelings. Or it is used as an excuse for rather a lot of angst. In a lot of ways temporary disability or even permanent disability is the corner stone of h/c fiction.
Now fanfiction doesn't exactly do this with most of the other minorities. You do get homophobia in slash, but only in a small percentage of it. I've yet to see explicit racism portrayed if one ignores for the minute the general lack of ethnicities portrayed in fanfic. Yet, give someone a disability, and it is suddenly a plot point. Possibly because you are adding in something that was not there to begin with. You do get dsylexia casually referenced but that is about it.
I guess i'm asking where are the what if X was always blind fic? How about what if W was deaf? I mean we do get mental disabilities but only due to the extreme angst involved. I guess I'm asking why it isn't more commonly just a part of characterisation as opposed to if it is there then it ellipses everything else.

Cut for Goodbye, Farewell, Amen spoilers )
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Saturday, July 7th, 2007

So: the US health system

What actually happens to you if you collapse on the street and someone needs to take you into the nearest emergency room? Ambulance or taxi? What forms do you/your admitter/the staff have to fill in? I'm happy to receive replies with every little detail. (I've bought health insurance with my travel insurance every time I've visited the US, but have never actually had to use it.) Assume the "someone" has no idea if you have health insurance or not, but does know you personally.
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Thursday, April 26th, 2007

What if “What’s Up, Doc” had been an abortion episode?

In M*A*S*H 6th season, “What’s Up, Doc”, Houlihan is afraid she's pregnant. If she is, she'll be jobless and back in the US in short order, with a failing marriage.

Unless, of course, she can persuade Hawkeye, BJ, Charles, or Colonel Potter to perform a D&X.

Which one would do it?

Hawkeye, because he's her friend? (But what would Father Mulcahy think?)
BJ? No, probably not. I think BJ would be more likely to offer her a room at his place until she found another job.
Charles? He'd probably do it - I can't imagine he'd have any ethical qualms - but his issue would have been about being found out and getting into legal trouble.
Colonel Potter? I can see him deciding pragmatically and responsibly that he'd rather Margaret got an abortion and got to stay in the army than that she got dumped out of the army with a baby coming and a breaking marriage. Unfortunately I can also see him having decided views against abortion and decided views against allowing military doctors to perform an abortion.

Or would Margaret just head off to Tokyo on a 96 and get an abortion there? She'd need Potter's cooperation, at least, for that - but I think she'd get that.

In other news, my laptop is still not working right. Gah.

Update: I may write it as a full-length story someday, but here's the drabble.
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Monday, January 1st, 2007

While we tell of yuletide treasure: Villette

For the third year in a row, I got a book fandom to write for in yuletide: Villette.

letter to Claire )

I would not be you for a kingdom )

Peace, be still! Oh! a thousand weepers, praying in agony on waiting shores, listened for that voice, but it was not uttered -- not uttered till, when the hush came, some could not feel it: till, when the sun returned, his light was night to some!

Here pause: pause at once. There is enough said. Trouble no quiet, kind heart; leave sunny imaginations hope. Let it be theirs to conceive the delight of joy born again fresh out of great terror, the rapture of rescue from peril, the wondrous reprieve from dread, the fruition of return. Let them picture union and a happy succeeding life.

Madame Beck prospered all the days of her life; so did Père Silas; Madame Walravens fulfilled her ninetieth year before she died. Farewell.
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Sunday, October 31st, 2004

Slash and porn

what's the difference? )
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Monday, August 2nd, 2004

Blake's 7: Scruples

Here's how I thought (in 1989, just after I'd bought myself a Scruples game for Christmas 1988) they would have played it in the 30th century: Scruples by Seven.

(I also updated the recs page.)
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Tuesday, July 20th, 2004

On beginnings

A few years ago [info]tritorella organised an online writer’s workshop, mainly for Highlander fans. We began, not unnaturally, with beginnings, and I put together a critique of four beginnings to very short stories and three beginnings to longer stories. All of the stories are now available online: if you prefer to read the whole story first, click on the link at the start of each story to go there. (I dropped out of the writer’s workshop fairly early on, unable to keep up with it, but it was fun to cross-examine myself and invent reasons for what I’d done.)

Four short beginnings )

Three long beginnings )
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