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.)
(1 comment | Leave a comment)

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Meta slaveficcery meta

Things that shouldn't need saying... )
(2 comments | Leave a comment)

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.
(Leave a comment)

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.
(20 comments | Leave a comment)

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

The challenge and the craft

In response to On the responsibilities of writers:

To write using offensive language/stereotypes is just easy. It's what we're all taught. But figuring out how to avoid them while at the same time being true to the story, that's a "party programme".

The hell.

If you aren't capable of learning how to write without using offensive language or racist, sexist, homophobic or any other stereotypes, you are an inferior writer. The challenge for any writer who aspires to full command of her craft and art is to write the story that clamours to be written, to be true to the story and its characters, and to avoid letting yourself fall into the lazy traps of casual prejudice. And writers who defend their fall into those lazy traps with Newspeak arguments that trying to avoid them is a "party programme" are not merely lazy, inferior writers who can't be bothered to learn: they're dishonest writers.

There's no recourse for the writer who is dishonest about their craft. You never quit learning how to write better. You never lie to yourself as an excuse for why you're not going to bother learning more about how to write.
(4 comments | Leave a comment)

Monday, October 27th, 2008

*blushes a bit*

Received over the weekend (yes it has been 25 years...):
Certificate of Merit

Awarded in honour of her selfless devotion and services to Slash Fandom to


In celebration of 25 years providing us all with Adventure*, Romance** and occasionally HOT SEX***.

She has become a close and wonderful friend to many a slasher****, providing help, support and porn wherever she can. With gratitude to Blake 7 whose interesting characters***** set her feet on this happy queer road she now travels. Congratulations, looking forward to a further 25 years.

Ann Johnson

Director of the Jane Carnall Appreciation Society since 1983

* With proper plots.

**Often the tortured, convoluted kind we love.

***Not enough hot sex in my opinion but begging often helps.

**** Some of us are even privileged enough to call her family.

***** Real hot sexy men and women. You didn't think she watched it for the great plots did you.

And to celebrate )
(21 comments | Leave a comment)

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

Fortunately, I like writing

Via metafandom:
A Fandom of ONE is not fun. Nor is feeling like a fandom of ONE because everyone else in that fandom clearly does not view it anyway compatible with your views.

The fan who wrote that was born (from her livejournal) about the time I started to write - and the state she calls "Fandom Ennui" I think of as just normal state. It's really neat to be writing fanfic in a fandom where there's lots of activity, and especially if it happens that what I want to write falls into mainstream activity in that fandom.

But, from liking to write Spock/McCoy and Bodie/Cowley to writing RPF in the Keptverse... I just have a habit of not doing that. (The only time I was ever at Escapade, I wandered down the Trek stalls in the dealers' room asking each one "Got any Spock/McCoy"? and they looked at me like I was from a mirror universe.)

It isn't as much fun being a fandom of one. It is sometimes not fun at all being a fan banned from livejournal when no one wants to be fannish off livejournal. (Whine, whine, complain, complain, makes cup of tea, drinks tea, is good. British fans do have tea as a resource.)

But I wouldn't do it if I didn't like it. I like what I'm doing with "The Games": it has plot, it has plan, it has characters who are going to have a lot of fun with each other (for given values of "fun", of course) and best of all, it has me writing instead of procrastinating or reading blogs about the US election. I like writing. It is an intrinsically solitary activity. Sometimes fandom makes it feel less solitary. But mostly, it is an activity that makes me solitary even in a crowd of people I actually like, because when a story is going on well in the back of my head I'm (a) wanting to be somewhere with a keyboard and my characters (b) hearing my characters in the back of my head (c) wanting to tell other people what they're saying, and knowing perfectly well that this is a bad idea.

The only other fan who started writing a story that was about fictional characters got discouraged by [info]poisontaster declaring that you can't play in her sandbox (ie, not post to her community - of course she's not ruling that fans can't take the shared universe and play with it) if it's not RPS. Which is her privilege: it's her community. But getting discouraged by that would mean (for me) that I was writing a story more because I wanted the feedback from the community than because I wanted to write the story. And a story that's worth writing at all is worth writing for itself. I wrote a 130 000 word novel about Hawkeye and Mulcahy and I think about a dozen people in total read it - but it was worth writing, no matter how few people ever want to read it.

(I'm sort of putting out feelers to see if anyone wants to set up an AU WWK community off LJ, by the way, if anyone who has an IJ account is interested.)
(14 comments | Leave a comment)

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

On writing PoC (when I am not one)

When I got my 2005 Yuletide assignment, it made me very happy: it was to write a Fletcher/Jeremy story following Finity's End. (Rise and Go, here.) I had an instant idea for how it would start, and wrote that down: I re-read the book, and wrote the rest of the story, remarkably painlessly for Yuletide.

There is a point in the story where Jeremy, who has finally got what he wants, is lying back in bed and looking at Fletcher and thinking about how good-looking he is: and there I paused, to re-check the book and see if Cherryh had provided any other details about Fletcher other than "good-looking", which we do get. She didn't, much. So I was free to make up those few telling details - I wasn't about to do an inch-by-inch description, but I wanted to describe what Jeremy might see - and compare to himself - when for the first time since he's met Fletcher, he's free just to stare.

I began by writing:
He'd seen Fletcher naked, they shared a cabin, but this wasn't Fletcher like he was when they were stumbling in or out of the shower, past each other, when you had to be polite and not look (and not comment on the smell, because just past Jump a body smelt like old laundry).
(I was pleased by the "a body smelled like old laundry" touch: it's a classic Cherryh phrase, and I was trying to mimic her style). But I really had to think of something to say about Fletcher's body.
Fletcher had dark body hair -- on his chest, down to his belly, around his groin.
While in calendar years Jeremy and Fletcher are almost the same age, in chronological time lapsed, Fletcher is older. (It did unnerve me a bit, but I decided just not to think about exactly how old Jeremy is. It's a consensual relationship, people, acceptable in their own culture's terms. And Fletcher isn't that much older than him - a few years at most.) But, old enough for Fletcher to have significant amounts of body hair, and Jeremy not.
It was as black as the hair on his head, and looked good
And I swear, it was right then that the thought came into my head
against the clear brown of his skin and the blue of his eyes.
I went back and looked up passages in Finity's End where Fletcher and Jeremy are physically described, and, yeah: at no point does Cherryh mention definitely the colour of their skin. I could assume what I liked, and I liked this. Suddenly I could picture both of them, and having got it definitely into my head what they did look like (and in my head, Fletcher is stunning) I mined a name from the pack of adolescents who harass Fletcher when he first comes aboard, which gave me another touch of Cherryhism.
He looked a bit like Jeremy, as Family goes: they both had black hair, and Jeremy's skin was a shade darker, and Jeremy's eyes were brown instead of blue, but they had the same eyebrows -- Sue, of all people, had pointed that out once -- they looked more alike than Jeremy and Vince, and Linda didn't look like any of them. But Fletcher was just good to look at, Jeremy thought, and it felt good to be able to lie back and stare without any worries about being impolite.
I wondered, when I posted it, if anyone would notice (or, if anyone noticed, anyone would care - it's only a few words of description).

Thinking back, the only other fandom I've ever written in where there was a regular character who was a PoC, was Blake's 7: Dayna Mellanby is a very young and very slightly psychotic weapons expert who likes blowing things up and plotting murder. I wrote Cruelty Has A Human Heart, a Dayna/Soolin saffic, back in the early 1990s, and of course she appears in This Neurotic Little Worry, an ensemble story about the third-season crew. Mostly I wanted to write Avon/Vila, and I did: just as when I wrote Star Trek, though of course Uhura shows up, she's mostly background; she appears as one of the senior officers, but nothing gets in the way between Spock and McCoy.

I write mostly in M*A*S*H these days, and there are only three or four regular characters in the series who aren't white, and only one is part of the main ensemble: Max Klinger. Nurse Kellye is named and has characterisation, but she's tertiary ensemble rather than secondary, as is Ginger Bayliss, who is the only black officer who stays: and famously, Spearchucker Jones was disappeared in the first few weeks of the show when he was discovered to be an anachronism. I have written drabbles about all of them for the Mash 100th community (see First Impressions and Superheroes for examples), but my long stories are about Hawkeye and Mulcahy, mostly. In a way writing about people of colour in the 1950s is easier than writing about people of colour today, because there is so much research material available (and a lot fewer fans who were around then and who can point out gleefully you got it wrong): in fact, M*A*S*H itself, for a TV show, confronts racism in the military in various interesting ways - though less interesting than it might be since none of the major characters are allowed to be racist, not even in the casual unthinking way I'd think would be fairly likely. (Aside from Winchester, but to be fair, Winchester is deeply prejudiced against any American significantly poorer than him or whose family has been in the US for the wrong length of time. Colour isn't the issue so much as wealth or "breeding".)

Writing about people who have experiences I haven't had is always difficult, always enriching. And always risky when you know that people are going to be reading the stories who have had those experiences. And sometimes I get it wrong. But there seems to be, in some people's minds, a barrier that says "I can't write about that because I'm not the right colour to do it" - and really; kick that crap out. It's Radio KFCKD, if it's not white privilege masquerading as humility.
(2 comments | Leave a comment)