Yesterday, I made seitan, curried pumpkin seeds, homemade Larabars, and experimental millet-oat-date cookies.

Making seitan is always a kind of gross and squishy procedure (think wet brains), but it's worth it in the end, when you magically transform about $3 of food into something that would cost you more like $20 at the grocery. Plus, delicious.

Anyway. As I was indulging my inner foodie, I started wondering about this podfic thing. It's new to me, since I haven't been around in a few years, but it sounds interesting. Two points for the pun! Seriously, though, I do a lot of distance running, which means I spend 8+ hours a week out on the road with nothing but my iPod to keep me company. I've grown a little weary of my music collection, and of my iPod thinking it's clever and lining up sequences like Separate Ways-Because the Night-Barbie Girl-Shooting Shark-Unchained. (Someday love will find you because the night is made for lovers, fantastically created in plastic which lights up the sky. Also, that suit is you.) Yeah, my iPod is a little annoying sometimes.

So: podfics. I'm looking for fics about 30-90 minutes long, and I'm not too picky about content as long as they're interesting, clear, and well-written. Any recommendations?

the rush

Feb. 18th, 2010 01:00 pm
So it turns out that re-entering fandom after a long vacation is sort of like being the friend who shows up to the party forty-five minutes past fashionably late and has to be shuffled around and introduced to everyone and has no place to put their plate of cookies on the crowded potluck table, but after another two hours is just there and everyone forgets about the whole awkward entrance.

Perhaps, also, it is about run-on sentences. And the thrill of the hunt. I've been chasing down authors and stories and meta like nobody's business for the past few days. I almost forgot I was supposed to meet my usual friends at our usual pub last night, I was so caught up in it (oops.) Now that I've got a bit of time off, I can't wait to start writing again. As Miss Frizzle might say, "Seatbelts, everyone!"

Also, in the spirit of the Good Things that seem to be happening lately, I stopped into my favorite little craft/bookbinding/diy shop yesterday and found a notebook made from the cover of Bad Company's Straight Shooter. I mean, how badass is that?

But anyway, it's time to haul myself out for a run and a trip to the co-op and some experimental bread baking and the rest of the outline of this weird fic idea I've had going for a week or two.

Cause, you know, I'm a wild fire woman.
As always, I apologize for the long delay. I tend to fall in and out of love with the internet and fandom, especially during the summer, when all I want to do is spend as much time out-of-doors as physically possible. When I want to remove myself from any traces of academia and taste the sunlight dancing on my tongue.

I might start updating here soonish, since this is primarily a fandom/writing journal with a little life thrown in, and both SPN and FNL have started again. When I get time to write (and more importantly, read) fic, I'll definitely begin posting again.

The real reason for this post, however, is to share a friend's website/blog/project with you. It's called The Intimacy of Strangers, and it's a fascinating venue for connection and conversation about life in general, New York living in particular. Go check it out. (For those of you who read both of my LJs and have therefore seen this announcement twice, go check it out more than once!) There's a great discussion about the inherent versus assigned versus interpreted meaning of photographs going on right now. Pop in, give it a look, and maybe drop a comment or two into the discussion. It's still a work-in-progress, and it could definitely use some of the intelligent commentary I know you as a group could provide.

Anyway, I'll be catching up with you all sometime in the next few weeks. For those of you who've recommended or commented on my fic recently, I'll get back to you ASAP. I had no idea how many new people I'd rather passively acquired. For now, I'd just like to let you know that you're appreciated, even if it's taken me this long to notice. *cringe* And it's good to be back, even in this tiny way.
I've been half-following the whole FanLib thing over the last week or so. (Actually, I'm doing a whole lot of fandom catch-up [hi, fandom!] because school is done--I'm finally getting enough sleep to both read and understand things simultaneously.)

Anyway, it doesn't worry me. I feel like it probably could, and possibly will in the future. However, there are a few things about it that make it intensely non-worrisome:

1. It's godawful ugly. Seriously. This was the first thing I thought when I went to the site. Whoever designed it clearly did so in a Jolt-fueled rush of Ooh! Those fannish people would like this! And this! And this! Way too much going on.

2. It's condescending. And kind of stupid. Its marketing vibe seems to assume that fandom doesn't really exist on the internet; it needs some new place to hang out. Look what we're providing for you people! Don't you appreciate us so much?

Okay, guys? Fandom has been hanging out online since there was an "online." We've been through mailing lists and archives and FFN and messageboards and LJ. I'm sure there are other methods of fanwork distribution. Those are just the ones that I personally have participated in.

And the thing about those? Mailing lists tend to be the brainchildren of people who have an amazing amount of patience. They deal with those of us who can't figure out how not to reply all consistently; they deal with trolls; they deal with the 12-year-olds who somehow sneak into the 18+ groups. Archives (especially juried or otherwise selective ones) are still indispensable to me when I'm getting into a new fandom and want to attempt the birdshot reading technique. FFN. Oh, FFN. Messageboards were where I got my start, and in a lot of ways, LJ's similar flexibility in terms of ease of commenting is one of the things that drew me here. Obviously, LJ's taken off. To pull a random number, 2124 people have posting access to, say, [ profile] supernaturalfic. As of ten minutes ago, there have been 10,360 posts to that community. And that's just a community I know about in a fandom I'm familiar with. I'm sure there are other, bigger ones.

3. I know where to find quality fic. I have a core group of authors whose work I will always read, regardless of the fandom they're writing in. This group changes from time to time as one decides to spend her time writing epic HP serial romances and I discover a new person who's doing something intriguing with linearity. I read extensively outside it.

That said, I don't go to non selective archives (read: FFN) anymore unless someone links me to a rec there or I have an urge to see whether anyone's written Bullitt fic. (Which they haven't. Come on, Bullitt fandom, you have to be out there somewhere.)

4. I'm not going to be looking for quality fic at a poorly-designed, ad-ridden archive run by invisible people who aren't known fandom names. I'm pretty sure other people aren't, either.

So. *shrug* I see where the concern's coming from, and I understand why people are worried. I don't, however, think this presents any real threat to fandom as we know it. After all, fandom is run on a fairly true egalitarian basis, with everyone receiving the same baseline benefits--free LJ, membership to communities, the abilities to post to archives--and those with writing/vidding/public relations skills rising to recognition. Which is just that--recognition. We're not, as far as I know, trying to become more mainstream. I, at least, am quite happy on the fringes.
I'd like to preface this by saying that I don't know anything about SGA or its fandom. And that this is therefore not really about the recent wank concerning racism in AUs. If you want to read about that, many of the posts have been collected in [ profile] metafandom's most recent post. That series of posts, however, started to make me think about how we view race and racism, of how we think about what we say, how we contextualize our relationships with other people

What I'd like to address is not so much the issue of racism in fandom. Or anywhere, for that matter. I won't deny that it exists. In fact, I would argue that in many ways, it has become more subversive and more damaging as the institutions supporting it have been forced underground.

I won't deny that minorities in the United States have to deal, frankly, with a lot of shit. I know the statistics about high school drop-out rates and poverty rates and immigration. Minorities have trouble in this country.

I'm white.

Just putting that out there, because what I have to say has simultaneously nothing and everything to do with the color of my skin.

In a reply to a deleted post, which was in turn part of a discussion of the SGA fic that inspired this race discussion, [ profile] scarletts_awry quoted the original poster (OP) as having said, "Well, I can't really comment on the racial aspect -- I'm a white girl, so I've never had to deal with that societal flaw."

Which is absolutely the crux of the race problem from several angles. First of all, the original poster felt that she could not comment on racism because of her own race. Secondly, the OP seemed to think that being white created a buffer between her and the world in which people are racist. Third, this comment implied that white people are somehow impervious to racism, and are never on the receiving end of racist comments or actions.

Each of these three points is one I've encountered over and over, and each one makes me wonder, every time, why racism is considered so separately from any other form of discrimination. I'd like to take the time to come up with an organized, elegant essay on the subject, but I'm tired. So, point-by-point rebuttal:

1. Racism is discrimination. And everyone knows what discrimination feels like. You have been ignored in a classroom because the teacher likes the kid in the back more; you have been passed over for a promotion because your boss doesn't like you; you've tried to sit with a certain group of people at lunch only to be summarily shunned as they return to their self-referential conversation, ignoring you. These are smaller instances of discrimination, to be sure, nothing like the deep and often subconscious discrimination of racism, but they provide at least some common ground, somewhere we can all meet and say Yeah, I know what you mean.

White people are therefore no less able or qualified to comment on racism than anyone else.

2. White people have to deal with racism. All the time. I have to deal with it on a daily basis here in Wisconsin, an intensely white state; I had to deal with it on a daily basis when I lived in Washington DC, which was majority black. These two opposite experiences gave me some interesting contrasts to work with

3. It is entirely possible for someone to be racist against a white person. I'm sure it doesn't happen as often as it happens to minorities, and I know I've had very specific experiences that don't represent those of most Americans. But believe me, I'm speaking from experience in saying that it is very possible to be discriminated against as a white woman. Racism is not a one-way thing. It's a web. It's a white person discriminating against a Hispanic person discriminating against a black person discriminating against an Asian person discriminating against a white person.

As a sort of addendum to that: "white" is a race. The United States does not consist of "white" and "race."

I suppose my real point, which could probably be substituted for everything else I've said here, is stop telling me that I feel guilty about racism and start understanding that I sympathize.
I've been wondering lately whether being an English major might be messing with my ability to appreciate the face value of things. And then I was composing an essay in the shower (shut up, the shower is an amazing place to compose essays) and thinking about fandom offhandedly, and I came to a few conclusions and approximately six point eight billion questions. Let the navel-gazing commence!

I love text. I love the feel of paper beneath my hands and the shape of words on the page and sometimes I just breathe etymologies. But I have been trained to use it, trained to pick out the pieces of it that will prove a point I'm trying to make. My love for text has therefore come to endure only insofar as the text has something quantifiable to offer me, something I can isolate into a thesis statement and six to eight pages of supporting details with a works cited. Arguably, I have been trained to find things that do not exist and prove their existence. From time to time, I have crises wherein I wonder whether Chaucer is actually just sitting in the afterlife drinking ale and making fun of undergraduates for our incredible self-absorption.

And I love television. I love the play of images across a screen and the shapes of light and shade and the forced wait from week to week, from month to month, straining at the bit for another forty-something minutes of story. I interact with it on a much more visceral level: I fall in love with the characters. Their tears make me cry. Their laughter makes me smile. I live their lives. And if I don't connect like that, I walk away from them as I might from people whose company I don't enjoy. No hard feelings, just a mutual understanding that we are not meant for one another.

I've never been involved in a solely text-based fandom. Part of Star Wars (the part I wrote about, almost exclusively) was text, certainly, but the seminal medium was film. Buffy and Angel: television. Lord of the Rings? Originally books, but books that captured my imagination after the films prompted me to revisit them, and a canon whose film I actually enjoy more than the original text.

I've read Harry Potter, and I liked the books on a story level. They had magic and kids saving things and stairways that led to nowhere and talking paintings and dragons. But on a literary level (and I'm sorry, if there are HP fans reading this--I really do like the story), the books just didn't do anything for me. The imagery was old and cliche, the dialogue stilted, the use of adverbs painful. Clearly, though, the books caught the imaginations of hundreds, thousands of people, because the fandom is enormous, and amazing, and full of writers whose genius astounds me.

All of which is leading to a point. Which is: I think being an English major ruined me for text-based fandom.

I very much doubt I could ever write a fic for, say, Of Mice and Men. It's a brilliant book, and there's so much surrounding it that I want to and probably will explore someday, but as a piece of literature, there's no way anything I write will ever stand up to it. I'm not Steinbeck and as much as I wish I could write with his finesse, I can't. I get too caught up looking at use of pronouns and repeated imagery and other things that I only half-believe authors do intentionally. I know I can go back and look at some of the things I've written and pick those characteristics out even when they're not there on purpose. But once I see them in an original work, I feel the need to duplicate or at least do them justice in my own, which is simply a losing battle.

On the other hand, I don't think I could ever write HP fic either, for the opposite reason. I don't respect the literary value of the source text enough for it to inspire me to write back to it, and if that makes me a horrible person and a snob, well, I direct you to the entry after "English major" in the dictionary. I feel bad about it. There are so many books that deserve more than I can give back to them because I have been trained to shun their lack of importance to the literary canon. Which makes me sound like a totally passive participant in reacting only to "literature" and even then only in a cold, analytical way. I'm not. I've accepted this mode of interaction because it allows me to do well in school, but I don't know where I'll stand on it ten years from now. I suspect I'll be more than a little bitter. I'll probably start writing long and pornographic Harry/Draco fic in retaliation. This is what's called a "digression."

Back to the main thread: I don't have the above distanced response to "literature" and disdainful first reaction to "entertainment for the masses" with more visual source material. I have no problem watching a television show and then telling a story back at it. I honestly think that it's because I'm not telling it back a story in its original medium. I could never, for example, film a serious story set in the Supernatural universe. For one, I don't have access to the cast, but more importantly, I don't have access to the tools. And I know I don't have access to the tools. So I respond to it in the only way I can, which is through text.

The difference is comfortable, in a film-to-text interaction. The film is strong; it has its own integrity and canon. I like to think of myself as a decent writer, with a pretty good idea of how to present what I want to say in a way that will give back to the source material. I want to tell stories that stand on their own but also find a place within the larger structure of the source. This way, we're both sticking with our strengths. The screenwriters and directors and actors are creating their stories on a screen; I'm creating mine on a page. Our worlds spin in harmonious orbit.

Actually, in looking back at this, I'm not sure whether this is a conclusion or a very long question. So I'll pose a few shorter questions that I'll think about over the next few days and which you are of course welcome (and invited!) to answer:

1. A professor once said that a storyteller told him that she couldn't analyze the story she was telling, that she instead had to retell the entire thing. Is that what we're doing?

2. What's the real difference in reaction to visual versus text source material? Is it the difference between love and appreciation? (I love Copland; I appreciate Mozart. When I was a kid, I'd dance to Appalachian Spring and fall asleep to Mozart concertos.)

3. Does any of this make any sense at all?
So this is mostly directed to those of you who write/read fic. I was just poking through the internet on my semi-annual trawl to make sure no one had stolen my fic and passed it off under another name or conversely attributed something I hadn't written to me, both of which have happened.

I found a couple of things I'd written on recs lists from people who hadn't commented on the fics themselves. Which, don't get me wrong, is cool. I mean, intellectually, I know that a lot more people read a fic than comment on it, but it's always nice to see that substantiated by real evidence. Also: um, they're recs.

Still, they made me curious. Because I thought I'd feel weird about recommending a fic without having commented on it, but then I looked back over my records and in one-on-one recommendations (Hey, XXXX, I think you'd like this fic here), a lot of the fics that I tout at length are fics I *cough*havenotcommentedon*cough*. Same goes for a lot of what's in my memories and bookmarks. I have a to-comment queue a mile long and I doubt I'm ever going to catch up.

I think this had a point when I started writing. I think it was something along the lines of, is there a particular relationship between what you comment on and what you rec? Or are the two processes, as they seem to be for me and at least a few other people, completely unrelated?



May 2010



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