An Exploration of Fandom – Part One – The Manic Pixie Fangirl

Chicks be crazy. And we know it, too. Well, most of us. But that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about fandom. Specifically fanfiction, and exploring how and why women are so fiercely into it.

This is the first part in a series that I have been wanting to write for a long time. My disclaimer is that this is in every way an opinion piece, and in no way based on fact or assumptions on any fandom community. This is all strictly anecdotal. So enjoy my ramblings.

Firstly, I want to explore fangirls  themselves. I am one. Most females I know are as well. And I’m not talking ‘OMG PUMPKIN SPICE LATTES ARE LIFE’ kind of girls (though I am one of those too, want to fight about it?), I’m talking fictional character obsession. Where we see a movie or tv show and can’t stop thinking about a character when we close our eyes at night.

The kind of addiction that causes us to take to fanfiction.net in a desperate attempt for more story. And we read the cringeworthy self insert Mary Sue fics with author’s notes begging for gud reviows in the hopes that at least the sex scenes are good. (Spoiler alert, they usually aren’t.)

Just me? I think not. Go ahead and google ‘Harry Potter Fanfic’ and take a gander at what pops up. I’ll wait. Nice to see you again! How was that? Okay, try Walking Dead next. Have fun in that rabbit hole. Back for more? How about Riverdale? Like video games? Try Pok√©mon or Final Fantasy. There’s something for everyone.

I mean we all have imaginations, right? I asked a bunch of guys I know ridiculous personal questions about how they perceived fictional characters as teenagers, and the general consensus was that if the actress (or good cg render) was hot, she made it into the spank bank.

For girls, as is usually the case, there’s much more to it. My first crush was Fox Mulder. I am dating myself like a motherfucker, but I was old enough in the 90s to be watching The X Files when it first came out. But notice how it was Mulder that was my crush, not David Duchovny? Don’t get me wrong, I could stare at pictures of DD all day (that could be interpreted so badly), but it was the quirky open minded FBI agent that I was in love with.

Stfu that hair is still sexy.

Yes, in love with… I was a young girl that wanted to grow up to be one half of a kickass alien hunting FBI duo that also went on dates on the weekends. Because I’m romantic as fuck. I’m pretty sure my grade school diary had FOX with a heart around it multiple times.

Approaching my teen years, I got into Leonardo DiCaprio, as many 90s girls did (and still do, let’s be honest). But even then, as much as I loved my 26×36 poster of his face above my bed, the dreams were of being Juliet or Rose or that French chick from The Beach (who totally doesn’t sleep with him in the book because she’s not a total asshole, tyvm Hollywood). I didn’t know Leo as a person, I knew his characters within the realms of their stories.

But this is a Venus/Marsgument that is as old as time. Dudes are visual (tits) and chicks are emotional (her heart fluttered as his lips claimed hers, threading her fingers through his flaxen locks as their souls entwined forever etc.). So it would make sense that teenage boys go ‘just saw Tomb Raider, gonna spank it to Angelina Jolie tonight’, whereas girls go ‘just saw Walking Dead, what if I was Rick’s cool/pretty sister that everyone is friends with and I coax Daryl out of his shell and we ride off into the sunset together on his motorcycle?’

You laugh, but that shit is ALL over Wattpad. 

So we fall in love with these characters, and  through the course of their canon storyline wonder about things, like how they would react in certain situations or who we’d rather see them romantically involved with. (I’m looking at you, Katniss!) Then when the story runs out it’s all headcanon from here on in, baby! 

My favourite fanfics are the ones without original characters (with exceptions, more on that later), because in general OCs are blatant self inserts. And in trying to make these OCs perfect and likeable they end up being intensely unlikeable. (I’m looking at you, Anastasia Steele!)

But it is in these fics that we can see the depth of wish fullfillment in the people that write them. Where they fall in love with these characters and weave these fantasies in their heads and then write it down so the rest of us can enjoy it. Some we enjoy making fun of, because WOW, but some have such well written canon characters that it feeds our own imagination. 

My favourite fanfics take canon and make it better. They stay true to the characters and the created world and give me the more that I’m craving. The best example I can give is The Debt Of Time by ShayaLonnie, a Harry Potter fanfiction epic that is over 700,000 words and 154 chapters. It centers around Hermione, and time travel, and soul bonds and friendship and it’s honestly more canon to me than Rowling’s work. I’ve read it more times than any of the Harry Potter books.

My bestie and I are DoT fangirls. We’re Potterheads, for sure, and united in that we are also united in fanfic. Because we always just want more of our favourite characters, more story, just more.

And as an adult now, while I enjoy reading YA novels, good fanfic tends to be more adult. What would make Harry Potter better? Swearing and fucking, of course.

Stay tuned for Part Two!

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The Stephen King Marathon – Different Seasons Pt 1 – Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption

Chatty non-supernatural King showcasing the depth of the human condition? Yes please!


I had to split this one up because the four novellas are too much their own tales. With a fitting title because these stories are very different from King’s regulation in the 80s. 

Shawshank in particular is a rarity in his library because it kind of has a happy ending. I mean, the characters have to go through (literal) shit to get there, but knowing that Andy and Red get to live their lives together as free men on the beach makes me happy. Usually at the end of a King story I’m all ‘ohhhhh shit!’ and this time I finished with a smile.

I love how the tale is told from Red’s perspective too, as he’s writing his memoir of Being in prison with Andy. It gives it a chatty opinionated style while still giving the story depth through Red’s descriptive eyes.

And even though I knew how it ended (who doesn’t?) it was still a suspenseful ride for Andy. All tied up with the uplifting message that if you persevere and work hard enough you will be rewarded. Even though most human beings are terrible and will try to stop you at every turn… less uplifting, but let’s take the good over the bad!

For the Dark Tower Fans: Nothing really here from what I could tell.

Fear Factor: The only scary thing here is the terrifying thought that you could have enough bad luck to end up wrongly imprisoned for a crime you didn’t commit. 

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Siri is my Storyteller

I talked about not having a lot of time to read novels once my high needs darling was born, and I wasn’t lying. Over the past two years, I’ve managed to squeeze some extra time out of my #momlife but that’s usually spent catching up on housework or sleep. And if I get some downtime because she actually falls into an uninterrupted sleep early enough, I feel like I have to use that time to be productive, so it’s writing or crochet time.

Both of which I love, don’t get me wrong, but it’s fucked up that in our culture most moms don’t feel productive when doing something just for the sake of enjoyment. I legit would feel guilty sitting and reading a book instead of doing something that’s furthering my career or taking care of my family. But that’s a whole other thing.

Anyway, I thought about turning to audiobooks so that I could layer my reading enjoyment over cleaning or driving, of which I do a lot of. But of course those cost money. Then I found out that a little known setting in the accessibility options of my iPhone would speak highlighted sentences. This was a revelation to me.

I was deep into Dramione.org at this point, and it took awhile to get used to Siri’s robotic drawl describing Draco’s chiseled chest and husky voice, let alone sex scenes. I even looked up the infamous My Immortal and giggled over Siri attempting to pronounce everything. 

The next revelation happened after an iOS update that allowed me to swipe from the top of my screen with two fingers and Siri would read what was on the screen, even multiple pages in apps like Kindle, iBooks or Wattpad. I could even pause! This opened up a whole new world of multitasking for me.

My friends and husband think her voice is too ridiculous to pay attention to the story but it really didn’t take me long to get used to it. And now I can devour a novel in two or three days while still getting things done, or during travel time. Which let me tell you, Siri’s monotony is great for lulling a cranky toddler in the backseat to sleep!

I should be telling you to make time for yourself to sit and relax and enjoy a book. But if you’re like me and will completely ignore that advice, know that this is an option to fit reading into your busy life. 

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Disgusting Wordplay

Below is a post that I’ve had in my drafts for about four years that I’d forgotten about. When I read it over, it made me legit laugh and cringe at the same time. I had to post it. You’re welcome. Happy Friday!

Written July 19th, 2013

I realized while I was reading Wetlands that sharing gross words is fun. I had a grand time with my dad yesterday talking about smegma, and then we went out for tacos and looked up some more disgusting things on wikipedia. Because my family is like that.
Anyway I thought I’d share my top five most love-to-hate words. Love them for their impact, hate them for their grossness.

#5: Yeast

Yeasts are a fungal species that we as humans use to make beer, wine, bread, and other baked goods. Also yeast cells can irritate our mucous membranes and cause infections in our genitals and blood. Delicious.

Also according to Wikipedia, yeast has asexual reproduction habits where it creates a small bud that grows on it and then breaks off to become a new cell. The bud is called a ‘bleb’. Which is also a disgusting word. Yay.

Yeast. Say it out loud a few times. It just sounds nasty.

#4: Moist

I always thought I was weird for hating the word moist, as only one other person I know thinks it is gross. After a quick google search, I realized that moist is one of the most hated words in the English language. Rise, brothers and sisters!

Moisture doesn’t sound nearly as gross. Damp is fine. Slightly wet is even better. Can we just get rid of moist? When somebody calls a cake moist, I almost don’t even want to eat it anymore. I still do, because cake.

I believe too that my friend and I hate the word so much because we knew a girl once that wrote it out ‘moyste’. And ew. Every time somebody uses the word, I picture it spelled like that and it’s gross.

#3: Mung

Mung has many uses. The one that I thought it was solely used for was vaginal discharge. After looking it up, I learned that it’s specifically a thick and yellow vaginal discharge. Delish.

But mung is pretty popular. As an acronym, MUNG, it means ‘modified until no good’ in the computer industry. There’s a bean native to Bangladesh, India and Pakistan called the mung bean. I really don’t want to know why they’re called that.

There’s a brown algae called pylaiella that grows in shallow waters and tangles people that has the slang name of mung. There’s a cartoon called Chowder that I’d never heard of before about a catering company owned by a guy named Mung Daal. No.

Anyway, mung gets around.

#2: Felch

So, gross word, right? Wanna know what it means? No? I’m going to tell you anyway. It’s when you suck your semen out of someone’s orifice. With your mouth.

Need I say more?

#1: Smegma

Thank you so much, Wetlands, for introducing me to this word. NOT.

Smegma is the cheese that collects under foreskins or between the folds of the labia. And of course Wikipedia uses the word ‘moist’ to describe ‘fresh’ smegma which is even grosser.

Also, if you’re interested, in horses, smegma often accumulates into large ‘beans’ on the penis. Try to get that mental image out of your head.

I should totally rename this entire blog ‘Gross Shit I Want To Share’.

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The Stephen King Marathon – The Gunslinger

And we arrive at one of the greatest novels of all time, my friends. The novel that started the actual greatest series of all time. And don’t argue with me, for I am rabid.

the-gunslinger

I haven’t read this book in a while. I kind of dropped off the face of the planet two years ago upon giving birth to my daughter, and was suddenly thrust into newborn hell. I spent so much time in the dark that I could only read on my phone, and so wasn’t able to pick up a paper book for some time. I started The Gunslinger the day before she was born, and picked it back up off of my dresser two weeks ago.

If you’re like me, and read too many things all the time, you understand how my brain just doesn’t hold onto the details of novels for very long. And regardless of how many times I have read this book, every time is like the first time again. Stephen King, you make me feel like a virgin.

Also, being a parent now, the whole dynamic between Roland and Jake hits totally different places now. Roland’s betrayal is just… ugh. It was so much more heartbreaking for me.

I’d also forgotten how intense the final conversation was between him and the man in black! The whole speculation about how the universe could just be inside of an atom on a blade of grass within another universe, and when the lawn gets mowed our universe starts to distort and fall apart. For us it’s been millennia, but that blade of grass has only been alive for one season. I had Siri reading that part to me while I was driving and I almost had to pull over. It was almost like vertigo, that feeling of being so small and insignificant, and what if our universe did suddenly just get mowed through? It hurts my brain to even begin to think about it.

This is what King does to us, constant readers. And I love him for it.

For the Dark Tower Fans: Seeing as this is a Dark Tower book, this is pretty useless. I could have omitted it, but I didn’t, so ha.

Fear Factor: While this book isn’t overall scary, it does have some bits that chilled me. The oracle, the slow muties, and the whole first bit of Walter’s LET THERE BE LIGHT stuff.

***

Can we chat for a second about the Dark Tower movie? I really liked it, it was pretty fucking cool. But I had to pretty much pretend that nothing I ever knew about the Dark Tower story existed. I know that this is a sequel as opposed to a retelling, but so much was simplified (which I get, you can only do so much in a movie’s runtime).

Loved: All the little nods to King’s work (especially calling psychic abilities ‘the Shine’, thank you!), Idris Elba, the GUNPLAY LAWD THE GUNPLAY, and Walter being just a total badass sorcerer with Q-like abilities.

Didn’t Love so Much: Did we have to repeat the ‘Face of my father’ speech three times? Definitely lost it’s impact the third time. Seeing it in the trailer gave me chills with it’s awesomeness, but three times was just killed it. Matthew McConaughey was an amazing badass sorcerer fucking shit up all over the place, but he was not Walter to me. He was very close, and he did a great job, but I didn’t buy him as Walter. I was looking for Randall Flagg, and I got Marten. And Jake just happily running off into the sunset with Roland at the end. I guess it means that this time around, Roland isn’t going to choose the tower over everyone he loves? I mean it wouldn’t make sense anyway because in the movie he’s not obsessed with the tower, it’s just kinda there so that Walter has something to destroy to keep the monsters out (because that’s a thing in the movie).

I don’t know. I want there to be more, because I am selfish and I love anything that has anything to do with Stephen King, no matter how loosely adapted. And there were rumours of a Wizard and Glass miniseries that was going to be an accurate adaptation of the whole Susan backstory. Which PLEASE yes. Anyway. This was much longer than a second. <\rant>

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Cherry Smoothies and Reloading Tricks

Howdy.

I’ve been kicking my own ass and working hard to get back to writing every day, and it’s going well. I’m not writing anything terribly productive (or at least not anything that will ever see the light of day), but I’m writing and I’m proud of myself. I don’t know what happened but the bug came back, and once I dipped my toes back in it was like I never left.

Writing is such amazing therapy for me, and one that I often recommend to anyone who will listen. It’s such a good outlet and a good escape and I love getting lost in it. And it makes me feel like I’ve done something. It gives me that boost of confidence that I’ve created something, even if it’s just a random scene in a fanfic that I’m never going to actually write.

I’m sitting at my kitchen table, sipping on a cherry smoothie, pausing every now and again to open the shape O toy on the floor for my toddler. Some days she’s not so supportive of my writing, and it takes me two days of little snippets of tapping away at my phone to even get through a paragraph. But the drive is there, and I’m holding onto it for dear life.

I turned 31 this year, and in chatting with young writers online through Critique Circle (more on that later) and Wattpad I’m learning how different I am from the teenaged and even twentysomething writer I was. I remember those crushing feelings of self doubt, writing half a paragraph and then scrutinizing it for days, unable to write anything more until I got those few sentences perfect. Being terrified that I didn’t have my own voice, that my prose read like a cookie cutter house in the suburbs.

Now I’m giving advice to young writers, telling them not to do those things, to just brain dump and write and write and write and go back later and be proud of what they’ve done. To just keep working that writing muscle and edit later, get betas, take criticism, don’t be afraid to experiment with your story even if the plot bunny doesn’t feel like it will work.

And I’m realizing that recently, that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve read that after 30, women tend to gain a whole fountain of confidence, because they finally know who they are. I suppose I feel that. I don’t know if it’s being over 30 or the fact that I have a daughter that I desperately want to set an example for, or both, but I feel like for the first time in my life I’m really proud of what I do and create. I still get nervous when I share those creations, but that’s part of the thrill of it. And instead of thinking ‘yeah, this sucks, but whatever’ I’m actually excited to get things out into the world.

A big part of this confidence boost I think came from joining Critique Circle, which I can’t recommend enough to everyone. I can’t even remember how I stumbled across it, but it’s been a huge game changer for me. The way it works is that you critique stories within a queue during a critique period, and you gain credits. Then you can use those credits to submit your own stories to be critiqued. You get more credits the more detailed the crit, so you’re guaranteed really good feedback. The users I’ve come across are all incredibly nice and constructive and I’ve found some really amazing novels that I’m following there.

Giving critiques has upped my game as well, because it forces me to really pay attention to things that I may have missed in my own work. Then I read the other critiques on the work to see if I missed anything and get even more insight. Receiving critiques is a terrifying ball game, but so so satisfying. It’s interesting to get a bunch of different perspectives and reactions, and have things pointed out that I never would have thought of. I posted a prologue for my Vivid rewrite and received some speculations from a critter that just blew my brain right out of the back of my head and made me look at the whole series in a new light.

The best is when a critter just straight up reacts to something they think is awesome, too. It definitely strokes the ego. I uploaded Lace and Time as a standalone just to test the waters at CC, and at one pivotal moment the inline comment was just ‘BOOOOOOM’ and I almost cried I was so excited. It’s really amazing to have a reader react to things as strongly as the emotions that you put into writing them.

Go check it out. And when you do, let me know when you start posting shit and I will crit the crap out of it.

Anyway. Now I’ve got a poodle in my lap that’s trying to escape the very excited toddler, and it’s time to clean my kitchen. I’ll leave you with the knowledge that I’m (finally) continuing my Stephen King Marathon. I’ve discovered the beauty of audiobooks so that I can still be reading when my hands and eyes are otherwise occupied. The Gunslinger is next!

Always be writing!

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The Writing Prompt Project – Shipwrecked

My head is pounding, and my mouth feels like sand. How much did I drink last night? I open my eyes and everything is too bright. Why is the sun in my face? Did I pass out on the deck? I could have sworn I made it to bed…
I snap awake in full on panic mode when I realize I’m outside. On a beach. And there is actual sand in my mouth.
“What the fuck?” I choke out, clawing at my tongue. I freeze when I see a scrap of blue flowered fabric clumped next to me, and shakily reach out a hand to grab it. That was the bedspread in my cabin. God, what had happened to the boat?
I stagger to my feet, heart sinking at the wreckage that has washed ashore. How am I even alive right now?
A sob escapes me and I clutch the fabric to my chest. I frantically look around for signs of civilization. There have to be people somewhere. I wasn’t that far from the mainland, I must have washed up on a resort or something.
It only takes me two hours to walk the island, and by the time I get back to the wreckage I’m thirsty and feeling hopeless. I don’t know where I am. There’s nobody here. And I have a week before I’m due home, so nobody will be looking for me. 
The realization crushes me and I drop to my knees in the sand. Why did I have to crash on a beach? I fucking hate sand so much. And now I’m going to die in it.
I don’t know how long I’m there, but my skin is hot. I need to send a message somehow. 
A few feet away is a bottle of Jameson’s whiskey. Because of course there is. How fitting would that be, my final words in my favourite booze? 
I open it and down the last mouthful, relishing the burn that is sure to make my dehydration worse. I carefully peel the label off and smooth it out on my thigh. Using my thumbnail, I carve a message into the waxy paper, secure it in the bottle, and whip it into the waves.
***
I don’t know how long it’s been. Im delirious with thirst and hunger and heat and am flopped in the wet sand. I feel something bump my toes and drag myself up to see. 
All I can do is laugh. It’s a Jameson’s bottle.
I weakly open it and pull out the message.
‘I fucking hate beaches’
***Prompt provided by Emerald over at Adventures in Homemaking!

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