Booking Through Thursday: Fanfiction

What do you think of fanfiction? In general—do you think it’s a fun thing or a trespass on an author/producer’s world? And of course, obviously specific authors have very firm and very differing opinions about this, yet it’s getting more popular and more mainstream all the time. Do you ever read or write it yourself?

Basically, I think it gets unfair criticism. Except when it’s about real people because that gets gross and disrespectful fast, but for the purposes of this post, we’re talking about fanfiction dealing with solely fictional works.

Technically, I have both read and written it, but I only read a little Harry Potter fanfiction that I think Sarah suggested years ago. I’m not particularly interested in it. And I wrote a little because I kept thinking about possible alternate outcomes, so I wrote it down to get it out of my head–a pretty good summary of most of my writing, at least early on.

But I think those hypotheticals are what fanfiction was born out of, and I think it’s fine. The only difference between a fan saying, “But what if this happened instead?” and a fanfiction writer is the writer explores that alternative at length, especially when the canon isn’t satisfactory. So in that sense, I can understand why some original creators don’t like it–their word is gospel, although when you put something out into the world, you have to expect

But at the same time, readers and fanfiction writers often have very good reasons for being displeased with the way a work turned out. Just based on snippets from my Tumblr dashboard, Dr. Who fans often don’t like the way things are handled, and there was lots of talk from Once Upon a Time fans–from what I can gather without having watched the show and gotten too involved for that reason–about what they perceived to be lots of obvious, intentional homoerotic tension that was literally laughed off by show creators when fans addressed it and wrote about it. After Paul and I were really disappointed by Prometheushe joked about writing fanfiction exploring its strengths and cutting out what we felt was super predictable, messy filler.

A big factor in this, too, is when continuity and characterization are ignored. Fanfiction writers might not necessarily be better, smarter, or more well-equipped to write a story, but readers/viewers are smart and attentive, and if they’re thrown off by characterization and continuity, then you have a problem. Whenever Paul and I talk about the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, especially the last movie, we almost always mention that the characters acted completely differently in that film than they did the previous two, and as a fan and viewer it made the movie confusing and unsatisfactory. Similarly, I’ve been watching the show Lie to Me on Netflix, and one of my biggest complaints about it–especially since I’m watching it in the span of a few weeks as opposed to spread out over the three-ish years it was on the air–is that it ignores previous characterization and continuity. What should be major plot points are glossed over or ignored with little to no effect on later events. Characters’ previous actions and statements are similarly ignored, leading to other statements and actions that don’t make any sense within the context of what we already know about them. This obviously isn’t an isolated problem in books and TV, so it’s no wonder readers speculate about alternatives and write about them. If you’re going to be careless with the world you create, don’t be surprised when others invite themselves in to clean it up.

That said, I think it’s mostly harmless where writers are playing around, not something that could be considered trespassing or undermining, unless, of course, the writer openly does it for the reasons above. And unless that’s the case, the original creators should be flattered that someone was taken enough with their creation that someone else played with it.

I think it has other advantages, too–good writing exercise in general, good for writing within a certain world and with certain characters, good general exercise in creativity.

Friday Five: Accessories


  1. What was the last computer accessory you acquired? A new charger for my Mac.
  2. What was the last clothing accessory you acquired? I’ve been buying a lot of tights lately.
  3. What was the last auto accessory you acquired? The car got $800 worth of repairs a few months ago, and fancy new windshield wipers was part of that deal. That’s about it.
  4. What was the last accessory you acquired for one of your hobbies? Hmm. I guess some Wizard of Oz bookmarks for Christmas from my mom.
  5. What was the last hair accessory you acquired? Does my hair chalk count as an accessory? If not, the shit tons of ponytail holders and clips I bought to tame my growing mane.

Booking Through Thursday: Coffee-Table Books

  1. Do you have any coffee table books? I think only one, sort of.
  2. Do you have one or two, or would you say you have a collection of them? I think just the one, but I do occasionally kick around the idea of picking up a few art ones.
  3. Do you keep them on your coffee table? If not, where? I do, actually.
  4. What are they about? I have 1,000 Films to See Before You Die and that’s it. I needed it for a Politics Through Film class my last semester of college, and I kept it to try to work through all the films.
  5. Have you read them? All of them? None? Why? Not the whole thing, but parts of it, mostly the sections I needed for class and others I looked at waiting for class to start and things like that. It’s a pretty big book so I don’t really want to sit and look through it, at least not until it’s time to update my Netflix list.

The snow just keeps on coming.

I tried to plan my weekend around it and did reasonable well. I picked up a pizza and doughnuts Friday and Paul came over. We don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day because I’ve always found it to be a stupid Hallmark holiday dedicated to doing something that should be done regularly, although I do love its origins. Plus I think people get too carried away and take it too seriously. Still, Paul showed up with a bouquet of roses and cookies he’d made, though he said to think of it as a random gesture and not a Valentine’s one. I’ll mostly give it to him because it is the sort of thing he does on occasion. Plus he gets bonus points for getting orange roses instead of the standard, cliched red.

We stayed in all night, mostly because it was supposed to snow.

We hung out Saturday morning until I could tell the roads had been plowed, then we headed out for a shopping trip. Coincidentally, my tax refund hit my bank account right as we were getting ready to leave–a direct-deposit alert told me so. So I probably spent a little too much money, but I ended up with a birthday present for my mom, moisturizer for me, and tons of books.

I’d been meaning to try to see Swan Lake in the city but kept forgetting to confirm with Paul, so I finally got around to that at the last minute Friday night and we got tickets for Sunday, somewhat planning around the weather, which is pointless now because the pattern is that it’s usually not as bad as forecast or gets really bad when not forecast at all. Because Sunday was supposed to be a clear day and instead we got nice, thick snow right when we were heading int the city. Good thing we left hella early to drop off recycling that’s taking over my apartment. With traffic and a rare full parking garage I always use when I’m going to the Cultural District, we made it with just a few minutes to spare and completely lucked out by sitting in front of another garage at the very second the “full” sign was taken down. Plus it turned out to be closer than my usual garage, so win all around there. I’ll have to show it to Brandon, who I expect will just insist on the usual garage because that’s what he’s used to.

I’ve never actually seen Swan Lake, which is a little weird considering I used to do ballet and went to my fair share of professional ballets. But I loved it. The Pittsburgh ballerinas get a little off sometimes, but other than that the choreography was solid and the principal dancers, especially the prince and Swan Queen, were fantastic. It’s a pretty long ballet at 2 1/2 hours with two intermissions, but it goes by fast. I was surprised when the curtain went down after the first two acts, partly because the dancers were particularly captivating. As an added bonus, they had the orchestra playing the music live, which was awesome. Paul paid a little more attention to the musicians than I did–he seemed to do a good job of watching both them and the dancers, but after overtures I gave up and was watching the ballerinas.

After that, we had dinner at Hofbrauhaus, and thus ended our Valentine’s weekend even though we don’t celebrate it but went on a very Valentine’s date anyway.

Last year, Brandon, Kelly, and I saw the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater do Moulin Rouge. I’m sensing a tradition…

I’m gonna have to try to catch their Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast.

Friday Five: Themes

  1. What would the title of your autobiography be? I don’t know about full autobiography, especially since I’m bad at titles, but I do have two memoir titles centered around specific themes: Get Nice: My Life in Themed Parties, which is pretty self-explanatory, and Not Another Patch Hunky, which would be all tales from Fayettenam.
  2. What’s your favorite movie soundtrack? Not counting musicals, I’ve always loved the soundtracks to Velvet Goldmine, which is very glam, Amelie, which is sort of baroque experimental at times but beautiful always, Little Miss Sunshine with some of the world’s most gorgeous indie, and Marie Antoinette, which has tons of classic post-punk and new wave.
  3. What do you want your epitaph to be? I had a fake-ish one where I said something like, “LOL, Janelle had to GTFO, but she’ll BRB.” Seriously, I’m not sure. Ideally something clever and witty but a little funny, too.
  4. What everyday object would be a good amulet for you? Well, Paul is sitting next to me reading this and said, “A fork or a spoon.” I say either a journal or a book. Or maybe headphones.
  5. What animal would be “your” spirit-guide, like in Clan of the Cave BearAs much as I love exotic, badass animals, I think it would probably actually be a dog. When I stopped being afraid of them (a large German Shepherd jumped on me when I was little and it ruined dogs for me until I was like 10 and my mom was like, “We’re getting a Lab”), I loved them. They’re cuddly, loyal, protective, and loving, which is about all I think one needs out of any sort of animal companion. I mean, I get legitimately excited to go home and see my dog.

Booking Through Thursday: Snow Day

How do you like to spend your snow days?

How I spent my last one last Monday, basically, minus the early wake up and shoveling. I’d like to know it’s a snow day before I get up, which will never happen at my current job since we never close (although winter is at your own discretion–if you think you’ll die coming to work, don’t come to work), so I get to sleep in or don’t try to shovel out to no avail. Then I’d eat a proper breakfast, which I don’t do during the week, and go about my usual routine–play on the internet, blog, watch Netflix, read, write, play BioShock, do yoga, take a bubble bath at some point, maybe throw in some day drinking, submit some essays, and call it a day.

The Dangers of Small-Town Drinking

At least I had a warning–Sarah texted me Saturday night when she got to Lynn’s saying something along the lines of, “You need to get to Lynn’s soon so you can reconnect with your long-lost love Steve H.” My response was something along the lines of, “Fuck that guy. Be there soon.”

My short history with Steve: We used to be really good friends–awesome conversations late into the night, hanging out a lot, having a good time. He embellished things a lot, but for some reason no one ever called him out. He also tried to fuck pretty much everyone to little no success. He tried things with almost every single lady friend of mine. None of us were interested in him anyway, but we were especially uninterested knowing he’d tried the same things with all of us. We knew he only wanted laid, and not that we were all solely desiring romance, but when you know for a fact that what a guy wants is what he can get from you, it’s off-putting. Yet he doesn’t listen when you turn him down. He’s made many attempts to get in my pants over the years, from forced kisses to trying to talk me into blowing him. The last straw was at a party just before Paul and I went out for the first time–Steve tried to kiss me, I told him no, he started stroking my thigh, went for another kiss, then whined about no one wanting him when he got turned down again and then said he was pretending to be drunk to help his chances.

He didn’t see me when I got to Lynn’s, but I saw him. Sarah said he’d said hi to her, so I hoped either he’d never see me or the interaction would be short. So Sarah and I sat and talked and ordered fancy Angry Orchard from new bartender Tessa. We call it fancy–the bartenders differentiate between fun stuff they do to the Angry Orchard to make it either cinnamon or candy apple. Both are delicious, though I prefer the candy apple.

Leah had messaged me earlier in the day asking if I was going out. Honestly, I didn’t feel like it because that’s how my brain works–want to hang out, don’t feel like physically doing it, so I force myself because I know, especially now, I’ll have fun. So I told her I was. And I told Sarah I was. The bonus there is if I don’t go, I look like a bitch, so it’s motivation. So I let Leah know when I was heading in and she came in a few minutes after me.

For the most part, it was a pretty low-key night of hanging out and drinking, but it was fun and we discussed doing it again soon. We probably would if I’d go home more often, but this was the first time I’d gone in at least a month, possibly since New Year’s.

Steve came over at one point while Sarah was out smoking, and Leah and I were alone side by side talking at the bar. He slyly crept up, put his arms around us and was all, “Well, if there’s two ladies I haven’t seen in a long time, it’s you two.” Yeah, for a reason, and I was hoping to keep it that way.

Admittedly, it was okay at first–typical smalltalk. He’s engaged now. The wedding is in May. We’ve known him so long and have experienced so much of his bullshit that we’re amazed someone’s agreed to marry him, but he’s always dated really stupid girls, so either this girl doesn’t know what an ass he is or she doesn’t care.

And then he started typical Steve horseshit, starting with saying my brother’s girlfriend and her mom hate him because he drinks.

Now, according to Steve, nearly everyone has hated him at some point for no reason at all, including exes’ parents, some former friends, and his own parents. And it’s always been like that. He never did anything wrong, he whines. Everyone just hates him for no reason and no woman will let him stick his dick in her (they’re too smart to) and it’s so sad and horrible.

I do know Kelly’s mom was weird and strict about underage drinking. I couldn’t remember the details, but they definitely don’t hate him–although Kelly probably does now–and I told him that. When I talked to Brandon later, he said the main problem was her younger brother told their mom Brandon’s a really heavy partier, along with some other lies, and she believed him and almost told Kelly she couldn’t date him.

Steve said one night, Kelly had to leave a party at his house because of her mom, so Brandon took her home, went back, got hammered, and tried to fuck Steve’s cousin.

I immediately said, “I highly doubt that,” and he said, “No, it’s true! I saw it! It was gross!” I know my brother too well, so I tapped out and only half listened and let him know what was going on. He was furious, of course. When I told Terra, I told her Brandon probably just had a buzz and told this girl she looked nice, and I wasn’t drastically far off–he was a little drunk, he and Kelly were just friends at the time, and they made out a little.

When Sarah came in, I gave her the most disgusted facial expression I think I have ever given anyone in my entire life. Steve kept going on and on about tons of other shit–said Brandon sounds like a douche when he discusses what he’s up to (like telling Steve he’s going into psychology, which Steve says has no job market), his brother Nick has PTSD (which actually did turn out to be true), said he broke both his legs in basic training in the army and they misdiagnosed it as tendonitis and so he’s trying to get disability but they’re denying him because it didn’t happen on a deployment. He probably never broke both legs. Even if he did, you can’t collect disability unless you have a long-term problem because of it. And even if you could, they don’t deny you if you weren’t injured on a deployment–even if it’s not service-related but happened on active duty, you can get it.

Meanwhile, he joked about going to school but living off his fiancee’s income and cupcakes she makes twice a week, yet he lives an oppressed existence where she doesn’t let him do anything. And his parents hate him and won’t visit his new place, which is about five minutes from mine, which is in the slums of Washington. I didn’t dispute this because I didn’t want to say, “I live there, that’s not true” because I do not trust him and do not want him knowing where I live. Is the area shady sometimes? Sure. But it’s no worse than the county we all went to school together in. It’s probably better, really.

Sarah went out for another smoke and I got approval from Leah to join her solely to escape. I complained to everyone outside about what an ass he was. Sarah’s boyfriend and his brother offered to beat him up, and some other dude offered to pretend to be my boyfriend, but for once the problem wasn’t him being too sexually aggressive. The funny thing is Paul had said earlier that everyone at Lynn’s just goes outside to smoke, but thank fuck they do or else I’d probably still be in Lynn’s listening to that fucker. When we went back in, he was gone and Leah said, “What was he even talking about? It was in one ear and out the other.”

Brandon got antsy and wanted to confront him, but I wanted him to wait until one of us left. He wanted to know what Steve’s problem was and kept saying, “If he has a problem, he should talk to me,” and I kept saying, “He doesn’t have a problem, he just likes the attention or thinks he’s telling the truth or both.”

Brandon texted him around the time I left. I didn’t see Steve, but I wanted to be sure one of us was gone first. When I got home, Brandon had this whole exchange in which Steve said I misunderstood and accused us both of trying to cause drama. In a hilariously melodramatic move Brandon learned from our father (who learned from his father), he took the wedding save the date and ripped it up. We talked until about four in the morning, and I threw in some jabs like, “I’ve been telling you for years he’s no good and can’t be trusted, and this is what it takes for you to listen.”

The next day, Steve’s fiancee messaged Brandon asking what happened, saying Steve was upset and Brandon sent him harassing messages and Steve innocently tried to buy a round of drinks and we harassed him in return. Meanwhile, Kelly was furious when she got filled in and told Brandon basically all the same things I did about what a douche he is, just more tactfully.

Typical Steve–always the victim, always right. But he summed it up best himself when he introduced Leah and me to the army buddy with him: “Tell him, aren’t I the biggest bullshitter you know?”

Once the snow stops and we dig out, we seem to have a few days before we get hit with another round. My car’s gotten stuck many times. I’ve just been lucky that I haven’t been in any hurry to get where I was going and had time to dig out and neighbors to give me a helpful push. And I don’t think the city of Washington believes in plows.

Except at 7:00 on a Monday morning with a truck significantly restricting the room you have to get out. I could tell it was gonna be a lost cause after lots of struggling, so I just called off from work. I’d intended to shovel out and try to make it out, but the reports were saying not to go out if you didn’t have to and the snow didn’t stop for a few hours, so I figured that even if I did get out, I’d be on roads that probably didn’t even get plowed. Since I was already in, why go out?

I shoveled out when the snow stopped in the afternoon to make my Tuesday morning easier, but it didn’t help at all. First, the snow had started melting then refroze, so I had a big hunk of ice on my windshield that took forever to get off, which made me late enough, and then when I could finally see out my windshield, my car wasn’t budging much from its spot despite my shoveled path. Determined not to miss another day of work, I let them know I’d be late and set to gradually digging out and wiggling out of my spot. It took about a half hour.

All this in the week I was due for a very late annual review (it should’ve been in August). Now, I never miss work and I’m never more than a few minutes late, but I really didn’t want to have such trouble the week of the review.

The review was Wednesday. We had a bit of an ice storm Tuesday night, so I planned in advance, parked i  the flat Methodist-church lot next door, and got up early. The only trouble I had was a very icy car, but the ice had switched to rain overnight so it was more of a gross, thick slush I was able to clear off easily.

After all that mess, my review went well. I moved up two levels to a senior captioner, where I basically have some more independence and responsibility but most importantly, make more money. I could go up one more level, but other than that I’m basically as high as I can go until supervisor level. As ready as I’ve been for a new job, the promotion is refreshing enough that I’m willing to give it another year, unless Paul finds a job farther away.

He came over Thursday night basically for sex, but it was a nice night. And now he’s got a brutal cold like the one that knocked me on my ass the summer we started dating, so I’m probably doomed to get one, too. If he’s well enough, we’re doing a double date tomorrow with Brandon and Kelly, and I might be going to Lynn’s for Sarah’s boyfriend’s birthday–my first weekend back at home since I think around New Year’s? Should be fun, even though I love weekends to myself in my apartment.

Friday Five: Like Family, Part 2

  1. In what good ways are you like your father? Some people would see this as a bad thing, but I have his love of food. He’s always said that my mom and brother eat to live, but he and I live to eat. We’re willing to pay a lot of money for high-quality food, and we really appreciate the food. I also inherited some of his musical taste–he’s instilled in my brother and I both an appreciation for older music, but he insists anything past approximately 1990 is terrible and that musicians started sucking when they became politically or socially active. In his mind, there’s a direct correlation between activism and good music, but I think it’s more likely that he disagrees with them and loses interest. He also doesn’t really care what people think of him, which I inherited to a point–I have just enough to where I do my own thing, but I’d like more so that I could brush things off easier but not so much that I’m an asshole like he is.
  2. In what good ways are you like your mother? I have her strength, work ethic, and independence, most of which I never fully realized until I moved out on my own. Brandon and I were discussing her strength in the past few months–we’ve definitely seen her angry, upset, and crying, but we’ve never seen her completely break down. She’s always kept on going, especially when Dad was deployed. My parents don’t have a great marriage and probably haven’t since Brandon and I were little, but his deployment was still a huge stress. I never saw her falter. The world was still moving, and in retrospect, I think that had a huge impact on how Brandon and I handled the deployment. I’ve realized this especially in comparing her to Paul’s mom, who had numerous meltdowns when his brother simply enlisted and went to boot camp, and in turn, Paul and his other siblings were more stressed and more worried and struggled, too. I wouldn’t say Brandon and I took it in stride, but we coped. Her independence is probably part of this, and I joked recently that she accidentally taught me not to rely on a significant other because she didn’t, and I saw that growing up. She takes care of herself. She bought a damn house while my dad was still deployed and rarely turned to anyone else for help, though Brandon and I could pretty much take care of ourselves at that point so it was unnecessary. And she was always the breadwinner–she always made more money than my dad, so I always had this example of a woman who went out, made her career, and didn’t rely on anyone else. So now I’m living on my own and don’t ask for help, even when I probably should. And that ties into her work ethic. She was always bringing things home, and if she wasn’t she was studying for the CPA exam or taking classes for it or working late. She is a CPA now, but she does still stay late and she does still bring work home all the time. I just got promoted and was told they basically had to fish for something to tell me to improve on. I put in overtime, I stay late, and I do writing and editing in my evenings for free because I like it and think it’s a great resume-boosting career opportunity. Meanwhile, Paul called me a workaholic last night and said I’d probably never let him 100% financially support me. Nailed it.
  3. In what good ways are you like your sibling(s)? I think Brandon and I actually have pretty similar personalities–we’re mostly pretty laid back. We tend not to freak out about things, don’t really get jealous in our relationships, and handle adversity pretty well.
  4. In what good ways are you like another relative outside your immediate family? I have a lot of various cousins that are really, really fun.
  5. In what good ways are you completely unlike anyone you’re related to? I’m the only writer. I’m the only vegetarian. These things aren’t exactly good or bad, they just kind of are, but obviously they’re qualities about myself I like (and chose, at least to a point–I’ve always been good at words).

Booking Through Thursday: Detective Qualities

  1. Do you enjoy reading mysteries? If they’re well done, but I find lots have cheap twists.
  2. What’s your favorite kind of mystery? I kind of like thrillers, but like I said, cheap twists designed to make it seem like the writer is smarter than the reader.
  3. Do you like plenty of blood and guts, or do you prefer the details to be left to the reader’s imagination? Either one. Honestly, I think this depends on the writer–if they can pull off gore, fine, if they’re better at few details, fine. But I’m a very visual person, so the more detailed the description, the worse the picture in my head gets.
  4. Do you prefer mystery stories based in the author’s time or in previous centuries? No preference.
  5. Do you prefer mysteries based in your own country, or in distant lands? No preference.
  6. Do you like to figure out the solution, or do you allow yourself to be carried away with the story? I tend to just like stories carry me. If I find something really compelling, then I will think more about it and try to figure it out.