|Staying Power: Fandoms You're [Glad to Be] Stuck With
||[Nov. 13th, 2008|10:44 pm]
We all have them: the fandoms we love, the fandoms we flirt with, and the fandoms that got away. I'm grossly oversimplifying this, true; however, in my experience there's also a tier of fandoms that transcends even all of the various permutations that you can derive from the aforementioned list. For all of the fandoms that I've written over time, listed as they are in one big chaotic block of tags in my floating post, and for all that I revisit a good number of these on a semi-regular basis (or, frankly, when asked to), only a very small handful are what I would call lifetime commitments. In most cases, I'm basing this classification on the fact that the typical specimen from this select grouping fits the following criteria:
1) It wasn't a whirlwind fever of activity that seemed to possess me, lay me out flat in a writing trance for weeks on end, and vanish in the blink of an eye. While most of my obsessions start out as a whirlwind fever of activity that possesses me for weeks on end and barely lets me sleep, it's rare when one of those sticks around for, say, more than six months to a year. The whirlwinds return again and again and again, in addition to the fact of sporadic stories and drabbles in between.
2) Even if I go three to four months between periods of activity in said fandom, returning is like coming home. In between times, the characters are never that far from my thoughts. I'll be walking down the street and, out of the blue, smile because I see something and know exactly how they'd react - almost as if they were walking along ahead of me, idly chatting. Both the characters and their world get so firmly programmed into my psyche that it's not so much a flip I switch on and off at will as an additional layer of existence that's always there. I'm the ghost flitting in and out of their world rather than vice versa. And I would never want them to see me there, either. I'm content simply to watch and know and report back on what I've seen. I hold the fourth wall so sacred you'd probably think I'm a bit cracked (which I am).
3) My emotional reaction to the source material is, nine times out of ten, what hooks me and keeps me rooted to the spot. Amaze me, humble me, devastate me: these are the building blocks of endless wonder and fascination. Where there's the deepest pain imaginable, I no longer fear to tread; where there's the greatest love conceivable, I will return again and again. This is why, for example, The Dark Knight is not going to end up being one of those fandoms. I walked there for a while because there was something inescapably dark and fascinating that I wanted to explore, and now that I've explored it? I'm content. But with these faces and places that draw me inexorably back? I will never be content. I will never feel as if I have reached the limits. I will never feel that I have done enough. And yes, this is a good thing.
Toy Soldiers (since 2003) is the dead obvious one, for those of you that have been here for time out of mind. I have never been so broken, so ill used by a fictional landscape and its inhabitants - while, at the same time, so utterly exhilerated and at ease in the midst of the turmoil. And if you had told me I'd make myself a home in late 80s/early 90s east-coast America with more than a handful of troubled, rebellious teenage boys, I would've called you mad. It's not just Billy and Joey and their utterly jaw-dropping bond that keeps me there. It's their dysfunctional circle of friends and even more dysfunctional families. It's the bizarre microcosm of their private school and its attendant trappings. It's the way they have to negotiate themselves in a world that's stacked against them in more ways than I can count, and it's the way they do so with so much courage. Even unto death, even unto death and the bleak shores beyond. I am never warm in this world. It's always autumn, and I'm always racing toward the gates, racing, and I never reach them. They'll always be ahead of me one breathless heartbeat, and that heartbeat is what stands between them and oblivion.
Good Omens (since 2004) was dropped on my unsuspecting head by none other than azureflight. I finished the book in just under three hours, and I called her and left what was, to my memory, an incoherent 15-minute ramble of a voicemail that added up to something translating to, roughly: I'm head-over-heels in love with EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS BOOK and it is ALL YOUR BLOODY FAULT. This revelation, which goes largely by the name of Aziraphale/Crowley, came a mere eleven months before I moved to the UK. In some ways, I feel it made my transition into this new world all the easier. I'd been obsessively researching life in Britain just so I could write them all the more convincingly, and by the time I got here, I thought, I know this, I know this. And I can't walk the streets of London without my favorite angel and demon somewhere near. I've followed them to the end of the world one too many times, and I'm always waiting for the next. They're my safety and sanity in the face of all that is not safe or sane. If I hadn't gained this crucial counterbalance, Toy Soldiers might've done me a lot more damage. That's not to say Good Omens has left me in one piece, however. The abyss does occasionally manage to rear its ugly head. Fortunately, Aziraphale and Crowley are immortal and, therefore, largely immune to its vagaries.
Hamlet (since 2004, provisionally) may, at a glance, appear to be insignificant (on account of the small amount of fic I've produced for it in comparison to the previous two), but the impression is deceptive. It was the first story, period, that hit me smack in the chest and left a noticeable bruise; I first read it in my junior year of high school, of which fact I'm sometimes ashamed, given that I'd read so many of Shakespeare's other plays between the ages of 9 and 15 alone! Perhaps it was the endless pop-culture portrayal of Hamlet as a cliché - skull and Yorick, to be or not to be - that kept me away until it was forced upon me. I got to the death scene during a free-reading session of English class during the week we were studying it, and I had the royal embarrassment of sitting there sobbing over my book when I hit Horatio's Now cracks a noble heart! Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest. I hadn't known that was there; I hadn't seen it coming. And in years to follow, I would never understand why Horatio is so frequently marginalized. If you were so fortunate as to see the Boston's 2005 Shakespeare on the Common production, you will have seen the rarest treasure on earth: a production that not only gave Horatio his due, but gave him his sweet prince (for as long as it was able).
(In this vein, I'm also stuck with Chanson de Roland and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Stupid, stupid boys! I must be half in love with foolishness.)
Everything Is Illuminated (since 2007) has been fence-sitting. I can tune in to Alex and Jonathan with disturbing ease, but my writing drive with them has, recently, been dormant. I had a story hit me while we were in Dublin in June, and because I lost the notes I'd taken, it frittered itself away in idle fancies and forgotten dialogue that, until I'm sure I have it back, will never be as good as when I thought it up. I resisted this book for as long as I could, but twilightgardens has the rare ability to hold my chin still, look me in the eyes, and say, Look - there's work for you here. And these two were the hardest work I'd done since Billy and Joey. Truly an honor.
...which brings me, then, to Hot Fuzz (since September). Obviously, this is still a developing situation, but there are a whole passel of commitment-laden red flags attached. One: Nicholas and Danny are so perfect for each other it hurts. Two: Danny doesn't die, which in my world is a fucking miracle, considering the track-record I've just finished laying out. Three: This is home, this is where I am living, and this is in some ways the world of Good Omens cast in another light (don't be astonished if I produce a crossover between the two one of these days). Already the possibilities are spilling from that hole in my chest that I never did manage to patch up, and from where I'm sitting, they appear to be endless. Also, I'm a sucker for ice cream.
So who are you stuck with, and why are you glad to be stuck with them?