readingredhead: (Grin)
2013-03-02 12:19 pm

Making things, baking things: last night's dinner

So like I said in my previous post, I'm going to very interpret the "something" in the title of "National Create Something Month" very loosely...mostly for the sake of days like yesterday, when the only thing I created was dinner.

But trust me -- it was a good dinner.

There's a restaurant about ten minutes' walk from my apartment called Kitchenette that does the best savory breakfasts. Possibly the best sweet breakfasts, too, but I love them for things like biscuits and eggs and home fries. On weekday mornings, you can get the "Kitchenette Special" for $7.50: biscuit, bacon, two eggs, cheese, and coffee. (This is a steal in Manhattan.) My biscuits might not be quite as good as theirs, but we had heavy cream and I decided I would whip up a very easy biscuit recipe (five ingredients, less than 20 minutes!) and have Kitchenette Specials for dinner.

Kitchenette Special )

I suppose we could also count it as working towards creating something that I spent part of last night watching a punk rock band documentary and thinking about how I want to write a Romantic poets rock band AU...
readingredhead: (In the Book)
2012-10-27 09:38 am

Yuletide Letter

Dear Yuletide Writer:
First, thank you for agreeing to write me a story! Whoever you are, the fact that you agreed to do this already means you’re awesome, and I can’t wait to read whatever you’re willing to write for me. I’m going to talk a lot about specifics in the letter that follows, but the only thing that really matters is that we both appreciate the same obscure fandom. We’re friends already!
The kinds of things I like in fic differ somewhat between fandoms, but in general, I like fic that follows the canon pretty closely, or that works to develop ideas underrepresented/underdeveloped within the canon, or that takes place within the canon’s “blank spots” or “blind spots.” I like it when fics mirror closely the narrative voice of the original text, but I also like reading fic in somewhat experimental forms, provided thought has been put into the reason for narrative experiment. I don’t like OCs who serve no purpose, but I love it when the right well-written OC manages to bring about a deeper understanding or level of involvement between two or more canon characters, or serves to flesh out an interesting backstory.
When it comes to stories that deal with romantic relationships between characters, but I’m just as interested in the more prosaic or difficult or just plain awkward aspects of building and sustaining a relationship as I am in first kisses and proposals of marriage and other such grand gestures. Because of this, I’m perfectly fine if you tell me an established-relationship story, even if the characters involved aren’t presently an established canon pairing, though again, it’s not like I mind seeing how two characters got together! When it comes to physical intimacy, I care far less about how explicit the writing is than I do about how good the writing is, so write what feels right for you, whatever that means, and I will be more than happy to follow along! The only thing I WON'T be cool with is noncon/dubcon.
And don’t think that since there is a whole huge paragraph about romance, you have to write me a romance-centric fic! I am just as interested in fic that is about friendships—real, gritty, complicated, and necessary. Gen is totally awesome, or even fic that involves some background pairings but isn’t really “about” them, because as much as I love me some romance, I also love plot, especially plot that allows for the development of these worlds and their characters beyond what’s given in canon—whether that means more worldbuilding, or fleshing out character backstories, or even future-fic intended to explore the long-term ramifications of some canon decision. Said plot does not have to turn on major revelations in the cosmos, and can be something as small as a character working toward a personal realization or revelation, but I do like it when it’s there. I’m usually more interested in interpersonal conflict (two people sorting out issues they have with each other) than in galactic, world-is-ending conflict. The latter is perfectly okay as a backdrop to the former — end-of-the-world situations can produce really great character conflicts — but it’s certainly not necessary. I’m not a big fan of main character death (although there are times when it’s necessary) and in general I like “happy endings,” but I want to feel like they’ve been earned.
Some thematic things I love across all fandoms:
strong and complex female characters who have complicated but more-or-less positive relationships with other women
politics and politicking (anything from school election to inner workings of a royal court, either as backdrop or as motivator of plot), including espionage or court intrigue
the limits of magic; the intersections of magic, science, technology, and/or religion
children and young adults who have honest, mature, complex, and ultimately positive relationships with their parents and/or mentors
snark and banter and wordplay; whip-sharp back-and-forth conversational sparring (whether between actual adversaries or between friends only joking at being adversarial)
I’m sure I could think of more, but for now this is probably a good list to start with. If you want more details, browse this journal and my tumblr (I’m a pretty obsessive tagger, so you’ll probably find things quickly).
That said, on to the fandom specifics!
Young Wizards
Really, anything you want to do with this fandom will make me happy. And I mean anything. This is the fandom closest to my heart and I think you would have to try very very hard to write me something that I would not be interested in reading. However, if you offered "any" and you're looking for more guidance, for the younger generation I’d love to see Nita and Kit being awkward and trying to figure out their relationship post-AWOM, Dairine carrying on in Roshaun’s absence both at home and on Wellakh, Dairine finding Roshaun but not for a couple of years and then trying to figure out what in the world their relationship will look like, anyone going to a high school prom or having to get otherwise dressed up for something fancy (obviously with Carmela’s assistance!), or perhaps Nita and Kit’s first errantry assignment as a couple. Where Tom and Carl are concerned, I would love to read anything about their past, either shared or separate—how did they meet? What was life like for them before that?—and about their work as seniors and how that affects their relationship as partners (which I am 112% convinced is also a romantic relationship); I’m also interested in seeing them interacting with other grown-ups, ranging from parents of younger wizards to other wizards (perhaps even Nelaid and Miril?!). And if you want to write the epic in-and-out-of-time (b)romance between the Winged Defender and the Lone Power I will love you forever. But again, I stress that anything in this fandom will be wonderful and I will love you forever! Is there a fic you have been meaning to write for this fandom, but never quite get around to starting? Consider this your invitation to write it, even if it doesn’t involve any of the characters or storylines I mentioned. I just want to see this fandom grow!
Downton Abbey
What I really want, here, is the fantastic adventures of the Dowager Countess as an adolescent and young woman in the Victorian period. You could tell me about how she fell in love with late-nineteenth-century sci-fi (even in her old age she’s referencing Jules Verne), or about her girlhood friends (who was she gossiping with at the edges of those society functions she doubtless attended scores of?), or about how she met her husband and what their relationship was like, or about her imagined encounter with some Victorian personality (did she ever meet Dickens? Darwin? Wilde? George Eliot?). These are just a few examples of the many things that fascinate me about her as a character, and frankly I will be interested in any story about her past that suggests how exactly she’s developed into the woman she is at present. If, however, you’re not up for writing a younger Violet, I would also love any present-day story in which her interactions with her grandchildren(-in-law) leads to some kind of introspection, nostalgia, or reckoning with the changes she’s seen over the course of her life; alternately, how would she go about writing her will? Her memoirs?
You know that stuff I said above about sticking very close to canon? If you’re writing for this fandom, forget it. I finished reading Clarissa over six months ago and I’m still smarting over the way that novel ended, whatever Richardson might think about it. What I really want is a fix-it that, while respecting the intensity of the experiences Clarissa has gone through, allows her to heal rather than forcing her to die, even if that healing takes a while or takes on strange forms. I’m mostly interested in the relationship between Clarissa and Anna, which I have talked about at great length elsewhere, and I’m most interested in a story about how Anna and Clarissa work together to recover and rebuild after such a traumatic experience. Whether this recovery includes any version of Anna/Clarissa is totally up to you. The only thing that would be NOT OKAY in my books is any story that involves victim-blaming or tries to reconcile Clarissa and Lovelace.
Also—and I almost can’t believe I am saying this, but I seriously mean it—I have been feeling for the longest time that this novel would lend itself fabulously to a vampire AU, in which Lovelace, in addition to raping Clarissa, turns her into a vampire without her consent. How does she respond to becoming a creature that her incredibly strict religious convictions suggest a) shouldn’t exist and b) doesn’t possess a soul? Would vampire Clarissa still be pious, or turn vengeful, or somehow be both?
readingredhead: (Professor)
2012-05-08 01:51 pm

(no subject)

"Don't apply to grad school," they said.

"It'll make you hate everything you think you love," they said.

"At least take a year off so you'll have something to look back on when you are mired in the abyss of your first year," they said.

"And if you do apply, it should be because nothing else can ever make you happy," they said. "Because you can't imagine any other career that would give you even the smallest margin of satisfaction. Because you know nothing else that will allow you to support your existence, at all, if you don't go."

I will never stop being proud of myself for not listening to them.

I am approximately twenty-four hours away from being done with my first year of grad school. In those twenty-four hours I have to write the last ten pages of a twenty-page paper and revise the whole thing so it's up to my standards, or at least so it doesn't attempt to argue via sentence fragments and bracketed colloquialisms and exclamation points. But you know what? I can do that while sitting in my bed in pajamas drinking hot cocoa, and without stressing overmuch. And this paper is showing me, more than ever, that there may not be anything other than grad school that could make me this happy. I'm only halfway done, but it already contains a section entitled "novels are people too" and a footnote about the use of "fan fiction" to describe eighteenth-century alternate endings to Clarissa and a lengthy diatribe against critics who disapprove of emotional responses to works of fiction as inherently anti-intellectual. Soon it will have paragraphs about emotional engagement with literary characters as an inspiration for personal literary production and the implications of marginalia for constructions of readerly authority and the validity of what Eve Sedgwick calls "reparative reading."

I can't wait.
readingredhead: (Write)
2012-05-03 09:59 pm

Of potential interest to fannish friends:

Just got word of [ profile] shipswap , a rare-pairings exchange that will be taking place for the first time this summer. Rules look approximately the same as Yuletide, but you request/offer pairings rather than characters, and as a result rare pairings in big fandoms are totally okay. Nominations are going on right now through May 16, sign-ups will start May 18, assignments go out June 11, stories due by August 26.

I'm definitely planning on doing this at present, and I've already nominated everything from Kit Rodriguez/Lone Power (Young Wizards) to Anna Howe/Clarissa Harlowe (Clarissa), once again proving that 90% of my interests are either 1) young adult fantasy novels or 2) eighteenth/nineteenth-century British novels.

(Now I should maybe go back to writing the paper which is due in nineteen hours and currently lacks introduction, conclusion, and cohesion.)
readingredhead: (London)
2012-04-16 05:42 pm

Look, a post!

Life continues apace over in the world of academia. I turned in my MA essay today (I'm not overflowingly proud of it but I do think it's a solid, well-argued, potentially important piece of work), which means I only have three major assignments between now and May 9, and then FREEDOM. Two of those assignments are 18-20 pg seminar papers, both of which will be touching in one way or another on Clarissa, which I have ALSO finished. (In related news, I'm pretty sure I've told everyone I know that I want a t-shirt that says "I survived Clarissa -- not even she could manage that!" except I suspect if I actually got one Richardson would personally return from the dead to haunt me.)

Aside from school, I have had a surprisingly busy social calendar lately? I mean, apparently I have friends in this city?! Crazy talk. So there was that one time when Christina and I stalked Doctor Who filming and saw Matt Smith and Karen Gillan doing a lot of running (and they waved at us!), a birthday party for [personal profile] oliviacirce at which among other things I discovered that I may want a line from Milton's Lycidas tattooed on my foot ("But not the praise"), karaoke with friends at the bar with the TARDIS (and I actually sang in front of strangers!), and lunch plus Clarissa conversation with a fellow survivor today. And tonight there will be post-MA-essay drinks with cohort mates, followed by a birthday dinner tomorrow, and then Jordy is in town on Thursday! 

I'm also starting to realize how soon I'll be headed to London and Norway, and I am SO EXCITED. It's been too long since I traveled somewhere and had adventures (not that adventures cannot be had without travel, but travelling adventures have a different flavor, and it's one that I miss). In case you missed it the last time I listed dates, I'll be in London June 12-19 and Norway June 20-29 (not that anyone in Norway is on my flist, but in case you were curious!). At some future point I will send Londoners a humble plea for couch space, but I gather that there is moving and the like going on at present, and that life is stressful in general, and I would not want to add to that!

One month from today, I will have an MA in English. Two months from today, I will be in London (or you know potentially elsewhere in the United Kingdom if I do day-trippy things! like walking/hiking places!). It's just getting through the intervening time that will require some finessing, but thankfully it's actually all starting to look almost manageable. (There will be a post later about how, in one of my papers, I'm essentially arguing that the "participatory novel culture"--which is my fancy terminology for "fans and fanfic writers"--centered around Richardson's novels in the mid-eighteenth century ought to be read, not as unprofessional fannish effusion, but as a strand of novel theory in its own right which can teach us a great deal about how the novel as an evolving genre was perceived by its readers and its writers. Yes you heard me right. FANDOM. IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY. And my professor is excited about me writing this! And rec'd a book about Janeites as potentially relevant to my methodological interests! ACADEMIA: YOU'RE DOING IT RIGHT.)

Now I should probably stop procrastinating and tackle the day's most difficult dilemma (which is, of course, what do I make for dinner?).
readingredhead: (Grin)
2011-11-30 01:08 am

This awesome lady is being awesome.

There have been a lot of times in my life lately where I've worried that what I do for fun and what I want to do seriously with the rest of my life don't mach up. I spend a lot of "fun time" reading books written for teenagers, with magic and/or crossdressing and/or teenaged royalty and/or flying whales. I spend a lot of the same funtime not only analyzing those books, but turning that analysis into a lens for understanding and critiquing social inequalities and broad societal misconceptions and problematic assumptions about Big Issues like race and gender and religion and sexuality. 

And then what do I do with my "serious work"? I read things people were writing before flying whales were even on literature's imaginative horizon. (At least to my knowledge! If you or someone you know has encountered a flying whale in the eighteenth century, please direct me!) I read works by women, and I find myself drawn to works written specifically by those women to whom the traditional English canon tends to deny a voice, but my major subjects of analysis have themselves been rather canonical thus far -- I am somehow the white girl who got into grad school with a writing sample on Jane Austen -- and while I know this will shift as I read more under the direction of some awesome professors (male and female) who understand that the eighteenth century is a time when "literature" as a category is only just coming into existence, allowing for a great deal of space in the literary imagination that gets restricted as things like canonization and genre solidification begin to happen, I do occasionally wish that it was easier to connect the two halves of my life to each other.

But the thing is, they are connected. Intimately. Even when (especially when) I don't see it. Prime example of this being that I'm currently in a course on eighteenth century oriental tales which has got me reading lots of stories by and about women, and also stories with magic! That elusive combination which, before this semester, I would not have thought constituted a portion of the canon that was available for my analysis, or that I could speak about as a way of gaining any kind of scholarly authority. 

And I realized as I submitted the paper proposal for this class that without fandom-related conversations about the importance of representing women who are friends with other women, I would never have come to this paper topic. I am essentially writing a paper about how the collapse of society in one particularly violent early-ish gothic novel could have been averted if it wasn't in the interest of men and masculine organizations of power to pit women against each other, or if women realized that their animosity against each other only existed because routed through masculinist assumptions of women's social roles and decided to counteract this by being friends with each other anyway.

Seriously, I keep looking at my paper and thinking about fandom and smiling, because the wonderful female commentators of fandom have taught me just as much as the wonderful female writers of the eighteenth century. Ladies who are friends with other ladies and do not judge them for their way of being a lady are the happiest best ladies. That is all.
readingredhead: (Sketch)
2011-11-23 11:21 pm

Srs fandom bizness is srs

In case you could not tell from the title of this post I am now going to talk surprisingly seriously about fanfiction? But mostly as a way of asking questions of others on my flist who may write it/may have written it. (Though of course this won't happen til I go off on a digression!)

My own fandom history is peculiar. I discovered internet fandom via Harry Potter but it was always so effing huge and when the tiny fansite that I had followed from its start ended up closing down and I no longer had a manageably miniature way of participating in forums, reading and reccing fic, keeping up-to-date on news, etc. I basically let go of fandom. (This was in the Days Before LJ so I had no idea what kind of fandom went on through LJ comms!)

Also through Harry Potter, though in a very different way, I ran into the fandom that would become the love of my life, my One True Fandom, if you will: Diane Duane's Young Wizards novels, which I picked up for the first time when in between Harry Potter novels and fell for in a flash. Years later my passion for HP has faded but YW and I are still more-or-less madly in love. It helps that this is a super obscure fandom, easy to keep up with, very supported by the author who runs a discussion forum over at her personal website, and all of the people in it are really kind and supportive (though you'd expect this out of a fandom whose canon depends on the belief that any anger or unkindness, however small, speeds up the heat-death of the universe and plays right into the cosmic antagonist's hands). It is the fandom through which I have made my only non-RL LJ friends!

The point being, I've flirted with other fandoms, but Young Wizards is really my home, and has been for at least the past seven years. I've read all the novels multiple times, I fall asleep listening to the audiobooks on occasion, and characters grew and changed over time and along with me. And this is really the only serious experience of fandom that I have.

Which is why I'm suddenly finding it frustratingly problematic to get my head around writing fic for another fandom. I posted before about how much I loved Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan series, and I really think that it could be a brilliant second fandom home. It's the first fandom since Young Wizards where I've said, "This is something I want to be a part of for a while, not just until the obsession wanes." But my experience coming into the series is so totally different from what I had with YW. I read all three books in the trilogy within the past four months, they haven't been a part of my mental landscape for very long at all, and as much as I want to write ALL THE FIC for them, I find myself feeling weirdly blocked by a sense that I'm just not ready yet.

All of this is an incredibly long-winded way of asking: How do you get yourself to the point where you feel comfortable writing in a new fandom? How do you iron out things like characterization and tone and headcanon and backstory? Do you read a lot of other fic for ideas or do you tend to read and re-read the source material? Is there some magical secret that I have yet to encounter?

Part of the problem is that Leviathan is also a small fandom, but since these are YA novels most fandom participants are probably teenagers...not that this is inherently bad, but it does mean that the kind of discussion I would expect from an LJ comm is a bit lacking in the one active comm for the series... Another part of why Young Wizards is awesome is that a lot of current fandom luminaries are people who might have been teens when the first book was released in the eighties, but are now obviously more mature and care about having philosophical conversations about the nature of the world and the characters, etc.

Guys, I just want to write stories where a girl dressed as a boy and the boy she's in love with go around their alternate universe Europe having adventures and being awesome -- is that too much to ask?
readingredhead: (Sketch)
2011-10-08 04:55 pm

Leviathan Trilogy Fanworks Meme

Yes, it is possibly presumptuous that I am starting one of these when I have only been a rabid fan of this series for, oh, two months, but I'm going to pretend that the release of Goliath gives me a valid excuse for making this happen. That said, here be potential spoilers for the entire Leviathan trilogy, so proceed with caution if you haven't read all of these wonderful books. (And if you haven't, GO READ THEM NOW.)

Background: After I finished Goliath, I found my brain swimming with ideas/desires for all kinds of fan tributes - fic, art, mixes, you name it! - and while there is a lot of fic to be found on, and a lot of art to be found on deviantArt, it's hard to search through all of it to find just what you're looking for. And furthermore, what you're looking for might not actually exist. Hence, an exchange-centered fanworks meme! (I'm using "fanworks" as an umbrella term to include fic, fanart, fanmixes, icons/backgrounds, podfic, etc.).

How it works: Make a list of five* fanworks you'd like to see. These list items can be quite specific (ex. "a comic depicting a day in the life of Bovril") or quite general (ex. "Barlow/Volger, enemies with benefits"). Along with this list, make a list of the kinds of fanworks that you are willing to contribute - fic, art, mixes, icons, rec lists, etc. - so that people know what kind of fill they'll receive in return for filling one of your requests. 

Post this list on your LiveJournal, DeviantArt account, Tumblr, whatever - just get it out there to fellow Leviathan fans, with the following disclaimer: "If you fill one of my requests and repost this meme with your own request list, I will fill one of your requests!" Then wait for people to comment and claim/fill your requests. Once someone claims one of yours and reposts, it's your job to claim one of theirs.

*You can always list more than five requests if you are willing to fill more than five requests!

Technical details - what counts as a fill: Unless a request asks for a specific type of fanwork, any request can be filled by any kind of fanwork. Since this meme anticipates fills across a variety of fanwork genres, it's hard to impose a consistent "length requirement," but I'd suggest at least 500 words for fic, at least 5 songs for fanmixes, and maybe a couple of variants if you're posting icons. I am in no way a visual artist so I have no idea how to set up any kind of requirement for this, but the bottom line is, use your best judgment and remember that what goes around comes around: if you write a longer fic, or make a massive mix, or spend forever on the perfect illustration, then it's likely that the person you're giving it to will be compelled to fill your request with a similar benevolence. And it's totally fine to provide a mixed fill - for example, a 200-word drabble with a sketch, or a fic/sketch with a playlist of mood music, etc. 

Finally, since this is a quickly-growing fandom and it's hard to sort through all of it looking for that one fic/artwork that you've been desiring, participants can allow people to post rec lists in lieu of unique fills. What this means is, for example, that if I did request "Barlow/Volger, enemies with benefits," and you already know a couple of fics or artworks or mixes or whatever that are awesome and would fulfill this request, you can post that list of recommended fanworks instead of writing me a fic/drawing me a picture/etc. Though you could obviously rec things and create things of your own to count towards a single fill! (If you're more widely read in this fandom than I am, or you'd rather generate new fanworks than see older ones that may be non-canonical post-Goliath, you can leave this bit out when you repost.) 

And now without further ado I give you my request list!

1. Barlow/Volger, enemies with benefits

2. younger!Barlow, it isn't easy being the only lady in a man's world

3. Deryn/Alek, being young and madly in love isn't as easy as it looks

4. Deryn/Alek, firsts

5. Crossover/fusion with Diane Duane's Young Wizards series, in which wizards end up in the Leviathan-verse

I'm not widely read in the fandom and I have no visual artistic talent whatsoever, but I write (a lot) and put together mini-fanmixes every now and then, so expect my fills to be 99% fic.

Now, go forth and prompt and fill and rec and spread Leviathan-y goodness throughout the internet!