The holiday season always makes me think of fan fiction because the first multi-chaptered fan fiction I ever wrote was about my two favorite queer TV characters, Helen and Nikki from the UK primetime soap Bad Girls, getting married at Christmastime. It’s impossible to draw a straight line through our pasts to determine how we got to where we are at this very moment in time on this whirling planet — life is a spiderweb of little decisions leading in a billion different directions — but I can say without a second of hesitation that writing that fan fiction was the catalyst that led me to pursuing nearly every good thing I have in my life today.
The story was called “What God Has Brought Together (And All That)” and writing it allowed me to explore so many things I was feeling in my head and heart, in a safe way, with characters I already loved. Hyper-religious upbringing? Check. Terror of coming out to family? Check. Desire to settle down and create a home with a woman? Check. Just plain old sexual desire? Check, check. I worked out more of my own stuff in that story than I did in the years of therapy leading up to me writing it. I made a dear friend in the forum where I posted the story, a dear friend who would ultimately go on to save my life. And I gained confidence and skill as a writer by posting the story and engaging with the feedback people left me.
Not long after I finished it, I quit my office job, packed a backpack, flew to Europe, saw the world, and came home to pursue my dream of being a real writer.
What I didn’t know back then was that I already was a real writer. No, my story wasn’t great. No, I wasn’t getting paid for it. Probably only about twenty people read it, and I got in trouble by the forum admins all the time for misspelling things and getting all my British stuff super wrong. I was a writer because I was writing, simple as that.
This month, I asked five TV writers who work on shows with queer female characters to answer one question for me: Does lesbian fandom have any effect on what we ultimately see on our TV screens? Three of them said yes; two of them said no. As I thought through their answers, again and again, I finally decided the no’s don’t really matter to me. Eight years into doing this job, I somehow arrived at this idea that “visible endgame” is the ultimate fandom goal. (Maybe that’s because people yell at me the most about that on Twitter.) But as I think back over my own experiences, I realize that creatively engaging with queer stories in queer communities, however we see fit, is the ultimate fandom goal.
So many of the best things in my life — this career and the precious woman asleep beside me in bed right now and most of my best friends and my ability to think critically about the media and messages I consume — are rooted in fandom. Most of them can be traced back to the very first fan fiction I published. Albus Dumbledore was always right: “Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.” Always: “Of course it’s happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
People often ask to read my first fan fiction and I just blush and say no, but it’s Christmas, and so here it is. I’ve come a long way as a writer, but I’ll always be proud of these fledgling words. I grimace when I reread them, but I always reread them at Christmas.
This month, I’ve got some Clexa fics for you because the new trailer for The 100 got me hyped; plus, a fan fiction news round-up; and answers to some TV questions you asked me.
Fan Fiction Friday: One Fish, Two Fish, Golden Retriever Goldfish
they take their shots but we’re bulletproof by nightshifted
Pairing: Clarke/Lexa, The 100
Plot: Delicious angst and longing, friends.
Length: 10,000 words
You See the Smile That’s On My Mouth (it’s hiding the words that don’t come out) by heartshapedcandy
Pairing: Clarke/Lexa, The 100
Plot: Clarke and Lexa smooch a lot and talk about their feelings a little.
Length: 48,000 words
fearless. by lordvoldyfarts
Pairing: Clarke/Lexa, The 100
Plot: Obligatory Clexa roadtrip AU.
Length: 30,000 words
Understanding by AbsorbingMisery, LilianaFox
Pairing: Clarke/Lexa, The 100
Plot: 100,000 words of pain and feelings!
Length: 118,000 words
Forged in War by RavenclawGenius
Pairing: Clarke/Lexa, The 100
Plot: Lexa loves Clarke and she’s going to wait and wait and wait until Clarke realizes she loves her back.
Length: 43,000 words
Listening to the news! Again?
Fandom in the news and around the world this month.
+ RocketJump hopes fan fiction can make geek culture less sexist. Their new web series boasts an episode called “Fan Friction,” in which “two proud geeky girls write a story combining their favorite fandoms.” From the series creator:
I really want to feature female stories in all of my work. The opportunity to have a story about two female characters and their friendship was really important, particularly because in geek and nerd culture there’s a lot of hostility towards women historically. So it was an important and deliberate choice to make it two female characters. The goal with the short was to make it a love letter to female fans of nerdy stuff. Ideally that will make them feel included into a world where they are often excluded from.
+ Anna Todd is creating her own empire! This girl wrote a One Direction-inspired fan fiction that sold for six figures and she got to keep her work on Wattpad.
Todd rose to fame through the online publishing site Wattpad, which allowed her to self-publish her story — a romantic tale between a Harry Styles-inspired bad boy and a sweet college girl — one chapter at a time online, and interact with Wattpad’s 40 million users who left comments to help her shape the next chapters. After her body of work hit more than 800 million reads in summer 2014, Simon & Schuster’s Gallery Books won a bidding war for the publishing rights in a mid-six-figure deal.
+ Over at The Mary Sue, a series of interviews with fandom writers and artists: “Fanfiction and Fanart: The World Beyond Fifty Shades of Grey.”
Even with a modicum of acceptance, though, most fan creators find it hard to shake the eyerolls or even downright offensive commentary. With this new wave of legitimacy, I wanted to talk to leaders in the fanfic and fanart worlds to get a better sense of what inspired them to create, how they feel about the higher profile, and how they see their work being devalued—not just in the media but from within the assumed safe space of fandom.
A handful of answer to a handful of TV/movie questions.
Heather, what the hell! Carol was even better than you said it was going to be! How are we ever going to go back to mediocre representation after this?
I think about this like five times a day! And I’ll tell you, friend. I’m not going back. Carol, Freeheld, Grandma, Tangerine: All in theaters in a single year. Three of those films racking up awards. Like. Annalise Keating is queer now, okay. Viola Davis is playing a bisexual character on a female-fronted show on ABC’s most watched night of television. Person of Interest is gladly going there with Root and Shaw, on CBS. Two now-queer characters exploring a relationship, even though they weren’t intended to be queer form the outset. They’re going there because their chemistry is so good and because lesbian and bisexual women are NORMAL. I’m not going back to the way the world was before this year. I just refuse to do it.
Do you know who dies in PLL 6B? I’ve heard some rumors and you seem really dejected about the coming season, which makes me think the rumors are true.
I do know who dies, yes. I think you know too. You seem to know. And yes, I am dejected. Let’s talk it out once the 6B premiere airs and figure out what to do together, yeah?
What were your favorite TV shows that didn’t have queer women in them in 2015, HH?
Awesome question! Supergirl, Master of None, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Great British Bake Off, Mad Men, Parks and Recreation, and BoJack Horseman.
Help! I have three weeks off from school and I don’t know what to marathon on Netflix. I’m so far behind on every show with lesbian characters.
I’ve got some good news for you: Riese made you a list!
I have finally had it with Once Upon a Time, Hogan. I can’t do it anymore. Help me. Help me get out of here.
I’m sorry OUAT broke your heart. I understand. I have had my heart broken by TV much more than I have had my heart broken by actual human beings. But look, it’s 2015! There are more canonically queer female characters/relationships on TV than ever before. What you need to do is get yourself back out there into the world and watch some other things, see what you connect with, see what captures your heart and imagination; then, you can dig into those fandoms and find a new home. I’m going to suggest Person of Interest to you. I believe that is a very good start toward healing your heart.
Can you suggest a show similar to Defiance that I might like? I’m really sad it was cancelled but I’ve never been into sci-fi and I don’t really know where to start. I like Buffy.
Oh! Firefly, then. Firefly is the next logical step for you. Hit me up when you’re finished and I’ll point you toward something else!
I’m sitting here 10 pages deep in Heather’s first fan fiction and it’s just so sweet.
I love this week an extra lot.
Person of Interest healing your heart hahahaha I mean yes everybody should be watching that show and I love that it’s getting recommended here.
Well, first it’ll break your heart into a million pieces, but everyone should still watch it regardless :)
But it breaks it into pieces with good storytelling, which makes it the opposite of the way OUAT breaks a person’s heart!
I got my mom into the show but then you know what happened with Carter and it broke her heart and she stopped watching.
And I was all “nooo but it gets so so gooood”. But nope, she won’t watch it without Carter, bless her heart.
I think you can watch Terra Incognita stand-alone. You might be able to get her back into the show that way!
It would be a detriment to all things Clexa to not include Chrmdpoet’s fic “this heart, fossilized and silent (once was tender and once was violent)”. http://archiveofourown.org/works/3628650
It’s probably the best fic I have ever read from any fandom ever. But also, whatever happens in Season 3, just remember that this is how things SHOULD happen.
^^^^^ 100% this
Yes, yes, yes.
My marked for later list is looking really god now!
Okay, so about 8 months ago, I asked the the Straddleverse if I should watch Person of Interest, and the answer was a resounding YES! Thank god I listened.
So now my question is, should I be watching The 100? Does Clexa actually happen? And is the show any good outside of Clexa? Also, will my mother like it? Because we are looking for a show to marathon together over the holidays, and her suggestion is Bloodline and I don’t really want to watch that. (My mom isn’t super into sci-fi, but sometimes she surprises me, like she watched all of Lost, so who knows).
I’m rewatching Fringe right now and it’s consistently crazy good. Like out of 5 seasons there’s maybe a couple of episodes that I find a bit boring after having seen them twice already…
It’s not queer though (are you looking for queer content specifically?) but it’s just so good…
Didn’t someone (Heather?) “apologize” in another post about telling us to watch the 100 because of the queer content yet to come which never really happened and everybody ended up being disappointed ? I’ve watched season 1 and wasn’t overjoyed but I hear it’s good-ish.
Not me, I never apologize! (Just kidding, I apologize all the time; it’s like my main life skill.) Maybe you’re thinking of Rachel’s post on it, which is very excellent (as are all things Rachel writes, amen).
haha no I found it, it was Sadie :
“There are two types of people who saw this show: The first type were those who never saw it coming. Those who, like me, needing to fill a sci-fi void in their life gave this weird little show a shot. Expecting nothing we actually manage to get a pretty bad ass bisexual main character in return for trudging through one and a half seasons of some pretty scientifically suspect descents from an oddly spacious space station. The second type of people are those that heard us first typers go on and on about something which, in the end, turns out to be about 45 seconds of actual screen time and a lot of sexual tension surrounding it. On behalf of the first group, we apologize.”
But yes that piece Rachel wrote was fantastic <3.
Yeah that’s accurate :-D
Right. That was the comment that made me decide I didn’t need to see it after all. But that was BEFORE the most recent promo came out.
To be fair she seemed to say that as a “first type of people” person she seemed to enjoy the show regardless of the queer content ?
Yes! That was Riese I think who apologized for telling us to watch The 100 because the queer stuff never actually happened, but now apparently this promo for the next season promises that the queer stuff WILL happen? Thus my confusion.
And no, I’m not necessarily looking for something queer to watch with my mom, though I’m definitely considering tricking her into watching Transparent by telling her its all about a messed up Jewish family.
The second season is so much better! And queer stuff does happen. And all the storylines are driven by the women and girls. And the characters are complex. And…I don’t have time right now to tell you guys how much it’s worth it! But it so is!
Yeah that’s what I heard on other sites as well, that the second season was pretty good.
I also say watch it! As someone who was in that “second group” and who watched the whole series from the start based solely on the whispers of queerness, I say it’s super worth it!
I mean, I also super identified with Clarke re: making the hard choices that would see people through instead of being a bleeding heart kinda character (except for TonDC. Just no.), but I think that the queer factor still pays off and as Lisa says, this is a bi main character in a kick ass sci-fi show, what’s not to love!?
Yes, watch The 100. The Clexa stuff isn’t until season 2, but the show is a fantastic, post-apocalyptic treatise on morals in times of survival and war. VERY female-driven.
The first couple of episodes are shaky. Stick with it. By episode 5, if you’re not hooked, then I don’t know what to tell you.
Oh to say that “the queer didn’t happen” is misleading. It may not have happened exactly the way people want it to, but we absolutely have a bisexual female lead character on a US-aired, non-cable show, and that story ain’t over yet.
It’s been god knows how many years and I still completely weep at that Dumbledore quote.
I LOVE YOU JK ROWLING YOU BRILLIANT AUTHOR.
And also, damnit Heather! That comment about PLL combined with your tweet about the promo picture now has me super worried for this season. Please tell me that you’ll still be recapping it, no matter how terrible it gets, so that at least we can all still commiserate together?
Yes. I’m recapping. We have to lean on each other!
I read the title of this article as “You’re getting Celexa for Christmas” and was like, gosh I hope so. #S.A.D.
Firefly is an excellent suggestion. I also really liked Farscape.
I hear “the Extant” is like a mix of Firefly and BSG ! I haven’t gotten past the 1st episode yet though it looks like they’re building a huge world from the pilot !
THIS IS RELEVANT TO MY INTERESTS
Holy crap…you’re ‘stuntdouble’?! Your BG fanfics are still, honestly, some of the best out there. Guess that means I’m going to enjoy your Clexa series…got some reading to do. Cheers!
“I do know who dies, yes.”
Is this a different person from the one who dies during the time jump?
I think so, yes. The person who dies during the time jump got announced last month on the PLL special that I didn’t watch. So it’s no longer a secret.
The 6B death is still a (badly kept) secret.
Both of the deaths, if true, break my heart right open.
If it’s Mona again, I’m going to flip the internet.
Your fan fiction is so sweet, Heather! Thank you for sharing it with us.
Ummm, isn’t Sue Perkins, the presenter in the great British Bake Off, queer? Not that her ‘pun’nyness isn’t the most important thing.
Also, looking forward to reading your story!
Yes. Yes she is. Been crushing hard since her and Mel’s daytime TV show in the 90s. She also wrote and starred in her own sitcom called heading out. It’s about a gay vet trying to come out to her family.
Also just gonna say, I just re-imagined When Women Were Warriors with clexa in it 10/10
omg Heather, thank you so much for being brave enough to share your first fic with us! I’m have a hard time looking at my early fic as well, but this is so adorable! (♥_♥)
Master of None and GBBO definitely do have queer women in them, though (Denise and Sue Perkins). They aren’t central nor do they get romance plots, so I understand how you could mentally categorize them thusly.
Ah Denise, this Buzzfeed article about her sums up all the feels:
OMG this is so timely! I was reading a Clexa fic about them meeting in an airport terminal during layover and Clarke was a nurse and Lexa a bomb technician for the Army? maybe? Someone’s armed force… Anyway I went to look for it the other day and can’t find it!!!! Has anyone heard of this? Did I dream this fic!?!? It was so good and so incomplete and I miss it so much help me, Queers!!! *distraught emoji face*
It’s called The Terminal and it’s brilliant.
You’re my new favorite human thank you!!!!
Do try her collection of one shots, too! She really made me fall in love with the genre (and these two) a hundred times over (literally).
the story is the terminal and it’s on (amongst all her other incredible works) the author’s own tumblr http://coeurdastronaute.tumblr.com
If you ever run out of fandoms/ships to compile fics for, (and I hope you never do) could this column possibly do recs based around tropes? Like a soulmate AU week, or a fake-dating week, or a Pacific Rim AU week. That would allow for fic recs for smaller ships, as well as allowing for discussion of why we like/dislike said tropes!
I love this idea! I hope sincerely that the fandom and ships don’t run out but I’d love a discussion on Coffee shop AU and how I’ve found it in EVERY fandom I read.
I’ve read four out of five of those Clexa fan fics already… I will freely admit I have a problem.
It’s 3 am and I am sitting in a subway,slightly tipsy, after having drinks and watching Carol a THIRD time this week.
I have never even watched a movie twice in the theater, ever, but damn.
Have you noticed how Rooney Mara manages to write novels with the words Yes and No?
Go and watch it again.
I probably will.
Goodnight straddlers, sweet dreams!
Heather did you have a hard time finding Clexa works?
Because the Bellarke is so strong in The 100 fandom finding any other paring or character focused works was like finding a needle in a haystack when I tried.
I think I’m mostly try to say thank you for finding all these.
Dear Lex, if you have trouble finding decent Clexa ff at any time, hit me up via PM.
Clexa have been my poison of choice these past few months.
I’m always grateful for an opportunity to procrastinate.
ASoIaF fandom has been my poison lately and if you have interest in a 117,763 word fanfic of Arya Stark being badass and saving the Queen Daenerys from a league of assassins with like no smut I will return favour.
It’s the least angsty fic I’ve ever read in that fandom.
I am so not into GoT it’s not even funny, I might be interested in that smutless girl saves girl ff though, if no further knowledge outside season one is required.^^
Some would be required, I think. But nothing too nasty just it has to do with a couple deaths, 1 major escape, a trial, another major escape, what the Faceless Men are and the history of the Valyrian Freehold.
Oh the fact Daenerys Targaryen becomes the Breaker of Shackles and has an army of freed slaves.
It’s speculative future fic.
*raises hand* I would also be interested in that fanfic!
I’m just gunna leave it here then
i may spend too much time reading clexa fanfiction but here’s some of my favourites (that are all complete) …
bathroom stalls & latenight calls by unicyclehippo
blood rush in the hazy glow by firetestgold
somewhere i have never travelled by unicyclehippo
i built a home for you, for me (held on as tightly as you held onto me) by coat
down came the rain by almostfantasia
Frame (Dal Segno al Fine) by jazzjo
lifted up (where the sky hangs) by possibilist
Summer Is Over (But I Found You) by snowtamale
Love Me ‘Til My Heart Starts by brickroad16
and everything written on here is just fantastic
so, uh, enjoy …
MERRY CHRISTMAS INDEED
here’s a few of my favourites …
bathroom stalls …
somewhere i have …
blood rush … by firetestgold
i built a home …. by coat
summer is over … by snowtamale
and literally everything written by coeurdastronaute
I don’t comment on this column nearly as often as I should, but honestly I love it and appreciate it SO much. I didn’t know about/understand the whole fan fiction thing until around 2 years ago and I didn’t really “get it” until last Christmas when a SwanQueen xmas themed fic had me balling my eyes out on xmas eve. Since then I’ve come to rely on it for stories that actually represent me and my relationships, and for sanity breaks from school/work/life in general. I love that this column is a mix of amazing links to fics, and also an ongoing discussion about the value and development of fanfiction and fandoms! I read every column, even if I don’t know/ship a pairing, and I appreciate so much that you are sharing your first ever fic with us <3 holy brave batman!!
I'm going to leave a link here as a general "thank you!" and "happy winter celebration of your liking!" to everyone else reading this column :) Two (well four) words for you: Clexa + Harry Potter Universe
The other day I was just telling my missus that the reason I read so much FF is that it’s a sanity break and I get to see representation! I feel less crazy knowing I’m not the only one thinking that way :)
I have never seen the 100. I guess I’m going to have to catch up as it seems to always be on the periphery of the fandom a I read. Guessing it’s worth it from the comments.
So off topic – I fell down a rabbit hole of Monstrous Regiment (Terry Pratchett) FF last week. I may have read all that exists. I never realised how much I shipped Polly and Mal, but damn *toots foghorn*.
Polly/Mal 4 life
No shade, but Clexa sounds like the medication one would receive for an STD.
Heather, I do love Fan fiction Friday but limiting yourself to AO3 means you’re missing out on some great fics. I know it’s difficult to wade through the mountain of crap on Fanfiction.net, but there are also some real gems.
My favorite writer of all time for Clexa is Possibilist (she also writes amazing Korrasami)
So I read this post and then have literally spent the last several days binge-watching both season of The 100. This is…not something that’s normal for me, I should add, but HOT DAMN do I love post-apocalyptic sci-fi with heavy doses of angst and feelings and awesome lady protagonists. Thanks for that!
Now I just need to enjoy some sunshine for a bit before season 3 starts….
So I watched The 100 promo earlier this week and ever since then I have been dying for the new eps to start. Tonight I finally start my short vacay and thought that, besides holiday favs like Love Actually, I’d check out what’s new in the lez tv/movie-verse. My quick check revealed that there is nothing much I’m interested in that I haven’t yet seen. So I was just about to head to fanfiction sites to aimlessly wander until I found some good fics. And that’s when I remembered I hadn’t checked AS and the other site…Soooo glad I came upon this article! Very timely! It will make my fanfic journey tonight and the rest of this week SO much easier!
Also, those QnAs are golden – pretty much answered all my questions, since I’ve been gone a while. Thanks for the link to Riese’s list and I am now very worried about who dies on PLL :(.
Happy Holigays all!
I have never associated more with the word lesbian than during my excitement at reading the phrase ‘100,000 words of pain and feelings’
Thank you for this column. I really like the fic recs and the discussions!