2011 has given me lots of cool things. This is one of them.
Writing slash fiction
I love telling people that I write slash fic. Especially academic-type people. I love explaining to them what slash fic is (I’m getting better at it). I love being awesome and ok about the whole thing and not giving a fuck what anyone thinks about it. Because, what I’ve discovered is that most people? Don’t give a shit. Which is cool by me.
I’ve been reading slash fic for over a year now, but, until 2011, I had never written any myself. Hell, I’d never even written vanilla fan fic, much less told anyone about it or let anyone read it. This year, thanks to my unintentionally enabling adviser, I did.
I couldn’t tell you exactly what he said, specifically, that gave me the courage to write as me, rather than as my academic self. Just a general encouragement of my thinking, I think. So a sub-thanks to 2011 for said adviser: though he was alternately bemused and uncomfortable with further discussions of slash in my writings for his course, his encouragement–however unknowing as to its ultimate ends–was invaluable. Cheers, adviser.
Writing slash fiction–and posting it, letting other people read and comment on it–has changed the way that I write: not just my process but my style. I’m a master of a long, multi-clause sentence in my academic writing; I can write a lot of bullshit and make it sound like a revelation. Trying to learn the craft of slash fic hasn’t eliminated this tendency, but now my sentence are less formal, full of commas, more interested in flow and sound and movement than in complication or erudition.
In my prose, my style is choppier, more succient. Focused on action, on emotion, on sketching a scene rather than writing the hell out of it. In prose, I find myself suggesting, rather than stating multiple times, on crafting the boundaries of whatever’s happening and asking the reader to fill in the rest. Or I am super metaphor-heavy–not when writing sex scenes, because that shit makes me crazy as a reader, but in describing a scene, or an emotion, or even a series of actions. One of my early commenters called this “poetic,” though I’m not sure what she meant by that. Or what I take that term to mean. One of my colleagues calls my style “eclectic.” Same questions here.
I think what struck me was that I actually *have* a style as a writer, as a writer of fiction. Which is just weird. And I *like* my style. I read stuff by Killa, for example, whose work I admire tremendously, and her style is lush, romantic, complicated, and beautiful. And at first I beat myself about that: why don’t *I* write this way? Now, I’m ok with saying: hey, I *don’t* write that way. She and I tell stories in different ways. And slash fic’s ability to hold all of these different styles and genres and subgenres within its textual body is one of the many things that I love about it, that makes it so much fun to play in as both a reader and a writer.
For some reason, writing slash fic gave me permission to call myself “a writer.” Which, again, awesome. But also weird. In a good way.
I’m more patient with my writing, now. I’ve preached process to my students for two years and actively ignored it in my own work. I actually use drafting and revising and proofreading in my slash. Still don’t really do it with my academic writing, though. It feels like there’s a key distinction in my head between “writing for school” (which often falls into the category of “dancing monkey” writing, or perform for some prof what you’ve learned) and “writing.” And I’ve been trained in composition pedagogy and theory, and I do that shit three times a week. And slash is what makes the writing process something that I actually want to do, rather than just refer to? Crazy. Also, from a teaching perspective, both freeing and discouraging. The more I teach writing, the more I question what exactly it is that we can teach, and why.
My brother put it best, I think, when he said that anything that made me love writing again had to be worthwhile. I suppose I hadn’t realized that I’d lost the love for it until I started loving it again. Or are those the lyrics to an Everley Brothers’ song?
So cheers, 2011, for giving me the courage to be a writer.