But the key question for me now is:

  • What social action is the genre of slash fic used by writers & readers to accomplish?
  • And what is it about this genre that got me writing [all too] regularly for the first time like, ever?
  • And how the fuck do you define the genre of “slash fic,” anyway? Can you? Should you? What would such an attempt at classification give you?

Hell, I’d argue that the genre shifts with every fandom, much less every subgenre within said fandom.

Please, someone write a generic analysis of SPN knotting fic. Both RPS and character-based.

C’mon. Please.

…don’t make me do it.

Start Making Sense

I’ve written in this space before about my relationship with writing, but I’ve never really considered how I write, how I get shit done. So using Lifehacker’s How We Work series as a Proust Questionnaire-type model, I’m taking a crack at chasing my workflow, so. Here goes.

Continue reading “Start Making Sense”

Everything is NOW

A friend sent me a beautiful and thoughtful response to my last post, “Turn Back Now,” a response that became a reflection on her own relationship with writing.

Given that I invoked her in that post–she’s the scholar who studies memorial space–it seemed only fair [with her permission] to let her speak in this place, this time, for herself.

She writes:

What critical geographers such as Edward Soja and Doreen Massey argue is that we privilege time over space. We think chronologically. We don’t think spatially. Time has that ruthlessly linear quality that demands a sequence, linked events, a history, a telos.  So Soja, Massey, and everybody are all like space needs to be elevated to the same status as time. But the thing is, they don’t have any good examples of what that really looks like, especially what a *grounded* spatial perspective would be.

The thing is I don’t think Western thought can really get outside of a temporal perspective. I think we are going to look to other cultures for examples. Take all the Mayan end of the world shit–the West with its linear thinking automatically thinks in terms of an end; whereas, of course, the Mayan calendar is a circular conception of time. And…that’s about all I know about it because I myself pretty much can only think in terms of time too.

OK, so what does this have to do with your writing? I don’t think the idea of returning as a reader outside of the kairotic moment as you return to your writing is the right idea. First, I think you are returning as a writer, not a reader. Second, kairos, of course, is hitched to time; to think spatially is to abandon kairos. Ironically, to abandon time, then, makes everything a kairotic moment.

Everything is NOW. To return to your writing means that you are writing NOW.

An excerpt from my pre-prospectus (that I need to motherfucking revise):

Nedra Reynolds notes that cultural geographies often turn to the metaphor of the palimpsest in order to read spaces because the palimpsest demonstrates how texts and spaces can be written over without losing the original inscription. Reynolds further links this type of reading to Soja’s trialectics because the way in which “inextricably intertwined temporal, social, and spatial relations are being constantly reinscribed, erased, and reinscribed again” is similar to the continual re-reading of the palimpsestic text (Soja qtd in Reynolds 139).

So you are rewriting–which I don’t think is the best term–I think you are writing new. Fuck metacognition and the gaze too–that’s shit for readers. You are writing. And I think you are writing to save your life.

Turn Back Now

A friend pointed out that, in my last post about my digital self, I linked the shit out of that sucker, a choice that she argued had the effect of shifting the reader from a linear experience in this space–scrolling from top to bottom–to one that’s unstuck in both space and time by kicking the reader through my back catalogue of posts, but in a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure sort of way, you know, like:

You see a series of doors ahead of you.

  • If you choose the one marked “slash fic writer,” turn to page 7.
  • If you choose the door marked “rhetorician,” turn to page 4.
  • If you choose the one marked “political junkie,” turn to page 12.

Huh. I’d never thought of this place, this blog, quite like that.

Part of it, I suppose, is that because I wrote all of the posts in question–build all the damn doors myself–it’s hard for me not to think of this space as linear. At its core, this blog’s a trace of my thinking, for better or worse, and I tend to think of it in temporal terms. How the posts tagged to what was happening offline, what I was reading, where I was physically located, etc.

Now my friend, she’s very into space, the way that physical environments–especially those designed/designated as memorials–can affect the user/visitor’s construction of knowledge. So it stuck with me, a burr under my mental saddle–and then it ran headlong into George Siemens.

Siemens is an educational theorist and teacher up in the Canada, eh, whose work explores what he calls “connectivism,” a theory of learning that attempts to account for human-computer interactions. In “A Learning Theory for the Digital Age,” Siemens recasts learning as

a process that occurs within nebulous environments of shifting core elements – not entirely under the control of the individual.

(HAL 9000? Is that you?)

I’m afraid I can’t do that, Dave.

Such a redefinition is necessary, he (Siemens, not HAL) argues, to account for shifts in learning practice and application. Educators must recognize that

knowledge is no longer acquired in the linear manner

but is rather constructed, negotiated, and revised by an individual end user within an ever-evolving panoply of informational networks comprised of both electronic devices–hi Gerty!–and other individual users.

I’m here to help you, Sam.

Ultimately, each of us is constantly playing in and with what Siemens calls our “personal learning network,” one which, if it’s to remain useful, must always be kairotic.

So this got me thinking. Maybe one way of approaching this blog–a clearinghouse for my online life–is as the temporary home of my personal learning network, an online space through which I can momentarily move beyond what Spock might call “two-dimensional thinking.”

That is, a place wherein I might learn/write [because for me they are inexorably connected] not outside of time and space, per say, but through it, with the understanding that the Enterprise can fly up and down and beyond just as well as she can fly straight ahead.

But this assumes, I think, that I’ll return to the blog as a reader, too; as someone who engages with what I’ve written after the fact, outside of the kairotic moment in which the words first flew. Hmm. So building this living memorial to my PLN isn’t enough, perhaps; I’ve got to wander through it from time to time and engage the gaze. Participate in a little metacognition.

So, then, if other people, other readers, visit this space, then, it might become a point of connection within their own PLN, temporarily or no.

Besides, you can always turn the pages back and choose another door if you don’t like what you find:

  • You see Castiel spread out on the bed before you.
  • You see Gorgias spread out on the bed before you.
  • You see Rick Santorum spread out on the bed before you.

…do you wish to proceed?

Running In Circles

I get really anxious when I don’t write. It’s almost a physical thing, one that puts me on edge and tunes me right up to cranky, and there’s a cobra tied around my gut that I’m most aware of when it finally goes away, when I finally bang out something that I like, that I’d want to read, and then I’m back to square one.

Right.

It’s one of the reasons–the best one–why I’ve written so many fics in the past year and a half: I can’t not write, and it’s easier for me to retreat into Sam and Dean’s world, or Misha and Jen’s, or Kirk and Spock’s, than to hang too close in my own.

It’s an escape, they tell me. A means of getting away. Of not-being for awhile, as my beloved Gorgias might say.

When I can’t write, or won’t, I turn that same energy to self-sabotage.

What do you do in your spare time? he says. When you’re not in school.

I write, I say. Or try.

I’m thinking too much about it, this habit, this pipe, when what I should do is just write. Words on the keys, in the page, and be done.

But, like the man says:

Part of it, this anxiety, lies in where I am in my not-school work: I’m in the midst of two long pieces–very unlike me, mind–two pieces I’ve been fighting with on and on for freaking months when I’m more wont to just knocking those bastards out. Not always, you see. Not all. But often.

So I lie in the goddamn middle of the road to Damascus or 19th-century Wyoming or millennial Pittsburgh PA and it’s frustrating, hanging alone out there, like that. I want them done, want to get the boys to their fucking happily-ever-afters already, but even in this state of me-imposed despair, I know they’ll both be better for the extra time taken but crap, I’ve hung myself out to dry.

Self-sabotage, yes, in academic world, too. I have two essays that need revised–ok, three if you count that conference paper for PCA–and I can’t get out of my own way enough to get them done.

I want to write them, I guess, which is why I tell myself I must not.

I never said I made sense, dude.

I am my own worst enemy, yes. Never truer words spoken than this.

All academics, they tell us, Paul does, they have this internal critic, this voice that tells them they don’t belong. The imposter syndrome, they call it, hushed tones and sad eyes and soft shake of the head, yay. It gets all of us. But especially the women. Dominant discourse’s gift to we without the Y chromosome: doubt and self-inflicted fury.

So I am an impostor. I feel one, that is. And in the seeming vs. being song, that’s the only verse that matters, yes?

I suppose what’s surprised me lately is that I feel an imposter in all things, not just in academe. A big blank slate onto which people who damn well know better keep pressing these images of competency, of cleverness, of fleeting rhetorical skill.

Insert teenage-girl tumblr angst here: unloved sigh, sad poetry sniff, bad gifs of cute kittens. Bah.

Hollow hollow man, am I of late. Here’s to hope the road so gets a little less far.

Right in the Face

20121102-171617.jpg

The wall over my desk at school is slathered in SPN-related paraphernalia. It’s like the real-world equivalent of my tumblr: part inspiration, part visual outburst, part happy zen space I can visit when grad school gets too weird.

The image above is in a particular place of prominence: a pseudo-Dean half-naked, open, and willing spread out over the hood of the Impala.

Hell yes.

Now, given that, in my life as a grad student, I openly proselytize for the Church of Gay Incest Porn, having this picture over my desk didn’t strike me as particularly notable: it’s sexy as fuck, sure, but it’s not pornographic. And the only people that see it on a regular basis are my officemates, fellow students, who’ve grown accustomed to my discussions of Wincest, Destiel, etc.

To be more blunt: they know that I research porn and I write porn. End of story.

So it struck me, yesterday, when the presence of this image in the physical space associated with (assigned to?) my academic persona became notable and even laudable to someone else.

Let me explain.

Continue reading “Right in the Face”

Emphasis On “Professional.”

meta!misha’s a professional. like me.

originally posted on my tumblr. hence the awesome lack of capitalization.

i’m in my second year of a phd program now, which means my cohort and i aren’t the newbies anymore. at times, the first-years seem to think i know stuff that they don’t.

that is terrifying. and a little bizarre. because, wow. no.

(and yet, part of me says. and yet.)

when it comes down to it, i’m afraid of being read as “smart.”

which, for someone in graduate school, is nine kinds of crazy.

Continue reading “Emphasis On “Professional.””

Fleeing In Terror’s Probably Not The Best Option


I’ve finally figured out what’s bugging me, what’s dragging me down about the coming semester: the fear of other people’s expectations.

This time last year, no one expected anything from me because nobody knew what I could do. Including me. I just figured: I don’t want to suck. So I’ll go quietly about the business of not sucking.

Now there are, I don’t know, expectations and shit. There isn’t a question of can I do well; I’ve done well, at least in academic terms, and the expectation is that I’ll do so again.

I don’t want to screw up–which isn’t new–but I feel like there are people watching, now, for whom my screwing up isn’t a question. It’s like: you’re here. You carry the name of our program out into the world. And you’re not gonna fuck it up.

Even my editors and the admins of conferences I’m attending, it’s inherent in their communications with me: you’re not gonna fuck it up. You’re a professional. This is what you do. We trust you to come here or write this and talk intelligently about this stuff.

Which is fucking terrifying.

I’ve realized that I like going in with no expectations–my own or anyone else’s. I like flying in blind, with no one knowing me or my work and being like pleasantly surprised or whatever that I’m not a complete idiot. That I do know how to write, sometimes. How to speak, less often.

But that shell’s been spent and the bullet’s long gone. Don’t get to be a virgin forever, I guess. Now I gotta give the people what they want, what I think they want, and it’s no wonder that reading acres and acres of fanfic rather than putting any of my stuff on paper looks pretty fucking fantastic from here.

I’ve internalized all of this crap, is what I’m saying. And it’s acting like a major block that I’m allowing to prevent me from getting shit done.

Dude. I’m scared.

Back to Life. Back to Reality.


things I’ll miss about summer
:

  • watching my cats sleep through the afternoon
  • having the windows open all day
  • teaching myself to make random cocktails
  • spending whole days reading slash fic
  • spending whole days writing slash fic
  • not having to go to class
  • drinking beer for no reason at three in the afternoon
  • fireflies and my amazing, self-regenerating geraniums

things i’m excited about for fall:

  • hanging out with my brilliant and talented colleagues
  • going overseas for the first time in over a decade
  • moving one semester closer to the end of my coursework
  • being busy and not having as much time to worry
  • coloring in my map of the US on election night
    (blue for obama; red for romney)
  • reading things a prof assigns that I wouldn’t have otherwise
  • spending all day studying slash fic
  • spending all day writing about slash fic
  • watching and then dissecting season 8 of supernatural
  • juggling too many balls in the air and seeing where they land

Into the Groove


I put together my calendar today. Laid out all of my engagements for the semester, from conferences to papers for publication to SPN Big Bangs. All the days, all the due dates, laid out in a line, on one giant sheet of paper that’s now happily stuck to my bedroom door.

And seeing it all laid out like that made me feel a bit better. A little less panicked at the prospect of doing all of that shit and classes and my work stuff, too.

A bit.

But one thing I did notice is how these real world venues cross and intersect with my online life, with spaces like this one, and Tumblr, and Sam/Dean Slash Archive, and Facebook, and A03.

What I’ve found is that having all of these places to talk, to be (potentially) heard both in real life and online, is having the strangest effect on me.

It’s making me reticent. It’s making me a little more uneasy about speaking, knowing that people might actually be listening. Or not.

On the one hand, I crave feedback. Don’t we all? And by “feedback” of course I mean positive feedback, because the negative kind almost always puts me into a tailspin, even when it’s constructive. Even though, as a teacher of writing, I recognize that constructive criticism is often more valuable than straight up “you’re awesome”–but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to hear just how awesome I am.

So when good things happen, when people say nice things or take my papers or don’t call me a moron, I  get squirrelly, waiting for that other shoe to drop.  It’s hard for me to say “I’ve done well.” Hell, it usually comes out as “I don’t suck,” which still strikes me as a more accurate way of thinking.

Basically, I swing between not understanding why anyone would want to listen to my academic fanwanking or read my weird-ass slash fic, to wondering why I’m not the next great novelist, why I haven’t had academic book deals tossed into my lap by seraphims raining from the sky.

In my mind, I’m either an idiot or a sage.

And I’d really like to find some middle ground before my brain wears a groove between the two extremes and I fall right the fuck down inside.