starlady: Kermit the Frog, at Yuletide (yuletide)
[personal profile] starlady
First things first, recognition and further applause for my wonderful writers!

In Threadless T-Shirts, [archiveofourown.org profile] hectorrashbaum wrote You're Ready And You're Willin'. In Disney Princess Superheroes, [archiveofourown.org profile] beatrice_otter wrote A League Of Their Own; [archiveofourown.org profile] ankaret wrote Just Another Day In The Secret Base; [personal profile] nextian wrote you're gonna leave them all behind; [archiveofourown.org profile] pervyficgirl wrote The Trial of Snow White, [archiveofourown.org profile] lovelyzelda wrote The League of Extraordinary Princesses: B for Beauty, and last in terms of word count, but certainly not least in terms of awesome, [archiveofourown.org profile] wickedtrue wrote Disney Princesses, ASSEMBLE!. They are all so awesome, you should go read them all right now, yes, even you. I can't pick between them, all of them are wonderful. Thank you, writers! I am amazed and humbled to have received such a bounty of great fic. ♥


So I wrote two stories of Heian Period RPF for Yuletide, Bangai (Apocrypha) for [personal profile] elegantpi and Brush Talk for [personal profile] daegaer; I also wrote the Clover fic Sanctuary for [livejournal.com profile] toxictattoo. Let me thank again my wonderful beta reader [personal profile] lnhammer, without whom "Bangai (Apocrypha)" would have been much weaker. Really, I have to say that I thought these three stories, and particularly the first two, were screamingly characteristic of my writing and interests. XD

I actually offered the Heian Period without having read The Pillow Book, and when I got my assignment I happily settled down to read it in between writing my papers; I'm so glad I offered and got the assignment I did, really, not least since one of my papers involved a decent amount of research on ancient Japan. I talked a lot about my thoughts on Sei and her book in my post on it here, and in the story I basically put them into fiction. The story is as historical as I can make it, and all the ranks and references of the external frame are as accurate as I know and are matched to the very early spring of 1009, while the internal scene takes place late in 998.

That said, I think I wound up writing as much against Liza Dalby (whose book The Tale of Murasaki, let me be clear, I absolutely love) as under the sign of Sei Shônagon, and though I had vague ideas of dramatizing a lot of the arguments Tom Lamarre makes in Uncovering Heian Japan, I wound up making veiled references to John Wallace's arguments in Objects of Discourse instead, which is fine by me. I've been predisposed to distrust Ivan Morris since the year I lived in Japan and hung out with an ancient Japan specialist doing her dissertation research, and research of my own that I've done since has only stiffened my resistance, as much as I still recommend his book to everyone, because there's literally nothing better out there in English still, nearly fifty years later. Which tells you something about the state of the field, sadly.

Fun fact: several commenters have cited the everyone calls her that after the heroine of her story; I am glad that I am the heroine of mine line as their favorite. I so totally nearly deleted it, twice! It was originally in there mostly as a dodge because we don't know what Sei's court nickname was (some scholars claim, however, that her given name was Nagiko), unless it really was Shônagon, which is dull. I really found myself loving Sei a lot, partly because she's just such a breath of fresh air compared to the standard image of the period, and I hope that came through in the story.

Having done all the research and re-evaluated my own conclusions and thought again about Murasaki versus Sei, when I saw a prompt I hadn't written for Sei Shônagon and Murasaki Shikibu I figured, why the hell not? In "Brush Talk" I gave myself permission to be a little less historical, a necessary thing when writing madly on December the 24th (sometimes unintentionally: did anyone else catch the continuity error with the fans?). (I meant to make the first section a direct quote from Sei, since she says something very close to it in The Pillow Book, but I elected to finish the fic rather than chase down the reference.) This one gets a little more directly into Dalby and Lamarre, though not explicitly; an out-of-the-way temple like Ishiyama was the only place I could conceivably think of two aristocratic women conceivably encountering each other face-to-face, and I'm still not actually sure that either of them would have wandered around in the gardens like that (and since I'm reasonably sure that the gardens I saw when I went there in the summer of 2008 for its Genji Millennium were nothing like the gardens in the summer of 1006, I kept the descriptions vague. Though the hills are that steep. And it has awesome trees).

I could have written a very cracked-out AU to this prompt (the temple today has a Murasaki robot, I kid you not), and I kind of still want to do that. I also kind of want to translate it into my original not!Heian verse that I've been toying with for a few years now. I also kind of wish I'd already taken classical Japanese, as I could have written better poems in both fics that way, I hope, but thanks to [personal profile] lnhammer and Google Books I at least did passably, though please, don't ask me to render either poem back into classical or modern Japanese, as it would not be pretty. I have to say, I'm surprised that, based on recs, hit counts, and comments, this one is more popular than "Bangai," because I think "Bangai" is the slightly better story. But it's definitely a bit more mellow, melancholy, and maybe subtler too, whereas "Brush Talk" is unquestionably more fun, despite the fact that I set it from Murasaki's perspective--my one goal with that was to try to make her a bit more cheerful than she is in The Tale of Murasaki. (I should say explicitly: Liza Dalby's characterizations of both women in that novel are well-supported historically, but I think with both of them she took a rather extreme position, whereas I am unquestionably more moderate in some ways.) Make of that what you will. I'm really glad that both stories have gone over well with their readers, regardless.

Anyway, "Sanctuary." I started several Treat and Madness prompts, but this was the one that gelled in my mind, and happily in time to be posted to the main collection (though I had to insert a few words to get it over the 1000 word minimum). So, yes: my thoughts on Clover, in fic form. I've read the manga in Japanese twice, as well as translated all of it, and basically, yeah: I'm convinced that Gingetsu shot Oruha under Kou's orders, that Ran and Gingetsu are a couple, and that Ran knows everything. And I sort of think that the projected fifth and sixth volumes would have detailed Oruha's murder from Gingetsu's perspective, and maybe even Kazuhiko finding out about that, after Suu's death. I certainly couldn't set the fic from Gingetsu's perspective, since he's a huge mystery, but happily we know enough about Ran to get a grip on him. I quite like this one, and I'm glad that other people seem to like it too. I'd like to have been able to do something with the postapocalyptic clockworkpunk feel of the manga, but the characters are too vivid and sad; I keep coming back to them.

All that being said, it's time for (drumroll, please!):

The End of Year Fanworks Meme!

Fic I Wrote
:
1 of the Good Guys, The Archandroid/Fake News RPF feat. R2-D2
Symbolic Logic, Inception
Gravedust, The Old Kingdom Chronicles, for New Year's Resolutions 2010
Infernal Machines, Sherlock Holmes 2009
Recompense, Sherlock Holmes 2009
Second Face, Sherlock Holmes 2009
The Flying Empire, Sherlock Holmes 2009 steampunk AU for [livejournal.com profile] holmes_bigbang
Known Associates, Sherlock Holmes 2009 steampunk AU
Bangai (Apocrypha), Heian period RPF for Yuletide Treasure 2010
Brush Talk, Heian period RPF for Yuletide Treasure 2010
Sanctuary, Clover, for Yuletide Treasure 2010

Total word count: About 65,000 words. Throwing in original fiction, unfinished fic, and papers, I'm at nearly 105,000 words for the year. I think my original goal was 150,000; I'm sure that if I threw in all the translations I've done, it'd get within shouting distance of that. In any event, I'm satisfied.

AMV I Made:
Quantum of Darkness - Darker Than BLACK: Ryuusei no Gemini

Looking back, did you make more fanworks than you thought you would this year, less, or about what you'd predicted?
I had no expectations for this year beyond the fact that I wanted to keep writing, but I did have Ambitions which my Reach Exceed'd. But that's not a surprise, so I think the answer is "about as predicted."

What pairing/genre/fandom did you do that you would never have predicted in January?
Um…definitely Murasaki Shikibu/Sei Shônagon. Also, Fake News RPF! I never would have predicted that, much less crossed over with The Archandroid and taking the existence of R2-D2 here and now as given.

What's your own favorite fanwork of the year? Not the most popular, but the piece that makes you happiest?
This is tough. I'm really pleased with everything I wrote, but I think in the end The Flying Empire gets the nod--I made some deliberate decisions in that fic to subvert and deny conventional narrative structures, which I think makes it unsettling, but I like the 'verse and the characters, and I'm hoping to write a lot more in 2011.

Did you take any creative risks this year? What did you learn from them?
I think all of my Sherlock Holmes fic involved risks in one way or another, from writing explicit sex to confronting the character of Holmes, with whom I identify strongly, to writing the steampunk AU and the thoughts about narrative and history and oppression that went into it, even if they didn't always come out explicitly. I (re)learned to just keep writing, and get a beta reader. Quantum of Darkness also involved a big step forward in my AMV/vidding technique and process, which I'm hoping to continue next year. (So many vids in my mind! So many!) Also, in 1 of the Good Guys I explicitly didn't want to gender Artoo, which involved a lot of syntactical gymnastics, or even changes in how I would express the ideas in my head: challenging, but rewarding.

My best piece of this year:
Recompense or Bangai (Apocrypha), probably, and Quantum of Darkness.

My most popular piece of this year:
Going by hit counts and comments, that would be Recompense.

Piece of mine most under-appreciated by the universe, in my opinion:
I really want 1 of the Good Guys to reach a wider audience.

Most fun piece to make:
1 of the Good Guys, or Brush Talk.

Single sexiest moment:
Um. Probably the sex scene in Recompense, though I'm partial to the bit with the Baedeker's and to Mary being lethal in The Flying Empire, and to the scene at the end of Brush Talk.

Most "Holy crap, that's out there, even for you" piece:
1 of the Good Guys, hands down. In a good way.

Piece that shifted my own perceptions of the characters:
Bangai (Apocrypha) and Brush Talk, because writing them involved making some historically informed decisions about what I think about the Heian period, women's writing, and Murasaki and Sei themselves. Also Sanctuary, since I had to think about Ran and Suu and Gingetsu and Oruha and how they could have accepted the hands they were dealt the way they did. And Symbolic Logic too, for how it made me think of Yusuf and Ariadne.

Hardest piece to make:
Tie between The Flying Empire and Quantum of Darkness, for the above reasons.

Biggest disappointment:
Um. Gravedust, maybe; I like it, but it was different in my head in ways that I've forgotten. I kind of want to say The Flying Empire, but that's not quite the word for it; there are more things I want to do in that world than I had room for in that story, is what I want to say.

Biggest surprise:
See above re: how I finally achieved my femslash goal by writing Murasaki Shikibu/Sei Shônagon. Also the RPF whatnot.

Most Unintentionally Telling Story:
I feel like Symbolic Logic, Gravedust, and the Sherlock Holmes stories are all in their own ways direct conduits into my psyche--Ariadne's thoughts about being a real adult are totally ones that I have had; the Librarian is the sort of person I could totally see myself being, and in some ways probably already am; and I really identify both with Holmes across canons and with Mary as I've written her, in slightly different aspects. I also feel like the entire steampunk AU is just a screaming advertisement for my formative exposure to Honor Harrington.

Overall Thoughts:
One of these years I should write some dialogue, maybe, for a change. (No seriously what the hell happened, in middle school I just wrote pages of dialogue. Pages! And it was snappy! I've got to get back there, in the spiraling way that is the only way we can ever go back.)

That said, I'm pleased with 2010; full speed on to 2011, and more writing! And thanks again to [personal profile] darthneko and to [livejournal.com profile] scottishrefugee, for art and translation, respectively. ♥

(no subject)

Date: 2011-01-01 22:14 (UTC)
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
From: [personal profile] lnhammer
"Bangai" is the better story, but it is not nearly as dramatic as "Brush Talk". The latter also addresses their famous relationship more directly.

(BTW, I kept meaning to mention: Wixted didn't do any of the translations in the Rodd with Henkineus edition of the Kokinshu -- I don't know why he keeps getting first billing in some sources, as all he contributed was an appendix of Chinese scholarship.)

---L.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-01-02 03:45 (UTC)
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
From: [personal profile] lnhammer
Also by Amazon. Also weird.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-01-01 22:33 (UTC)
rachelmanija: (Sakura of DOOM)
From: [personal profile] rachelmanija
I really enjoyed both your Heian stories, and look forward to reading some of the others.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-01-02 01:07 (UTC)
holyschist: Image of a medieval crocodile from Herodotus, eating a person, with the caption "om nom nom" (Default)
From: [personal profile] holyschist
Of COURSE you wrote those. :D Seriously, they were my very very very favorite things this Yuletide, hands-down. Maybe any Yuletide. Just--wow. Absolutely blown away by how lush and detailed and evocative and smart they are, and I love that you were arguing with historians via fiction.

I agree that "Bangai" was a little better, but I love them both for different reasons.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-01-02 04:57 (UTC)
holyschist: Image of a medieval crocodile from Herodotus, eating a person, with the caption "om nom nom" (Default)
From: [personal profile] holyschist
I can't wait until I have read more about the period so I can reread your stories with an eye to more of the subtleties! Scholarly arguments via fiction are my favorite kind.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-01-02 03:12 (UTC)
troisroyaumes: Painting of a duck, with the hanzi for "summer" in the top left (Default)
From: [personal profile] troisroyaumes
Really loved both Heian RPF fics! I enjoyed "Brush Talk" more, largely because I had read Tale of Murasaki and the first few chapters of Genji monogatari, so I could see the interplay you were doing with Dalby's interpretation. Unfortunately, I still have to read The Pillow Book! But your fics convinced me to do so, and I also really just liked your Shonagon voice in "Bangai".

(no subject)

Date: 2011-01-02 16:31 (UTC)
seichan: (Default)
From: [personal profile] seichan
didn't realize the archive had a decent collection of clover fics. <3

nice stories you've got there. :)

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