If you’ve read our blog regularly over the past year or so, you’ve probably noticed my mentioning how much f**king writing I was doing. Dear readers, let me tell you that I felt like a zombie as I participated in two Big Bangs challenges in the span of ten months, all the while holding a full time job, applying to grad programs, maintaining this blog, Gishing, etc.
It’s not like I was busy or anything
Later on (in a few weeks or months or whenever I restore my sanity), I’ll write more about why I chose to write in two challenges, and how my ideas came together, but right now? I have a few things I need to confess.
Confession 1: I had NO clue what I was doing.
I’m an avid fanfiction reader, an occasional fanfiction writer, and a full-time promoter of transformative works. Having read DCBBs quasi-religiously over the past few years, I decided that this would be the year I contributed to the fandom. However, I didn’t count on stumbling across the “After Camlann” challenge for the BBC Merlin fandom and immediately deciding to co-author a piece with the Spaniard.
Because I wasn’t busy enough already.
When you sign up for a BB, 20,000 words doesn’t seem like a lot. You think, “Oh, that’s 50 pages, that’s nothing!” Well, when you actually sit down to begin working on it…it’s a lot more work than you’d think. So I had an idea, two really good ideas, actually, but what do you do once you’ve got the idea.
As loath as I am to admit it….
Confession 2: I outlined…and I stuck to it
Here’s a mini sub-confession: I used to teach university freshmen how to write essays and the foremost rule in my classroom was outline, outline, outline. Do I ever outline my own writing? Uhhhhh…..not really.
When I signed up for the second BB challenge, I realized that if I didn’t write down my ideas, I was going to get lost in the two stories and not know what the f**k I was doing. My DCBB had a very complicated and intricate timeline that spanned almost 1,000 days, and my outline became the air I breathed: the one thing I needed every minute of every day. Any writer will tell you that sometimes characters do things that you don’t expect, but maybe what we should say more often is: if you don’t know where you’re going, you get lost.
The outlining process is like inviting the monster that lives under your bed to jump underneath the covers with you. The vague idea becomes a reality, and you wake up the next morning thinking: what the hell have I done?
Confession 3: Writing with a Friend is Easier Than You Might Think
The Collected Mutineer and I write well together. While our After Camlann submission, “Le Roi Au Bois Revant,” was much longer than anything we’d written together previously, we wrote an outline (*le gasp*) and we stuck to it. We didn’t argue; we didn’t bitch (much) at each other when we got stressed; we didn’t try to one-up each other in our writing.
The key to a successful co-authorship is communication. Luckily, the Mutineer can never get me to shut up, but the result was a beautiful collaboration.
Confession 4: It’s a Terrible Idea to Write the Emotional Scenes While at a Coffeeshop
I’m a professional procrastinator. If I have a deadline, I guarantee I’ll be dusting the floorboards in my flat instead of sitting at my keyboard. My typical remedy to the C.A.S. (Creative Avoidance Syndrome) is to pack up my Mac and head to the local Starbucks and Costa and just turn it out.
Bad. Life. Choice.
My DCBB is a little angsty (don’t worry, no spoilers), and well, no one told me I could make myself cry. There was a day in August when I sat by myself in a coffeeshop, sobbing, as I typed up a scene between Dean Winchester and Castiel watching Enter the Dragon. No one ever told me that I could get so attached to my fictionalized version of a fictional character; no one ever told me that sometimes writing in a fandom can give you such feels.
In the future, I’ll be doing all my angsty writing at home.
Sidenote: the barista at The Daily Grind now thinks that I broke up with my significant other over text message. I let her think it because, well, how else to I explain my utter breakdown and torrents of tears? Thanks, darlin, for the free coffee and “he (she?) don’t deserve you” advice. If you only knew! These characters deserve so much more than what I gave them!
Confession 5: The Artists are the Best Part
There is nothing more satisfying than opening your e-mail and seeing fan art based on something you wrote. Okay, so maybe the one thing more satisfying would be to get Joss Whedon to produce a web series based on something you wrote, but barring that, fan art is the best thing.
When you’re first paired up, there’s always a bit of anxiety. Will the artist like my story? Will they have the same vision I do? Will we work well together? If you’re lucky, you get an artist who just gets you. If you’re really lucky, you get to collaborate with an artist that inspires you. I was really lucky for both big bang challenges, and the art that was created to accompany my stories just took the vision to a celestial level. (You can see the artists’ work here and here.) That is the beautiful thing about the Big Bang community: we are all in this together. We laugh together, cry together, write together…and at the end we all just have a really big case of…
Now, 70,000 words later, I’m gonna go take a nap. Wake me up when it’s Christmas.