OTW Guest Post: Quordle

Every month the OTW hosts guest posts on our OTW News accounts to provide an outside perspective on the OTW or aspects of fandom. These posts express each individual’s personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy.

Quordle has been a slash fan and fanfic writer since the 1980s and first started writing M*A*S*H fanfic in 2003. Iolanthe was then an online friend and fellowM*A*S*H fan. Quordle loved her stories and wanted to archive them after her death. Today, Quordle talks about making that wish a reality by creating a memorial archive for Iolanthe’s works with the Open Doors project.

How did you first find out about fandom and fanworks?

In the old Science-Fiction Bookshop in Edinburgh, a couple of years after the end of the 4th season of Blake’s 7 was first broadcast, I found a book called Blake’s 7 The Programme Guide. In the back of the book were the names and addresses of groups of B7 fans, and I found you could write to them and join. I got stamps and postal orders, sent typed letters – and got fannish newsletters back.

Somewhere in this, I found out about fanfic. I had no idea. The first B7 story I wrote, prior to this, was in the form of an episode – because I had no idea that you could do anything else for a TV series but write episode scripts, nor that there was anyone else out there who wanted to.

What made you decide to reach out to Open Doors about archiving Iolanthe’s works on AO3?

I was friends with Susan when we were all on LiveJournal. I was watching M*A*S*H reruns and had joined MASH100 on LJ and written drabbles. I met Susan – who was Scarlatti on LJ and Iolanthe on her lovely personal site, A Priest in Korea. Susan’s stories inspired me to start writing what became For Ever, which was the original nucleus of Sins and Virtues.

Susan died in June 2006, while Such As We was still in first draft – I sent her sections as I was going along because she had cancer. Other things happened, and I’d stopped writing M*A*S*H fanfic in about 2011. Then about ten years later, I started thinking about M*A*S*H again, and Hawkeye/Mulcahy, and Susan’s stories. I found her old site on the Wayback Machine, re-read her stories, and thought of the story idea that has become All We Know. I also thought, “I could get these stories on to AO3 and everyone could read them: I bet they have a process for that.”

And I did, and they do, and – A Priest in Korea moved to AO3.

What was it like working with Open Doors?

Once we had made contact, it was very easy! Julie, an Open Doors volunteer, was my Virgil, and sent me clear emails with easy-to-follow steps. I understood what to do and why to do it that way. The first step in the process could have been the hardest – I had to get consent to transfer the archive to Julie from someone related to Susan – but fortunately, I was still in contact with Doug, Susan’s partner, and he was pleased to know that her stories were to be archived.

Was there anything about the import process that surprised you?

Not really. Oh, I suppose finding out that “Tag Wrangler” is an actual job. At some point I sent the tags Susan had used to Open Doors, and Julie explained there would now be a pause of a few weeks to let the tag wranglers do their work to ensure that the tags I was to use when I posted the stories were in the right AO3 form.

And then I got an Excel form which outlined exactly how to post the stories. I could never have used AO3 before in my life, and it would have been clear how to post Iolanthe’s stories in her memorial account. But, step by step, everything about the Open Doors process seemed so obvious, and quite unsurprising, even if I hadn’t thought of it before.

How did you hear about the OTW and what do you see its role as?

I heard about OTW because other fans were talking about it on LiveJournal in late 2007. I’d left LiveJournal for other reasons in June 2006, so I was not involved in those discussions – but I was aware they were happening. I now see the role of OTW to, specifically, protect the existence of AO3 as a host site for fanworks of all sorts and to, generally, protect the right of fans to create transformative works based on all sorts of media.

What fandom things have inspired you the most?

Stories. I love reading fanfic, and I love writing fanfic. Writing is my passion.

Also: that fandom exists. That we have made fandom – and everything in it – out of love and words. This entire eccentric diverse muddled dramatic multilevelled Escher-staired magical structure, half castle, half space station, half Faraway Tree, half fae and half heaven and half hell: we made it. Fandom exists because we want it to, because of what we love, because of how we love, because of words.

We encourage suggestions from fans for future guest posts, so contact us if you have someone in mind! Or you can visit our Pinboard account to catch up on earlier guest posts.

Guest Post
  1. Gioia aka Enora Wings on AO3 commented:

    This story is soooooooooooo beautiful!
    It shows so well the power of art, writing and friendship.
    Thank you for sharing this and thanks for your work
    (I say this every time but I must ;-) )