OTW Guest Post

OTW Guest Post: Betts

From time to time, the OTW will be hosting guest posts on our OTW News accounts. These guests will be providing an outside perspective on the OTW or aspects of fandom where our projects may have a presence. The posts express each author’s personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. We welcome suggestions from fans for future guest posts, which can be left as a comment here or by contacting us directly.

Beth Weeks (Betts) received her MFA from Miami University, where she currently teaches creative writing and composition. Her work has been published in Rivet Journal, Midwestern Gothic, and Quarter After Eight. You can find her on Twitter and Tumblr. Today, Betts talks about how she became a fanfic writer.

How did you first find out about fandom and fanworks?

I was 11 the first time I found fanfiction. It was a small Geocities archive for the show Dark Angel. I opened up an explicit fic, though, and immediately panicked, vowing not to go searching for Max/Alec content anymore. I was 23 when fanfic found me again. There were only six episodes of BBC Sherlock at the time, and Post-Reichenbach fics were flourishing. I had a Tumblr already; it had been introduced to me by a friend who said it was the “motherlode of lesbians and cats.”

I stumbled across a rec to EmmaGrant01’s “A Cure for Boredom,” then a WIP, and I thought, I too am bored. I found myself many hours later, nose to screen, huddled in a blanket burrito, occasionally rolling around saying “oh my god.” When I finally glanced away from the fic, it was dark outside and I’d forgotten to eat. I’d read thousands of books, but fanfic seemed unlike any of them. It took my favorite elements of narrative, gutted all the stuff I didn’t care about (plot) and beefed up all the stuff I did (character). Fanfic was risky and urgent and earnest — everything I thought good writing should be.

Later, I traveled around South America and New Zealand, and whenever I got homesick and couldn’t manage to sleep, I’d pull up a Johnlock fic and curl up in my hostel bunk, among dozens of other snoring backpackers, so I could feel connected to something again. Fanfiction became a piece of home I carried with me. No matter where I was, there was somewhere I knew I belonged.

Read More

This Week in Fandom

This Week In Fandom, Volume 132

Hello and welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things that are happening. It’s Copyright Week and appropriately enough, we have several stories for you that all operate at the intersection between fanfiction and traditional publishing. Buckle up!

First off, an article by Sian Cain for the Guardian on how Fifty Shades of Grey “changed our sex lives”. Focusing on EL James’s native country, the UK, Cain explores the ongoing legacy of James’s trilogy, ‘the runaway bestselling books’ of the 2010s. Cain’s account traces ripple effects across the publishing industry, the BDSM scene, and even the law. She gives space to the criticisms leveled at James’s work by ‘BDSM practitioners and domestic abuse campaigners’ and acknowledges its problematic effects, but she also finds some positive consequences from the international obsession with Grey’s story and sexual behaviors. In any case, it’s a thoroughly-researched insight into what is still online fanfiction’s most famous mainstream success. Read More

This Week In Fandom

This Week In Fandom, Volume 131

Hello and welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things that are happening. Before we start, the Oscar nominations were released yesterday. What do you make of them? Let us know in the comments!

Our ‘OTW in the news’ radar was set off this week by Kaitlyn Tiffany’s charming piece in The Atlantic, ‘The Early Internet, Explained by One Weird Celine Dion Fan Site’. Tiffany interviews Yury Toroptsov, the creator of Celine Dreams, a website which ran from 2001 to 2011 and on which Toroptsov encouraged fellow fans to submit their dreams about Dion for his (public) interpretation. At Celine Dreams’ peak, Toroptsov was a BNF in online Celine Dion fandom; but the piece is more than a portrait of his particular experience. Instead, it takes the website as the jumping-off point for an exploration of online fandom culture’s transient quality. Tiffany mentions the Yahoo Groups closure, points out that Celine Dreams is only available via the Wayback Machine’s limited record, and gives a shoutout to the OTW’s efforts to preserve fan culture. She reminds us that Tumblr, a key fan platform through the 2000s and 2010s, ‘did not start collecting and collating data about fandom’ until 2013. This is important, Tiffany argues, despite the apparent triviality of the subject matter: ‘By itself, a website devoted to (possibly fake) dreams about Celine Dion is perhaps not our most urgent archival task. But in aggregate, fan sites like Toroptsov’s provide a valuable history of the ways web 1.0 users exercised fandom to provide their daily lives with context and color.’ The history of fandom and the history of the internet are closely entwined; we should do what we can to preserve them both. Read More