OMG. I Wrote Fanfic!

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Every writer has a skeleton in the closet. Bad poetry, failed attempts at short stories, journal entries that should never see the light of day – you know, the stuff that seemed good at the time, but now lies forgotten in a file or a shelf somewhere.

This is the writing that makes you cringe when you see it, but don’t be too quick to chuck in the trash. This is also the writing that had to happen in order to become the writer you are today.

In my case, I have journals filled with page after page of poetry (some good, some not), spirals of horrible short stories (definitely not my thing), and journal entries from a writing group I no longer attend, (prompt based writing is a little distracting for me). I learned something from every piece of writing I’ve ever done. Even the horrible, awful, bad stuff served its purpose in that I learned what not to do!

These physical reminders of my writing past sit on a shelf next to my desk. They remind me of where I’ve been and where I want to go. For that reason, I treasure them even if I pray no one ever reads them!

I thought I had all evidence of my writing past collected neatly in one place, but I was wrong. It turns out I had a little skeleton in my closet  that I totally forgot about and its out there for everyone to see.

The process of revisiting some old writing (See Getting All Nostalgic), lead me to a fansite for The Office called More Than That. It’s a fanfic site that specializes in fanfic for the characters Jim and Pam, but also includes fan created stories for The Office as a whole. The moderator of this site reached out and asked for message board posts I did for the show years ago.

I remember visiting the site often to read fanfic when the show aired, so I already had a username and password. When I signed in and clicked on My Account, I was shocked to see that I had written several pieces of fanfic. I totally and completely forgot that I had indulged in the sappy, fan obsessed practice of writing fanfic.

OMG. *slaps hand on forehead*

I did it all – fluff, angst, and romantic sappiness. Everything an obsessed shipper could ever want for fictional characters. I was afraid to click on the stories. Who knows what I had done or what they were about!

It turns out they aren’t half bad. The writer in me today wants to fix them, but they will remain as is. Part of me can’t believe I wrote fanfic, but the rest understands my muse was trying to tell me something a long time ago. This is where writing fiction became a reality to me. This is where I learned I could do it if I really tried.

At first, I was embarrassed to discover I had been a fanfic writer, but then I realized I had no reason to be. Fanfic is an art form. Many of the writers on More Than That are incredibly talented and I love reading their work. It isn’t easy to create new stories for well-known characters. There’s a fine line between challenging characters with new scenarios, while also maintaining the established canon of the character’s personality.

I may focus my attention on non-fanfic writing these days, but I am well aware that fanfic is one of the reasons I was brave enough to write not one, but two novels. I proudly acknowledge my fanfic skeleton!

Writing is writing, no matter what the genre. Tap those keys or scribble with that pen. Your muse is waiting.

– – –

p.s. Here they are in all their glory:

More Than That: scrantonbranch’s stories

c.b.w. 2016

A Weird Writing Dilemma

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For the last few days, I’ve been busy pulling some really old writing files, (see Getting All Nostalgic for the reason why). Some of the files I had to track down date back a full decade! The fact that I even found them was truly astonishing (thank goodness for an archaic laptop that didn’t succumb to a virus), but it turns out that was only a fraction of the battle that was ahead.

First, ten-year-old files don’t like transferring to updated versions of software. Especially when those old files are part of a program that basically no longer exists. Back in the day, I was still playing around on a PC. PCs often came with a free abbreviated version of Word called Microsoft Works. Almost every post I wrote for my threads on The Office message boards was drafted in this program.

Transfering-files-and-folders

I’ve since evolved to a Mac in which I run the full Microsoft Office software. It turns out none of the files I pulled off my old PC would open on my Mac. Ugh. Are you kidding me? After a few minutes of crafty thinking, I realized I could probably upload the files to google docs on the off chance they would magically convert to that format.

I was close! Google Docs prompted me to convert my files using CloudConvert. I didn’t have to download anything, but rather my files could be converted to .docx in the magical realm known as the cloud. Once converted they were sent back to my google docs account all shiny and new. From there, I downloaded them to a USB.

Voila! My files opened and all my hard work was saved. There are some formatting issues, but the text is all there and that is what matters!

This is when I thought the hard part was over. Silly, silly me. The hard part began when I opened those files and started reading. Ten years is a long time in the life and evolution of a writer. I’ve come a long way since then and its almost painful to see words I so badly want to fix.

proofreading-tips

While it would be easy to go in and make all sorts of improvements, herein lies the problem: Do I really want to alter something that so many readers have already enjoyed? The whole point of this nostalgic project was to find a new online home for message board posts that currently are no longer available, (the message board is now defunct). The reader who requested them loved them they way they were and so did many other readers.

As a writer, I find myself in an odd place. I know I could rewrite those posts and make them better in terms of style, flow, and organization. At the same time, I don’t want to mess with something that is a perfect snapshot of a wonderful time in my life where I was rediscovering myself as writer. Nor do I want to mess with what is a perfect preservation of fandom memories for readers and myself.

Ultimately, I decided to do limited revisions. One of my trademark flaws is leaving out entire words because my brain moves faster than my typing fingers. I’m doing my best to fill in the missing words. I’m also fixing punctuation issues such as commas, semicolons, and hyphens to help with reading flow. Other than that, I’m leaving the original posts as original as I can. It’s painful, but I think it’s the right think to do considering their newfound purpose.

I never thought I’d find myself in this position, but I suppose this is how published novelists feel about their work. There really is no such thing as a final draft, but sometimes you just have to let things go.

– – –

c.b.w. 2016

Getting All Nostalgic

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Nostalgia seems to be the theme of my life this week. Between restoring vintage Barbie dolls and sewing with vintage fabric, an email popped up in my inbox from an old acquaintance. She was a reader of some writing I did a long time ago and wanted to know if she could post it on her website. It sounds simple enough, but the story behind the writing it is somewhat unconventional.

Years ago, I was part of an online fan community for the television show The Office (U.S.). Under the screen name “scrantonbranch” I played on various threads of a message board for episode discussion, trivia, and general geeking out over a show we all loved, (loved is actually not a strong enough word for how we felt about the show – it was soul consuming passion).

theoffice

Part of what made The Office so special was the relationship between Jim and Pam. After the jaw dropping events of the Season 2 finale, I became full-blown obsessed with these characters. As an outlet for this obsession, I started writing incredibly detailed analyses of every episode on threads that became known as The Pam Dichotomy and The Jim Paradox.

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Oh, this moment! The fandom collective nearly exploded from excitement.

Throughout Seasons 3 and 4, I analyzed every word, facial tic, and story development of Jim and Pam. My threads gained quite a following and incited some amazing discussion and fan camaraderie. At one point I was getting upwards of 1000 hits a day. The threads were so popular, I found myself surrounded by fans at the 2007 Office Convention, (as an introvert, I was mortified, but also completely and totally blown away).

By the time Season 5 rolled around, Jim and Pam (or JAM) were together and there wasn’t much left to analyze (until Season 9, but the community was long gone by then). I stopped writing the threads by the end of 2008. I still watched the show like rabid fan, but there was no longer a need for the PD and JP (that’s what we called my threads for short).

It was sad to let it go, but at the same time I was ready to move on to something new. I always valued the entire experience because it got me writing again after a really long dry spell. It’s why I’m here on this blog, why I wrote two novels, and why I started writing poetry again. It’s actually pretty amazing how one TV show could inspire so much and have such a lasting impact on someone.

So here we are in 2016. It’s been eight years since I wrote the PD And JP. The Office stopped airing in 2013 (I won’t get into how devastating it was to watch it all end), and the message board community was taken offline. All good things come to an end, right? Life had moved on so far, far away from the PD and JP, I’d all but forgotten about it.

Then, that email showed up. I recognized the screen name immediately as one of my old PD/JP readers. She now runs a fanfic/JAM fansite that was around when the show aired (I was a frequent visitor of the site, too!). In the email, she asked if it was possible to repost the writing I did for the PD and JP as it is no longer available online. I was shocked that anyone even cared about either of my threads after such a long time. Of course, I said yes … as soon as I find the writing.

I’m in the process of trying to find all my old files. I’ve gone through three laptops since I started writing both threads back in 2006, so they could be hidden in a number of places. There is an online archive that did a snapshot of the old message boards, so I’m hoping I can salvage some of the original posts.

I’ve managed to locate about half of my original posts, which is pretty good considering how much time has passed. I never thought to save my posts in an organized fashion because I never thought I’d need them again. Boy, was I wrong!

So why does all this matter? I’ve learned a few really important things:

  • Save your writing! All of it. Save every file and keep it organized
  • What you write is important. Regardless of what it is, it matters. Even if its something that seems stupid (like analyzing a TV show to a ridiculous degree) it pushes you forward in the writing process.
  • Readers are out there and they are loyal. Keep writing for those people and remember how important they are to you as a writer.

– – –

c.b.w. 2016

My Favorite Meant To Be Couples

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I haven’t always been huge on the holiday filled with red, pink (my least favorite color), teddy bears and large monkeys, but I do love love.  There is something magical about someone accepting and adoring you for who you are no matter what.  My husband is that man for me and I don’t need a holiday to appreciate all he does for me because I thank my lucky stars each and every day that he remains by my side.

Okay, I’m done being all mushy.  Being the fangirl I am (see The Authograph Ninja), I can’t help but have a little fun.  While real life love is the best thing out there, I am a sucker for TV couples from some of my favorite shows.  Here are my favorites:

Jim and Pam from The Office

Best TV Kiss Ever!

Sheldon and Amy from The Big Bang Theory

Most Awkward TV Kiss

Mary Margaret and David (or their alter egos Snow and Prince Charming) from Once Upon A Time

TVs Best Fairy Tale Kiss

And just for fun, a few from the movies:

Edward and Bella

Best. Couple. Ever

Ron and Hermione

Long Overdue, but Worth It!

Ariel and Prince Eric

Kiss the Girl!

Peter Parker and Mary Jane

Best Superhero Kiss

Of course, there are a slew more that I love, but these popped into my head first. Happy Valentine’s Day to my family, friends, and readers! May your day be filled with love and joy.

What are your favorite couples?

– – –

c.b. 2012

15 Years Brings 15 Changes

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I was listening to my iPod the other day and it shuffled to a song I hadn’t heard in a while.  When “Real World” by Matchbox 20 started playing, it made me smile and reminisce about a time in my life that now feels so far away.  I was 18-years-old and had just begun to taste the real world as an adult.

I pulled out the actual CD and marveled at the relic.  Matchobx 20’s debut album, Yourself or Someone Like You was one of my favorite albums and served as my soundtrack during my first year of college.  It’s hard to believe that was fifteen years ago, but here I sit as a 33-year-old woman with an old CD in her hands.  I even checked the copyright date to make sure my math was right. Yup, 1996.

I couldn’t help but load the CD in my car for old time’s sake.  This is the band that turned me into one of those people that sing in the car.  I suppose I can credit Matchbox 20 for giving me the license to say “I don’t care if anyone’s watching.”  I still sing in the car and I still don’t care who sees me doing it. To my surprise, I remember all the words to every song.  Driving down the freeway, I belted out “Long Day” and “Push” as if I was some rock star behind the wheel.  Fifteen years later, its still good music.

My little jaunt down memory lane got me thinking about how much in my life has changed since I was eighteen.  I don’t long to be that young again, nor am I saddened by the passing of time. Rather, I’m in awe of how life brings so many changes in such a short period of time.  Between then and now, I’ve gone from being an adult just starting out to an individual who has found her groove in life.

15 Years Brings 15 Changes:

1. Age
Then: 18 and very naïve.
Now: 33 and hopefully a little wiser

2. Living Situation
Then: Living at home and sharing a room with my sister
Now: Homeowner with a writing room all to myself

3. Mode of Transportation
Then: 1991 Chevy Cavalier.  It was my first car and it broke down all the time!  About a year later, I totaled it by rear-ending an SUV.  The SUV was fine, but my car crinkled like a tin can.
Now: 2006 Mini Cooper.  It’s the cutest thing ever.

4. Occupation
Then: Full-time student and part-time salesgirl at The Body Shop.  I sold lotion and gave make-overs.
Now: Full-time teacher and aspiring writer.  These days I barely wear make-up and I’m allergic to almost all scented lotions.

5. Relationship Status
Then: Single and getting over a break-up.  I was three years away from meeting my husband.
Now: Married to wonderful guy and I can’t imagine life without him.

6. Style
Then: Jeans and Birkenstock wannabes
Now: Jeans and Converse sneakers.  I haven’t changed much in this department!

7. Travel
Then: U.S. and Mexico
Now: I have memories of so many beautiful places: French Polynesia, Great Britain (4 times), Ireland, France, Italy, Czech Republic, and China. To think I’ve only just begun!

8. Technology
Then: I had a CD Walkman and a large PC desktop computer.  The monitor alone took up half my desk!  I was hardwired into thinking Macs were not cool and Windows 95 was the best thing out there.
Now: I can’t live without my iPod and I carry a thin, lightweight laptop everywhere.  I’m a full Mac convert and can’t imagine what I ever saw in a PC.

9. Appointment TV
Then: Reruns of Star Trek: TNG, Wings, Newsradio, and Golden Girls.  Reality TV was not part of the vernacular and talk shows were all the rage.
Now: Fringe, Big Bang Theory, The Office, Project Runway, and reruns Star Trek: TNG if I can find it.

10. Communication
Then: I relied on a pager and snail mail, with a bit of e-mail.
Now: I’m fully connected with a smartphone, e-mail, and social networks.

11. Current Events
Then: 9/11 was just the 11th day in September
Now: 9/11 was the day that changed everything

12. Reading Pattern
Then: Mostly textbooks for all my classes. College gives you very little time to read for fun.
Now: Literary and mainstream fiction, along with a smattering of young adult.

13. Writing
Then: Research papers and random bits of poetry
Now: Fiction, (including novels and short stories), blog posts, and poetry

14. Hangout Spot
Then: Barnes & Noble on the East side of town.
Now: Barnes & Noble on the North side of town.  I can’t help myself. I love B&N and the coffee they serve.

15. Direction In Life
Then: Still questioning my identity and course . . .
Now: I know who I am and where I want go!

I can’t imagine what the next fifteen years will bring, but I’m excited all the same.  Life continues to be an adventure I can’t wait to experience.

Where were you 15 years ago?

c.b. 2011