mina_de_malfois: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] mina_de_malfois at 08:19am on 30/04/2009 under
Warning: [personal profile] mina_de_malfois is an affectionate satirical examination of online fandom. Some readers may not share this sense of humour; reader discretion is advised. [personal profile] mina_de_malfois is for entertainment purposes only; [personal profile] mina_de_malfois neither attempts nor achieves any notable degree of accuracy, and should therefore not be used as a source of information. Do not attempt to operate heavy equipment or motor vehicles while consuming [personal profile] mina_de_malfois. Refrigerate [personal profile] mina_de_malfois after opening. If you notice changes in colour, texture, or odour, or separation of ingredients, please discard any remaining [personal profile] mina_de_malfois and buy a new jar.

I had learnt to regret my newfound interest in Occult fandom--learnt the hard way, indeed, that TPTB behind the show treated their fans with a degree of scorn and derision that made it damned near unfathomable that anyone would admit to being a fan of their work.

For one thing, I'd been on the brink of writing--been incubating, you might say--a bloody brilliant multi-chapter fic in which the Colt brothers underwent an epic journey from a city of ruin and destruction to a city on a mountaintop which would turn out to be inhabited by sexy, sexy angels.1

A touch overblown, you might say, and I agree that for any other fandom it would have been a little heavy, but Occult not only lends itself to such excesses, it trots them out quite regularly as canon, and expects no one to bat an eye.

And therein lay the problem, for a mere handful of weeks after I'd started discussing my upcoming fanfiction (not revealing all the details and twists, you understand, but making it clear that I took Bunyan as my inspiration and that there would be an unparalleled degree of erotic tension) an episode aired.

I watched, dismayed beyond the telling, as my plot unfolded.2
Now, I'm not given to paranoia, no matter what my enemies say. If that had been all, I'd have swallowed the coincidence as such, although it would have taken some washing down.

But in that very same episode the canon authors had seen fit to sneer at their fans and supporters by having the Colts state, in so many words, that they found noncon hardcore BDSM and watersports distasteful.3

It was insulting to the fandom at large and to those with a non-standard sexuality in particular, but most of all, of course, it was insulting to me personally. The fic I'd been brewing, you see, dealt sensitively, movingly, and I dare go so far as to say profoundly, with those very themes.

I tried not to dwell on how crushed I felt at learning TPTB would go so far to thwart and mock me, but naturally enough my friends and supporters flocked round to cheer me with their indignation, while the anti-Mina faction smirked up their sleeves.

The whole experience had left me feeling flat and de-energized, with no will or energy to write so much as a line of inspired fanfiction. Listlessness had seized me. I had no energy to do anything, unless IM-ing Arc for consultation counts as anything. 'I don't know what's wrong with me,' I complained, and went through my not inconsiderable list of symptoms, ending with my disinclination to put fingers to keyboard.

'Housemaid's knee,' she diagnosed promptly. I was, I feel compelled to admit, more than a little miffed at that, though I bravely hid my pain at this entirely unwarranted slur.

To add insult to injury, when I shared my tribulations with Xena she LOL'd and LOL'd, recovering just long enough to message me back that Arc was entirely wrong: it was obviously my liver that was at fault. I had the distinct impression that either they'd been discussing me behind my back, or, barring that, that they were telepathically sharing some sort of joke at my expense.5 I was not amused.

'What you want,' Liz said when I applied to her for sympathy, 'is a clump up the side of the head.'6

I ignored this with quiet dignity, knowing it sprang not from honest reflection on my situation but from spite because I'd laughed at her for hanging a picture of Warr1or in the hall. She'd said that as a former Malfois Manor employee, and an up-and-coming BNF, it was only fitting that he be offered some show of respect, but I'd been too convulsed at finding out she placed a fresh rose in the frame every day to respond kindly. I know he has well-defined abs and all, but really.

My nearest and dearest were, to a woman, failing to grasp the seriousness of my discontent. I felt sick to death of fandom, and when an intellectual BNF is tired of fandom she is tired of life, as I'm almost certain someone said once.7

I felt poised on the brink of something really dramatic. More than once I caught myself checking out the online death notification services, and contemplating the ultimate flounce.8

And then, as a reasonable alternative to death, I found myself considering publication.

It just so happened that by an incredible, indeed almost magical, coincidence, PrinceC, fresh and emboldened by his triumph in restoring Warrior's archive, had launched upon a most original and brilliant scheme. He was starting his own independent press. 9

And Joshen, who may lack discipline, follow-through, and, indeed, basic honesty, but who doesn't lack for flashes of sheer unparalleled inspiration, had made a suggestion.

I could entirely re-invent myself.

I dismissed it on first hearing, but on appeal I saw the merits of the case. I could, ran Joshen's argument, take advantage of PrinceC's business acumen, and use it to embark upon a fresh start of my own. There was a new planet swimming within fandom's ken, you see.10

That is, there was dawning a new day, and fandom had begun to stir with renewed energy as it prepared to throw off the yoke of our oppressors and make a bid for heady freedom. In short: there was a new journalling service available.11

People were decamping at an astounding rate of pilgrimage. I had already surmised that I would have to set up new lodgings of my own there. I'd been planning to, all along.

But Joshen's argument was that I could use this move to leave behind the old Mina, and invent a fresh new persona, a creator rather than a mere participant. I could rename myself, publish under PrinceC's umbrella, and start my online life anew.

I could be Mina Colt.12 Or Mina Daae.13 Or Mina Salvatore.14 The possibilities were endless.

I could be free of the constraints of my reputation as a BNF and a fanfiction author. I could publish my original novel, without fear that mean-spirited, small-minded people were out there poring over it in the futile but abhorrent hope of finding quotations from better-known fictional vampires, vampire hunters, and child wizards.15 I could even, were I so inclined, file the serial numbers off a couple of my book-length fanfics,16 and give them the wider audience my in-depth of secondary (though archetypal, and bloody nearly public domain on that account) characters so deserved.

I floated the idea past Warr1or, logically assuming that since he'd been much in PrinceC's company of late he might be privy to the most up-to-date info re: the impending press, but he seemed strangely reluctant to discuss the subject. 'PrinceC,' Warr1or texted me darkly, 'has secrets of his own. You might be safer keeping your distance, Mina.'

Arc, when I decided to seek her opinion and nobly overlook that she'd rudely implied I suffered injuries best left to the servant class, was guardedly optimistic about my seeking small-press publication, but dead against the name-change routine. I saw her point, of course. She had invested much time and effort clearing my name from this and that, and doubtless felt it would have been all for nothing if I was just going to ditch the old reputation altogether and go create a new one.

But damn it all, sometimes one wants an entirely fresh start, a new beginning that has nothing of the old self clinging to it, and this felt like just such a time. Admittedly I had not spent much, or to be more accurate any, time in the company of divers or harpists. Nevertheless, if ever someone were ripe to rise on the stepping-stones of their dead self, that someone was me.17

If I didn't make a clean break now, I reasoned, I might never make one at all. Years from now I'd be sitting on a heap of publications, putting on the cheerful mask18 to attend book signings and grant interviews, and underneath it all I'd be sickened to the core knowing my pseudonym was the self-same one attached to numerous fanfics, all well-written but some, it must be admitted, beyond the bounds of the socially acceptable. Even my proposed Occult fic, while undoubtedly brilliant, wouldn't necessarily have been the sort of thing you'd want tied to your pen-name forever.

It was all right for Arc. You could google 'Archivist12' until the cows came home, and no matter how widely roving the cows in question, you wouldn't find a single dubcon scene or 'cestfic in the time it took your abode to fill up with bovines. She'd apparently never penned anything even slightly dodgy in her life.

I, on the other hand, had written one or two things it might be best to shed, and surely the present moment, while we were on the cusp of a new journalling service, was the time to do so? If cusp is the word I mean. I might mean brink.

I went to bed feeling firm and resolute, determined to cast off my dead pseud.

Then I woke to a new dawn, and found that Arc had registered--and paid for--a new account for me, using the old pseud.

A stronger person than myself, and one slightly more flush with cash, might well have ignored that, of course. Part of me, weak and non-flush though I am, badly wanted to. I was distinctly aware that what we had here was an effort to thwart and outmaneuver me, and I chafed a bit. But in the end I charitably chalked it up to her having a personal stake in the not-inconsiderable fame I'd accumulated under the current pseud, and I decided to forgive her.

I cautiously began setting up house, and in the excitement of composing an entirely fresh userinfo it took me hours to realize that Joshen had, alas, vanished. Not just from our usual internet haunts, I mean, but from the campus as well. That evening I found a note at the foot of my bed, pinned to Jen's Camp Silver Lake t-shirt. Cara Mina, it read, Must dash. Have burnt some bridges, and heat is on.19 Will be thinking of you fondly, and often, and wishing you every success. Until then I remain, yours, [incomprehensible squiggle]. I have no idea how she'd got into my room to leave it.

I was, I confess, unexpectedly cast down at first. I'd only just begun to get used to walking across campus with Jen, or meeting for coffee, and it had been a surprisingly pleasant interlude, on the whole. But then, I'd never looked for stability on that front, and overall it was as well it had ended before Joshen had staged another outbreak of criminal activity or anything. It was a relief, really, to emerge unscathed and unindicted.
Besides, the new journal was very shiny.

3.10 Mina de Malfois and the Vanishing Lady4
1. Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress does seem an odd thing on which to base fanfiction, I agree. Then again, no odder than Paradise Lost.

2. First suggested by Rachel_Martin, here.

3. At which point I'd like to pause to thank Ryuutchi for writing up this report, and Supernatural fandom for, well, just being Supernatural fandom.

4. Of course the title is an inversion of The Lady Vanishes, as well as a reference to the various vanishing females of this episode--Mina, for instance, nearly enacts her disappearance; Jen actually does.

5. Arc and Xena are thinking of Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat.

6. Which is, of course, the remedy most often applied to the narrator of Three Men in a Boat as a child.

7. It was Samuel Johnson, except of course he was talking about London, because he wasn't privy to the joys of internet fandom.

8. SlightlyMorbid, for example: https://www.slightlymorbid.com/ Potential pseuicides with long-term planning skills must be salivating.

9. Okay, yes: I've said before, often, that PrinceC is in no way meant to resemble [personal profile] copperbadge, and that the couple of absurd but fascinating theories and innuendos floated on the strength of that misidentification were entirely wrong. (Almost a pity, in a way, as it would have made for a madly scurrilous and shockingly eventful life if any of them had been true.)
But just this once, PrinceC is stealing a tiny fragment of [personal profile] copperbadge's life, because I can't resist referencing this: [personal profile] copperbadge is starting Extribulum Press, for those of you who might be interested (that's a link to the list of posts tagged "Extribulum," not to any one particular post). And may I just say: I love all small presses. ♥

10. Keats, On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer, only he's using astronomers discovering Uranus as a metaphor for himself discovering Chapman's Homer, not for anything to do with Dreamwidth. Just to be perfectly clear.

11. I, unlike Keats, am referring to Dreamwidth. But you already knew that.

12. Colt, of course, is the surname of the brothers in Warrior's current favourite fandom, Occult.

13. After Christine Daae, of The Phantom of the Opera, presumably.

14. Salvatore is the surname of the vampire brothers in The Vampire Diaries.

15. Imagine how annoying that would be. Go on, imagine.

16. For an example of fanfic with the serial numbers filed off, one could check out Russet Noon, and then for the complete saga of how it came to have the serial numbers filed off, one should read [profile] caito's write ups here, here, and here. It's part three of that saga from which Mina draws her interesting interpretation of archetypes and public domain.

17. Mina is more-or-less quoting Alfred, Lord Tennyson's In Memoriam, although that doesn't actually have divers in it. It has 'diverse voices,' and archaic spelling. You see the difficulty.
(Although to be honest, in my head that phrase is linked to Bertie Wooster far more than it is to Tennyson.)

18. Speaking of Bertie Wooster, he too often has to wear the mask to conceal inner turmoil...

19. Btw, while I'm (thanks to [profile] aurictech) thinking of it: Happy Walpurgisnacht.


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