Tuesday, 30 December 2008


I took a week off over Christmas to write fanfiction, but the week is now over, so this week I'm changing gears to write Now and Rome.

The differences between the two kinds of writing are interesting. I have to draft and redraft a lot more with theory than I do with fanfic: in fanfic, as J pointed out to me (she was reading what I wrote on a day-by-day basis), I tend to get the words right first time - though I have terrible trouble with structure and plot and narrative order and, you know, everything that's not on the level of the sentences - but in theory, I have to go through usually five to ten drafts for everything. I worked out this morning that it's because, strangely enough, there's something much more private about the way I write theory: what I write down first of all tends to be a note-to-myself. So it never quite captures the thought that I have - it's more of a footprint of the thought (and a footprint doesn't look like a boot), and it also never quite makes sense to other people, because it's in such a private language. So I end up having to go through it all over and over again, trying to find a way of expressing the thought which is both closer to the thought itself and clearer to other people. Who was it who said, when someone asked them who they wrote for, 'Myself, and strangers?' That's actually what deconstruction is all about, the way that language has to be for strangers - thought has to go through that detour into the public realm of language in order to make sense even to oneself. But anyway. That's the double movement that the writing has to go through.

And of course the same holds for fanfiction: if I was just in it for myself I wouldn't write down stories, I'd just daydream (I do lots of that too, obviously). A great deal of the pleasure I get from writing fanfiction is trying to put physical sensations and emotional states into words, when there aren't words for them, really. But that 'for-strangers' thing is more built into the writing process of fanfic for me, I think. I mean that when I write theory I have an idea and I scribble down something which reminds me of that idea, and then through progressive drafts I get the idea clearer and clearer, both in-itself and for-others. But when I write fanfic, I visualize and experience the scene quite clearly, and then the process (and the pleasure) is all about translating that immediate experience* into language, for strangers. There isn't really an intermediate stage where I write for myself. I wonder why? And I don't think that would change if I was writing 'original' fiction - I wrote a realfic novel in my mid-20s, and started two or three others in my teens, and I think the feeling of writing fiction has stayed remarkably consistent all that time. (I also tend to mix original characters with canon characters in fanfic, and I never feel particularly different about the way I write them - they do stuff, I watch them and write it down, and whether they're played by Alan Rickman or an imaginary person in my head doesn't really make any odds.)

But this isn't getting my book written!

*Of course - I add hastily in case any of my MA students are, by some chance, reading this (hello, if you are, I hope you are all having excellent vacations) - there is no such thing as immediate experience, there are only chains of differential marks. But still.

Friday, 5 December 2008


I have a book contract for Now and Rome with Continuum.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Conference alert

This may be of interest to some - Anna? A conference in Wales on 'the erotics of narrative', 15-19 July, which is a completely fascinating topic (suspense! Climax!) but I am planning to be in Brisbane at the end of next July...

If I went to all the conferences I want to in July, it would look like this:

3-5 July, Diana Wynne Jones, Bristol;

6-10 July, Classical Receptions in Children's Literature, Lampeter;

15-19 July, The Erotics of Narrative, Gregynog (near Newtown);

20-23 July, Cultures of Violence and Conflict, Brisbane.

So that's not going to happen. I am going to the DWJ one, where (if my abstract is accepted) I will talk about the unmaking of family (and the making of queer family) in DWJ, and to the violence one, where I will talk about violence and the writing of history in Lucan. And that's already two too many, as I am supposed to be finishing my book...