I read a ridiculous amount of Twilight fanfiction - the good and the not so good. As a reader, I am constantly in search of that moment. We have all witnessed it. The recent Bellie Awards even acknowledged a concentrated manifestation of it with the Best One-Liner category. It’s that moment when the writer finds that magical place where words meet emotion...and merge. Good writers journey there on a regular basis. The best writers live there.
Not long ago, one of these best writers told me that I was like a cheerleader. I won’t lie, the title stung a little at the time (sorry, cheerleaders everywhere…no offense intended), but then I started to think about it a bit more. You see, the thing about cheerleaders is that they are not merely spectators. They may reside on the sidelines, but they still have their own role in the game. So often, the literature I read exists a great distance away from me. That’s not to say that I am not affected on a personal level by these works - because I am - but I am always aware that they come from another time, place, or way of life, one to which I do not have immediate access. The beauty of the fanfiction genre in general, and communities such as Twilighted and The Lazy, Yet Discerning Ficster in particular, lies in the access they grant to the creative process. I may have never sat in the coffeehouses of 18th Century London, and what I know of popular modern authors comes to me through the filters of press releases and advertising campaigns. But I have watched as jandco, who is practically Twilight fanfiction royalty, voiced her concern that her last two solo efforts might not be good enough (ridiculous, I know). After reading a particularly moving piece by halojones (chapter 12 of She’s Royal will always stand out as an example of excellence for me), I have been overwhelmed by her reply thanking me for my review. I have watched withthevampsofcourse’s humor play out on forums, even while she kicks me in the throat with Edward’s point of view in Scotch, Gin and the New Girl. I have been privileged enough to have an inside glimpse into some of the meticulous planning and writing and rewriting that goes into Jfly/Thallium81’s work (seriously, it’s amazing what she does). These are just a few examples of the many I have seen as I watch readers and writers alike encourage each other to dive into the creative moment. For somebody like me, who constantly resides on the reading/evaluation side of literature, this interaction is a remarkable thing to witness.
So, I will continue to don my pleated skirt and pom-poms (figuratively speaking, of course, because, trust me, nobody really wants to see that). I will cheer (yes, Jfly, cheer) as I watch new writers search for that place of literary magic while veteran writers lead the way. And even though I may not be in the game, so to speak, I will take my place on the sideline. I like it there. It’s not so blinding.
Author's Blurb by Jfly/Thallium81
Gimme a J!
Gimme a U!
Gimme an N!
Gimme an O!
Savage Juno deserves a cheer for the thankless support she provides.
When a chapter is posted, the writer gets the parise or criticism, the giddy squee or the bored groan, and all the attention.
Those comments, reviews, PMs, and forum posts by thoughtful readers are sweet sweet candy to the writer. And it turns out that the more reviews there are, the more important the thoughtful reviews become.
I get scuvry in the sea of "Great job! Keep going!" and "OMG! :P I smell lemons!". And then Savage Juno comes along with a nice boost of vitamin C wrapped up in a review that tells me she caught the reference to Browning or Eliot or Milton. She bouys me up when she compares one of my metaphors with a work she cherishes. She makes me feel like I'm not a lunatic for writing what I write in a world where most of the popular stories are completely alien to me.
And more than that, she does it all with this infectious positivity. I am, as many of you know, decidedly NOT chipper and excited about much of anything. So it's energizing to me to have contact with someone who can contageously effuse an upbeat outlook toward my writing-- who can make me feel like my ideas do come across and my pictures are accurately painted by my words. Not only this, but Juno has a knack for finding subtleties of phrase that even I was unaware of. She shares her point of view eloquently. She pull phrases. She ASKS QUESTIONS. Juno provides the writer the precious opportunity to see her fic through other eyes-- eyes that GET it. And you know if Juno doesn't get it, then you've missed your mark.
Savage Juno is the name you want to see in your review box. She's well-read enough to see every detail for what it is, and she's joyful and enthusiastic enough about the written word that she takes every damn thing she can from each chapter. Not as a glutton or a nitpicker, but as a gourmand who can detect the quarter teaspoon of cinnamon or fine French marsh salt in the mole sauce and savor those ingredients on his tongue while also appreciating the dish as a whole and even admiring its presentation.
And she doesn't just do this for me. She reads a LOT of fic, and she admires a LOT of deserving writers, and she shares the encouragement all around.
Three cheers for Savage Juno and everything she gives back! Because as much as review time is the writer's moment to bask and shine, from the writer's point of view, it's the hour of the reviewer.