Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Fandom Fluff: Once There Was a Story

Once There Was a Story

Hoosier Mama

Once there was a story.

It was a story that updated irregularly. This could have irritated its many readers, but instead the unexpected surprise of getting an update from this author was like Christmas and Easter, all rolled into one. Giddy happiness was what her readers felt; indescribable pleasure was ours when she honored us with the gift of her writing.

It was a good story, a gripping yarn right from the start. It had all the required plot elements: a hot, seductive Edward; a passionate, sexy-without-knowing-it Bella. They longed secretly for each other, publicly hated each other, lusted after each other, adored each other…both pined for the other’s notice. Their untenable circumstance made any sort of relationship impossible, yet a relationship was what they craved. When soul mates meet, even when forbidden to be together, there is no fighting destiny.

And the sex? Mind-blowing, explosive, erotic, all-consuming, passion-filled, never-ending heat.

Once there was a story.

It was different than the others: the concept was original and extremely well-written. Readers couldn’t resist sharing their enjoyment with others. It was too good a story to be selfish about it. Other Twi-fans had to be brought into the fold; introduced to the glory of this author’s Bella and Edward. It was heavily recommended and its popularity soared.

Once there was a story…that saved us from our drab never-changing daily existence. It gave us joy and scintillating fun; it gave us sorrow and unbearable angst. It brought us laughter and tears in equal measure. It made us feel; it brought us to life. It was the perfect written escape…

And now the story is gone.

Yet we are the lucky ones. We knew it well, memorized its passages; our thoughts even dwelt there with relief when Real Life became unbearably troubling. The unlucky among us, the newcomers to the Twidom, will hear the descriptions from us oldtimers and know that they missed something special. Yet they will never get to experience this particular fic for themselves. They’ll hear our hushed tones when we reminisce, see our sad eyes and wonder if any story really could have been that good.

We lucky ones can escape Real Life and dwell there still. Until…

Until the day comes when our minds forget. Time will pass and the details will slowly become fuzzy. The scenes replaying in our minds will inevitably crumble to nothing. “What was it that Edward whispered in her ear that day? Where did their third encounter take place? What were their nicknames for each other?” Our human memory is no more than a sieve per Edward. When the last fan forgets, it will be as if the story never existed.

Books are forever. Gatsby will forever be yearning for the unattainable Daisy; Atticus will always be defending an innocent man against an angry mob while Scout will forever be astonished by the wonder that is Boo Radley. Dante will always have his spiritual love Beatrice placed high on a pedestal and yes, canon Bella will always desire her tormented, bronze-haired vampire, but fanfics are different. They don’t exist on a bookcase or a library shelf; they are only points of light and dark on a computer screen magically appearing through space and time. Dear reader guard your heart well, for words and favorite stories that can magically appear on your screen can also disappear into the ether suddenly, with no notice and no warning, lost to us for eternity.

Once there was a story and now that story is gone. I point no fingers, I cast no blame. Real Life is messy. Sometimes writers go on hiatus, or give up on their stories to start over. Sometimes bad things happen to good stories…and good people. It is the chance we readers take, every single time we find ourselves hooked on a new story. We can choose to childishly bitch and moan about a story’s untimely disappearance, or we can choose the high road and appreciate the author for sharing her incredible gift with us, for however long a time that gift was available.

Once there was a story and now that story is gone.

And so we readers grieve, feeling slightly bereft because we miss both the pure delight of the story and our taken-for-granted ability to escape into it as needed. Our feelings will recover in time. The author too will eventually heal. In the mean time, your readers thank you dear author, for gifting us with such pure delight in the first place.


  1. This broke my fic-lovin' heart. I could never explain the despair when realizing an adored story has been pulled...but you did this well.

  2. You just perfectly described everything I was feeling about this, lovely written:). Though the fact that the story is'nt available for us to read any longer grieves us deeply, we should be grateful for the fact that we got to read it at all. At least we have our memories...

  3. This was a beautiful essay.

    Yes, I will miss that beautiful story and I am so lucky have caught it before it disappeared completely. I found it so late in the game, but I am so glad I did.

    It is rare to find something as beautiful as that one. And alas, I echo the sentiment that the gems of the fanfiction world may not be around for long so we must relish them while they are there and available. We must take advantage of the opportunity to thank their beautiful creators, as what they have given us are true gifts.

  4. Are you alluding to something more in this article? I don't mean to sound snotty or sarcastic, but it reads as if you're also addressing the roiling that happens in the fandom when a fic gets pulled, especially if the author chooses to pursue publishing in traditional venues.

    Regardless, I applaud your commentary. Thanks for writing words of reason that will hopefully help readers keep things in perspective. Some of the comments that get posted and Twittered when a fic disappears or the author cannot update are way out of line.

  5. This past summer I was sucked in to the world of Fan Fiction. At the time, I was just looking for a way to plug a hole in my heart left by the abrupt abandonment of Midnight Sun. Addiction to FF has been a blessing and a curse. I say “Blessing” because of the hours upon hours of joy and escapism it provides; “Curse” because of the constant fear of my favorite fic disappearing, thereby re-opening the MS hole.

    I respect author’s decisions to pull their work for various purposes. I am also aware of the involuntary, FF Admins enforced, fic removal. Unfortunately, all this respect and awareness have very little affect on my feeling bereft over fic loss. Your article made me realize just how lucky I’ve been to experience FF’s transient greatness.

  6. That was so beautifully written.

    I completely agree - I do miss that fic, and I honestly still think about it. Quite often.

    I never thought about looking at it in the way you described - I feel incredibly lucky to have been given the opportunity to read such a wonderful fic. Thank you.

  7. Meilleurcafe: ummm, yeah, I guess I don't like it much when fans' comments become acidic when a story gets pulled. I'm usually going to side with the author, afterall, the fic wouldn't exist in the first place without her posting it.

    BTW...I actually had three different stories in mind when I wrote this article...I love and miss every one of them.

  8. Is it very rude for me to ask which story/stories everyone is referring to?
    I'm pretty new to this fandom, you see.

  9. This was so beautifully written. It describes almost exactly like I feel. It is so sad when a fic goes away to that pretty little farm at least that's how I like to think about it.

  10. It is very sad when a story goes missing and its happening alot lately. They go to fanfiction heaven but leave us reader in limbo.

  11. Cicci:
    Two of the three stories I had in mind when I wrote this are no longer available to be read. I'd rather not identify the stories, because...
    A. I know readers who miss other stories that I never got the chance to read, and I didn't want the article to be pointing fingers at a specific author, and
    B. I don't want to cause any hurt feelings.

    The third story I'll mention here, only because you can still read it on ff.net and it is just on indefinite hiatus. So, someday hopefully it will get finished. It's called, "Oh Inverted World."

    So Cicci, as a newcomer to the Twidom, just know that someday, if you stick around long enough, the same thing could easily happen to you.

    I should mention here that in case you don't know or haven't yet read, "Twice as Long as Yesterday", that excellent fic is only going to be available until March 17th. Read it while you can!

  12. The fics being targeted remind me of a witch hunt..it seems the more reviews and popularity a story gets just leads to its unfortunate removal..I've been reading for a while, so I'm in that group where I've read alot of now-banished stories. Yes, they had smut but they also had really good plots and were written by wonderful authors that shared their talent with us. I'm a stay at home mom and I use these stories to escape just for a little while. I appreciate all the authors and I only hope this doesn't discourage them from practicing their craft.


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