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Sometimes it Be Like That!

Madame de Jurjewicz
. . . says Buckwheat Zydeco, a visitor from the planet Creole down in Lafayette, Louisiana, who graced the stage in Natick last night, and utterly entranced and unbuttoned an auditorium full of stuffy Suburban Bostonians. Made me miss Bayou Country something fierce (Hi to my friends at KRVS ! As Buckwheat says, "Where I come from, good people know good people").

Delia & I used to to a lot of Cajun dancing up here, back when it was the national craze and you could dance every Monday at Johnny D's - so we slipped right back into our groove, and tore up the rug down in front of the stage of the Joseph T. Keefe Auditorium at Wilson Middle School. Our friends Shirah and S-- H-- came with us - he's now the head of Drama at B-- C---, but Back in the Day, he was a very popular kid in our high school drama gang, and I was, well, kind of Third Tier down in the pecking order - on a good day. I had a horrible crush on the bad boy with dark hair falling in his eyes who played James Taylor songs at cast parties and never looked at me; and I never, ever got up and danced (not that anyone asked me), because I was not capable. I am pleased to announce that not only did I finally get to dance with S-- H-- last night . . . but he was a spazzy dancer and I was not! Oh, how the whirlygig of time brings in its revenges. (Not that I didn't love dancing with S--; he is a lovely man, brilliant and warm and profound and full of joy on the dance floor. But allow me my petty triumph. Sometimes, if you wait long enough, it all comes around as you like it.)

Good God Almighty! as Buckwheat would say. He is touring all over the U.S. this month & next (including down the road in Melrose on 2/14) - maybe you'll catch him.

Comments

ellen_kushner
Feb. 13th, 2006 11:25 am (UTC)
Thank you very much for asking! Here's my answer: I totally adooooooore fanfic! I love the idea that people could love my world and characters so much that they want to play in/with them themselves! I know there were once legal concerns that fanfic was somehow compromising an author's own right to her work, but I think that's mostly died down now. I do very much appreciate the disclaimer that courteous fanfic writers put at the top of their work; it seems to do the trick. And if someone tried to publish and sell for money something that was basically my stuff with the numbers filed off, I'd have the right to sue their butt - or their publisher would: publishing contracts contain fairly stiff clauses insuring that the material is genuinely the property of the author.

So, yeah - go for it!!

My question for the fanfic writer: How do you feel about knowing the author might lurk over and read it sometime? Not that I obsessively troll the net looking to see if anyone has, but - I'm not sure there's been anything written about Basil & Theron . . . . .

BTW, did you know there's a Riverside LJ community?
http://community.livejournal.com/_riverside/
p_zeitgeist
Feb. 13th, 2006 01:39 pm (UTC)
At the risk of sounding like one of the dreaded Internet Lawyers, I think that I should toss out an annoying technical point that you might (or might not) want to consider.

The thing is, there are good arguments for the legitimacy of some (if not all) fanfic, and you're right that the common fear that a writer might lose her copyright in her work if she doesn't vigorously defend it against fanfic writers is, not to put to fine a point on it, wrong.

But there is one potential issue to be aware of. It seems unlikely to me that this would ever affect you, but there can be legal concerns that arise if and when the original writer -- that is, you -- finds herself writing something that has elements that happen to be very much like elements a fan writer has used in a previously-existing story. The thing is, a fan writer has a claim to copyright in the original aspects of her work (although not in the material she's borrowed from the original writer), and anybody who's ever worked in any of the creative fields knows that it's not uncommon for more than one writer to come up with essentially the same idea independently. So a real loon who decides that a published writer has somehow stolen her material can cause genuine problems in a case of this kind of parallel evolution of ideas.

Or at least, she can if the original writer was aware of the fan writer's story when she was writing her own. If she didn't know about the fan writer's work, there's obviously no way she could have stolen it, right?

This obviously affects the enormously prolific and the formulaic of mind much more than it affects you: it's not that likely that somebody else is going to write a Swordspoint-universe story that's materially like something you're going to want to do yourself. But the possibility does exist -- there are many very talented people in fandom, and there may be one or two out there whose minds work in ways too much like yours for perfect comfort. So if you wanted to be perfectly safe, you might be better off with a don't ask, don't tell sort of policy -- something that's more like, "Write with my blessing: I find it enormously flattering, and I'm not going to sue your ass, but my lawyers have advised me that I can't read it after all, much as I'd love to."

Which I recognize is pretty annoying. But there it is.

p_zeitgeist
Feb. 13th, 2006 01:42 pm (UTC)
Ah, LJ is up to its current annoying tricks. I see by the nesting of comments above me that your last, although intended as a reply to somebody further up the chain, was posted as a new comment that wasn't a reply. Which means she isn't going to get the comment notification email. If you want to be compulsive, you might try re-posting it as a reply, and then deleting the standalone to avoid repetition.

I don't know why LJ is doing this, but it's been an issue ever since the recent security changes.
ellen_kushner
Feb. 13th, 2006 07:08 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's been bugging me a lot. Is that also why my "Quote" function in responses never works?

But I guess she got the message anyway - see below!
ahdawning
Feb. 13th, 2006 06:44 pm (UTC)
^-^ Yeee~! You're so neat. <3 Thanks. Makes me more comfortable writing fics if I know the original author isn't the type to be all "D= RAWR" about it.

Ah-hah. In answer to the question - I personally think it would be uber awesome. But then, I'm also the mega self-concious paranoid type that's afraid of not appeasing my readers and would probably also be really nervous having the creator of the character's seeing it. But I still think it would be cool. It's super weird to think about. ^-^; uh. oh-well. I'm a strange one~


Ohmigosh~! There's a Riverside LJcommunity?! O___O .. and it has -fanart-! *dies with glee* <3 Now I have the urge to draw some, myself. *flees to do so~*
aurenfaie
Feb. 13th, 2006 07:25 pm (UTC)
I really wish I were a good writer... or rather, I wish I were more confident in knowing a character to write them properly. ^^; Ah well, I'd love to read everyone else's fics. :D
auroramama
Feb. 13th, 2006 07:37 pm (UTC)
Yes, that'll do it. The good fic will be pleasurable to read, and the bad fic, if any, may get you over that lack of confidence.
aurenfaie
Feb. 13th, 2006 07:40 pm (UTC)
Yes, you have the truth of it. Who knows... maybe I will suck it up, someday?
xanath
Feb. 13th, 2006 08:10 pm (UTC)
Considering I've mostly created original characters and played them in someone else's world, I usually hope the author likes what I've done with his/her environment.

And you're now tied with Storm Constantine as my favorite fantasy author. ::beams::

--Kris
ellen_kushner
Feb. 14th, 2006 06:45 am (UTC)
::beams back!::
thefourthvine
Feb. 15th, 2006 04:36 am (UTC)
My question for the fanfic writer: How do you feel about knowing the author might lurk over and read it sometime?

I'm a fanfic writer, so what the hell - I'll answer this one, even though it totally wasn't addressed to me.

This - the thought that the author might be watching - freaks me out, or would if I thought it was likely, although I know a lot of people would love the idea. I've actually written fanfic for a book I later discovered was written by someone on my friends list, and even though I know she'd be, if anything, happy if she knew, I still feel weird about it. (And also very glad I didn't post that particular work of unmitigated genius.)

But then, I also never fail to freak out, complete with much hysterical (in all senses of the word) flailing, when I get email from the writers of books I've reviewed (in RL, obviously; this LJ is strictly a fanfic review thing). So apparently my problem is that I can't cope with knowing that there is a real person who really wrote the work in question - or at least, I can't think about the book in the same way if I'm also thinking at all about the author.

But, really, it's silly, because that basically boils down to: if I'm going to borrow someone else's toys without permission, I at least want to do it behind her back.

However, although I'm not alone in that, I'm definitely not in the majority. At a very rough guess, most fanfic writers would be somewhere in the 'pleased' spectrum on that question, provided that legal complications didn't enter into it. (In other words, provided that the author of the canon isn't pissed off enough to send a C&D.)

And this whole train of thought has provided me with an interesting entry on my list of potential poll questions, which is actually why I commented here. May I link people to this page if I do poll on this one?
ellen_kushner
Feb. 15th, 2006 01:57 pm (UTC)
"I'm a fanfic writer" (sorry, my LJ "Quote" function has ceased working) - then absolutely my question was addressed to you, and I'm delighted that you responded here! Feel free to link to this page - but do please post (or slip me) the results of your poll, 'cause I'm *dying* to know.

And just for the record, I'm in total sympathy with you: if I were writing fanfic, and I thought the original author were reading my little fantasia, I would die the death of a thousand screams. Utterly.

But then, I'm so shy with my reactions to things that I don't even like to write reviews of books I've read. I'm a gusher, I'm afraid: I either Unqualifiedly LOOOVE something, or I pick it apart minutia by minutia (which makes me an *excellent* teacher/workshop leader/writing group member). My poor author friends: when I love their books, I simply jump up and down enthusiastically, which is delightful, I'm sure, but not as satisfying as what many of them do for me, which is to lovingly detail where and how I was able to make the thing work.

Returning to what I was saying to Tamaranth, there, some of the joy of writing - for me - is getting people to telll me my own story back, so that I can see what it turned into when they read it. I find this always fascinating, even if sometimes unsettling. And I can see where this would not be for everyone - but then, I am, au fond and in my deep heart's core, before everything else, a Performer. We do love a live audience.
ellen_kushner
Mar. 25th, 2006 09:08 am (UTC)
So did you ever do that poll?
I am of course now dying to see it!
thefourthvine
Mar. 25th, 2006 07:14 pm (UTC)
Re: So did you ever do that poll?
I had totally forgotten, but this comment made me remember, and as it happens I had nothing to do tonight. It seemed like fate.

I posted it here about an hour ago, so if you want, you can watch the poll develop. (Right now, the answers are coming solely from my friends list, but I asked people to pimp it. When it goes up on metafandom, the results may change noticeably, and if it hits any of the fandom-specific newsletters or communities - and I don't think it will, since it's too vague, but you can never tell what they'll feel like linking - there may be another noticeable change.)

If you don't want to wander over there, though, I can summarize the results for you. The early returns - right now 86 people have taken the poll - suggest that I am very weird but not unique in my OH MY GOD NO reaction. People are most comfortable with the idea of TV or movie writers reading their FF, followed by book writers (that one seriously surprised me), followed by TV or movie actors, followed by the subjects of RPF. This is interesting to me because it suggests that people are more uncomfortable playing with other people's bodies than with their minds, so to speak - in other words, even though the actors aren't their characters and don't have any legal rights in the matter, people are still more weirded out by the idea of them seeing FF about those characters than the people who created and own the characters.

People's comfort level is most heavily influenced by the quality of their writing and the amount of sexual content in their stories. And most people would feel better knowing that the canon creator is comfortable with fan fiction. (Weirdos.)

By the way - I ended up not linking to this post, because I realized that that might very well skew the results. Still may if I post a wrap-up of this, though, if that's okay with you. (And, wow, now I want to post a wrap-up, because this is proving to be one of the more interesting polls I've ever run. Thank you for prompting this.)
sporkess
Mar. 26th, 2006 09:09 am (UTC)
Re: So did you ever do that poll?
Just randomly butting in...

I haven't written fanfiction in a couple of years, though I still read it obsessively, but I wouldn't be at all put off by the thought that the actual author might be reading them. If the author *commented*, though - that is a different matter.

It's like if someone you think is great and you really respect comes across one of your stories and reviews it - if they say nice things, you're about ready to expire with joy, and if they say that it's not very good, you want to dissolve in tears about how terrible your work is compared to theirs (well, I do, anyway.) If it was the actual author doing this, it would be multiplied about a thousand times: "An actual published author who I idolise thinks I'm good! I shall tell the world and shout it from the rooftops and do a strange little dance!" or "I must now kill myself for I have committed BLASPHEMY against the wondrous world of [insert name here]!"

So, knowing that the author might be reading fanfiction wouldn't make me feel uncomfortable unless they spoke up about it and said negative things.

I could have said this in the poll, I guess, but I didn't really feel like it.
ellen_kushner
Mar. 26th, 2006 09:39 am (UTC)
Re: So did you ever do that poll?
That's really interesting - thanks! (And I must say I agree with you.)

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