I have been sadly neglecting this blog. But my writing attentions were elsewhere, outside the House fandom, for quite a while. I’ve popped back to write “Picking Up The Pieces” prompted by my own imaginings of how season 7 might have played out. David Shore, feel free to call me if you need ideas.

In the meantime, because I don’t have much else to say, I’m just going to post some of the songs that have been on my playlist while I’ve been writing. This is of very little interest to anyone but me, so feel free to ignore this post. But please do continue to leave me reviews on the story and I’ll continue to post! :)

Sia – Breathe Me (not the real video, which won’t allow embedding, but it does include lyrics)

Such an angsty song and with lyrics so appropriate for House at this point in his journey. (Weirdly, the video appears to include a lot of images of Fiona Apple – no idea why!)

Regina Spektor – Real Love

A hopeful song — despite their problems, I think both House and Sarah have secretly optimistic thoughts about how things might turn out.

I’ll add more as they occur to me.

My most popular story, Change of Heart, is being translated into French! The lovely Arumbaya has begun work and the first chapter is now posted. You can read it on Fan Fiction or on a French-language forum called Describe your House.

Just for the hell of it, I ran the first chapter through a translator because my only French is ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’, ‘thank you’, and ‘will you sleep with me tonight’. It’s quite hilarious, not the least of which is that ‘Cut-throat Bitch’ becomes ‘Furious Bitch’! Love it! (Oh and it has nothing to do with the quality of the translation, just the randomness of internet-translator bots, as I’m sure anyone who’s played with them before can attest!)

I’ve said before that I don’t quite understand the popularity of Change of Heart, especially given that reading it back now, after two years more writing practice, makes me cringe at all the things that should be better. But it continues to gain new ‘favourites’ each month and in the monthly stats it is always in my top three stories. I wonder if it is like a snowball – because lots of people favourite it, lots more people notice it and therefore favourite it? I don’t know!

Anyway, I know that I do have French-speaking readers and I’ve been lucky enough to chat to a few of them over the years. I hope that you enjoy reading (or re-reading!) in your first language.

I’m feeling very honoured that someone felt my story worthy of the work that must go in to translating.

…just really, ridiculously busy. I never thought I’d be too busy to write fan fic, but there you go. Life has a way of surprising you.

I’m still writing, just writing other stuff for right now. I’m sure a plot bunny will bounce on me one of these days and something Housey will pop out, but it’s just not my priority at the moment. I do want to write something though, coz I kind of miss Greg and the gang (who in my stories are mostly imaginary – but then House is imaginary too – so I miss all my imaginary friends, including House – oh, stop me now…)

Found some great writing advice from John Scalzi. It’s modestly called John Scalzi’s Utterly Useless Writing Advice, but it’s one of the most useful useless pieces of advice I’ve read in a while.

I still have other things I want to say about fan fiction, even if I don’t write a fic myself for a while, so if anyone’s still reading, hang in there…

I’m sorry, I can’t quite leave this subject alone yet. There is so much passion about it out there and I truly believe that fan fiction is now starting to come to the attention of even more writers and readers than ever before as a result. (If you haven’t read read the originating post of all this fuss go here, because it no longer exists on the original site.)

I subscribe to a wide range of writing (esp romance writing) blogs, author websites and review sites. And the past two weeks, fan fiction and this debate has been popping up all over the place. So many people have been saying things and making me wish I’d said them first. Like this:

“Okay. I am really, really tired of professional writers – or maybe I should say published writers, since professional behavior is not these people’s long suit, generally speaking – posting rants about how they don’t like fan fiction and here are their random reasons why. (If they would just say, “It feels wrong. I don’t have a reason – it just feels wrong,” I still wouldn’t agree, but at least I wouldn’t have to question their maturity. It’s when they try to justify their feeling that they start to sound like a seven-year-old explaining why his cousin shouldn’t be allowed to come near his toys.)” From The Fourth Vine

This is a great comment from someone called “Jamie” (pun intended I’m sure) on the Chris Meadows blog post I referred to in an earlier post:

“It seems to me that there are two kinds of writers: those who believe that it’s only “real” writing if you get paid for it, and those who understand the concept of writing for love. I honestly pity the first lot, because best-sellers go out of print, and royalty checks go away, and if that’s the only sense of worth they get from their works, they’re in real trouble once their popularity wanes. More so if they help it along by spewing hatred at the very people who buy their stuff in the first place. Meanwhile, those nasty plagiarizing fanfic writers are taking their joy from the act of writing itself, from taking the what-ifs in their minds and spinning them into stories, and happily uncaring whether there’s a paycheck or even positive feedback from their peers.”

And from Aja Romano at bookshop on LiveJournal: “Dear AotW. Fanfic is not about you. I know you hate to hear it, dear AotW, but the story is not defined by the barriers you place around it. The moment you gave it to us, those walls broke. You may hate the fact people are imagining more to your story than what you put there. But if I were you, I’d be grateful that I got the chance to create a story that has a culture around it, a story that people want to keep talking about, reworking, remixing, living in, fantasizing about, thinking about, writing about. To quote Originalaudience on the post in question, “Nobody is forgetting that you created the characters. The existence of fanfiction really means that nobody is forgetting the characters you created.” “

She also goes on to say: “We get that you think fanfic is a stepping stone to being published. You’re wrong. Fanfiction is not a set of training wheels, not some shameful awkward thing you do before you grow up and learn the ~true meaning~ of being a ~real writer.~ Fanfic is … written by some of the most incredibly talented people on the internet. Fanfic writers are bestselling and acclaimed professional authors. They are agents and editors. They are network television executive producers. They are New York Times journalists. They are Supreme Court clerks. They are PHDs and experts in their fields.”

Fan fic authors I know? Business owners. Lawyers. Pharmacists. Office managers. College students. Factory workers. PR guns. Sales managers. And so much more. From all walks of life and all kinds of backgrounds all doing it for the love of the writing, of sharing their interests and passion with others, and giving freely of their time and talent.

I’m giving the last word to The Fourth Vine again – because it made me laugh and I think it’s a wonderful summary of all this:

“…fan fiction is evil, because doing it for love is wrong, but doing it for money is right. This makes me make a frowny face, because that isn’t what they said in Sex Ed.”

Amen.

In contravention to usual blogging ettiquette, Ms Gabaldon has removed all traces of her inflammatory blog post and its hundreds of comments. So the links in my article below will take you to a “page not found” page.

Having read some of the comments I can understand why she might have decided to remove it from her own site, but she should have written a post explaining her reasons for doing so. (I imagine the ‘rape’ controversy was one key one.) Still, you can find plenty of fanwank sites that have transcripts – that’s another thing about the 21st Century, Ms Gabaldon, you can never really delete anything on the internet!

One thing it has done, is bring the topic of Fan Fiction to a greater audience. I wonder if all Ms Gabaldon has done in starting this controversy, is actually give fan fiction writers in her universe even more readers??

There have been some great blog posts and articles in fan fic writers’ defense too. This article by Chris Meadows is great and includes some links to comments about fan fic from other published authors. I found this Live Journal article by Bookshop to be illuminating, even if I do think it takes the definition of fan fiction a little too far in some of its examples.

Singapore, actually, and it’s hot and sauna-humid! Do they have House here? Yep – season 6, Thursdays at 10pm. Might even get to catch it while I’m here. (Although I hasten to add that watching TV isn’t usually a priority when I’ m in another country!)

I haven’t been around for a while. I have still been writing though, just not House fiction. I’ve got two stories being considered by publishers right now – a short story and a novel. I’ve been busy doing revisions and getting them submitted. I’m also working on a new story (also not House) although it is coming slowly because work is keeping me busy.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for news on anything, if there’s anything I’ve learned over the past couple of years of finding my way in the publishing world, it’s that everything happens very, very s-l-o-w-l-y.

But that wasn’t what prompted me to jump on and blog – it was reading this blog post that prompted me to write. Many of you would know of Diana Gabaldon – she wrote the series of time-travel books featuring the hot Scots warrior, Jamie. (Called “Outlander” in the US and “Cross Stitch” in other parts of the world.)

Well, it appears Ms Gabaldon really, really, really HATES fan fiction.

I had very strong reactions when I read her post. (I have not read all of the 500+ comments, but I imagine my own reactions are mirrored in there somewhere.) On the one hand, I must admit, I wondered if there was a difference between writing fan fic about a TV character as compared to a character from a novel. The character of a novel is the creation of one person only, as compared to a TV character who is an amalgam of the writing, the actor, the director, etc. Does that make novel characters somehow more ‘private’? More ‘copyrighted’?

I have never been tempted to write fan fiction for any character other than House and for reasons I can’t explain, the idea of writing fan fiction about a character in a book somehow seems ‘different’. But is it really? Once a character is out in the public domain, be it in a book, on a TV program, in a film, isn’t it ‘out there’ regardless of its original format?

On the other hand, I was really angered on behalf of myself and the many other very talented writers I know who write fan fiction. She made some broad, sweeping generalisations that people who write fan fic do so because they are unable to do ‘proper’ writing of their own. That is so absolutely not true. I know at least FOUR other fan fic writers who are actively pursuing published author status. And that’s just the four people I know.

Ms Gabaldon has obviously been a published writer for a long time, and has clearly forgotten the rocky, disheartening and downright soul-destroying journey that it takes for an unpublished author to finally see their name in print. What real harm is done if, along the way, you write some fun stories using someone else’s characters, for no financial gain, but for the encouragement and reinforcement of your writing abilities?

I can’t refute her point that some people who have very poor writing skills will find themselves an audience if they shove in enough sex scenes or if they write the romance or storyline that fans want to see. (In the House fandom, witness some of the extraordinarily bad Hameron or Huddy stories – I’m NOT saying that they are all bad, but some have huge numbers of reviews not for the quality of the writing but for the adherence to the ‘ship’.)

But fan fic exists in a world in which anyone, anywhere, can be ‘published’, in the sense that your work can be made available to a global audience. Back when unpublished Diana was trying to work on her writing, the best she could hope was that her friends and family might have a read and give her some encouragement. Maybe she could enter a competition or two, or join a writers group. Those options are all still open to  an unpublished writer today (and, indeed are all things I’ve made use of). But what that young Diana couldn’t do, that I – and many like me – have been able to do, is put my writing up on a global stage, to get the feedback and encouragement from people in the US, Poland, Brazil, India, Sweden, Chile, Russia and more (and that’s just the fan fic stats for May so far). I’ve had tens of thousands of people read my work.

Welcome to Web 2.o and the twenty-first century, Ms Gabaldon.

Exactly what harm is it doing to you that people want to write about Jamie Fraser and Sassenach Claire? It’s certainly not hurting your hip pocket.

All I can say is that if I ever get my books published, I totally give you all permission to write as much fan fiction about them as you can. Go for it. Wild, sexy, implausible, pornographic, OOC, ridiculous, comedic, slash, crossover, even badly written. In my mind all it would do is honour my work, demonstrate affection for the characters of my invention, and let others learn from my experience.

I made a little tag cloud of this site. I likes it.

I used Wordle. I’m not sure why “Alex” is so large, obviously I used her name a lot when talking about “If you really loved me”. I like the way it says House in the middle and Wilson is kind of popping up at right-angles. For some reason that just seems appropriate.

And I love that “story” is the biggest word of all, and that it has the word “idea” all nicely snuggled inside the “o”. Excellent.

The fact that the word “really” is quite large is a quite concerning. Really concerning, actually. (lol)

I’ve just finished posting the final chapter of my latest fic, Affair to Remember. It’s a story about House, his mother, Blythe, his mother’s neighbor, Emma, and her son, Cameron. As far as plot goes, it’s pretty simple: Blythe’s failing mental health has been having an impact on her neighbor, who’s been forced into a caretaker role. She finally calls House and asks him to come and take care of his mother himself.

From a writing perspective, in this story I was practicing something; I was playing with the idea of “themes”.

If you’re interested in learning more about writing, one of the best writing books I’ve read is Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part instructional guide, it is an amazingly easy-to-read book and would be of interest to anyone (reader or writer) who wants to know more about the craft.

One of the things he talks about is this idea of “themes”.

I’m sure just from high school English class if nothing else, you’re familiar with the idea of themes throughout a book — for example, The Great Gatsby is about a thwarted love story, but the themes in it are rich well beyond that, such as the division between old money and new money, and the destruction of the “American dream”.

Stephen King advises that once you’ve written your book, you examine it for themes and then go back and weave them into the tapestry so they permeate throughout. It’s when authors do this that you have lots to talk about when you discuss a story — there is depth beyond the plot, and meaning behind the actions of the characters. It’s what makes a book good for a book club!

Now I’m not necessarily saying I achieved book club status with this story, but I was practicing with themes and I’d be interested to know if you picked up on any of it. There were two I was deliberately playing with: the nature of an “affair”, and “memory” or “remembering” — just as in the title.

All my characters had an affair — thus the title is deliberately not “AN Affair to Remember”, like the movie . Blythe’s affair was with House’s biological father and, in my mind, was the central “affair” of the title. Emma and House end up having an affair. And Cameron is about to set off on his very first “affair” by having sex with his girlfriend for the first time. Each of these three relationships weave in and out of all their lives, with Blythe’s remembrance of her affair as what sets off House believing that there is something wrong with her mental state.

My take on affairs wasn’t just the sex or the relationship angle though, it was on the “memory” — what does an affair leave you remembering? For Blythe, she remembers a man she loved, who left her with a son and the rest of her life that (to me) never measured up to what she could have had if she’d left John and gone with Tommy. Perhaps this is what is ultimately behind her parting advice to House “not to be afraid” — does she wish she’d had the courage to live her own life differently?

Both House and Emma reflect that they will remember the weekend forever. For Emma it marks a turning point in her life — a decision that she must start to live her life for herself and not just for her son, because he will grow up and leave her soon. Being with House shows her possibilities that she’s not let herself imagine.  This is in contrast to Blythe, who gave her life to her husband and and son. Emma realizes that she needs to change the way she lives or she faces a similar destiny to her neighbor. (And, as a little additional reinforcement of the “affair” theme, in Emma’s back story, we find out that she was badly hurt when her husband cheated on her when Cameron was a baby — that affair, although not hers, left her with memories that kept her from seeking another relationship for many years.)

In contrast to the other characters, Cameron is all about making memories rather than remembering them. House’s final advice to Cameron, to take his time “because he’ll remember it forever”, is opposite to when House first protests that he can’t remember how old he was himself when he first had sex. Cameron doesn’t call him on that, and we can only imagine what the teenager does or doesn’t do with his girlfriend Tori. (Although, I rather hope they have a very special time and end up going out with each other throughout high school until they part to go to different colleges. I liked Cameron. A lot. :-) )

House’s journey throughout the story is the one that is most about memories. I’ve mentioned to one reader that I was very much playing with the “Broken” version of House in this story. His relationship with Lydia in that episode was very informative to some of the inner workings of his mind, and in this story, it is Lydia who House remembers, not Stacy: his affair, rather than his relationship. The affair with Emma is more “domestic” than the affair with Lydia, and it shows House how much he misses the day-to-day aspects of being with someone — something he wanted with Lydia but couldn’t have.

House also has to face memories — his mother’s life and her decisions and how they’ve affected him. He also has to face the shadow of his father at every turn — the helpful marines and his father’s reputation preceding him. Although I could have, I didn’t delve too much into this, because this story wasn’t about John House or House’s relationship with his father, it was about mothers and sons. I felt getting into that would have “muddied” my themes by adding in a new one. (Besides, I think the House/John relationship has been pretty fully explored in fan fic, and I wanted to do something different.)

For House, the mother/son relationship dynamic couldn’t happen without some kind of “coming of age” journey for him. His reflections about the parent/child relationship shifting were part of this. I think this is also why he felt drawn to Cameron and found himself liking the teenager. Both of them were going through turning points in their lives: for Cameron it was puberty and losing his virginity; for House it was accepting his role and responsibilities as an adult and becoming a care-taker. House plays this role with each person at different points in the story — he rescues his mother after the accident and applies first aid; he comforts Emma in the hospital and realizes it is a fulfilling feeling; he advises and coaches Cameron on a number of occasions. I don’t know about you, but I liked House as the responsible one rather than the victim, I think he often likes to play “helpless” — with Wilson, especially.

I really enjoyed writing this story, and I feel it is something a little different to anything I have done before. It has echoes of “Rebirth” I think, in that it takes a kind of slow and gentle approach to the story-telling. I hope you enjoyed reading it.

And as a little treat for all of us:

Movie image, An Affair to Remember

*sigh* Cary Grant. Mmm.

In my current story, Affair to Remember, House and my character Cameron, a teenage boy, have a conversation about music. House is impressed by the Foo Fighters poster in the kid’s bedroom. To come up with this detail, I went and looked up guitarists who own a Flying V guitar like House, to give him something to brag about. From that list I chose Foo Fighters, figuring it was a band that a thirteen year old boy might like.

Then Cameron tells House he plays saxophone and House asks him to play Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty. Just because it is one of those standards, and has that very famous sax riff.

Today I’ve just discovered that Foo Fighters have done a cover of Baker Street! I was a little blown away by that. Also it means that if Cameron was a REAL fan he would have certainly recognised the song. Oh well.

Just inserting this link to prove it’s true. Honestly? Go listen to the original.

Hi all, just a note to let you know I’ve just started posting a new story, called Affair to Remember. (Note it’s not “AN” Affair to Remember, for reasons that will become evident.)

It’s a story about House and his mother, Blythe. His mother’s neighbor plays a role too, a quirky woman called Emma who I really like. She’s the kind of person I’d like to have as a friend. Rounding out the cast is Emma’s teenage son, Cameron. (Yes, I called a character, a boy, Cameron. Believe it or not, I didn’t even realize what I’d done until about half way through. Let me know if it’s confusing!)

I’m posting on FF.net as usual. The Fox Forum has changed and, in an interesting move on Fox’s behalf, appears to be deliberately designed to prevent any kind of community being forged. It certainly is unfriendly for fic posting. A shame that they’ve gone and killed what used to be quite a vibrant and interesting community.

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The great and wise Gertrude Stein

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