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Con.txt - My Con Report - Mo's Journal
June 18th, 2006
08:38 pm

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Con.txt - My Con Report
I had a wonderful time at Con.txt in Silver Spring, MD. It's an all slash multifandom con and only my second con experience. I can't think of many things more enjoyable than spending two days talking about slash, fandom, and writing process. I got to talk about and hear other people talk about canon I love (X-Men, Star Wars). I got to hear about canon that I don't know but find intriguing (DC, Firefly). I got to immerse myself (some might saw wallow) in slash, slash and more slash.

I went to a bunch of panels and led or co-led three. The lovely and talented executrix and penknife kindly offered to, respectively, share the leading of her panel on politics of slash and join in leading my panel on X-Men slash. In addition, I led a panel on the different approaches three different fandoms take to confusing, complex and conflicting canon (Star Wars, X-Men, and Harry Potter).

My lover (who is not in fandom) came, too. There was a documentary film festival going on a couple of blocks from the hotel, so she spent some time there and some sightseeing and visiting friends in DC. We had the evenings and nights together and had the traveling time, too. executrix traveled back with us and we had a great time chatting en route.

Something I Learned (SIL) and Something I Said (SIS) at each panel:

Star Wars Pairings Today

SIL: An interesting guy named Alan had a very unorthodox and intriguing view of Star Wars. He views the Extended Universe (and in particular, the books) as the real Star Wars canon and the movies as illustrating a small piece of the EU. He made a good case for it. I've never read any of the books, but it was still interesting to me to just look at something I know well and see someone viewing it from a different angle.

SIS: The look on Obiwan's face in ROTS when he finds out that he's going to see Qui-Gon again should keep Obi/Qui shippers going for a long, long time.


Being Better Betas

SIL: A number of people are very invested, emotionally, in the works they beta for, perhaps too much. Several said they were concerned that if the author doesn't take their suggestions and they are named as betas that the resulting work could reflect badly on them.

SIS: I like to have multiple betas. In particular I like to have at least one who has read my previous stories and at least one who hasn't. I want to know that I'm saying enough about what happened before to make the current one accessible to a new reader, but not so much as to bore my old readers.

The Politics of Slash

SIL: I heard a lot about "original slash." My interest in original slash was - going into this - about 2 on a scale of 1 to 10. Now that I know more, it's about a -5.

SIS: I came to slash fairly late in life. My political growing up was in radical feminist politics, in GLBT politics, in AIDS activism, and - more recently - in the politics of lesbian and gay parenting. I feel like all of those political influences inform my slash and inform how I look at slash.

Gay Cowboys

SIL: Bonanza (which I hadn't seen since I was a child) has slash potential. sydni_64 mentioned a very slashy episode ("The Friendship") in this informative and thought-provoking panel and then watched it with me at lunch. It was such fun to watch together, commenting on and laughing about the slashy bits.

SIS: What's the appeal of the Cowboy archetype? Unexpressed emotion.


Writing Longer Stories

SIL: Some people post WIP because they feel that it helps them finish, that if they write a long story series without doing so, it just dies midway.

SIS: I generally write mid-length to long story series because those are the stories I want to tell. OTOH, I definitely see the appeal of writing short pieces. When I've done a one-shot, I've found that writing something in an hour or two, posting the next day after a quick beta, and getting lots of comments within minutes of posting is very gratifying.

Allure of the Other

SIL: "House is an asshole. He saves people's lives, but then he makes them wish they were dead." I've never seen the show, but that line still made me laugh.

SIS: We often use fanfic to fill in what canon doesn't give us. We may be drawn to supporting characters because we don't know as much about them, so they need filling in.

Canon? Which Canon? Comics Fandoms

SIL: There's something called "The Crisis" that's a defining moment in DC comics. Everyone who talked about DC made a lot of references to "before the Crisis" and "after the Crisis." There were also references to "Infinite Crisis" which seems to be something else. I have no idea what they were talking about. I'm going to get marag to explain it because she's good at explaining things and kind to the ignorant.

SIS: I came to X-Men from movieverse. I view the movie or movies as my canon. I take from comics canon what I want and leave the rest.


X-Men: Where's the Slash?

SIL: How to pronounce 616.

SIS: There are lots of sources for canon. When I said to my son that I was disappointed that Alan Cumming hadn't come back as Nightcrawler in X3, he said, "He's in the video game."

Fanworks, Copyright and Trademark

SIL: I learned a ton(ne) in this. executrix is a great teacher. If I have to say one thing I learned it's how little case law there is wrt fanfic and copyright.

SIS: I don't feel in either legal or moral peril by publishing fanfic and photos of actors on the 'net.

Complicated and Conflicting Canon in Three Fandoms: Harry Potter, X-Men and Star Wars

SIL: Ginny Weasley's name is known to be Genevra, not Virginia, based on an interview with JKR.

SIS: I take the movie or movies as my canon alone. I pick and choose what I want to from the comics.

Slash and the Significant Other

SIL: Straight slashers talking about revealing (or not) their hobby to their husbands, parents or other relatives sometimes sound like closeted people struggling with whether or not to come out to relatives.

SIS: I began writing slash during the last year of my 26-year marriage.

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Comments
 
[User Picture]
From:eveningblue
Date:June 19th, 2006 01:58 am (UTC)
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Ooooh, sounds great!

Two questions:

SIL: I heard a lot about "original slash." My interest in original slash was - going into this - about 2 on a scale of 1 to 10. Now that I know more, it's about a -5.

Negative five? Why? Oh, and also, what is original slash and how is it different from gay fiction? I've never understood this term.

SIL: How to pronounce 616.

You mean it's not six-one-six? It's one X-Man universe, right?
Not that I understand what it means, really. I have pretty much given up trying to understand continuity with the X-Men.

Glad to hear you had fun!

[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:June 19th, 2006 05:17 pm (UTC)
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Negative five? Why? Oh, and also, what is original slash and how is it different from gay fiction? I've never understood this term.

I don't think I really understand it, either. When I've asked how it differs from gay fiction, I've been told that it's "in a slash style." But I don't think there *is* a slash style - my style is different from yours and that's different from umpteen others. My interest in original slash is low, in general, because I think there's plenty of high quality gay fiction out there in a variety of styles. What I can't get in my bookstore of library is slash fanfic for source text that I believe needs :-) slashing. I certainly can get gay fiction with original characters and situations - it's a wonderfully large and vibrant genre of modern American fiction. So, I was starting out just not very interested in original slash.

What I find, though, is that the more I hear people who produce "original slash" talk about their work, the more negative I feel about it. They tend to praise their work by denigrating fiction produced by gay men (which is invariably referred to as "gay porn", with no acknowledgement that not all gay fiction is porn and that sex in fiction doesn't make it porn) The original slashers talk about how much more in touch with emotion and feeling they are and how what they write is by women, for women, and with a woman's sensibility. It leaves me wondering why they don't write about women. It also leaves me feeling like they have utter contempt for the people they're writing about and no understanding or appreciation of modern gay fiction, which is much more than just porn.

You mean it's not six-one-six? It's one X-Man universe, right?

It's the original X-Men comicverse, and it is indeed six-one-six. I'd never heard it pronounced, though, and had always said it in my mind as six-sixteen. I have to reprogram my brain.

Glad to hear you had fun!

Thanks. It was great.
[User Picture]
From:executrix
Date:June 19th, 2006 10:00 pm (UTC)
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I've heard a bunch of those discussions, but I do think that "gay porn" is used (dismissively) as the antonym to "slash" but also as an antonym to "gay mainstream fiction." I tend to use the metaphor of the bell curve in a lot of contexts--IMO what the consensus on this point means is that "the slash style" means characteristics of the center of the curve. If something is not in that part of the curve, it could be precisely because it skews at the high end.

Let's face it--whether fan or prowriter, listening to writers talk about their work often leads to an impression that if these folks were any further up themselves, they'd see daylight.

And I agree with you--a really interesting and well-written story WITH Simon in it is better than a really interesting and well-written Simon-impaired story.
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:June 20th, 2006 11:29 am (UTC)
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IMO what the consensus on this point means is that "the slash style" means characteristics of the center of the curve.

What do you think those characteristics are? AFAICT, when people talk about "slash style" they mean a highly romanticized view of sex and love and sex scenes somewhat divorced from real life. That's so much not the slash I'm looking for (to paraphrase Old Ben).
[User Picture]
From:executrix
Date:June 20th, 2006 12:39 pm (UTC)
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An awful lot of fanwriting--slash, het, or gen--tends to bring the bathos* in any setting so it's not a bad bet that the "slash style" will be very romantic. But I'm with you--there's only so much syrup I want on my pancakes, whether, if you see what I mean, they're pecan or whole-wheat.

And RL sex has its awkwardnesses and problems so there's another kind of unreality that's the stock in trade of commercial pornography.

I'm going to wimp out and plead lack of literary training as a reason why I can't define "the slash style" but my favorite "I know it when I see it" example is the Administration series by Manna (mannazone.org). It started out as Blakes7 avatar fic but developed into something not linked to any media property but clearly influenced by slashwriting.




*One Immortal whose head NEVER gets cut off
[User Picture]
From:talktooloose
Date:June 22nd, 2006 05:11 pm (UTC)
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For me this crosses over into fandom making too many rules about itself. Gay writing in a slash style? Please!

If there is a slash style rulebook, I don't want a copy. That being said, I understand better how to write fanfic now than I did when I wrote Democracy Frozen. The main difference is that I am working harder to make it true to the source even as it is subversive to the source.

I've always said "six sixteen," too. I am sure some bureaucrats in the office that manages the multiverse must say it that way, too.

For more metafandom, check out my latest attack on ratings systems in my replies to the mod here.
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:June 22nd, 2006 05:20 pm (UTC)
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I've always said "six sixteen," too.

Ah, maybe I can argue that that is the Canadian pronunciation. You and I and Wolverine and Northstar all say six-sixteen. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:June 22nd, 2006 05:26 pm (UTC)
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For more metafandom, check out my latest attack on ratings systems in my replies to the mod here.

A perfectly civil discourse. How nice! I'm so wishy-washy on this issue. I think ratings are stupid, but I use them. I absolutely refuse to warn for slash or lots of other stuff, but I don't feel compromised as an author by writing "This story is rated NC/17 because of explicit descriptions of sexual activity."
[User Picture]
From:lilacsigil
Date:June 19th, 2006 02:02 am (UTC)
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Thank you for sharing! I'm hoping more people write about what's going on, but I suppose I'll just wait for Big Giant Summaries at the end! The Beta and Canon panels sound especially interesting.

Simple version of Crisis: it was like a big continuity reboot (in 1988, I think). Most backstories were radically simplified, many characters were eliminated and later came back with really only a name in common with the last version. Now they're doing it again. marag can probably explain it better though!
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:June 19th, 2006 05:18 pm (UTC)
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Now they're doing it again.

Is that "Infinite Crisis"? That was also mentioned.
[User Picture]
From:beck_liz
Date:June 19th, 2006 05:44 pm (UTC)
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Yes. "Crisis on Infinite Earths" was in the 80s, "Infinite Crisis" was last year. I think, anyway, as I bailed on DC last year before it started.

Hi, BTW. I was in your "Complicated and Conflicting Canon" panel - the one in the Serenity t-shirt. :-)
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:June 19th, 2006 06:47 pm (UTC)
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"Crisis on Infinite Earths" was in the 80s, "Infinite Crisis" was last year.

Now, how could I ever have found that confusing?

Thanks for your contributions in the panel. Nice to see you here!

::needs a DC icon::
[User Picture]
From:opera142
Date:June 19th, 2006 02:46 am (UTC)
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Were coping methods for Complicated & Conflicting Canon(s)ever discussed? Because my fandom's canon is chaos, I'm always interested in hearing how others resolve/come-to-peace with the issue.
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:June 19th, 2006 05:20 pm (UTC)
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Yes, that was much of the discussion. The majority opinion was that the best way to deal with this is to just carve out what portion of canon you're using (either in general or for a particular fic) and just state it upfront. I find that's pretty standard in X-Men fandom. People say "I'm writing movieverse, first movie" or "This story is comicsverse and takes place when Jean is dead on the moon" or whatever. Where I think there gets to be heated disagreements is when someone doesn't say "This is my canon for this story" but rather "This is the canon and that other stuff is crap."
[User Picture]
From:executrix
Date:June 19th, 2006 03:14 am (UTC)
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1. Thanks for the ride!
2. Thanks for the shout-out!
3. I think it's Ginevra. But definitely not Virginia.
4. I've heard people describe their sexual orientation as "slasher" so I can understand a coming-out process.
5. I think the cowboy archetype is kind of "to one who has been long in city pent"--on the positive side, a capital-r Romantic appreciation of capital-m Man existing in nature and not hived up in big stone buildings. On the negative side, small-m man away from sissified schoolmarms.

I'm still mulling over what you said in the car--I think you and I have very different ideas about what kind of canon feels like the right size for us to feel comfortable. I don't just wish there were more Firefly episodes because I wish I could see them, but to have more data about what Inara wears when she's just hacking around the house, or to get mroe insight into Book's tone of voice, or...

PS--image on my icon is in the handout--that's Simon and Mal from Firefly.
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:June 19th, 2006 09:40 pm (UTC)
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I've heard people describe their sexual orientation as "slasher" so I can understand a coming-out process.

I'm trying to understand how slasher could be a sexual orientation. And failing. Can you say more?

I think the cowboy archetype is kind of "to one who has been long in city pent"--on the positive side, a capital-r Romantic appreciation of capital-m Man existing in nature and not hived up in big stone buildings. On the negative side, small-m man away from sissified schoolmarms.

Yes, I agree with all that, and much of it was covered in the panel.

I'm still mulling over what you said in the car--I think you and I have very different ideas about what kind of canon feels like the right size for us to feel comfortable. I don't just wish there were more Firefly episodes because I wish I could see them, but to have more data about what Inara wears when she's just hacking around the house, or to get mroe insight into Book's tone of voice, or...

I wonder if I'm more on the fiction end of fanfic and you're more on the fan end? I like having a small canon that I'm bound by (although I like having the larger one to get ideas from). I've found Scott such a delight to write in large part because he's barely in the movies, so I have his basic canonical characteristics and a lot of room to build my version of him. I also have a lot of OCs...
[User Picture]
From:executrix
Date:June 19th, 2006 09:55 pm (UTC)
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replying to mofic:
One of the interesting, or, depending on how you look at it, weird things about fandom is that a substantial percentage of people in fandom have never had sex with another person, and another substantial percentage have had partner sex but don't have a partner ATM, which could have a lot to do with it. And I can imagine someone having a porn fetish the way ze could have a shoe fetish, as well as the simple practical use of reading and writing porn to get off.

Personally, I'd describe myself as WAY on the fiction end! The Times Magazine has photos of the equipment cases chefs carry--I think you just prefer a more austere selection of tools than I do!
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:June 20th, 2006 11:38 am (UTC)
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One of the interesting, or, depending on how you look at it, weird things about fandom is that a substantial percentage of people in fandom have never had sex with another person

I actually find that shocking. And sad. How are you concluding that? I mean, I could see concluding that if you're looking at a subset of 15-year-old fans, but are you saying that of grown fans?

Personally, I'd describe myself as WAY on the fiction end! The Times Magazine has photos of the equipment cases chefs carry--I think you just prefer a more austere selection of tools than I do!

Yes, a better interpretation, I'm sure. Hmmm, I wonder if I'm the same with cooking. I like very good tools, but few of them.
[User Picture]
From:executrix
Date:June 20th, 2006 12:28 pm (UTC)
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mofic: there was a really long thread--sorry for not having a reference, but I think it was probably on metafandom a week or two ago--by and about slashers who have never had sex with another person, and most of them were in their 20s or older. Some of them said that they had no interest in RL partner sex, and considered slashfic their primary outlet.

And it looks like the "tools" thing is a good analogy--because I'm never willing to spend the money on the best equipment, so I have a magpie assortment of things, most of which don't work all that well and clutter up the place.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:June 20th, 2006 02:08 pm (UTC)
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Let me know if you find it. I looked for it but couldn't find it. I must say that I find the whole idea really sad. I see sex - and for this purpose I'm using the word to mean physical, interpersonal sexual activity - as a pretty basic element of human fulfillment. Someone who never has sex seems to me to have a really impoverished existence, as much so as never reading or never working. And I realize that sounds (and probably is) patronizing, so I wouldn't say it to the people who don't have sex or read or work. Still, I really think they don't know what they're missing.

I need a Freud icon, I think. One of the few quotes of his I really love is his answer to what abilities are the hallmarks of a mentally healthy individual: lieben und arbeiten (to love and to work). And yes, I know (through first hand experience, even) that there are many kinds of love that don't include sex, but I do think sexual expression is a really basic and important part of human expression.
[User Picture]
From:executrix
Date:June 20th, 2006 02:19 pm (UTC)
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replying to carlanime and mofic: that discussion, as well as the increase in discussion of asexuality in RL, made me re-examine. Because I agree with mofic, that I have always tended to think of partner sexual expression as a very basic pleasure of being an adult. (And I also agree that not all love, and not even all love of people who AREN'T within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity, is erotic.) But then overall sex has been very good to me, and someone whose experience has been "Oh, God, it's Saturday night and he'll want his Rights, but luckily that only takes three minutes" would be likely to have another opinion.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:June 20th, 2006 11:39 am (UTC)
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It was both fun and interesting. Thought-provoking for meta and for fic-writing. And just lots of interesting and very friendly, hospitable people.
From:bfmomma
Date:June 20th, 2006 06:29 pm (UTC)

sounds really cool...

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OK, I'm NOT into the fanfic stuff (though I see the appeal, and have to admit that, after reading the latest Harry Potter, I sought some out...and was REALLY disappointed!), but I loved reading your explanations of the panels and what you learned and what you contributed. And it just sounds (overall) like a really cool "thing" to be involved in! :)
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:June 20th, 2006 07:20 pm (UTC)

Re: sounds really cool...

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It's really the best hobby I've ever had. It's challenging, interesting, creative, stimulating. I can do it in 20-minute increments (that being what I generally have at a time, between kids and work and everything else going on in my life). I get to "meet" people from all over the world and from all walks of life, who write to me because something in the stories touched them. I've improved my writing (in ways that spill over into my professional work, too). I'm even a better reader of fiction, I think, with more of an appreciation for how novels are constructed. Studying literature is one thing, writing fiction yourself is a whole 'nother thing, as my kids would say. Writing, reading, thinking about writing, discussing writing with smart people - what could be better? Also - and I know as my fellow cheapskate friend, you'll appreciate this one - it's not only a really fun and engaging hobby, it's free! Well, obviously cons aren't free, but fanfic as an enterprise doesn't have to cost anything.

Sorry you got disappointed with HP fanfic. IME about 90% of fanfic is drek, but that remaining 10% is every bit as good as mainstream published fiction and is sometimes better than the source text. The problem with HP, for me, is that there is just so much of it. I can't sort through the drek to find the gems. I'd really like to, but I don't even know how to get a toe hold on it. But hey, if you ever develop an interest in the X-Men or Star Wars or a few other fandoms, I've got fanfic recommendations for you.
From:bfmomma
Date:June 20th, 2006 08:32 pm (UTC)

Re: sounds really cool...

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Yeah, I was going to ask if you knew of any good HP fanfic... :) It did make me say to myself "*I* could do better than this!"

(not that I wrote anything, but.... )

:)
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:June 21st, 2006 12:11 am (UTC)

Re: sounds really cool...

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A lot of us got into writing fanfic because we couldn't find the stories we wanted to read.

HP is a very large fandom with a lot of strange, strange stuff going on in it, particularly right now.
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