Wednesday, March 12, 2014
How Long Have You Been a Fan?
I am fairly certain that at that point I had at least seen ESB. I vividly recall a VHS we had of ESB that we had to have recorded off HBO or something. That was our only copy of any of those movies I believe until they were re-released and digitally remastered (just remastered, NOT special editions) in 1995. Before that I probably mostly only watched them at my cousin's house since they had an earlier VHS release that included the documentary From Star Wars to Jedi, which if you haven't seen, I'd highly recommend checking out. I believe it is easily found on YouTube.
At that point in my life I certainly wasn't obsessed. At times I wondered if I was that into it at all but then I'll remember that when I was only 8 years old I decided to write and illustrate my own version of ESB. I definitely knew that movie the best, probably only because it was the only one we had a copy of so it was the one I watched the most. I am very sad to say that I have no idea where that is and can only assume it got trashed during one of my mom's infamous basement purges. I can still recall some of the illustrations. I can about guarantee you that it did not include any kissing scenes and I'm pretty sure I never finished it as I don't recall torturing Han or putting him in carbonite and certainly not Vader telling Luke he was his father. I definitely referred to a Taun Taun as a "kanga-snow-animal" though. And I do remember a picture of Leia throwing her arms up when Han goes into the asteroid field and Yoda balancing on Luke's foot when he was upside down. You have no idea how badly I wish I still had that!
Anyway, aside from that, I definitely played Star Wars with other kids, although I always wanted to be Luke. Probably because of the lightsaber. We didn't have any authentic toys so I used a wiffle ball bat. In fact, for reasons I'm not entirely clear on, I never had any Star Wars toys except an Artoo and Threepio. What was wrong with me? I want to say I wasn't into action figures, but we definitely had some He-Man toys. I had a cousin with the Falcon and an AT-AT and of course thought those were the coolest things ever. Perhaps this is a childhood regret. No Star Wars toys.
For years my interest level remained normal with watching the movies here and there and not much beyond that. I do not recall exactly when I realized that Han Solo was amazing and started paying more attention to the love story side of it. I do know that I started to get much more interested in that when I was 16 and found a copy of COPL in a store over the summer. It wasn't even a book store, and this paperback was staring at me and it said it was about Han and Leia getting married. Wait, they got married? I mean, I guess we could always just assume, but it seemed really cool to me that there was a book about how this happened. I was not much of a reader at that point in my life. In fact, up until then I'm not sure I had ever read a book just because I wanted to, aside from multiple readings of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing when I was much younger.
This began my dark descent into madness. At the time I am sure I thought the book could've been much better, but given my extreme immaturity I am also sure that I didn't think it was nearly as bad as I think it is now. Hey, they get to kiss! And they did get married in the end, after all. Plus, at that point it was the only thing outside of the movies I knew about. Then I found out there were already all of these other books. This was in the mid 90s, so the Thrawn Trilogy was already well established along with several other books. Wait, they already have kids, too? This was awesome! And bonus points for the fact that my cousin (not the one who had the cool toys, amazingly) already owned most of these books, so I simply had to borrow them rather than buy them.
I read a lot that summer, and I started to pay attention to when books were coming out and buying them myself. I used to just go to the book store and look at that section to see if there was anything new. Yes, we had the internet, but we didn't really use it yet for that much. And come on, I'm sure a lot of you are old enough to remember dial-up. It took forever to look at anything.
By the time I went to college, I had developed a healthy interest, but certainly not obsessive. My freshman year I didn't have my own computer and rarely spent much time on the internet. I didn't even email much. I wrote actual letters to friends. Things changed quickly, though. I got a new computer for my sophomore year and I had my own dorm room.
Being on the internet just looking at random stuff suddenly became a "thing" to do. I don't even think I was using Google yet when I was trying to look up spoilers for upcoming X-Files episodes, back when X-Files was still producing new episodes. Somehow that search led me to a web site that included some Mulder and Scully fan fiction. Huh, I'd never heard of such a thing. But some of those stories were pretty good... and included some sex, which of course was fun to read because anyone who watched that show wanted them to get together!
Eventually it dawned on me that if there are stories about X-Files, there must be stories about Star Wars, and especially Han and Leia, right? It didn't take me long to figure out that it was true. Oh, boy was it true. And like any teenager discovering fanfic for the first time, I went straight and exclusively to the sex stories ;) Most of them back then were actually pretty good. There seemed to be some quality control involved. I'm not even sure ff.net existed yet, and most of the web sites were fan run and the stories were submitted and then they were posted if deemed good enough. Well, of course I was hooked. Not in an obsessive sort of way, since I was busy with so many other things being in college, but I certainly wasted more than a few evenings reading stories late into the night. And I even ordered a couple of fanzines.
By the time college ended, I was definitely a big fan. There were a few message boards back then that I forgot that I even posted on until recently. I think a lot of what we discussed was hating Bria :) The NJO was out so there was a lot of reading going on, too.
Not long after I graduated I decided to try my hand at writing. I'd always loved writing and figured, why not? Again, back then there were mostly sites you submitted to so I had to send them in to someone, who then hooked me up with a beta reader who really knew her stuff and helped was in retrospect was an atrociously written story. There is currently a much better version of it posted, though it's still not that good. Unfortunately, by the time I edited and was ready to send it in, the site disappeared, and I had no idea where to post it. I believe at that point I kind of took a break from reading much fanfic. I didn't really read on ff.net, the Han and Leia sites I loved were disappearing or at least rarely added new content, and the old sites like fanfix also almost never added anything new.
Reading of the EU continued, though. And after several years of not much fanfic reading and certainly no writing, I somehow stumbled on the Nerfherder's Playground. Please go there and look around if you never have. It was a really great resource for writers and the stories were edited in a sort of workshop type of way. I'm sure some people may have hated that, but I found it very helpful. And in general there are some good stories hidden there that I believe aren't posted anywhere else. After a while that rekindled my interest in writing and I decided to go ahead and give it another shot. So I posted some stuff there and got some help, and eventually decided to start putting my stories on ff.net as well.
NHP has sort of died off, but obviously ff.net is still going strong and I continued to write and post there, occasionally still posing on NHP as well. So now I'm still reading, although not as obsessed as I used to be. And really, there aren't as many multi-chapter stories going up anymore, it feels like. Or the ones that do have such lengthy periods of time between updates it makes it hard to be excited when you forget what happened 6 months ago when the last chapter went up. I'm not writing really at the moment, but that could change, I guess. And I keep saying I'm going to stop reading the EU, but then they go and publish a new book that falls in a timeline I like and I get sucked back in. And now of course with Episode VII it is becoming clear that I am probably stuck for life. Oh, well.
Anyway, that is my very lengthy story as a lifelong fan. Oh, also I own 2 sets of VHS versions of the movies, the DVDs and the blu rays. And yet I still watch them whenever they come on Spike.
This post is also an example of one of Zyra's problems as a writer: too wordy and not at all concise ;)
What's your story? How long have you been a fan? How did you find fanfic? How did you find this blog?