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It's time! It's time again!

Actually it was time almost two weeks ago, but I was busy. So.

This past year was my fifth putting stories up on the internet. Actually, if we exclude a terrible 200-word Torchwood fic I wrote in 2009, the 25th of January is my fanfic birthday and it will be turning five! If we include the drabble (it's about Jack outliving everyone because I figured that's where Torchwood was heading after the show killed a bunch of people off, you can read it if that's really what you want to do with your life), my fanfic turns six today. This is weird.

Anyway, I wrote and posted 78,294 words of fanfic this year. That breaks down into 18 stories. This is lowest story and wordcount I've ever had, and the majority of my fic was for Yuletide - 11 stories out of the 18. (Although it's important to note that only 16,314 words were for Yuletide. Most of the non-Yuletide fic was kind of long.)

Looking back, my annual numbers document the slide of Doctor Who fic from completely dominating my wordcount, to being roughly half of my wordcount, to being a slice, and now Who is represented by either a single fic (my Who remix story) or two if you think a silly Five(ish) Doctors fic counts as Who-fic and not some kind of RPF parody. I actually became very solidly multi-fannish this year, which was fun but a little lonesome, haha. Technically I didn't write more than one fic in any fandom, although Marvel and Doctor Who could be given two each - but they draw from completely different canons in both cases, so I think it's fair to say that this was a one-and-done year. That is a fun kind of accomplishment, but I do miss the long-term interactions that I get from sticking with a fandom for even a couple months. I kind of got that with baseball on tumblr, at least.

Okay, now questions! I went on for longer than usual this year, partly because I let myself rant about Hornblower. I have some that I answer every year and a couple new ones that I stole from aralias' year in review post. New questions (mostly) first.



Best/worst title?

I have a reputation for being a titles person in my department, but this is because academics are truly awful at titles. I am only mostly awful, in that it takes me a while but I usually get SOMEWHERE. I think my best title might be No Handholds in Water, which is from a German proverb and feels suitably evocative while also being kind of silly when applied to a fic about taking a bath. I'm also very fond of On Land and At Sea, which is a case where I came up with the title and then changed part of the themes to match it, making the fic more about Bush taking care of Hornblower at sea and Barbara taking care of him on land, and this moment where they meet. The fic is stronger for it, so that was really cool. And the .txt title was 'boattide' which is obviously inferior.

The worst title is Slip which is a case where I just gave up and used the .txt title because that fic had been hanging around with that title for so long. It's fine, it's a fine title. It doesn't mean much, though.

Best/worst summary?

SUMMARIES ARE ALL THE WORST. I think I have managed to write one good summary, ever. This year I mostly gave up and was just like here, this is the fic. Read it.

I'll admit to being kind of fond of the terrible summary for They Do It with Oobleck: "Harry Kellar and John Maskelyne go to a performance and ruin it for everyone." That describes a fic I want to read.

Meanwhile, I don't really like the Life of Crime summary:

"As a supervillain supercriminal contract worker with a morality deficit, Clint Barton leads a glamorous life. You know, stolen cars, dangerous women, a really confusing relationship with a meddling do-gooder, the works. It's pretty awesome. Except for, uh, medical bills, the mob, and being on the run all the time. That part isn't all that awesome.

(A supervillain AU where Clint shoots arrows at people and gets beat up a lot. So, not really that much of an AU.)"

But I remember struggling with it a lot, and it does describe the fic and the tone of the fic, even though it's super clunky. Summaries are hard.

Best/worst first line?

Most of my first lines are just sort of set-up? I am not the kind of person to grab you with a great first line, haha - most of my favorite lines hang around in the middle of a fic. The only first line I really like is from Life of Crime:

It's really hard to run through Boston when you're carrying a quiver on your back, a bow in one hand, and a huge bag of money in the other.

Because it pretty much captures the entire rest of the fic in one sentence.

Best/worst last line?

Ahh, my other greatest foe. This year I was told in beta that the original ending of Life of Crime was kind of lackluster, so I set out to write a different ending, wrote FIVE more pages, sent that to the beta and was told 'it's fine I guess, maybe it's just impossible to end comedy in a satisfying way.' Haha, augh. Endings are hard. I rewrote it AGAIN after that.

(For the record, here's the final ending to LoC, which I agree is fine but not exceptional.

They keep running, the four of them, with Carol and the Avengers at their heels and a get-away Land Rover with a bazooka just a few yards in front. They keep running, and don't look back.

Okay, small lie, Clint totally does look back. But only to wink at Carol, see her wink back, and watch Captain America's face go absolutely appalled.
)

Special shout-out to the ending of Try, Try Again, which I disliked so much that I wrote a new ending scene in basically the last five minutes before posting. Now I dislike the new ending, haha.

Original ending: "I'm never hanging out with Deadpool ever again," Taskmaster lied to himself. He got moving.

Final ending (after an added coda/reunion): "Keep lying to yourself, buddy," said Taskmaster, and grabbed the back of Deadpool's head to pull him in.

Ehh.

I ALSO rewrote the ending of Why Didn't the Skeleton Go to the Ball? after comments from aralias, and I like the ending scene better but the actual final line less.

In the interests of being positive, I do really like the ending of And More Are on the Way:

"I keep getting real lucky this time of year," said the clone, still smiling at no one. "I’m just happy to be here, y’know?"

Because I am always fond of double meanings, especially in vapid interview-speak.

Looking back, did you write more fics than you thought you would this year, less than you thought, or about what you predicted?

Less :/// I've written about 100k every year before, but this is the year I've been expecting for a while - the year grad school caught up with me. 2014 encompassed both of my prelims and my oral exam, and I have made a graph to show how this pretty directly impacted my fic writing.

a graph showing really low wordcount coinciding with big exams and high wordcount coinciding with spring break etc

I've already found several inaccuracies in this graph, but the basic point stands. Each exam was accompanied by a pretty long period of NOTHING, fic-wise. I am glad to have earned my masters, but at what cost??? Fic is basically the only hobby I can easily drop (fencing involves a lot of obligations and some actual income at this point, rl friends start texting when I drop off the map), so it was the first to go. I'm nervous about what this means - was this a one-time thing because I crammed all of my exams into one year? Or is this the new normal as I get further in my career?

I guess we find out this year, haha.

Where did you publish/archive your stories?

AO3! I've pretty much dropped the LJ/DW crosspost, except on special occasions like yesterday. I did post And More Are on the Way to tumblr first and cleaned it up later, but that's just because most of my baseball fandom is happening on tumblr.

I'm not sure if I like having everything on the AO3 and no back-ups (except for Who fic which is also archived on Teaspoon). But crossposting was becoming a huge pain, and it already takes me forever to post a fic.

What pairing/genre/fandom did you write that you would never have predicted in January?

Baseball. WHAT HAPPENED? One moment I was minding my own business, the next I was learning the names of players, and devoting serious thought to Kurt Suzuki making lunch for the Twins, and watching games, so many games. More sports games than I have ever willingly watched. (Fencing excluded.) Besides the lone baseball fic I actually posted, I've also got three baseball-related WIPs that may or may not see light. What the hell.

What’s your favorite story this year? Not the most popular, but the one that makes you the happiest.

Haha, it is honestly Life of Crime, which as you will see is also my most popular story. But I was sitting in bed one day, in the midst of one of my semi-annual Clint Barton crises, and I started plotting this fic and then thought, man, that's self-indulgent, you don't want to actually write that. And then I thought fuck it, I'm an adult, no one can stop me from writing about snarky touch-averse deaf supercriminal Clint Barton having kinky sex with a bunch of people and also having a good relationship with his brother and also getting beat up all the time. Hey, maybe I should pair him with Captain Marvel! And Bucky, and Natasha! No one can stop me!

This was a good realization and I am glad this fic exists. The process of writing it was really fun and consuming, the beta process was extremely productive, and the feedback I've gotten has been amazing. And, weirdly, this has become one of my rare fics that I can read for fun, without agonizing over the flaws. Which is good, because it's exactly the kind of fic I want to read.

Okay, NOW your most popular story.

Look at this frickin graph.

a graph showing Life of Crime at 11,000+ hits, with the four closest fics showing much lower hit counts

Life of Crime has 11.5k hits at the moment. No other story I wrote this year tops 1k. This isn't an anomaly - LoC is well ahead on every other metric: kudos, comments, bookmarks. It's the most popular fic I've EVER written by quite a bit. It's also the longest fic I've ever written, so I guess that's good return on investment, haha.

It was weird to find that my most self-indulgent fic was also my most popular fic, but I am completely fine with that.

Story most under appreciated by the universe?

Most of my other fics were written for pretty small fandoms this year, which hopefully explains the low hit counts. But I feel pretty appreciated! I got a lot of nice feedback and interest this year, despite writing in increasingly esoteric fandoms. I did kind of think that Resurrection of the Doctors would get slightly more play, but I think I just overestimated the Five(ish) Doctors fanbase. I did get a really great comment from the recipient, which is as much as I ever want out of a Yuletide fic.

Story that could have been better?

I really wish I'd had the time to write the epic that Trompement deserved - porting two very complicated people from the 18th century into the modern fencing community probably should not be attempted in less than 2,000 words. I think it turned out okay, but I'd like to know how the 10k version would have turned out (and I think I'm unlikely to get around to it).

Sexiest story?

I wrote only two explicit stories this year, Life of Crime and On Land and At Sea! Life of Crime wins, haha - it has a total of four explicit sex scenes. Nowhere near my ridic sex fic peak, though.

Most fun story?

I had SO MUCH FUN making Wood Isn't Food, purely because of the photoshop art. That thing is my masterpiece, and I was giggling as I made it.

Did any stories shift your perceptions of the characters?

New question that I took from aralias just so I could talk about On Land and At Sea! I have a super antagonistic relationship with the Hornblower books and specifically with Hornblower himself, who I regard as my nemesis even though I ship Barbara/Hornblower and Hornblower/Bush SO MUCH, god. This is most evident when I'm listening to audiobooks and am free to shout at Hornblower whenever he's doing something dumb, which is ALWAYS.

I'm always very impressed by how much I like the Hornblower books despite being mad at Hornblower all the time, and I do appreciate how human Hornblower is. I like the books partly because Hornblower isn't perfect and doesn't make all the right decisions and is very self-aware about it all. I've said in the past that part of the reason I think I dislike Hornblower so much is because he reminds myself of me - there's an aspect of the disdain for emotional reactions, the devotion to competency and the appearance of correctness, and the constant examination and self-recriminations re: social interactions that hits very close to home. It's not that I dislike myself, it's just that those are the parts of myself that I would find most annoying in my clone, and they're much less diluted in Hornblower than in my hypothetical clone.

Usually when writing a character's POV I tend to focus on the things I can relate to them on, but in On Land and At Sea I really noticed where Hornblower and I differ and now I don't think we're all that much the same after all! My thing is that I tend to act very thoughtlessly while I am interacting with people and then have second thoughts afterward, but if I notice a problem during an interaction I'll usually adjust without thinking about it. Hornblower, meanwhile, is second-guessing himself DURING interactions, and he's always making decisions about whether to adjust his behavior or not. I think it's the moments where he notices a problem and adjusts his behavior in the completely wrong way that bother me so much (especially true in any of his scenes with Maria), because I think of myself and can't figure out how he's reaching those decisions when I make my in-the-moment adjustments with much less calculation and my post-moment recriminations with way more care. But actually Hornblower is trying to do complex and very conscious social calculations on the fly, and I can see how you would get a few of those consistently wrong. Writing On Land and At Sea and figuring out how to write that constant re-evaluation showed me the difference between us and I started to find it endearing, haha. I would still probably get annoyed with Hornblower a little bit if I met him in real life, but I will try not to shout at his audiobooks as much.

Hardest story to write?

I didn't really have any hard stories this year. Except for the ones I didn't finish :/ I have a long MCU Sam/Steve fic that I think is really funny and I would really like to have done, but I got stuck on some chunks of it and beat my head against them and have (at the moment) given up. Bleh.

Easiest story to write?

I can't really pick out any easy stories either! This year felt like everything was an effort, mostly of finding the time to write, but not a HUGE effort. Maybe Take Your Chances, which I thought was basically a doomed effort to turn a good prompt into a mediocre fic. Like, to the point that I was hopefully looking at other people's letters in order to avoid writing this as my 10th Madness fic. But then I wrote it very quickly and I think it turned out really well! I actually think agonizing over it and taking the idea of a Strong Poison dark-fic AU super seriously would have only weakened the execution.

Most overdue story?

In terms of fics I actually posted, Slip was allllmost done in July of 2013 and it took me until March of 2014 to write the last thousand words and figure out the structure and post it. That was actually partially delayed by the fact that I didn't want my sole contribution to Elementary fandom to be 'here are the only two white dude main characters having kinky sex, hello I am part of the problem.' Once I had written Team the Best Team and contributed something else, I no longer felt guilty. Maybe it is weird to be this self-conscious, but I think as long as it results in more fic rather than self-censorship and silence, it is probably a helpful kind of self-consciousness? I hope.

Haha, between this and the Hornblower rant, this part of the meme has become more about my weird psychology than anything else. I also have a Great Mouse Detective fic that's really overdue - it has a first draft done and a very helpful beta and I was like 'oh, I have a great idea for how to change this to hopefully fix many of the fundamental problems' and then I had my second prelim and I did nothinnnng. I will get to it.

Did you take any writing risks this year? What did you learn from them?

I did a few things! In Constellations I tried out a podfic/written fic combination that was a little nerve-wracking to produce but I think turned out pretty well. Despite not getting very far with the Idfic Bingo, I laid my id pretty bare in Life of Crime and that went super well. I wrote sex for Yuletide in On Land and At Sea, which was WEIRD but again turned out well. These are not super revolutionary deals or playing as much with structure as I have in the past, but they did a lot for my confidence as a writer. I think I'm at a place where I can write what I want to write and have the skill to make that something that people want to read, which hasn't been true in the past. I have a lot of old idfic that is awful, haha. That still happens to some extent - part of the reason that GMD fic didn't work on the first draft was because I was relying too much on id and not actual coherent plotting. But in general I'm a lot more confident in being able to pull off my own ideas, and that's a nice feeling.

Do you have any fanfic goals for the New Year?

Continue to be confident! Finish some of these WIPs! Maaaybe write 100k again? Last year I had several goals that I completely did not accomplish (I only finished one WIP, I made pretty much no progress on my idfic bingo, I didn't do much with style experiments), but that's sort of the point of new year's resolutions :)

So far I have started this New Year by WRITING, which I think is good. It is not one of the ten WIPs on my desktop. It is Rivers of London fic, because I am pretty sure this is going to be another year of having my attention briefly caught by a shiny new fandom and then running away again. I reserve the right to laugh at myself if it is January 2016 and I am sitting on a giant pile of Rivers of London fic, though.
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