i am a sissy
Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I descended into shipdom by degrees. This is a cautionary tale, and also, a way to grant myself permission to write.

Not that long ago, I was sure that all fanfic writers were raging Suethors, only slightly more tolerable than furries and cosplayers. I suspect that if I met someone who admitted to being a fic'er, I would have given them a wedgie or a purple nurple (assuming there was no handy trash can to stuff them in). But one day, I took a wrong turn on the interweb, and ended up here.

Much to my horror, I found myself reading Firefly fanfic and enjoying it. Not just enjoying it, but growing emotionally invested in it. Whats worse, the stories I enjoyed most were...romances. Screw plot and action. Just give me girl stuff. Mal and Inara and their stupid imaginary feelings enthralled me. I found myself eagerly following Clio and Aliasse, and shaking my fists at the heaven when their updates were slow.

I began to doubt myself. Were fan ficers perverse Suethors, or more like the anonymous storytellers that left us the Arthurian cycle? Were they douches pumping out shitty fantasy narratives to fap to, or creative geniuses making magic out of pop culture leftovers? Or is this a false black-and-white distinction, like those made by my favorite petty thief?

So now I'm a Mal/Inara shipper, happy to chew the same mouthful of story over and over again, so long as nobody catches me doing it. Mal/Inara are frozen in time and incomplete. People breathe life into them, for a moment, but there is never closure. Miserable shippers will recreate and relive moments that never happened, but should have, in perpetuity. The petty thief and whore will get togther a million times, not get together a million times; they will endlessly loop through fluff and angst. None of its real, but all of it matters to me, and I hate that.

Now, I have hit a low point, and am fumbling with my own fanfic. I have begun to doubt my manhood, and live in fear that my peers will discover this new interest of mine.

Angst suits my tastes--I like my Mal/Inara unhappy. I want to continue the heartbreak and tension, not resolve it. To hell with catharsis. But secretly, I know I want them to live happily ever after and have dozens of babies. It makes me sick to learn this about myself.

So anyway, I am a sissy, and I do not know where I go from here.


Thursday, October 1, 2009 2:32 PM


Well, I think it's obvious that you don't have to go anywhere from 'here'!

You're *home*, right where you belong, amidst your fellow shippers. :o)

Welcome aboard, and may I throw in a cheer that your ship of choice is Mal/Inara!

Huzzah! <-- that's me cheering ;o)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 7:57 AM


Haha, accidentally read "reptile in training" as "reaver in training". Do tell.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 7:56 AM


And you are not a sissy.

This angst can become really useful if you decide (as an apparently literary person) to branch a little bit and eventually create characters you like just that much. I'm told it's possible.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 7:53 AM


I have the opposite problem, mincingbeast.

I was shipping them, mostly on an intellectual/emotional level, because with those two intricates, there's so much material without even getting to the physical. And questions of existential romantic angst were fun. Until a mutual acquaintance happened to insinuate that a "friend" and I were just like, maybe,say, oh, MAL AND INARA, doing the masochism tango.



It was vivid.
I was livid.
I guess that was proof.
Later I thought it was funny. Much funny. Much later.

But my shipping is still squelchified.
Eh. Gotta work on that, or maybe I'll leave it alone because it's a lot handier to not spend hours of my life writing tricky conversations.

But yes, the fundamental drive to ship them IS because it brings out so many of the larger (unanswered) questions of the larger show. It "can't" happen, and so we are convinced that it must. Woo hoo! But Joss was going to break our hearts anyway, had the show continued.

And yes, as far as POV works--go for it! Right now I'm working on one from another character's POV that I empathize with immensely--and so while it seems like self-insertion, if you do little reality checks like "is this me or is it X", you should be fine in staying true to canon.

Saturday, September 26, 2009 6:27 AM


Yes, I like the sound of it too: a Mal that makes mine and clio's look good.

Friday, September 25, 2009 3:47 PM


Context would probably be good, but that actually sounds funny as all heck.

Friday, September 25, 2009 9:15 AM


Teacher? No. That was the original intent behind being an English major. I was going to teach sullen teenagers to enjoy all of the fart jokes in The Canterbury Tales. But I quit, and now I'm basically just a reptile-in-training. I think I'd be happier as a teacher, so long as I didn't have any students.

By gross, I do not mean "Ew, kissing, gross" or "Ew, Mal's weiner" gross. But come to think of it, that can be gross, too. Rather, the gross thing about wht I've been writing is that it is ugly and unflattering. I've got a passage where Mal's thinking about what it would be like to kiss Inara, just to torture himself. He begins, all dreamy eyes and sighs, and ends up snarling, comparing the kiss to an unsanitary toilet seat in a public restroom that he had to wait in line too gorram long for. A horrid analaogy, but maybe Mal has a poetic temperment. That kind of gross.

Friday, September 25, 2009 12:13 AM


Aliasse, I believe the term is "awesomely smutty." Beast, another teacher? Huzzah! I hope this isn't a dirty word to use in a message to a former English teacher, but to me, Mal and Inara are calculus. All those complex interacting factors that change from moment to moment, nothing so straightforward as algebra or geometry. That's anxiety, too. Not gross - calculus.

Thursday, September 24, 2009 10:10 PM


One of the reasons I posted such a shockingly smutty first fic (now deleted) was as a way of dealing with the embarrassment of posting in what can be quite a sappy shipdom. There certainly wasn't any sap in that first fic, just pure, hard NC-17. The image of you grossing yourself out while writing Mal/Inara and still being compelled to do it is very funny.

Also *pounces* you're a teacher (too)!

Thursday, September 24, 2009 6:36 PM


Maybe being a Mal/Inara shipper isn’t so bad, after all. I feel like I won’t be sure until I’ve posted a story. Then, I will know the dual embarrassment of shipdom and other shippers reading my stories. At this point I’m trying to work through what feels like the core of the shipdom, a post BDM-angst-and-a-first-kiss story. It’s been a bit gross to write, because I’m trying to pack as much male anxiety into as I know. I hope its not as gross to read.

Clio: No offense intended, but when I started on Something to Think On I assumed you were a guy. I would like to attribute this to the quality of your writing, rather than my idiocy or inability to recognize a male point of view.

Aliasse: Curses. I was kind of hoping that Mal's flight to Cornelius was finished and moments away from posting. In the mean time, thank you for cluing me in to Big Damn Goldfish Bowl. I’ve yet to digest it all, but there’s enough gold there to keep me from my own fiction and school work for a few days.

GillianRose: I’m an avid reader, too. Before I sold my soul I was even an English major. Reading is a creative act, but I’ve only dabbled in fiction in the past, and never really had the urgency to write before. I may have found my muse; unfortunately it’s a doomed romance from a canceled scifi show. It’s exciting to be writing, anyway.

Thursday, September 24, 2009 1:41 PM


Welcome Young One.

*solemnly* I am absolutely like one of the anonymous authors that gave us the Arthurian cycles. *end solemnity* Love the expression 'Suethor'. You'll find, if you aren't aware already, that some M/I shippers have quite strong feelings about that kind of thing:)

If your fics are as well-written and interesting as your post then I eagerly await them. We will help you to bear your shame. Here is some of my truth about reading and writing fan fics (aka the existential angst of being a M/I shipper):http://www.fireflyfans.net/showblog.asp?b=8565. My initial attraction to the pairing was quite instant and straightforward. I just wanted to see them kiss. But I never thought that I would get into writing them. I didn't even know about fan fiction. And then after two years of quite determined lurking I just...wanted to join in. Along with the existential angst goes the FUN and the GLEE of being part of a really quite fun and gleeful community.

I am so IMMENSELY flattered to get a mensh all of my own - thank you. And sorry to think that I made you suffer with delays. I get like that about series I like too. Have you yet discovered the glory days of Mal/Inara on livejournal (the Sushi/Truthsome era)? I was not part of it, alas; but it must be read.

I agree with everything that bytemite has said about beta'ing and would be happy also to help in that respect. Come time to write the trip to Cornelius I shall probably be asking you for your thoughts myself...

Thursday, September 24, 2009 10:25 AM


*Blush!* Thanks for the shout out, Byte! I've wondered for a long time what it is about this particular fictional 'verse, and about this particular couple, that has pulled me in. Until last year, I'd never written, or had the slightest inclination to write any fiction at all. Then I read the Joss interview about the vial NOT being for suicide, and it made my brain crazy. Won't turn off crazy, nauseated crazy, and I found myself compelled to write a solution. It's like putting a puzzle together, but you have to make the pieces yourself, out of everything have ever learned, and then look at the pieces and see which ones fit. Problem-solving, research, creativity.

I've been an avid reader all my life. It's not like this is the first superlative work of creativity I've ever discovered. I guess it's the enormous gap between how much potential for story there was, and how much we were given. Toni Morrison (anybody want to call HER a sissy?) said she'd always considered herself a reader, and became a writer when she needed to read something that hadn't been written.

Mal and Inara in particular? That's another, long, long post. Welcome to the fandom!

Thursday, September 24, 2009 9:04 AM


Oooh, come now, you're not a sissy. Angst takes guts! ;-) A few small comments. First of all, forever apologies for leading you down this dark path. Second of all, I actually find it really gratifying that you, being a man, have enjoyed my story, because (going back to your point about trying to write from Inara's point of view) it IS written from a man's point of view, and I'm never quite sure if I'm completely off the mark. But the fact that you buy it suggests that maybe we all think a bit more similarly than we assume we do. (And also that I'd actually be completely fascinated to see what you'd do with Inara's point of view.) And finally, I can't wait to see what you're writing. Do post soon.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009 3:46 PM


However, I've also seen some very nice third person narrative style stuff, too. The important thing really is to have fun with it. If you have an idea, a story you just got to tell, that's where the best stuff comes from.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009 1:42 PM


Hmmmmm, I think you might be selling yourself short, I think you may be able to write Mal better than you realize. Just because you may relate to a character doesn't necessarily mean that when you write that character it's a self-insert or Sue. If you relate to a character, all that means is that you feel like you understand the character.

Also, I know that it can seem better to try to go it alone, I used to be that way as well. Used to think, why would you need help to write something like fanfiction? But then I learned that the reason people ask for beta reading help is because they care a lot about the quality of their writing.

I've also found that when I get stuck it's very useful to have someone you can bounce ideas off. I like discussing and interpreting the personalities of all the Firefly characters. They're a fun bunch. And how a character may react to a situation and their mood has everything to do with personality. If you ever want to discuss anything about writing or plots or characterization, send me a PM.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009 11:46 AM


No, I appreciate the essay. I'm glad, and surprised, to see that I struck a chord. I would like to think that in my own rough, knuckle-dragging way, I articulated the existential angst of the Mal/Inara shipper.

I've tried writing from Mal's POV, and I can't. It comes off as phony and Suey. I've tried, to a lesser degree, to write from Inara's POV, only to discover that I lack the imagination and emotional depth to guess what's going on in a woman's head--let a lone a complicated, fascinating woman like Inara. Consequently, I'm trying to avoid POV, and show Mal and Inara in action, rather than get in their heads and do stream of consciousness stuff. Slowly fumbling along.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 6:09 PM


Oop. Sorry about the essay. Your story just struck a familiar chord.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 5:12 PM


I was horrified to have the same realization as you.

Back in the day, I was the tough girl, the stoic, I was Zoe with Mal's devil may care streak and arrogance.

Chick Flicks? Pah! Give me explosions, give me gun-fire and real world problems, not shoes and make-up and purses and reeeelaaaationships! Such wussy interests were for lesser mortals. The squealing of my girlfriends over the new popular male actor/singer on the scene was to be met with eyerolls and the quiet belief that I could most assuredly beat the tar outta their current object of infatuation.

Back then, though I read action/adventure fanfic about stealing treasures from dangerous temples and killing demons in secret wars, I promised myself that I would never become so obsessive as to WRITE anything, not unless it was a joke or a troll. Anything remotely pornographic I considered wish-fulfillment on the part of the authors and I steered as far away from it as possible.

Then I got into firefly. And I broke my promise first of all of not becoming obsessive: I spent six months just spending my free time browsing fanfiction archives for firefly. Then I began to realize that my tastes in fanfiction were changing. Yes, I was still reading action adventure, but I was also deliberately seeking out... ROMANCE. D: Not only that, but I noticed that there was a pattern to my preference: all the stories that I read HAD to have Mal/Inara in them to interest me. Fluff, fights, comedy, angst, I was eating up all of it.

Then I read GillianRose and I realized that no, it's not wish fulfillment. There's just something about Mal and Inara that makes you want to cheer for them to get together.

I was a goner. I was officially a shipper. I drew her some art, said hi, kind of slowly joined a community of Mal/Inara shippers... And began writing my own fanfiction, in earnest. Lots of it. I used to write original stories, but nothing had ever taken me over so completely as the ideas that kept coming to me.

I feel your pain. But don't worry, it doesn't make you less tough. On the bright side, chicks DIG guys with the secret poetic/romantic side! And, also, you can always write from Mal's POV if it makes you feel better.


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2009 September