August 8th, 2011

bad fanfic

Dept. of Bodies and Bodies of Work

Humiliations Past and Present

First off: Just wanted to let everyone know how much I hate what scleroderma does to my body from time to time. Really, really hate it. All diseases, from the little ones to the big awful ones, have one thing in common: in addition to attacking our body and trying their damnedest to weaken or kill us, they also insult and belittle us, making us realize that our bodies are an embarrassing collection of viscous fluids and semi-solids that are, more often than not, bad smelling, and gases that are predisposed to escape at the most inopportune times. In short, they remind us that we are not only risible in the eyes of the universe, but apt to be the subject of cosmic pointing and jeering until its inevitable heat death.

And now that we've covered the humiliations of the body, we can move on, with a smile that more closely resembles a rictus, to the humiliations of the mind. 

To be more precise, we can meditate on the experience of opening an old — a very old — box that once held typing paper, and finding finished pieces of original short fiction written, sent out to editors, and sent back in politely masked disdain ("we regret that your story does not meet our current needs") more than 30 years ago.

I read the four or five stories in the box with a certain degree of embarrassed horror. Dear god, I was a bad writer when I was 25. The language I used was stilted (I remember people telling me that, and not believing them. Because I was an idiot, an oblivious idiot.) I was careless — even the finished manuscripts had misspelled and missing words. And the titles of the stories ... oh, dear lord, they were pretentious, and that's the best I can say about them.

Still, I decided that there were a couple that might be salvageable. Some had very intriguing concepts at the core, and there were glimpses of maturity when it came to the inter-character communications. The language wasn't always overwrought, I thought, and it was altogether possible that the stories could be polished and turned into good quality fiction.

So this afternoon, I typed two of them in to the computer. And with each sentence I typed, I became more and more convinced that there was no way in hell either of these pieces of crap could be saved. It was likely that they might not even be exorcised. Some of the work was so excruciatingly bad that I had to change it as I typed, even before plunging into heavy weight structural rehab and long, long before I did anything as superficial as serious editing.

I have been thoroughly chastened.

On to Monday, (figuratively speaking since we're already in Monday,) in an effort to regain my composure and self-respect ....