Jan. 20th, 2010

merricatk: (specs)
I write slash.

I've been writing slash for a good many years now--about half my life. I first heard about slash in a feminist newspaper, Off Our Backs, which had printed Joanna Russ's essay, Pornography: For Women, By Women, With Love. That was when I discovered that the stories I'd been telling were being told by other women, too. It was revelatory.

Unfortunately, it didn't provide any access to "organized fandom." Nor did the book that essay was published in, though it did tell me about zines. But how to find them? I didn't know the password!

That access came serendipitously from a friend at work. She'd heard about zines from a friend, and she knew I liked Starsky & Hutch, so when she got a zine with an S&H story in it, she loaned it to me. I expressed my gratitude, and when she got a copy of an adzine (a zine that advertised fannish things for sale, zine editors looking for stories, and upcoming cons), I surreptitiously wrote down the names and addresses of the people selling S/H. (My friend is not a slash reader.)

One of the women was here in town, and Pat and I went out to her house one night and bought a big box of zines and unpublished stories. (She had edited zines, and so had copies of rejected stories. This was probably not kosher, but we didn't know that.)

Besides having stories to read, I now had people to write to, places to submit my fiction.

I got published pretty quickly, started meeting people, became an active part of SH fandom.

Since then I've also written slash in Twin Peaks, The Man From UNCLE, and Wiseguy (which I'm still writing). In all of this writing, there's only one thing I've strived to do in terms of characterization: make it match up with what I see on my TV screen.

If you asked most of these characters if they were gay, they'd at least equivocate, if not downright deny it. I write old fashioned "I'm not gay, I'm just in love with my partner" slash. I've read that's homophobic. Well, some of those characters are homophobic. I write 'em as I see 'em.

And like the name of Joanna Russ's essay, I write them for women. Specifically, I write them for women who are fans of the show who also see the characters as potential lovers. Because here's the thing: what I write about, first and foremost, is TV characters. TV characters who, for the most part, are seen by their creators as straight, but because of the chemistry of the actors, and the limitations of television, could be seen as more than just good friends. (By the limitations of television, I mean that literally. The physical closeness of Starsky and Hutch, that shared space--one sitting on the arm of the other's chair even when there's an empty chair right there--has to do with the size of the average TV screen at the time. If they were both going to be in a close-up, they had to be close up.)

A good friend of mine--straight, male--once told me that the sex scenes we slash writers write are unrealistic because men just don't think that much during sex. And I smiled at him and said, "Yeah, we know. But we don't care." I then told him that Hemingway was considered a great writer, but I found his women unrealistic.

I think the problem I have with the whole idea that gay men are upset because women are writing fictional characters gay is that I've never identified that closely with a TV character. (Well, I was Catwoman in the second grade, but that seems to have passed.) No matter how well-rounded the characterization is, their lives are make-believe with, when you think about it, glaring holes in the narrative. Real life isn't like that.

And I don't understand how trying to write about already-fictional characters has any effect on the lives of--well, anybody. Maybe the actors who portrayed them, if they feel very close to them, but otherwise--I don't get it.


merricatk: (Default)

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