I swear that being under that thing’s cold gaze was like staring down an oncoming truck. It promised nothing but death and pain, and I was terrified.
It was bright, and shone gold in the sun; but its mouth was like two swords, and its wings were razor-edged. Its great compound eyes, which should have been faceted like a geodesic dome, were entirely too human. This was one of the creatures I had been warned about, the reason you shut and locked your windows until the cold came and drove them away.
My phone buzzed in my hand and I risked looking away from the creature to see who’d texted me.
are you seriously telling me that you’re trapped in your room with a wasp
“This is not just a wasp,” I muttered, looking back up at the monster on my window ledge. A wasp would be bad, but this was worse. Wasps are what, an inch long? This thing was as big as my hand. If it was a wasp, it was a mutant wasp. And given where I was, it was probably worse than that.
It looked away from me, antennae waving, and crept along the windowsill. It was then that I noticed–one of its legs was broken, and it was really creeping. More like dragging. Had it been hurt? How?
just swat it with a shoe, my friend texted.
The rules–the ones the RAs told us at the beginning of the year in hushed whispers, and then never spoke of again–said not to hurt insects. You don’t drown spiders, you don’t burn ants, you don’t swat at moths. And, just like all the other sometimes-nonsensical rules, I’d kept to them.
But there was another rule, one that got passed by word of mouth and rumor-has-it, that spoke of helping those who needed it. Of an injured football player who’d helped an old woman cross the street, and found his injury miraculously healed. Of the girl who fed a stray dog, and found herself in possession of a cereal box that was never empty. Of the kid who’d ignored the pleas of a man with a misspelled cardboard sign on the corner, and had never been seen again.
I took a deep breath. This wasp thing–whatever it was–was a strange thing, like all the other strange things at this university. And when you’re dealing with strange things, the rule goes, you follow all the rules. Which meant no swatting or shoes. It also meant–
You know, I wonder if the self-doubt that is so pervasive in the gradence part of the fandom is because we’re so damn small. There are 635 notes on that post about how big the fandom is. Which is, comparatively, not that large. Even assuming lurkers and people who play on different platforms, that is a VERY SMALL group of people by comparison to the bigger fandoms. And there’s an even smaller subset of those people who are active, frequent content creators.
Which means that, if you’re writing/doing edits/making art, you are playing in a sandbox with very few other people. We can’t section ourselves off as easily into neat little boxes of “this is what I like” and “this is what you like” and “this is what that person likes”. There are 1109 works in the tag “Credence Barebone/Original Percival Graves”. There are 65,990 works in the tag “Castiel/Dean Winchester”. That means someone who’s looking to create for the latter tag is going to have a much wider group of people to reach out to for inspiration and interaction when they’re writing. You don’t like one kind of dynamic or interpretation? Great! There are still dozens of other writers you can go play with! You have a lot more space in the sandbox.
For gradence writers, this is not so easy. If you don’t like an interpretation–say, those of us who generally prefer a less kinky dynamic–well, there aren’t very many other people who actively want to create that dynamic. More than HALF of the works in the tag are tagged E or M. If you’re into modern AUs, then you might have some trouble because there are only 147 of those on AO3. That’s a little more than a tenth of the works as a whole, and you reading all of them is predicated on the idea that none of them contains squicks, triggers, or simply things of which you are not a fan.
So what my guess boils down to is the fact that, yes, 1109 works is a lot. A minimum of 635 people is a lot. But there are comparatively few active content creators. And we all know the popular ones. If you’re a small-time destiel writer, then you can put your head down and hide from the big-name fans. You don’t have to think about what they’re doing, because you might not even know they exist because there is just SO MUCH CONTENT. We’re in a different situation.
Yes, there is space in our sandbox, and no one is throwing people out. Let me emphasize that: this is the most welcoming, kind fandom I have ever been in. I am not playing a blame game. I regularly see our big-name fans struggling with the same psychological bullshit as the rest of us. “My writing isn’t good enough. I don’t belong. I’m not good enough.” But we can’t escape the fact that we are a SMALL fandom, by comparison to others. Active content creators see each other’s stuff all the time. We see each other all the time. There is no “six degrees of separation”, there’s like TWO. For example: I don’t know @sozdanie-gryazi-eternal personally, but I know @chryselephantinechaos, who does.
You can’t get away from other people. You are constantly in contact with all these amazing creators and it can be terrifying. You know they’re lovely, happy people who just want to play in the sandbox with you but their sandcastles seem so BIG in comparison to yours. That one’s got handpainted flags, and that one has six-foot-tall towers, and that one has a full dungeons with a complement of whips and chains, and that one is a perfect replica of Neuschwanstein Castle. And you look at yours and it feels pitiful by comparison, even if it’s beautiful, and when you look around you don’t see anyone else creating things that look like what you’ve made. On the one hand, you get to feel truly unique, truly noticed in a way that people in bigger fandoms might not. On the other, you’re constantly asking yourself why you aren’t as good as everyone else, because there are only so many sandcastles and it’s easy to see which ones consumers like best.
Anyway. This got terrifyingly long. Point is, I think we all need to work harder to be proud of the things we create because, around here, there really IS no one else making the things we make. No one else ever made that gifset you made, no one else ever painted anything like what you painted, no one else ever thought of the meta you thought up, no one else ever wrote anything like what you wrote. No two creators are alike, and that’s PERFECT. That’s how fandom SHOULD be. We’re all here in the sandbox together and so WHAT if someone else is only sculpting with sand and you want to add Legos to your castle? You’re the only one doing it, and the best thing about this tiny little fandom is that everyone wants to see your mixed-media creation. Because this IS a welcoming fandom, and we DO know almost everybody. So…keep writing. We love you. <3
let me just…i think i’ve written this particular thing before, but it bears repeating in the light of 12x10.
we get told over and over and over that it isn’t real. that we’re looking for things that aren’t there. that they’re just friends. that the lists of evidence, of subtext, of metatext, are just tinhatting. writers, directors, actors, even other fans, they tell us we’re wrong.
and maybe in some ways they’re right. maybe dean will never say the three magic words. maybe cas will never kiss dean. maybe we will never get the big glaring neon sign that says “here it is, it’s real”. there won’t be a facebook status, an “official relationship”.
but that doesn’t mean they aren’t in love.
because those people who claim there isn’t anything there? they’re steeped in a culture where love means diamond rings that put you into debt and uncomfortable public proposals that force a “yes” where it isn’t wanted. where “love” is a possession, not an action. where lifelong friendship is thrown away because you can only have one meaningful relationship at a time and you just got married. where emotional intimacy might as well be written in an alien language, because no one is getting it.
in a nutshell, the people who claim there isn’t anything there don’t know what they’re looking at.
and when we look at this relationship, we are seeing something different. we see a handprint that means an embrace, we see anger born of worry, we see a trenchcoat in the trunk of a car, and in those things we can see actions that mean real love. we see a commitment. a promise to never give up. to harrow hell itself if it means protecting the person you love.
we hear “where’s the angel?”, we hear “i did all of it for you”, we hear “when he laid a hand on you in hell he was lost”, we hear “he’s in love…with humanity”, and we hear declarations of love. we understand that while those things may not be what we are taught to expect, they don’t mean anything less. they might even mean more. they’re an acknowledgement that two souls can be brought together in the worst of circumstances and still become better. that these two people belong together.
so no, it might never be canon in the way that people expect. they might never kiss. they might never hold hands or go on dates or say “i love you”.
but i promise you, it’s canon. cas would do anything for dean. dean will do anything for cas. cas has saved dean over and over, more times than we can count. and dean wants to be around cas, to take care of him, to protect him.
love doesn’t have to be expressed with pink hearts and rings. it can be an apology, a refusal to back down, a warm blanket. it’s “i’m the one who gripped you tight and raised you from perdition”. it’s “i’m worried about you”. it’s these things that we see when we say “it’s real”. and it’s these things, the things we aren’t taught to expect in romantic relationships, that people won’t see.
just because it doesn’t look like we’re supposed to expect doesn’t mean it’s not real. it is. it’s real. dean loves castiel, and castiel loves dean, and that’s the end of it. love is love, no matter what its trappings are.
it’s real. it’s canon. for now, let’s celebrate that.
Okay, so some slightly more coherent thoughts on American Gods, now that I’ve had five seconds to breathe and collect myself. I mean, I’m still raving, but now it’s coherent raving…massive, massive spoilers under the cut, obviously.
York chasing tail and hitting on North any chance he gets when they first arrive aboard the Mother of Invention, which of course just makes North roll his eyes. But he’s totally smiling because as much of a flirt this guy is he’s totally charming in some weird way. But North isn’t after some random hook up. I’m here for work and I don’t need any distractions to hold me back. That’s what he keeps telling himself when he wakes up with York next to him in bed asking for round two. Damn that charming asshole. And damn him months later when they’re in bed together like they do almost every night. But now instead of asking for round two he’s asking North to scoot over a little so he can lay his head on his shoulder because he likes going to sleep listening to his heartbeat. I’m not looking for anything serious. York repeats to himself as he’s falling asleep listening to North’s heart beat steadily and realizing he’s fucked because he’s already head over heels.