sholio: sun on winter trees (Tao-ouch)
Sholio ([personal profile] sholio) wrote2010-06-12 02:25 pm
Entry tags:

metametameta on h/c bingo

Haha. So, I just told someone I wasn't going to be posting about this, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought I probably should, especially since there are many, many [community profile] hc_bingo cards circulating around my f'list right now, including my own, and I'm sure that I'll be continuing to talk about my card as I work on it.

So, there's a good post here by [personal profile] damned_colonial about potential pitfalls and problems with writing for h/c_bingo: specifically, being careful not to trivialize people with real-life disabilities and mental-health issues in the process of writing up an h/c fantasy. (Thanks to [personal profile] rydra_wong for bringing it to my attention.) I'd initially knee-jerked away from getting anywhere near this discussion because I'm no more up for perpetual rounds of "h/c, and everything that is wrong with it" than slash folks enjoy round umpty-gazillion of "women writing slash is creepy and appropriative". However, I found the above-linked post and the ensuing discussion interesting, and respectful of h/c-leaning fen, and there's useful advice in there that I think we probably ought to all be keeping in mind when we work on our cards. Or write h/c in general, for that matter. Among other things (this is largely gleaned from the above-linked post, but also from my own experiences as well):

Do your research, about not just the physical symptoms of whatever you're writing about but also its emotional effects on people's lives. Don't try to "fix" characters by the last page of the story, or cause them to lose agency in their own lives by making another character the catalyst for their physical/emotional healing. Keep in mind that some things can't be "healed" at all, at least not without great difficulty, and maybe better drama (and more compelling h/c!) comes from writing about someone learning to live with a chronic illness or disability (mental or physical) than trying to find a cure. Especially if you're writing a short story about a complicated subject -- which a lot of the h/c_bingo stories are likely to be -- think about what kind of emotional impact you can get from a small snapshot in a very long (even lifelong) recovery process. (This is exactly one of the big ways in which h/c appeals to me: not "I can fix this for you!" but "I know you've had a horrible day; let me sit with you for a while.") And the injured/disabled character can be the comforter as well. (I think this is why the sort of h/c I enjoy most of all is the sort in which everyone is dealing with their own difficult issues in their own ways; it levels the playing field and prevents a sort of unequal comfortee/comforter dynamic.)

In SGA gen fandom, at least, we seem to be largely focused on straightforward and easily-resolved medical issues: getting shot, hypothermia, broken bones and so forth. (Well, speaking as someone who's had broken bones, "easily resolved" compared to, say, cancer or losing a limb.) And aside from putting in the medical research, there's not a whole lot to mess up here. But since the h/c_bingo cards are going to be pushing people out of their comfort areas, it's definitely worth considering that if you're writing about a character dealing with alcoholism, rape or mental illness (to pull three off my own card), it's worth remembering that you probably have readers who are dealing with similar issues in their own lives, and going the extra mile in research and empathy to make your story believable and true to the emotional experiences of people who have dealt with those things.

None of which is to say that it's inherently wrong to fantasize about wild, OTT h/c scenarios with weeping and clinging. *g* It's our gen porn, damn it. But the absolute last thing I'd want is for the h/c_bingo cards and the ensuing stories to be a big slap in the face to people who are seeing them crop up on their f'lists and reading circles. It's a really fine line, with something like h/c -- between embarrassment/shame at your fantasies, and awareness of their real-world impact. Oh, believe me, I know (from both sides, really, since I've also read h/c stories that hit me like a sharp poky thing on one of my sensitive areas, even though I knew the author didn't intend anything of the sort). There's no way that there's not going to be a lot of stories coming out of the challenge that cheapen and trivialize RL disabilities/illness/issues in the name of fantasy, and I ... am actually not convinced that it's such a bad thing, because being able to fantasize is healthy, and sometimes unbelievable fantasies are the place where we work through our own issues with our body image, our disabilities/phobias/insecurities, and our past. But I would also love to see writers using the challenge as an opportunity to learn a little more, and maybe we'd get some really cool, memorable, emotionally compelling stories on recovering from and/or living with disability, trauma or mental illness that we didn't have before.

This is probably a useful place to post a couple of links I have memory'd that might come in handy on writing certain squares:

A User's Guide to PTSD by [personal profile] rachelmanija is a fantastic (and wrenching) resource for writing about characters who are recovering from many different sorts of trauma.

Dear (not just urban fantasy writers) by [personal profile] kaigou is not actually about writing h/c at all, but it's one of the best posts I've ever read about getting inside your characters' heads and thinking about all the little, mundane details of their situation that you might not otherwise consider. Though the author is talking about writing vigilante/runaway characters in an urban setting, a lot of the thought processes in creating a realistic picture of that character -- focusing on their everyday life, how they do things, where they get food and shelter, what skills they have and how they learned them -- can come in handy in writing any kind of character, including someone suffering or recovering from physical or emotional trauma. For example, if you're working on a square that says, oh, "loss of limb", how does that change the character's daily routine? Maybe just washing their hair or brushing their teeth is a hassle; maybe your story centers around your character hitting their emotional tipping-over point over something so simple as not being able to brush their hair the way they used to. Stuff like that.

ETA: A very moving post describing what it's like to experience hallucinations and delusions by Kaninchenzero, based on personal experience.

ETA 6-20-10: went to see my doctor only she was crying twice as much as me... by [personal profile] commodorified talks about being a caregiver while also having disabilities of one's own. Like I just mentioned in the comments below, I feel that this post hits quite a lot of nails on the head in a very useful way.

I'm sure there are a ton of other good resources out there; anything that anyone wants to throw into the comments is very welcome. :)

Ironically, too, I think typing this out has given me ideas for half a dozen squares that had been giving me a total blank.

ETA: Crossposted to Livejournal:

ETA2: I notice this has been metafandom'd. I'm going to be traveling this week with very intermittent computer excess, so I've turned on comment screening, just to be on the safe side. This is not an attempt to stifle discussion, but merely to moderate the post since I won't be around very much to do it. I'll unscreen comments whenever I have the opportunity! I'm back online and able to moderate the post, so I'm no longer screening comments.

Re: Resources

[personal profile] rydra_wong - 2010-06-13 20:54 (UTC) - Expand

Re: Resources

[personal profile] freekydj 2010-06-15 01:09 am (UTC)(link)
My thanks also on this link. As a person with a mental illness and who has also experienced similar symptoms both due to illness and medication side effects, it was interesting to see someone else's perspective. I am jokingly referred to by my last primary care doctor as the "queen of side effects". It is somewhat reassuring to realise that other people experience these things in such a similar manner. It is true, few people discuss their personal symptoms so directly and eloquently.
sally_maria: Daniel Jackson looking sideways (Default)

From the metafandom delicious

[personal profile] sally_maria 2010-06-13 10:18 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm really glad you did speak up.

I'm not a huge hurt/comfort fan myself, but I have a friend for whom reading and sometimes writing "unrealistic" fluffy h/c is literally a life-saver. And while I get why people say - be thoughtful - this isn't a simple case of one group having mindless fun at the expense of hurt to another, it just isn't that straightforward. So I have real problems with some of the self-righteousness I'm seeing - not so much in the original posts, but in some of the comments. To me it seems that it's easy if you don't like h/c to condemn what are seen as the worst excesses, without recognising just what an important way of providing genuine support and comfort it can be for other people who are also suffering.

(Anonymous) 2010-06-17 05:01 am (UTC)(link)
I like this post.

I will be honest, though-- sometimes I like reading about unrealistic h/c where the issues magically disappear at the end of the story. Especially when it's an issue i struggle with. I'm an alcoholic and have family members who are as well, so for me, i actually prefer stories where a character's alcoholism is vanished by the end because I like to pretend it can just go away forever even if it's not true.

Is that bad? Probably, I don't really know. I guess what i'm saying is while i can understand why the unrealistic h/c can be hurtful to people who struggle with those issues I feel like it's sort of invisibilizing to pretend the only people liking the more unrealistic version are people who haven't got the disability. Because sometimes that's just not true. not that having a certain disability gives you the right to be unsensitive of others w/ the same but...bleh. Idk what I'm saying anymore. Sorry for going off-topic.

i do like this post though. It's very even-handed and fair to everyone. I agree it can be problematic but I think that's true of many other kinks as well, and I don't think that means all h/c is inherently irreedemable. so thank you.

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princessofgeeks: (Default)

[personal profile] princessofgeeks 2010-07-01 05:52 pm (UTC)(link)
thank you for the post.
jesse_the_k: Well nourished white woman riding black Quantum 4400 powerchair off the right edge, chased by the word "powertool" (JK powertool)

[personal profile] jesse_the_k 2010-07-02 02:36 am (UTC)(link)
And I'm back from my Up North, and finally got around to this tab, and wow you've done an excellent round-up! Thanks!

[identity profile] 2010-06-12 11:12 pm (UTC)(link)
None of which is to say that it's inherently wrong to fantasize about wild, OTT h/c scenarios with weeping and clinging. *g* It's our gen porn, damn it.
LOL! (glad to hear it too) Woobiefication is one of my kinks ;)

I had a look at that list of h/c cliches while considering whether or not to enter this challenge. Alas, a large number of them are triggering for me, to such an extent that I couldn't possibly enter it! I never even thought for a minute that so many things on that list would upset me, because you're absolutely right - SGA h/c has a heavy lean towards the non-permanent injury fic (at least the stuff I read is!)

I love my happy endings too much, *triumph in all adversity* :D
ext_1981: (Art-curly white tree)

[identity profile] 2010-06-13 02:56 am (UTC)(link)
Yeah; one reason why I find this sort of discussion difficult to navigate is because there's a really fine line between criticizing potential problems in h/c fic, and implying that there's something wrong with people's fantasies, or that they aren't entitled to work through their own issues in their own way (which, honestly, is what I think a lot of people are doing with h/c). And, on a purely selfish level, I want to keep my fantasy space separate from my own RL baggage, as much as possible. FWIW, it seems like the h/c bingo mods are trying hard to work with people and make sure that no one gets cards that would push them into a bad headspace.

It does seem to me that SGA gen fandom leans really heavily towards simple physical trauma: bullets, poisoning, drowning, life-sucking aliens, that sort of thing -- the relatively guilt-free stuff. *g* This is not to say that other sorts of fic don't exist, but one thing about these bingo cards is that there are a great deal of things on there that I've rarely encountered in fic, or that I just know are cliches through rumors and hearsay from other areas of fandom.

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[identity profile] 2010-06-12 11:55 pm (UTC)(link)
Great links, thank you. This was my first time signing up, and I opted out of traumas and self card is fairly tame but there are a couple that will be a challenge. Of course, it's a bit of a cheat as I'm going to try to draw them, so I don't necessarily have to deal with whether or not it's permanent, but of course getting the point across is more of a challenge. But after reading those links I feel more like I want to write stories to go along with the art.
ext_1981: (Jeannie alien WTF)

[identity profile] 2010-06-13 03:01 am (UTC)(link)
I'm glad the links were useful. :) Yeah, I think I was expecting more of the tame, broken bones and migraines kind of stuff, rather than what a lot of the options turned out to be! (And yes, I know the list was up beforehand, and I did skim it, but I didn't realize how much stuff on there would be really difficult for me to write.)

[identity profile] 2010-06-12 11:55 pm (UTC)(link)
Wow, thanks for reccing the kaigou's post. Amazing and awesome.
ext_1981: (Sanzo IBARW)

[identity profile] 2010-06-13 03:04 am (UTC)(link)
Isn't that a great post? It's really useful for a great deal more than just the specific situation that s/he's writing about.

[identity profile] 2010-06-13 04:36 am (UTC)(link)
This is awesome. I ran into the cold facts of real life when I wrote PTSD for Sheppard a few years back. Its VERY difficult to tackle something as deep and complex as that, to balance it with the story (in that you want the situation and pain to be realistic but not cripple the storyline) and to make all the moving parts work. What I ultimately did was run it by a friend who had been through a very close friend of hers suffering PTSD and we had a LOT of conversations about it.

Its so easy for us when we write any genre, HC especially, to look for the simple way out, especially if we accomplished the HC or angst of the story and we're ready to finish. One of the most common mistakes I see is the "2 page happy ending" where the author spends 99% of a huge story putting the character through huge emotional and/or physical trauma and even angst, only to "make them all better" with the wave of a hand (or 2 pages). In reality, they're not all better. (if they even survived the physical injuries imposed on them, but that's another discussion.. ;) ) There are after affects to severe emotional/physical trauma. PTSD, other emotional/mental fallout, and physically, it isn't all better in 2 paragraphs, unless you're fast forwarding weeks or months down the road. ;) This was a dominant one I saw in more medically based fandoms. Ugh. Do your research! ;) But in any fandom, especially in HC and angst, one has to be very careful.

That's not to say that some "happy" aspects can't occur soon after the "rescue" and when they're "safe" again, but what has happened has to be kept in mind.

I have some tough ones on my bingo card (Domestic violence being one of them, that's one I'll have to exercise a delicate touch on for sure) and its good to remember to stay grounded in reality especially if we choose to really examine something with far reaching emotional and/or physical implications.

Just my .02. YMMV.

Thanks for the links! Definitely interesting reading! :D
ext_1981: (SGA-Game-John-look)

[identity profile] 2010-06-13 07:54 pm (UTC)(link)
One of the things I love about my f'list is that I do think we're pretty thoughtful and careful about this stuff. In particular, I think there's a fairly high level of awareness in SGA fandom of the military, and the issues facing the military, PTSD being one of them -- at least to the extent that we tread a little more carefully on those topics because we know that they affect a lot of people in real life.

The temptation to just tie up all the plot threads at the end is definitely a strong one, especially in a shorter story. Actually, I think that might be one of the most difficult things about the stories coming out of h/c bingo, because most of these are probably going to be short-ish stories, which means either over-simplifying the situation or doing a snapshot of a much more complex situation, which is more challenging to write. Add that to the fact that we're all going to be having prompts dangled in front of us for things we've never written before -- and, yeah, I do think caution is in order.

Optimistically, I hope that what happens is that we all have a lot of fun and write a lot of enjoyable stories and also listen to the little voice inside that might say on certain prompts, "Hey, maybe this one hits too close to home to write", or "You know, there's a really fantastic story in here, but it's going to take a lot of research."

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[identity profile] 2010-06-13 05:08 am (UTC)(link)
Great links. I especially enjoyed all the ideas generated in [ profile] kaigou's post. It's useful writing advice for pretty much any genre, I think.

I usually write more on psychological trauma topics rather than physical (or on the psychological cost of the physical injuries). It is always a bit of a balancing act between rounding a story off with a neat and satisfying ending, and recognizing that some of the effects will never go away entirely.

I do think there will be some challenge in addressing the h/c bingo issues in short stories, but I also think that trying to capture a snapshot of a particular h/c in a believable manner will be a good exercise in writing.
ext_1981: (SGA-Game-John-look)

[identity profile] 2010-06-13 08:01 pm (UTC)(link)
I do think there will be some challenge in addressing the h/c bingo issues in short stories, but I also think that trying to capture a snapshot of a particular h/c in a believable manner will be a good exercise in writing.

*nods* Yes, this, exactly! I think the h/c bingo prompts bring a special set of challenges because the whole bingo-card concept is geared towards shorter stories -- towards writing a lot of little stories in not very much time. But the prompts are often something that's quite difficult to do in a small amount of space. I think that looking at these stories as snapshots from a larger sequence of events is a useful way to look at them. (Unless you go for total crack, I suppose, which is what I'm considering with some of mine. *g*)
ext_2207: (Default)

[identity profile] 2010-06-13 02:53 pm (UTC)(link)
Maybe this is me being insensitive or ignorant, but I think some of this response has been way over the top (which is something fandom sometimes tends toward). Anything you write has the potential to be problematic - whether it's in how you treat gender or race or religion or cultures or nations or sexuality or kink or, yes, disabilities and mental and physical illness and injury. And it's important to recognize, as authors, that our words and stories have power and to treat whatever our subject is with respect.

Every genre has a lot of bad fic to its name, and I'm seeing too many people assume that all H/C fic has the hurt magically healed with a cock or assume that everyone is definitely going to handle their trope poorly and...look, I'm sure there's plenty of bad H/C out there (just as there's plenty of bad gen or bad slash or whatever) but that doesn't describe the H/C fic I read and write and love. And I really don't like the assumption that authors are going to fail before a single thing was written. I *do* agree with the people who point out that there is potential for harm if these topics are handled poorly, and that we should be careful with research, but I think that's true for anything we write, period.

I also just...especially for the bingo, people will be labeling/warning, probably more than with non-bingo fic, because they are indicating which squares they are fulfilling. This means these fics will be labeled/warned so someone with a potential trigger can avoid it. I fail to see the problem in this case - we aren't running around rubbing it in people's faces or forcing them to read it.

I particularly didn't like the chain of comments suggesting that if you use h/c as something cathartic or a healing process, you should keep it locked because it might hurt someone our there. Everything we write has the potential to hurt someone, but also the potential to help. I've had some fic that deal with my issues really help me - and had those people kept them locked out of fear of hurting someone, I wouldn't have gotten that. Plus, dude, does that mean I get to ask people to lock away any comment/fic anywhere that suggests that reboot!Kirk is a good person, given how badly that movie, and particularly that characterization, triggered me?

Anyway, I'm rambling and not thinking straight and I have to run. I just...I don't like the assumption that h/c is a monolithic entity (so much of the types of tropes people are complaining about I've never even encountered) and I don't like the way there are certain things we aren't supposed to write because they might hurt someone - where do we draw the line? Whose potential hurts get that luxury and whose don't? I don't know. I'm probably misreading things and I know I've been mentally spacey this week but...gah. I'm going to stop talking in circles now.
ext_1981: (SPN-dean dorky)

[identity profile] 2010-06-13 07:34 pm (UTC)(link)
Yeah, and I almost avoided this conversation completely (I was talking about it with Rydra in one of my earlier posts) but eventually decided that this probably was going to be fandom's newest round of meta and since I'm pretty well-known as an h/c author in SGA gen fandom, that I ought to weigh in. Besides, people were saying that just the existence of the h/c bingo cards was very upsetting to them, either because of actually seeing the squares on the cards or because of their anticipation of the fics that were going to come out of those squares, so I wanted to say something about that -- I mean, the last thing I'd want would be for this to become some kind of divide in fandom, with h/c bingo participants not even realizing that there might be a problem, and the rest of fandom resenting them for it ...

I think that you put your finger on what frustrates me about these discussions regarding h/c, though, and one of the big reasons I didn't really want to get into this. A lot of the people participating (not here in my journal, thankfully, but elsewhere) seem to be people who don't like h/c, who assume the worst of it and the worst of people writing it, and take it as an opportunity to air their grievances -- "Yes, this is why I hate h/c, because they blah blah blah." I really don't see it being all that different from the way that non-slash people come out of the woodwork every time a round of "slash is appropriative/exploitive" posts go around to talk about all the problems they have with slash and I fear I may have done that in the past, so if you catch me doing it, please smack me. And they're entitled to that opinion! Really, they are! But I find myself going, "but ... but it's not like that."

I am certainly not going to deny that there's absolutely awful h/c out there; there's h/c that's ticked me off, there are tropes that I'd like to see DIAF, there are a lot of tropes that just aren't my cup of tea, and so forth. But there's absolutely awful everything else too (Sturgeon's Law, hi!) and for that matter, every one of those tropes that I dislike so much is someone else's fantasy fodder, someone else's happy place, someone else's catharsis. The fact that so many of us use h/c to work through our own issues means that you never know if that rape story that you decry for being exploitive of rape survivors was actually written by a survivor who wanted to give her character the neat ending that she didn't get herself. And like you, I reacted really badly to that thread about locking away catharsis fic. I'll occasionally complain (under lock or in email) about a particularly egregious example of the author's id on display, but that is in no way to suggest that I think they should pack up their fic and hide it from public view like they're ashamed of it.

Plus, most of the h/c writers I know -- certainly most of the people coming in and commenting -- do think about it and try to be respectful when they write. And, yeah, this is another area where it feels like people coming in from outside the community (inasmuch as there is a community) are trying to tell us how to do what we do without really understanding. Most of the h/c writes I know research the hell out of the stuff they write; most of them have certain topics (mental illness for one person, sexual abuse for another, torture for a third) that they won't write because they don't trust themselves to do justice to it. There are a couple of specific situations I know about where the author gave a character an easy fixit answer because she herself was going through something difficult and traumatic, and "saving" the character was a way of making the story her happy place.

I do think that some topics call for more research and respect than others, and I guess that's what I was trying to get at in the above post -- writing a character who's lost the use of their legs or is suffering domestic abuse isn't the same as writing about someone getting shot, and I hope writers will take that into account, at least a little bit. But I sure as hell don't want to imply that there's something wrong with people for fantasizing about the things that they do.

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[identity profile] 2010-06-13 06:39 pm (UTC)(link)
"In SGA gen fandom, at least, we seem to be largely focused on straightforward and easily-resolved medical issues: getting shot, hypothermia, broken bones and so forth. (Well, speaking as someone who's had broken bones, "easily resolved" compared to, say, cancer or losing a limb.) And aside from putting in the medical research, there's not a whole lot to mess up here"

Yep, this is totally me lol. I almost explicitly write stuff like this, very cut and dry issues with pretty simple resolutions. I don't know, for me, the more emotional stuff, PTSD, depression, etc., it is a daunting thing to write and I don't think I'd do it justice. And personally, I prefer the more physical based ailments than the emotional ones, but that's just me.

What is distressing to me more than anything else is the mentality meta seems to be running toward recently which is talking about all the stuff that it's wrong to write. I don't think there should be *anything* taboo to write about. If people want to press writers to do their research, that's fine. But saying that a subject matter is inherently wrong bugs the hell out of me. I'm newer to meta, but I've now read through most of RaceFail and most of the other blow outs. There's the "don't write gay men relationships if you're not a gay man because you mess it up" posts I love. And now we are getting the "don't write disability fics if you're not disabled" mentality with the meta I'm seeing for h/c bingo.

This idea, that we can't write it if we haven't lived it, is wrong. It is trying to draw a neat little box around the fandom and say "this is what you can write." Which makes no sense, when you think about it. Does that mean if we haven't been to another galaxy we can't imagine what it would be like? Does it mean that if we don't have a penis we can't write male characters?

I get that stories can be triggering, but every story has the potential to do that for someone. I am not going to pull my punches because of a fear that it might hurt someone. It happens in the fandom, I've read fics which have left me feeling deeply violated after the fact, and it shakes me hard when it happens. The author didn't do it intentionally, and there are people out there that want to read this type of fic. That, in it's own right, means that people can write whatever they want. Realistic or not.

If people want to write about the magical healing of cock, fine with me. This is fiction, it's fantasy, and everything has the potential to trigger someone on something. We also have a freedom of speech, which is the ability to write what we want as we want to write it. I admit that I have favorite stories with unrealistic endings, and I am not ashamed of this fact. And to tell the author that the magical "healing in two pages" is wrong, isn't ok with me. Fandom *is* fiction. It is the opposite of reality and I don't think that any author should be limited to writing by the confines of reality. If it's ok for writers to come up with a magical device to heal a person of a life-changing physical ailment, then it's perfectly ok by me that a writer wants to write in a fictional world about a fictional way that maybe there is a quick fix for a problem that would be deep-seated psychological trauma in real life.

I am happy to write warnings, that the medicine in my fics is not limited by the rules of our real-life medicine, but I am not willing to sit back and have people tell me that I have to limit myself to the confines of reality. It kind of defeats the purpose of fantasy, doesn't it?
ext_1981: (SGA-Game-John-look)

[identity profile] 2010-06-13 08:24 pm (UTC)(link)
This idea, that we can't write it if we haven't lived it, is wrong. It is trying to draw a neat little box around the fandom and say "this is what you can write."

I really don't think I've seen this -- mostly what I'm seeing is a call for taking care when we write about disabilities and mental illness and that sort of thing, so as not to inadvertently hurt people. I think never upsetting any reader is an unrealistic goal; however, I don't think it's at all unreasonable to make a call for a little more circumspection when we know that we're dealing with potentially upsetting subjects (like mental illness, or rape, or domestic abuse). Which is pretty much what you said -- some topics are more daunting than others, and I think that just being aware of that, and taking it into account when you write, is most of the battle right there.

Having said that, though, in some cases I do think this debate (not here in my LJ, but considering some of the comments I've seen elsewhere) is in danger of leaning rather heavily into "your fantasy is not okay" territory, and I'm not cool with that. I'm not saying everyone's doing it, or even that most people are doing it, but I've definitely got that feeling from some of the comments at other posts, and that's why I said what I said above -- I don't think our fantasies are something to be ashamed of, and no one gets to dictate for someone else what's a healthy, healing, affirming fantasy for them.

I do think we ought to be aware, when we write, of the issues and potential problems surrounding certain popular tropes and idioms (especially convenient disabilities and magic fixes for them). However, no two people are going to react the same, right? One person with condition [x] might totally avoid stories with any hint of it; another person might seek out stories about it, but utterly loathe quick-fix endings; another person might enjoy the fantasy of a magical healing device. I struggle with the quick-fix endings personally, because they don't satisfy me -- they frustrate me. But I know of at least a couple of stories where the writer wrote that sort of ending because she was working through issues in her own life, and needed to give the character a certain kind of ending in order to deal with her own situation. And I haven't got any moral authority to tell her that she shouldn't do that (nor do I want to).

(no subject)

[identity profile] - 2010-06-13 23:30 (UTC) - Expand

[identity profile] 2010-06-13 10:48 pm (UTC)(link)
Love this post. Thank you! You express a lot of things I wished I had thought to say, so I'm gonna add an ETA to point people over here to read this too :)
ext_1981: (Default)

[identity profile] 2010-06-14 05:50 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you; no problem! :) Also, I saw your apology/clarification in your comments, and thank you for that. I'd really had trouble with that part of the comment threads, and I appreciate the retraction.
rydra_wong: Lee Miller photo showing two women wearing metal fire masks in England during WWII. (Default)

[personal profile] rydra_wong 2010-06-14 07:37 am (UTC)(link)
Just a practical point -- the edit seems to have ended up doubling the text here.

(Either that or I really haven't had enough coffee yet.)
ext_1981: (Abby)

[identity profile] 2010-06-14 08:01 am (UTC)(link)
Augh! Crossposting fail! >_>

Thank you!

(no subject)

[personal profile] rydra_wong - 2010-06-14 08:03 (UTC) - Expand

My thoughts, I hope more coherently

[identity profile] 2010-06-15 11:13 am (UTC)(link)

1,500 words of grumble.

- Helen

[identity profile] 2010-06-21 12:16 am (UTC)(link)
I'll pimp the meta discussion we had on h/c as a genre over at my blog:

for the full round up see here:
ext_1981: (Who-Rose)

[identity profile] 2010-06-21 07:04 am (UTC)(link)
I did see your post -- I've been traveling and didn't have time to do more than skim it. (I haven't been able to follow a lot of this discussion due to the whole travel thing, though now that I'm home -- for a week -- I'll probably be around a little bit more!)

Now that I've re-read it ... hmm. I think that your post does a very good job of articulating why you read and write h/c, and how and why it affects you -- and this is something that's definitely pertinent to the discussion (and just interesting to me in general, because there's such a huge range of reasons why people read this stuff, and what we all get out of it!).

But I think you're really going out on a limb to go ahead and generalize to the whole h/c community. I'm not saying you're wrong, just that what you're describing, while I'm sure it's totally true of your own experience, isn't the way that my own experiences in h/c fandom have gone. For one thing, I know there are a lot of people for whom the "hurt" is their main reason to play in the genre. I hosted a discussion a few years ago asking whether people were more interested in the "h" or the "c" ( and on my flist, at least, it seemed to be roughly split between people who indulge their fantasy aspects in the "hurt" side and people who are in it for the comfort. I remember the same being true in SG-1 fandom back when I was active in that -- possibly more so than in SGA (it was SG-1 fans who coined the term "whumping" in the first place, to describe all the stories that put Daniel through all manner of lovingly described tortures!). It's the comfort part that does it for me, but I was really interested to find that this is not true of a great many others.

And I really stumbled at this part:

Most readers in this genre don’t care about medical realism, they care about the comfort aspect of the fic. Writers respond to this sentiment by skimming over the research phase of writing a good, realistic hurt and skip to the exaggerated comforting. This is what most readers respond to and so a writer will often spend much more time carefully tailoring a heartfelt comforting moment between two characters.

This certainly is true of at least some readers and writers. However, while I'm aware that my point of view is skewed because I tend to fall more on the stickler-for-research end of things myself, I'm not at all comfortable having this generalization made about the whole h/c community. Again, I just have my own little corner of the fandom to work from, but authenticity and realism are important to most of the h/c fans that I know. There are resources like [ profile] whumpers_guide just to get the medical details right, and research is a topic that often comes up in discussions on my flist (as well as complaints about poor or inadequate research). I know that my own viewpoint on this is biased by the way that I relate to my own stories and the kind of stories I tend to enjoy, but that's exactly why it's sort of treading on thin ice to say that "most" h/c fans do this or that. I know that you acknowledge in your post that not every h/c fan conforms to the template that you've laid out, but I dislike the feeling that myself and my friends are being dismissed as oddballs in the fandom, as if we're just those weirdos over there and not really typical of "real" h/c fans.

[identity profile] 2010-06-23 10:19 pm (UTC)(link)
Just stopping by to thank you for your post. I'm not as articulate as many of the other people leaving comments, but I'm going to try to toss my 2 pennies in.

First, yeah, words have power, and anything out there has the potential both to help or harm someone - and sometimes it's the same story!

I don't think we should even try to tell people what or how to write, other than what's been mentioned above - be careful, be sure you know what you're doing (be intentional about it), and warn, warn, warn people.

The funny thing about the internet is that for all anyone knows, some of those "bad h/c" stories could very well be written by someone who suffers from the very condition described. Who's to say a paraplegic wouldn't write a story about someone getting a miraculous cure for their severed spine and getting to walk again? Who's to say what might be helpful or appealing to them?

Heck, even when writing about our own conditions someone with the same condition could come along and say, "That's not realistic! That's not what I experience at all!"

For me, I think the bottom line is that there is such a huge variety of hurts, and no two are exactly alike. Even the same hurt will be experienced differently by different people. And no two people are going to have the same reaction to something. What triggers one person might be exactly what someone else needed to read.

I think it boils down to warnings. If you're going to write about hurt, just put up a warning so that if someone might find that triggery, they'll know to avoid it. I think as adults, we all need to be responsible for our own triggers.
ext_1981: (Default)

[identity profile] 2010-06-24 01:01 am (UTC)(link)
I don't think we should even try to tell people what or how to write, other than what's been mentioned above - be careful, be sure you know what you're doing (be intentional about it), and warn, warn, warn people.

*nods vigorously* I agree with everything you're saying in your comment, and especially this part: I think you've actually got everything that the conscientious h/c writer needs in their toolbox right here! (Though I'd also add "research" to this list, especially if you're writing about a condition that you -- generic "you", not you specifically -- haven't personally experienced, even if you're not aiming for total realism. Doing research can at least let you know of some of the biggest pitfalls to avoid, even if you don't plan on making your story perfectly reality-compliant!)

Like you said, there is really no way to tell the difference between someone using alcoholism or suicidal depression or spinal injuries as a shortcut to fantasy gratification ... and someone who actually suffers from those conditions working out their issues through fantasy. And going around asking for each other's credentials is a loser's game.

At the same time, though, I do think we need to have at least enough self-awareness to *know* if we're trying to write self-gratifying fantasy or a realistic portrayal of [x] disability, and enough empathy to be able to tell ourselves, "You know, Self, this particular fantasy might need some reworking before it's ready for public consumption."

So, like you said -- tread carefully, know what effect you're going for, and warn copiously!

[identity profile] 2010-07-26 01:01 pm (UTC)(link)
I actually signed up for [ profile] hc_bingo very recently, and I think this is an amazing post. I hope that you don't mind my quoting and linking you on my journal.
ext_1981: (Default)

[identity profile] 2010-07-26 04:53 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you very much! :) No, I don't mind at all; I'm very glad you found it helpful. (And I need to start working on my bingo card again! :D I've only filled one square ...)