Writing about wanting to be Han Solo at The Mary Sue

Last week The Mary Sue published an essay that my friend and fellow VBP author Tamela Ritter wrote about our feelings for Han Solo. Neither one of us had a crush on him, exactly: I wanted to be him. Tammy wanted to be his best friend.

And the response has been amazing.

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Our feelings about Han were a little confusing when we were kids, because we both grew up at a time when “oh, girls just like Star Wars because they think Han/Luke/Lando is hot” because you know, girls are only supposed to like girl things and when we were growing up, Star Wars was considered a boy thing.

Anyhow, this was a piece we wrote together for an anthology, Golden Fleece Press’s The Fandom Universe… A Galaxy Far, Far, Away

Tammy emailed me in May to tell me submissions were due at the end of October, and I said, hey, that’s cool. We have six months to work on this. And then we forgot all about it until the end of October. (We ended up writing our essay in a weekend. It was the weekend of my brother’s birthday, in fact. I was making edits on my phone while my husband drove us to my brother’s house for a family party.)

Despite the rush, I was thrilled with the end product. I love writing with Tammy; she has a very poetic style, and when we work together, my prose becomes 20 percent more literary. The essay was accepted by Golden Fleece, but I really wanted to get it out there for as many people — women especially — to see as possible.

The Mary Sue had published one of my essays before, so I thought what the hell. Why not pitch it? The response has been incredible.

There have been so many shares, and so many comments from other women who wanted to be Han, or from women who wanted to be Luke, from guys who wanted to be Leia. There have been comments from kids of all genders who grew up with a crush on Han, or on Mon Mothma, or on Yoda, even. I’ve seen people in my own Facebook timeline sharing the article, not knowing that I was one of the writers. It’s been a little weird, seeing my own words quoted at me in my timeline – especially since wanting to be Han Solo (even if I didn’t really know that’s what I wanted at the time) was a central part of my childhood. Not a lot of people knew that I pretended to be a pilot in my childhood bedroom as a kid, and it’s odd to think that so many people have read that about me now.

But it’s also kind of amazing. If this is the only thing I’ve written that ever goes even a little bit viral, I’ll be happy with that.

Will I see the new movie? Probably not for a while. (It’s the holidays and I’d have to get a babysitter and being an adult is occasionally no fun when it comes to midnight film releases.) But I might watch all my VHS tapes of the old ones.

Leave George R. R. Martin alone!

I love how his wife is just sitting there, laughing.

I love how the lady next to him (his wife, maybe?) is just sitting there, laughing.

Look, I cherish a deep and abiding love for Weird Al Yankovic, and I laughed when I saw his Emmy performance last night, but man, I felt bad for George R. R. Martin when Andy Samberg ambushed him with that typewriter at the end of the Game of Thrones song last night.

I’m as rabid to read The Winds of Winter as any other Thronie, but dude. I mean, it’s bad enough to be a writer and always be thinking “I should be writing.”  In fact, it’s bad enough to have writer friends who take you to task constantly for not writing. (“Why are you on Facebook/Twitter/outside/buying groceries? You should be writing.”)

But for Martin? The world has become his obnoxious writing group. He can’t even watch his creations win Emmys without being handed a typewriter.

I mean, I know he’s achieved a ridiculous amount of success and this is part of the price for that, but still, I don’t envy him this.

Maybe I’m a little sensitive to his plight because I also can’t finish my final book in the Resistance Cycle. More on that later.

My favorite movies are pretty indicative of my mental age.

If I’ve been quiet on this site, it’s because I’ve been embarrassing myself fairly regularly over at Geek Eccentric. Remember the good old days, when I blogged about Legolas and feminism (not necessarily in the same post?) Well, they’ve been getting a lot of those posts since I was recruited as a writer/editor in the spring, which is fine, except I miss blogging here.

So last week, my editor asked us all to write our top 10 lists of movies, an exercise which I resisted a little because I don’t watch a lot of movies. I go to the theater maybe twice a year. But then I got to thinking about my favorite movies – the ones I watch over and over – and I noticed that they all have a few things in common. Action, adventure, well-drawn roles for women (mostly) and excitement. I can’t see any of these without wanting to jump into the plot. They all reduce me to my nine-year-old self, and that’s a good thing. Below is a photo of Number 5 (oh, Ahnold, you were a better Conan than a Governor) and here is a link to 10 Movies that are Nothing but Swashbuckling, Blastery, Monstery Fun.

Picture 1What do you think? Which would you add?

 

Want to see what I’ve been up to lately?

I’ve been railing against sexism in fan art in the geek world, over at Geek Eccentric. This week’s installment is a g-chat interview with the administrator behind The Hawkeye Initiative. What’s the Hawkeye Initiative? It’s a Tumblr with fan drawings of the Avengers’ Hawkeye (who is a dude) twisted into the back-breaking, butt-baring poses that female characters are often drawn into in comics. Click the link for some choice Hawkeye poses and an interview with a really cool lady: Females in Fanart: The Hawkeye Initiative

(UPDATE: The above link is broken. Click here for the archived article.)

Here, have my notes from AWP.

I’ve been on about last week’s AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) conference since I got back home on Sunday. I promise this will be my last blog post about it.

Today I finally organized my notes from the panels I attended last week. Because I used Twitter for this (because it lets me take and pass notes at the same time which would not have been okay in high school but which is okay at a conference), I decided to compile the notes online, with Storify.

If you want those notes, you’re welcome to them. They are here.

They are a work in progress. I still haven’t mined my handwritten notes yet. I will be doing that and adding to the Storify story at some point when my eyes aren’t whirling from organizing my Twitter feed chronologically.

I’m dreaming of a Gandalf the White Christmas.

Today, after another bout of house-hunting, my husband and I stopped in at the Goodwill to unwind and I saw this:

Gandalf

Yes! Gandalf and Boromir. But not just Gandalf and Boromir. There were two Boromirs, two Aragorns, a Legolas and a facially deformed fellow that I can only  guess, thanks to the process of elimination, is Faramir. There were also a knee-high Aragorn and a knee-high Legolas, complete with fake flaming torch and fake bow. So the way I see it, my husband should have been impressed by my restraint when I picked up only Gandalf.

Me: Oh my god. We need this. This is our new Christmas tree topper.

Husband: If you get that, it’s coming out of your own money.

Me: It’s $4. We need a tree topper. It’s an investment.

Husband: (sighs) He’s too heavy for the tree.

Me: (shaking Gandalf) YOU SHALL NOT PASS.

Husband: I’m going to go look at the jeans.

He’s PERFECT for the tree, really. He’s like the British version of Santa Claus, only with a sword instead of presents.

My husband is not getting into the spirit of this. He didn’t support my suggestion that Aragorn should come home with us, too, which would have only made sense.
And the first thing he said when Gandalf came out of the bag at home was “Time for Gandalf to go into the dishwasher.” Which is just rude.

But seriously, Gandalf is a great find. We lost a ton of our ornaments in the flood a few weeks ago, including our tree topper, so we do need a new one. And since The Hobbit is coming out next month, Gandalf is totally appropriate. And if other nerds have the TARDIS on their trees, I see nothing wrong with putting Gandalf on ours.

Later, I was telling Tom that we should get an LED light and put it in the top of Gandalf’s staff and he said “I need to make a Balrog whip out of LED lights.”

Hmph.

My husband would not be talking like that if Aragorn were here.

So, how does everyone else feel about prequels?

Yesterday, prompted by my trip to the movies to see Prometheus, I vented my spleen about how I hate prequels. Now I want to know how you all feel.

Do you like them? Do you hate them? Do you not care, so long as you get to see more Duncan Idaho/Legolas/facehuggers/Lestat/Severus Snape?

I’m curious.*

*And not because I’m thinking of writing a Beware the Hawk prequel. Because I’m not.

Prequels – when there’s nowhere to go but back.

When I’m queen of the sci-fi universe, prequels will be the first works of fiction up against the wall.

Rarely, in my experience, are prequels any good, except to deliver one more morsel of a franchise to a ravening fandom. I can’t remember a single prequel that’s advanced a plot, or developed a character more or better than the original work has.

Prequels (and some sequels) just feel like official forms of fan-fic, and  maybe that’s what I hate most about them. Prequels are a sort of control freakishness on the part of a the creator. Rather than allow a story to take root and develop in the minds of the audience, prequels –  more than sequels – are  an attempt to control the story and profit by it.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t love certain franchises – I do. But I’ve decided to be selective about what I consume. I don’t read all the sequels and I try to avoid prequels. Let me give you some examples:

I’m crazy about Dune, by Frank Herbert. I’ve read the original book, and the glossary, appendices and all related Wikipedia entries, multiple times. But I will not read the sequels by Herbert. I choose not to believe that the prequels, written by Herbert’s son and Kevin Anderson, exist. The original was too awesome. I refuse to have my image of it ruined by universe over-development.

For the same reason, I have not been able to read The Silmarillion. I love Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit unconditionally. Sure, I get mad at them from time to time, and no, they’re not perfect books, but I love them anyhow, warts, dwarf-misogyny and all. I don’t need anything beyond those four books. I don’t want anything beyond those four books. I don’t need a Middle-Earth creation story. And I really can’t get beyond the fact that J.R.R. didn’t really put together The Silmarillion. His son did.

To me, the words “boxed set” suggest that a series creator has acknowledged the end of a franchise.

One last example: The Alien “trilogy.” When I was in middle school, Alien 3 came out. My dad, who loves him some Alien, went bonkers, and then Ridley Scott released the boxed Alien Trilogy set. We bought that for my father for Christmas and there was an Alien movie marathon at our house over the holidays, a marathon complete with gore, the void that is space and Sigourney Weaver sweating and delivering her lines in a whisper like an extra in Das Boot.

That was it for me; I mentally closed the door on the Alien franchise. The word “trilogy” had been applied. There was a boxed set. I later, vaguely heard something about an Alien 4 had come out. But I was able to pretend that it didn’t exist, á la the Dune prequels. Alien vs Predator seemed like a franchise all its own, and one I’m not terribly interested in, so I just ignored it.

Then, last week, my dad asked if we’d take him to see Prometheus for Father’s Day.

**Warning: I tried to keep the Prometheus spoilers to a minimum, but there may still be a few. Read at your own risk, kids.**

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Grimm facts about Snow White.

What is the deal with all the Snow White adaptations in 2012?  This year has seen the release of two big screen versions of the fairy tale – Snow White and the Huntsman and Mirror, Mirror – and one television show, Once Upon A Time.

This year has also seen the release of possibly the worst Snow White adaptations of all time, Grimm’s Snow White, a direct-to-DVD affair that substitutes elves for dwarves, adds dragons, a magical falling star from outer space, and a bunch of CG dogs that look a lot like the beast from The Brotherhood of the Wolves.

Everybody’s a critic.

This, of course, is the Snow White version that my husband and I decided to Netflix last night.

I found it ironic that the filmmakers decided to differentiate their Snow White from the other two by titling it Grimm’s Snow White, because I don’t remember elves, dragons, comets or secret societies of back-flipping ninja elves in the version set down by the Brothers Grimm.

This upside down thing is supposed to be a “dark elf.” It’s not. It’s in the middle of a flip, it’s wearing black and you can’t see it clearly. That makes it a ninja.

Just to be sure that I didn’t miss anything the first time I read it, I downloaded the Grimms’ 1819 version of Household Tales onto my Kindle last night and re-read it.

Now, as a feminist, Snow White is hardly my favorite fairy tale. The story contains so many elements that I hate, I hardly know where to begin.

This woman doesn’t need to be the fairest. She needs to operate a charity or go back to school or something.

Let’s start with the queen, a woman so consumed by her own looks that she’s willing to kill her own stepdaughter in order to avoid being overshadowed in the beauty department.

This is a woman who has an awful lot of talents that are being misdirected. She has a magical mirror, she’s able to whip up poison like nobody’s business and she’s a master of disguise. She’s like the Real Housewives version of MacGuyver. But does she direct these talents toward useful things? No. The only thing she uses her mirror for is to find out how hot she is (Pro tip: normal mirrors work just fine for that) and to Google directions to the dwarves’ cottage so that she can pose as a sort of medieval Avon lady.

The evil queen has recently been recast into a cougar mold, and is often represented as being after the prince, which irritates me because once again, we have a clever woman whose ambitions are based on competition for a man.

Allow me to move on to Snow White, a young woman with absolutely no intelligence, who is – three times –  brought low by shopping. The dwarves keep telling her not to open the door to strangers, because her stepmother is trying to kill her. But every time a saleswoman comes to the door, Snow White parades right out to buy whatever is being peddled, and it’s always made of poison.
The only thing keeping this kid from certain death is the fact that her looks charm various people into taking care of her. The huntsman lets her run away into the forest. The dwarves allow her to invade the man-cave and although she doesn’t take their advice (three times) they save her twice.

What look is the prince going for? Mr. Darcy imitation? Team Edward? You decide.

The prince, who likely has a necrophilia problem, takes her coffin from the dwarves and carries it around with him until a servant accidentally Heimlichs the apple out of her mouth. He decides to marry her as soon as she comes out of her coma and she accepts instantly. Maybe out of love. Maybe out of hormones. Maybe out of realizing that if she marries this guy, she can get out of the forest and back into royal life.

But the most disturbing thing about Snow White is the entertainment she arranges for her wedding. She invites her stepmother, heats up some iron shoes until they are red hot and forces her stepmother to put them on and dance for the guests until she falls down dead.

Up until this point, she’s been pure and innocent, but now she’s enjoying a display of torture at her wedding reception. Most people would probably go for a deejay or jugglers or something, but not our girl Snow White, who’s turning out to be no better than her stepmother, which makes me think that these two women have quite a bit in common. They’re beautiful, ambitious and cruel…. they could almost be related.

That’s because they are.  If you read the 1812 version of the Grimm’s fairy tale, you realize that they are about as closely related as you can get.

In the earliest version of the Grimms’ story, the antagonist of Snow White was the princess’s own mother. The same queen who wished for a child with white skin, red lips and ebony hair grew to hate her own daughter when Snow White surpassed her in beauty at seven years of age.The Grimms changed this for the 1819 version. Maybe because mothers were reading this story to their daughters.

Actually, the resemblance is striking in at least one adaptation:

Snow White’s age is another point of interest for me. The tale doesn’t tell us how old Snow White is, exactly, but if the action starts when she’s seven, and the story refers to her as “Little Snow White” and all the other characters call her “child,” I’m going to go out on a limb and say that she’s probably 12 or 13 when she ends up with the prince. Maybe 15 or 16, since she’s in that coma for a long time (although the story says she doesn’t change, so we can’t be sure.)

But if you think about lifespans a long time ago, 12 was a pretty normal age for a girl to be eligible for marriage. Maybe her mother was a teenager when she wished for a beautiful daughter. And maybe Snow White does the same after the story ends and then becomes jealous of her own daughter.

It’s the circle of life, kids.

More Grimm tidbits:

* The huntsman falls in love with a pretty seven year-old. That’s why he doesn’t kill her.

* In the 1812 story, the prince’s servants get so upset about lugging a corpse around all day that one of them opens the casket and hits Snow White, dislodging the apple.

* The queen thinks that she’s eaten the child’s heart and liver.

* There are a bunch of Snow White-like stories. They are classified as type 709 by the Aarne–Thompson tale type index.

Dear Legolas, we need to talk.

Dear Legolas,

It has recently come to my attention that – prior to, during and after your stint as my 10-year-old crush – you were seeing other girls.

I am shocked. For all of my tenth year, when I was going through the hell that was fourth grade, you were my own personal, invisible boyfriend. These days, if I bring up your name at a gathering of Tolkien fans, a bunch of the ladies always sigh and get a dreamy look in their eyes. Why, you philandering Ken doll of an elf. It seems that you’ve squired whole generations of girls into adolescence.

Look, Legolas, I am very sorry, but in light of this new information, I am going to have to retroactively dump you.

No, I’m not buying that you’re the favorite literary character of these female fans. Please. Don’t embarrass yourself. You’re not Holden Caulfield or Jay Gatsby. In fact, character-wise, you’re about as three-dimensional as a child’s drawing of a house. No one is interested in your arc. They are interested in the way you fill out a pair of green tights.

I see now that I’ve been naïve. You were the only eligible bachelor in the Fellowship who stood higher than four foot five; other literate girls were bound to notice you. And then Peter Jackson cast Orlando Bloom as you in the freaking movies, and I knew that would draw more fans, but you know what? That didn’t bother me, because I really believed we had something.  I mean, I knew that I’d have to share you with Gimli, but that was fine, there was full disclosure about all that at the beginning of our relationship.

What I didn’t know was that I’d be sharing you with a legion of other teenyboppers. And you, Mr. Greenleaf, failed to mention that you were dividing your time between my prepubescent crush and a hoard of others. You’d think that by the age of 600, or however old you actually are, that you’d have learned to be honest in a relationship.

What’s that you say? That I’m now a married woman who is pushing 35 and that I should get over it?  Legolas, don’t be obtuse. You’re an elf. You, of all people, know that time is subjective. When I read those books, I’m still a gawky fourth grader with few social skills and no hope of a real-life crush, and you’re still my imaginary boyfriend. Also, mister, I’d like to point out that 25 years ought not to mean anything to you. You’re immortal. Twenty-five years should pass like 25 minutes. Yet you’ve managed to forget me already.  Fie on you, son of Thranduil. Fie.

Would Gimli tolerate it if he thought you were seeing another dwarf? I don’t think so.

Which brings me to my point: I’m giving you the axe. You think I won’t really do this, but there is precedent:

  1. In grade school I broke up with my preschool crush, the Grasshopper from the Grasshopper and the Ants, when I realized that he was a bug.
  2. In middle school, I broke up with the Tin Man, after reading the Oz books and discovering that he was actually kind of a weenie.
  3. On a similar note, in high school, I broke up with Luke Skywalker when I could no longer stand his whining.
  4. In college, I broke up with The Crow, because he was definitely not over his ex.

I thought you, of all my childhood crushes, would stand the test of time, but alas, you toyed with my affections, and I can’t stand for that.

Calm yourself, Master Elf. Flutter not your finely-boned hands. Toss not your flaxen mane in despair. Don’t recite Elvish poetry in an attempt to delay the inevitable. Man up, or rather, elf up. You should have seen this coming. In fact, I plan to post this missive online, and then, I suspect, you’ll be getting a lot of letters like this one.

With much regret,

Ann