On Writing: Part 4 – GratianaDS90 II

This is a six part series on fanfic writing.  Here are parts 1, 2 and 3.

Today’s installment concludes the interview with GratianaDS90 from the creative blog Something About Love (A).  The first half is here.


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Would you write fanfic again?

Since I’ve just started my first Guy Fan fiction script story, I would have to say yes.   There were some undeveloped bits to his character that I wanted to explore further.  And with my “Vicar of Dibley” fan fiction–I have a full season of 8 episodes outlined in detail and several sections of dialogue written.  And then, there is my “Thorin’s Hope” story.  But for the most part, I write original script stories set in contemporary times around themes that matter to me–true love, how we define beauty in our society and who is worthy of love, and the complexities involved in blending your life with another as you build your relationship together, etc.

J: Would you encourage fanfic writing as a starting point?

I think writing fan fiction can be a helpful way for novice and non writers to begin.  But, just as contemporary writers put a new spin on Jane Austen’s Emma with the movie Clueless, novice writers can take the themes from Shakespeare and other great writers to help get them going.   Those of us who continue in the fan fiction genre past our novice stage do so because we want to resolve something with the characters or the plot–as I stated previously–or explore new avenues that the original writers had not thought of nor developed.

thesis-paperJ: Do you have any advice for novice fanfic writers?

G:   a) Just start writing.  It doesn’t matter what it is.  It won’t be perfect the first few sentences, paragraphs, or pages that you write.  You can go back later and edit and expand it.  Do however pay attention to your grammar and your spelling eventually.  Unless you are trying to emulate a particular dialect–as the scriptwriter did in Sparkhouse–keep your writing simple.  Avoid run on sentences.  And I tell you this as a very verbose girl.  Just look how long my response to your interview is.  Ha!

b)  If you can’t figure out how to make it work plotwise for your couple or characters, then think how they must feel.  Ha!  Good drama and comedy are about conflict. So, you need to find that conflict in your story and in your characters and then resolve it by the time your story ends.

c)  Also, be observant about your daily life and the people around you for potential story ideas.  Not that you want to tell the stories of your family’s and friends’ lives–they might stop inviting you to family and neighborhood functions.  Ha!  But do notice that the everyday occurrence can turn into something interesting.  For example, one of my stories  that I refer to as “Miss Trouble Ticket”, starts with a computer calendaring system that is being changed at work and the heroine needs assistance–she gets it and much more.  This calendaring system story premise came about because we were indeed changing our calendaring system at work and there were kinks with it.

d)  Find inspiration in literature and song and incorporate it into your work.   One of the “hooks” in my writing is that I bring my literary background into my writing.  I have one male lead quoting 17th century love poetry or a Shakespearean sonnet to his lady love.  And yet another story has the groom singing a love song from a popular musical to his bride at their wedding.

e)  But always, always, always cite the other authors’ works properly.  Even if you use only the scrap of a quote–or even just a single identifiable word, such as “Rosebud” from Citizen Kane–you must attribute it appropriately to the original author and/or the original work.  And frankly, you’ll look more erudite doing so.  Looking erudite isn’t my intention.  I just enjoy fine literature and I like to promote it to the next generation by referencing it in my works.

f)  Don’t limit yourself to a particular genre of story.   My love stories encompass a wide range of genres–comedy, drama, farce, action adventure, etc.–except for horror and science fiction films, I don’t go there.  Well, I haven’t yet, anyway.  Ha!  But I also realize that my audiences–and my stories’ maturity ratings–are different for my different stories.   So, get to know your audiences and their tastes in terms of what works for a particular story destination.   And though I do like happy endings, one of my stories actually has a bittersweet and slightly sad ending–since life is not always tidy.

writing_pull3g)  Be selective about whom you let initially read your stories.  Seek out good beta readers who will gently give you some guidance.   Then gradually work up to those beta readers who like to give no holds barred criticisms.

h)  Become a beta reader of others’ fiction yourself.  Identify what they are doing well in their writing that you like and see if you can emulate it.  But don’t just copy them.  Be your own writer, find your own style.   After we had done some story collaborations together, an online writer friend asked if I would read her latest fan fiction work as one of her beta readers.  I was honored to do so and I spent five hours one Friday night reading it at one sitting.  Then I emailed  her some general as well as some specific suggestions–typos here and there, please describe a bit more, and I even penned a few lines of narration and dialogue here and there to illustrate what I was suggesting to her.  She wrote so well to begin with that I didn’t have to suggest too many changes to her.  However, I was gratified that she used every one of my editing suggestions–and she even used my narration and dialogue sections that I penned.  It gave me even more confidence for my own writing to know that other writers valued my opinions about their writing.

i)  Here is my story filename coding scheme.  Each time I revisit a story, I create a newly renamed version of the filename–so I can always tell what is the old version versus the new version is.  The first draft is zzStoryTitleMonthDayYr.  Then the second draft is zyStoryTitleSep2311.  This insures that my current script story version is always at the top of the window for the folder for that story–each story has its own folder.  And you need at least two letter codings because with 26 letters in the alphabet, zz to aa versions get you over 625 versions possibilities.  I won’t need that many versions.  But I definitely needed a coding scheme that reflected more than just 26 versions of a story.  I know, I’m way too organized.  But with working on over 40 stories in rotation, I have to be organized.

j)  With stories and characters, you need to come up with good character names and story names.  Keep a chart of the names you use.  And, I have had a few instances where a story started out with one title and then I felt that title fit another story idea better and I changed it.  The same thing has happened a few times with character names.  Oh and I visit those baby names sites to find out the meanings of names in order to give characters eponymous names–such as William means protector, and Richard means strong, etc.  It’s okay to switch things around and don’t beat yourself up about it.  Now that I’ve been writing for 1.5 years, I haven’t needed/wanted to make any character name or script story title changes lately.  Again, that’s because I set up my stories so thoroughly in the beginning.

k)  That brings up another tip–do your research.  Use the web and other resources to research places and historical events that you might want to incorporate into your stories.  I’ve even gone so far as to print out location maps for cities or venues.  And, in the case of the John and Margaret Thornton home, I diagramed its floor plan and furniture layouts because it is integral to some of my plot conceits.  Finally for my Guy fan fiction script story that I’m writing now, I researched various social customs of the crusades time period to make sure that I was being at least somewhat accurate with regard to my characters’ interactions.  Ha!

l)  Read your stories out loud to test the dialogue and the narration or exposition. You’ll find that you usually need to shorten your dialogue sentences to allow for breathing.  Ha!  There is nothing better than hearing your words out loud for giving you ideas on how to improve upon your phrasing.

m)  Here is a stylistic note.  I realized early on that I had a tendency to write my narration or internal monologue sentences in the past verb tense–even though I was describing action happening in the present.  Ooh!  That’s a no no–unless, of course, you are actually referring to something that occurred in the past.  So, I make a conscious effort now to be in the present as I’m writing–both literally and figuratively.  And in using the present verb tense appropriately, I feel it makes my writing feel more vibrant and immediate–as if the audience is actually seeing the action play itself out.    Here is an impromptu example of what I mean with regard to past tense vs present tense in an internal monologue exposition:

1.  Past Verb Tense–Terry realized that he wanted to cross the room to ask her out on a date.  And he did.  (stilted)

2.  Present Verb Tense–Terry realizes that crossing the room to ask her out on a date is what he wants to do.  So he does. (better)

The present verb tense version–though a little longer–conveys a sense of “as it is happening” action.  Again, I’m thinking cinematically.  But I must say that not every writer agrees with me on this point as I read some of their works that use the past verb tense liberally.

Snoopy-Writing-LifeG:   The question you didn’t ask me:  what do I hope to do with my writing?

G:   My script stories are my babies–and it time that some of them fly the coop.  So I really want to find a venue for them.    My ideal wish is for some of my script stories to be produced for film or television–or the stage as in the case of my one act bedroom farce.   I have only made tentative steps in that direction by beginning to share my stories with others in the last few months.  I looked at the BBC site for writers–but they only want Brits to submit ideas or sample scripts, very anglopheniacentric (a made up word of mine) of them.  Ha! And, I would love to be able to contact the “Vicar of Dibley” writer Richard Curtis about my ideas for a new season of that show.  Even if he didn’t like my Dibley stories, it might convince he and Dawn French and the other cast to return for a season of Dibley specials that we would all enjoy.  I do have a college friend who works in Hollywood–but I was loathe to mine that friendship beyond my generally asking her if she can recommend some writers’ web site resources.  And, I’ve checked out the Writer’s Guild of America web site where you can “register” your scripts before you start sending them to agents and studios.  But WGA doesn’t really claim to be a copyrighting service.  And apart from not wanting my stories to gather dust on the shelf, I don’t want my script story ideas stolen or plagiarized.  Realistically, I hope that I might ask some of my friends in local theatre in the community and at the universities if they might do a reading of one or more of my scripts.  And then, maybe I can get something produced locally.  From there, who knows?  So at this point, these are wishes and dreams.   And these may be pipe dreams.   But we have to have dreams, or we are just treading water in our lives.

J:  Thanks so much Gratiana for joining me.

G:  Thanks so much for asking me to share my thoughts about my writing with you.  Cheers!


NEXT: An interview with Prue Batten

On Writing: Part 3 – GratianaDS90 I

This is a six part series on fanfic writing.  Here are parts 1 and 2.  Joining me today is GratianaDS90 from the creative blog Something About Love (A).  Gratiana is a newcomer to blogging and has only recently shared her stories online.  Her writing skills quickly became apparent through her fanfic and considered replies on various blogs.  Gratiana is having technical problems with a shadow blog under her real blog (seriously).  But if you make sure to look for the (A) version of Something About Love, you’ll be in for a treat.


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J:  How and when did you start writing fanfic?

G:  I began writing my stories April 26, 2010–two months after watching and rewatching the 2004 dvd film mini-series “North & South” with Richard Armitage portraying the lead character of John Thornton.   I loved the story and characters then, and I still do now.  I had so wanted to slap Margaret into some sense so that she didn’t push John away during the proposal scene.  Although, John should have started off with an offer to take her to tea rather than proposing out of the blue.  So, I began what I referred to as my “midquel” fan fiction–“North & South:  Nurturing Love”.  Though I hadn’t really found Armitage related web sites at that point so I hadn’t heard the term fan fiction.  And my script stories as I refer to them are in a script format–with detailed stage directions and internal monologues.  Since then, “North & South: Nurturing Love: has gone through 82 revisions and expansions up through May 30, 2011 and it has 191 pages and 142 scenes.  Because it is so long–essentially, it is a four episode mini-series, I have yet to convert it to a format for online readers.  But I will get there. “ North & South:  Nurturing Love” is the first of over 40 script stories that I have written and work on in rotation since then.  However, most of my stories are original and not fan fiction that adapts another story.

 J:  Was it difficult at first?

G:  Not really.  I was a Communication Ed Major and English Ed  Minor BS for my undergrad degree.  And I performed literary works (prose, poetry, duets, dramatic interps) on my university speech team for four years–as well as I wrote original speeches (informative, persuasive, rhetorical criticism, after dinner speaking, and impromptus) that I gave.  We all had five to eight events that we performed every week at tournaments hosted at universities around the Midwest.  In that sense, my speech team experiences were rather like repertory theater, I guess.  I also wrote a lot of poetry and short essays in college.   Then after I earned my MS in Communication,  I had many years where I was the teacher and graded and guided others’ writing and performing at the university level.  I also helped coach a few local high school speech teams–including coaching two high school students from different schools in different years who became State Champions in their respective events of Prose and Dramatic Interpretation.  I should pause to say that these achievements were the students’ own and my contributions to these students was to help guide them to be the best they could be–without my getting in their way.  Ha!

I work fulltime at a university as an academic advisor and department business manager–among other hats that I wear in my career.  And I wanted to take my outreach programming and initial education research to the next level.  So about 9 years ago, I began working on my doctorate while still working fulltime and volunteering in my community.  Working on your Ph.D means lots of reading and writing–but it is of a different nature than creative writing, academic writing being quite task oriented and very dry.  I am ABD–all but dissertation, done with my course work and comps.  So, essentially, I started my creative writing to jumpstart my dissertation.  But, the opposite happened and I have been happily writing my script stories ever since.  Maybe that was the problem with my academic task writing, I needed a more creative outlet than scholarly writing afforded me.  I’m wincing as I write this and hope that none of my Dissertation Committee members ever read this. Ha!

writing sepiaBut my creative writing inspiration just flows through me–helped by my muse, the exquisitely talented British Actor Richard Crispin Armitage.  I always picture Mr. Armitage in the lead male roles in my script stories.  I say that my script stories tumble out of me–sometimes through a situation I observe in real life and then expand that into a story.  Or maybe a bit of physical humor comes to mind and I build a story around that.  Or in the case of the Old Vic 24 Hour Plays and Gala held in London in November 2010, challenging myself to write a one act play in 24 hours, etc.  I did and have tweaked it a little since then.  The play is a bedroom farce with lots of physical and verbal comedy in it.  It is quite fun and a little saucy.   Since I literally have over 40 script stories that I’m working on in rotation–some of them are done but for some tweaking–I never get bored or stuck.  I just move on to the next story and expand it until an idea comes for the other story.    And I can pretty much write on the fly now since I’ve gained so much experience in writing creatively over the last 1.5 years.  Although, my readers will be the judge as to whether or not they like my stories.  So far, people have been most favorably disposed to the stories that I have shared.  I wrote a love scene extemporaneously in a chat room recently and my friends seemed to enjoy the diversion–based on their side chatter, that was priceless, I should add–especially since I ended my twenty minute storytelling just before the “good part” and they wanted me to continue.  As with love and life, always leave your audience wanting more.  Besides, I felt that I had taken plenty of a turn already.  Ha!

I lay down the bones of my new stories carefully–outlining the chapters/scenes with descriptive titles and then build dialogue and narration/stage direction from there.  Each time I revisit a script story, I expand the plot, character development, descriptions, etc., until I feel that I’m “done” with that particular story.  Although I continue word smithing and tweaking the story each time that I read through it.  That’s why “North & South:  Nurturing Love” has so many edits.   I enjoy returning to it to read it and I end up tweaking something.  Ha!

J:  Why do you write in script form?

G:  I like to think cinematically with regard to my stories–as I believe Edith Wharton might have for her story “The Age of Innocence.”  So, I write in a script story format because I want my script stories to be “filming ready”.  Ha!  Although any work will be tweaked when a director gets a hold of it, by my already writing in a script format I save myself the step of having to adapt it.  And I provide enough exposition, stage direction, and internal monologues such that readers wanting a narrative aspect to what they read will also be satisfied.

J:  Were you influenced by other writers?

G:  Growing up and into my adulthood, I’ve always been a big fan of women writers–Alcott, Austen, the Bronte’s, Wharton, etc.  But, I also liked Hawthorne, Twain, Poe, and others.  I was especially struck with reading Edith Wharton’s book The Age of Innocence a few years ago, and then seeing the film directed by Martin Scorsese.  He was able to use the book’s narration almost without editing or rephrasing it because Edith Wharton had written her story to be told cinematically.   And that’s how I view my script stories–cinematically.

J:  How did you improve as a writer?

G:  I’ve always been a good writer–knowing how to structure essays, which helps in my blogging now. And I know proper grammar rules, spelling and such.  And having had wonderful writers to read and perform helped me tremendously.  Let me put it this way, my senior year in college’s prose piece was from Jane Eyre–the young Jane’s friend Helen’s death scene.  And my poetry program was a collection of Alice Walker poems from her Revolutionary Petunias book.  So I performed one traditional program and one contemporary program–both literary works are classics.  And as a performer, I would “cut” or arrange my own material and that helps give you a sense of what works and what doesn’t work editing wise for my own writing.  And as a creative writer now, trial and error is the key–and lots of editing and reediting.  As I said earlier, my “North & South: Nurturing Love” script story has gone through 82 edits that each time expanded and enhanced the storytelling.

J:  Did you have previous training?

G:  My aforementioned college education, writing, and performing experiences helped lay the groundwork for me.

J:  What do readers look for in fanfic?

G:  For me as a reader (or as the author), I want to see the unfulfilled hopes and dreams of my characters resolved–the love shared, the promise kept, and the atonement for past wrongs making them whole again, etc.  This is not to say that my stories are all hearts and flowers.   For me, love that is hard won is more cherished and appreciated.  But love should not come at too great a cost, or that cost cannot be overcome.

ah-amorJ:   How do you feel about writing erotic scenes?  How far would you go in writing such scenes and how do you prepare?

G:  I blush to say that I do have love scenes in my stories.  Love is about passion.  And sometimes one needs to fully develop the intricacies of the relational dance to fully understand the loving bond between the two individuals.   Now having said that, were my script stories ever to be filmed, I would hope that the love scenes would be filmed in such a way as to be discreet and respectful of the love my characters share–as I hope the writing of my love scenes conveys.  It would simply be that the actors would have the “back story” with which to inform their acting.  Less is more in my mind with regard to filmed love scenes. We don’t need to see nipples–his or hers.  In fact, anything more than bare shoulders or a bare back is gratuitous in my mind in films.  Women want to see romance–not an instructional video.  Ha!    For example, the most loving erotic scene I have seen to date is the train station kissing scene at the end of the original “North & South” film starring Richard Armitage.  The characters are fully clothed and they tentatively but desirously have their first gloriously delicate kisses, that become more tender and more urgent when John gently takes Margaret’s face in his hands and he kisses her adoringly.  Their bodies are not touching, but we know from the restrained passion of their kisses that John and Margaret are a true love match.  And when they are married, their mutual passions will ignite in a heartfelt and tender joining of their two souls.  You’ll have to read my “North & South:  Nurturing Love” story to see how I treated their love scenes.

But, the nature of my love scenes has changed over time.  They have gone from only married couples making love (not merely having sex)–such as the wedding night scene starting on page 65 of  “North and South:  Nurturing Love” (that was a long wait, ha!)–to allowing my committed and in love couples to share the joys of love with each other before marriage.   I even have some love at first sight lovers who find themselves to be “Kindred Spirits”–which is also the title of one of my script stories–and who then develop a sustaining relationship around their initial physical attraction.   And it is that learning and negotiating day by day how to live together as a couple that can be some of the most interesting plot points and character development.

And my love scene writing has evolved over time from breathless general descriptions to very sensually descriptive and tender love scenes.   However, I use euphemisms with regard to describing what is happening.  I leave the scientific and Latin terms to my other writer friends.   My couples don’t f***, they make love.  My love scenes are always tender and heartfelt–a joining of two individuals, heart and mind and body and soul.  And not to put too fine a point on it, I believe in “comfortable” lovemaking.  No stair risers or kitchen tables for my heroines to be rogered against as in some modern day films.  In my view, there is only one thing that should be hard in a love scene–and it’s not the furniture.  Ha!

Are you shocked?  I am a little bit.   I am a very happily and lovingly romantically married woman of almost 22 years to my wonderful husband.  And wait for it–my husband is and has been my only lover.  I was brought up to be a good girl.  I knew what I wanted in my husband and life partner and I waited until I found him–when I was 28 years old.  It was worth the wait.  My husband and I are still on our honeymoon and we plan to be until we fall out of our side by side rockers 50 years from now.  So, not coincidentally, several of my heroines are also late bloomers for love.  It’s not that I’m bashing non virgins.  I think that people need to make the responsible choice that works best for them–including my character lovers using condoms.  But I like to at least suggest virginity until you find true love as still being an option, for men and women.  And then let your passions erupt!  Ha!

My male and female lead characters are always strong individuals with vulnerabilities that they share with each other as trust develops between them.  And next to baring one’s soul, making love with your beloved is the most intimate expression of love that exists.  So men and women have their strong and their soft sides.   I especially make sure that my male characters are tender and considerate lovers.  They might have a path to getting there–such as one of my male lead characters being quite inexperienced in love making himself and the female lead guides him into loving and pleasurable lovemaking between them.   He is an eager pupil and soon becomes a wonderful lover.  My male and female leads complement one another and meet as equals.  Although, sometimes developing that true and equal partnership takes some time to develop.

NEXT TUESDAY: The second half of Gratiana’s interview

On Writing: Part 2 – Hedgeypig

This is a six part series on writing.  You’re find part 1 here.  In an effort to understand the process of writing fan fiction, I interviewed several writers for pointers.  Joining me to day is Hedgeypig.  She is a talented writer who has written Guy of Gisborne fanfic but now has moved into the realm of original fiction.  Here’s her blurb:

Hedgeypig is a hobbit sized, middle aged curmudgeon with a penchant for the outdoors, writing, film and sleeping. She’s been knocking around the Richard Armitage fandom in various capacities since late 2006. She even met the man in 2009 and squeaked pathetically at him like a terrified dormouse. At some point she may actually submit something to a publisher but don’t hold your breath.


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J:  How and when did you start writing fanfic?
H:  Early 2007 shortly after the first season of Robin Hood had ended. I was inspired by the character of Guy. I’d seen other fanfic after joining the Armitage Army forum and thought I’d give it a go.

J:  Was it difficult at first?
H:  The hardest part is making that leap of faith to publish as you’re putting yourself out there. i found a good beta and that was a massive help as they can help with spelling, grammar and any major plot clangers.

J:  Were you influenced by other writers?
H:  Can’t say I was, no.

J:  How did you improve as a writer?
H:  I feel that simply the act of writing helps improve skills. Also talking to other writers. Alicat and Twiddle and i all beta’d each others work which honed skills in spelling, grammar and plotting. Just write down ideas. they might go nowhere and sometimes they lead to something else.

I have over the past couple of years taken an Open University Course too. I did Creative Writing and Advanced Creative Writing which was a real eye opener. With that you obviously have to move away from writing fanfic to writing original work.

I also read an awful lot.

J:  Did you have previous training?
H:  I wrote for pleasure but no one ever read it so putting my work up on the internet was quite hard.

J:  What do readers look for in fanfic?
H:  Ooh, that’s a difficult one. I can only say what I look for. I’m not keen when people stray too far from the character as written. I think with Guy many people wanted him to be good but he was fundamentally a deeply flawed character. Sadly the actual writers themselves seemed to have rewritten his back story several times which made the character very confusing. Much as they did with Lucas.

A good story, well plotted with the characters not straying too far from their on screen personas. Mary Sues are a complete turn off for me.

J:  I know you write erotic scenes. How do you go about writing such scenes?
H:  Bizarrely at the time Guy was a very fantasy inspiring character and as such I liked to envisage him in erotic situations. However I tended to find those scenes quite difficult to write and if I’m honest looking back find some of them cringe worthy. I have largely moved away from graphic erotic scenes although within fanfic they can be fun.

J:  Would you write fanfic again?
H:  Given the right character certainly but at the moment I’m working a lot on original work. My result for my Advanced Creative Writing Course was much better than I envisaged and I hope to progress the story further at some point.

J:  Would you encourage fanfic writing as a starting point?
H:  Absolutely. You have the characters and a lot of situations there for you as jump off points.

J:  Do you have any advice for novice fanfic writers?
H: Try and stick to the character as written within reason. If you’re not then say so.
Don’t Mary Sue the character (make them unbelievably perfect) Not everyone thinks Richard is gorgeous for example so not everyone should think, Guy, Lucas etc are perfect.

Get a good beta. There’s nothing worse than trying to read a story that’s full of errors.

Don’t lose heart. It’s rare that someone will be unkind but some people may be critical. Constructive criticism is not a bad thing.

Don’t overdo the sex scenes unless you’re very good at writing them.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Don’t put yourself in the story. variations of your personality will most likely creep in but a character that’s definitely you may turn people away.

Be careful with Real person fic. ie writing about Richard for example rather than his characters. A lot of people don’t like it but I have seen it done. Gabriel Kane was undoubtedly inspired physically by Richard but don’t imagine for one minute Richard is anything like the miserable character I have created.

J:  Thanks so much for allowing me to interview you.

H:  My pleasure.


NEXT: An interview with GratianaDS90


On Blogging – Part 4: Servetus II

Continuing on my series On Blogging, I’ve talked to experienced bloggers, Frenz and Servetus.  You can read parts 1, 2, and 3.  Last week, I posted the first half of Servetus’s interview.  Here is the conclusion.


J:  For whom are you writing on this blog?

S:  In case that’s not clear by now: while I’m grateful for every reader, lurker, and commentator, I’m writing for me. I make no apologies for this decision. That doesn’t mean I don’t think about potential audiences when I write — it is impossible to write except to someone — but I am the real priority here. Every now and then the question of Richard Armitage comes up. That’s a big can of worms to open, here, and I’m not really interested in discussing it, but I can say: Richard Armitage does not enter into my blog as a reader or audience member — only as motivation.

J:  If you had to do it all over again, would you blog?

I think so. I get emotional fulfillment from the writing. I enjoy having written a well-crafted piece (and learning from reader response about how to improve). I like understanding myself better. I enjoy reader contact even if I can’t always keep up with comments. I’ve loved making friends with people I’d never have met otherwise (like you!). I’m grateful if I’ve been able to do even just a little to make the world a marginally better place through a few charity appeals. I hope that what I write (whether serious or silly) brightens people’s days or makes them think — and it’s always rewarding when someone lets me know that’s the case, whether publicly or privately. So on the whole, the balance is positive.

Only two things ever make me consider quitting. One is time: I frequently think that I should spend more time on academic publishing or writing for money as opposed to “frivolous” blogging. That need may become acute depending on future employment. Right now I’m not short-changing anyone by blogging, but the danger’s there, and I certainly have it within me to devote all my time to blogging and Armitageworld, even if I know that would not be a good idea.

The second is obvious: the occasional flames. I don’t mean people who disagree with what I say and say so, whether timidly or forcefully — I mean people who bother to tell me in detail exactly what they despise about the blog and me. It’s almost always first-time commenters, so those posts don’t make it through moderation, but what those messages express shocks me. You wouldn’t believe the level of personal cruelty in some of the mail I get. I often get these after I’ve written something that reveals my own struggles, flaws, or embarrassments. I’ve learned that I’m a target for emotions and reactions that people don’t really understand (just as Richard Armitage has probably had to learn in his own context), but it still hurts. Then there are messages that do not attack me personally, but nonetheless accuse me of moral transgression or of destroying the fandom for admitting to my sexual fantasies. You can tell when I’ve gotten one of these when you see another post about an incessant topic of the blog — why it’s ok for me to blog. I’ve been amazed since becoming a fangirl at the sort of matters that people think are worth judging others over. It’s been a good lesson to me about my own occasionally severe INFJ inclination to judgment, which was enhanced by the moralistic upbringing I experienced. Blogging’s taught me definitely that moral disapproval should be saved for really crucial questions. Fangirling is not among these. 

J:  Could you have a blog not about any crush?

Potentially — but it would have to be something I felt fairly strongly about. My academic blogs were about the end of my crush on the university world, I suppose. I need to be preoccupied with something heavily in order to want to write about it and to do so effectively. I think a lot about another Internet writing project that  would probably find a lot of consumers, but it wouldn’t be interactive in the same way as blogging. So I guess in order to blog about something I’d have to have a strong desire to speak with others about it. That’s been a big surprise for me from “me + richard armitage”: I didn’t initially start the blog with the intention of talking to other people about it — it was an analytical vent for an acute preoccupation — but, difficulties with some readers aside, that bit often keeps me going or inspires me to consider and write about things I wouldn’t otherwise.

Interestingly, a colleague suggested to me about a year ago that if it was easy to blog about Armitage, I should try blogging about my research in the same way. I did set up a blog but I never wrote a single post! Now, there’s absolutely no professional reward (promotions, salary increases) for blogging, but partially, I suspect, it’s because it doesn’t tap the same personal source that blogging stems from.

J:  What pointers would you give to new bloggers scared to start out? 

Hmm. There are a lot of “tips for beginning bloggers” out there that I’d agree with — comment frequently on others’ blogs to generate traffic, answer bloggers who comment on your blog, write short posts (a rule I don’t follow), write regularly, do lots of linking, put in pictures, don’t say anything you’re not willing to have associated with your real life identity in case you’re outed, etc. I agree with all of those things, obviously. My perception is that the biggest problem bloggers experience is not so much starting, but continuing at various points when excitement wanes and it would be easier to stop. It’s a bit frustrating to start a project full of enthusiasm for it, but to reach a point where you realize it is unsustainable. If this possibility is what bothers you, before you start, you should think a bit about a few things.

The first is whether blogging is really “your” genre. Do you want to write short, intensely personal bursts about your emotions and experiences that give insight into your life? Because that’s the primary reason that people read blogs: because they think they are getting a slice of someone’s “authentic” self or opinions. Blogging is really a very personal genre — but that’s not for everyone, and some people are uncomfortable with or at least unaccustomed to displaying that kind of transparency about their lives and feelings. If not blogging, what do you really want to do? Fanfic? Short stories? Art? Maybe embroidery is your medium, or photos, or fanvids, or something else that can also be exposed on the Internet and hook you up with creative people in that way. Don’t pick blogging just because it’s what everyone else you know is doing to express themselves. Do your creativity for YOU.

Second, I would suggest that the prospective blogger ask herself what her “mission” is and figure out what her voice is going to be. The point of the blog genre is that it’s *your* personal perspective, so the point doesn’t have to be incredibly original content (I almost never scoop any other fangirl on my blog in terms of information or even critical response) but the process is about becoming better and better at expressing your own insights in ways that seem real to you and speak to others. Inevitably, this involves some imitation — just as beginning writers imitate Hemingway, beginning bloggers imitate other bloggers they have read. But if it’s to be useful to you, eventually it will have to involve figuring out your voice and differentiating it from others. One way to do this is to make a list ahead of time about topics you’d like to write about, so you remember at a sticky point in writing that at one point there were all these things you wanted to comment on. But on the whole: write for YOU.

Third (and this is hard): Try to let go of your fears about being wrong or that people will disagree with you. Some of the best posts I’ve written in terms of discussion have been ideas that weren’t so well thought-out. In contrast, when a post is air-tight and sealed up at all the corners, people think they’ve got nothing to say. Be courageous for YOU.

Finally, I would say: work hard to make friends, especially at the beginning. Develop a support circle. There are some Armitage bloggers who’s support has meant a tremendous amount to me, and it helps to be able to bounce ideas around privately with someone you really trust before you go live on the blog. In the end, when blogging ends (as it seems to do inevitably), you’ll still have those friends to talk to. Make friends for YOU.

J:  Thanks Servetus for participating.  As you can see, these are wildly easy questions.  😀

In the interest of fair disclosure, Servetus had already formulated many of the questions in preparation of a FAQ for her blog when I had the idea to do a blogging series.  It became pure serendipity.


NEXT:  Blogging:  Go For It?


On Blogging – Part 3 – Servetus I

We continue with my series On Blogging.  Here are parts 1 and 2.  My guest today is Servetus.  You know her from her popular analytical blog Me + Richard Armitage.  This is how she describes herself:

Servetus: child of G-d, daughter, sibling, aunt, friend. Thinker, believer, reader, writer. After a decade of waiting to exhale, now exhaling. Searching (still!) for a livable life and trying to be less scared about the future. Needs desperately to feel that she is making the world better or at least not any worse. Likes: Richard Armitage, grapefruit, espresso, The Great Gatsby, complicated liturgies, Alsace-Lorraine, looking at the sea from a convenient sea-side terrace, complexity, long naps. Much less enthusiastic about: Michael Fassbender, fried beef liver, Guinness, The Deerslayer, car alarms, Tucson, actually putting her body in the sea, oversimplifications, staying up for more than 36 hours in a row. Over-educated. Under-prepared. Working hard at compassion for others and herself.


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J:  Hello Servetus.  Thanks for joining me.

S: Glad to be here.

J: I think we know why you started blogging: to analyze your fascination with Richard Armitage. Do you think you’re any closer to your stated goal?

Sometimes I do. Sometimes not.

On the “do” side: I’m closer to understanding the specific things in his work that triggered my attention (even if I can’t always bring myself to publish what I’ve realized). I understand better now how my need to analyze things works — what triggers it and why it’s there and where it comes from — as well as the dangers it harbors for me. I think this recognition has developed because just before Armitagemania hit, I experienced a long period of creative death. So I’ve learned a lot through this fascination about how my creative processes work because I’ve been able to observe them revive after a long period of dormancy. I hope this knowledge will help me to help myself, should that ever occur again.

On the “not” side: I’m not any closer to understanding why Richard Armitage (as opposed to another actor) triggered this. I have a hard time accepting that it might have been coincidence. Also, although the writing has been therapeutic and enabling, I am no closer to knowing why the particular nerves he’s touched in me are issues in my life. And the main thing I really still don’t understand is where this unbelievable (and for me atypical) tidal wave of emotion that centers on Richard Armitage comes from. Intense preoccupation with something is part of my personality pattern, and it’s been cultivated by academic research, but intense positive emotion about a preoccupation is not like me and unique in my experience of myself. I have come to accept it, since it’s persisted, unabated, for over a year-and-a-half, but I still think it’s strange and often disturbing. But I’m not done blogging yet, and I’m changing, so that understanding may come eventually as well.

J: How long have you been blogging?

I started in March 2008. I had been reading blogs since 2005, when I became interested in conservative Christian women’s blogging, and I had discovered the world of academic blogs in 2006, but hadn’t contemplated writing anything myself. I didn’t have much time, and I didn’t think I had anything different to say. But in summer 2006, I was granted a two-year research leave, and the break from teaching meant I had more time for myself. Late in 2007 I began having a very specific, troubling problem in my workplace (one of the chain of troubles I refer to periodically in my current blog) and it eventually became unbearable. I had found an academic blog that inspired me a great deal with its unwillingness to look past injustice, and I started to wonder whether thinking about my problem in that way would help me confront it. So I started an academic blog to find people to talk to and to advise me. It was slow going, not least because my writing was so different from and so much less system-conforming than other academic blogs, but it was an anonymous outlet, and I had attracted a small readership of the like-minded and found an outlet for my anger, so it served its purpose.

Unfortunately, in the summer of 2009, a post on that blog was linked to a national higher education publication, and reader numbers went off the charts — going from c. 70 readers per day to more than a thousand overnight. I had been sure up till then that no one on my campus had been reading, but that exposure made it impossible to guarantee continued anonymity. Back then I maintained a much stronger commitment to continuing in academia than I do now, and I’d been writing about a scandal. Not many people knew about it, but if it came out, the shit was clearly going to hit me as well. I made the decision to take the blog private two days later. (Now I think that might have been a mistake. One of the spheres I was trying to protect exploded anyway because someone else revealed the same information I had, two years later.) Anyway, I tried to restart a public blog again a few weeks after going private, but the joy had gone out of it, and my postings dwindled in number and length. I wrote the last post on that successor blog in May 2010 — about three months after I had started “me + richard armitage” — and made it private in September 2010. I haven’t deleted those texts as they record my life, but I doubt they’ll ever see the light of day again.

J:  Why do you choose to write about anything on any particular day?

S:  My goal for the blog is to post at least once a day. I try to present a variety of stuff during a week so it’s not the same sort of thing over and over again. Other than that, the choice is usually entirely random. Sometimes there’s news to report or comment on, sometimes something in my own life is pressing that I need to talk about; sometimes a post turns out the way it does because I have a lot of time — or no time; sometimes, if I sit down to write and nothing occurs immediately to say, I look through my long list of things I’ve wanted to write about from time to time and pick one; and so on. Sometimes I want to write about something but don’t have time to cut the necessary video. I frequently write things that never see the light of day — what makes it into view is probably about a third of the wordage that gets drafted. I decided when I started this blog that a basic rule was going to be that I would never write here out of obligation, as that issue had dogged other writing experiences I’ve had to their detriment. (That doesn’t mean I feel no obligation about the blog, but that’s a different matter.) As a consequence I allow myself to do what I want.

J: Why do I link to some stuff and not to other stuff?

S:  It’s also almost entirely random. If I don’t see something, obviously I don’t link to it. I link to stuff I read and like, but not to everything I read and like. I probably read more stuff that gets pushed to me in email than stuff I have to seek out — which means I’m slightly more likely to link to a wordpress blog than a blogger blog, for example. I don’t link to many fanvids because I don’t watch all that many, so if I do link to a vid it’s probably because I’ve watched it at least ten or fifteen times. Then again, if I don’t link to a vid, it doesn’t mean I didn’t like it, either. If I link to a fic it’s because there’s something I liked about it, but if I don’t link to a fic it doesn’t mean that I disliked it, either. Sometimes I really like something but I can’t figure out how to write about it. So I guess what I’m saying is that no one should make any assumptions based on what I link or don’t link, or feel badly if I don’t link to them, and above all, no one should assume that I’ve seen or viewed everything and that what appears here in links involves my judgment about the best of Armitageworld. Another rule that I made when starting this blog was that I wasn’t going to attempt to be comprehensive or comment on or link to everything. (That’s another thing that I had to do for work, and since I do that there, I wasn’t going to force myself to do it here).

J: What priority does this blog get in your life?

S:  That’s easier to answer. Right now, my intellectual priorities are: (a) anything I have to do for my students; (b) morning pages; (c) Armitage writing of any kind — either this blog, or the therapeutic fic I am writing, or both; (d) academic writing. It’s a little complicated because every now and then (d) has to take priority, but (d) is never possible unless (b) has happened. Sometimes I can do (c) without (b), if (c) involves a direct confrontation with stuff that would normally be put down in (b). Anyway, the consequence of this priority means, for example, that right now I’m unlikely to say much on a Tuesday or Thursday unless it’s done well ahead of time, because on those days I am almost completely occupied with (a). And for anyone worried about the relatively low position of (d) — I’m not on a contract right now that requires academic publications as a condition of either current or continuing employment. So for this year, academic writing is just as inconsequential or consequential to me as any other kind of writing. Ultimately it will be important only if I continue on as a professor, whereas (b) and (c) are important for me to maintain my equilibrium as a human.






On Blogging: Part 2 – RAFrenzy

Continuing in the series on blogging, joining me today is RAFrenzy.  She is well known to you from her snarky, fun, irreverent blog at RAFrenzy.com.  When asked to provide a blurb she said, “Phew, what more can you say that I haven’t already?”  So, without more ado, here is RAFrenzy.


J: Hello RAFrenzy.  Thanks for joining me. This is a casual informal interview.  Imagine us at Starbucks having a cuppa.  🙂
R: Just one?  😀

J: Why did you start blogging?
R: Obviously, I had something I wanted to say, and I chose this medium so I could say it where I was not emotionally involved with the readers; however, I’m finding that is not the case as I go on.  The potentially interactive nature of blogging makes it impossible for someone like me to remain detached from the readers. I love that aspect of blogging, but I also have to stand back from it at times as I know it might affect what I want to say.

J:  What is your stated goal in blogging?
R:  This blog is an attempt to do two things: understand the madness and revel in it!

J:  Do you think you’re any closer to your stated blog goal?
R:  My stated goal?  Yes, I’m much closer and have actually surpassed it in some respects, but my unstated goal is not met.

J:  How long have you been blogging?
R:  I started a blog in 2008, but I didn’t do much with it.  RAFrenzy began in early April, 2010.

J:  Why do you choose to write about anything on any particular day? 
R:  It’s a miracle for me to write at all, so I’m trying to become as comfortable with writing my thoughts as I am with speaking them.   For so many years I thought I couldn’t write anything that wasn’t strictly technical, but now, most days I write to prove to myself that I can.

J:  Why do you link to some stuff and not other stuff?  Again if that’s personal or irrelevant, please skip. 

R:  I usually refrain because of legalities and/or privacy.  Legalities are very easy to observe.  With respect to privacy, I try to live by the Golden Rule.  Although nothing on the scale of Richard Armitage’s life, I have lived in the public eye for years and understand the need to keep something back as it were. Hopefully, when I speculate about him, readers know it’s just that — speculation.  I do not know the guy nor will ever know him, but I do share thoughts I’ve had about him, and I doubt I’m going to stop doing that.  There have been times when people think I’ve crossed a line with that, but I have not stood in his front yard to get a peek at him nor published pictures which I felt were out of bounds. 

J:  What priority does this blog have in your life?
R:  Taken over the course of the last year and a half, I would say it’s had a fairly high priority even if other priorities in my life have eclipsed it at times.

J:  For whom are you writing this blog?
R:  Mostly for myself.  I do this with my piano playing as well. I play for my ears first and that seems to produce something pleasing to others.  With writing I spent so many years writing for others that it inhibited me in a way that beat any life out of what I was trying to say.   Since I’ve been writing more for myself, I think I might actually say something interesting every now and then.

J:  If you had to do it all over again, would you blog?
R:  I keep asking myself why I didn’t do it sooner.

J:  Could you have a blog not about any crush?
R:  I have another blog which was started before RAFrenzy and is decidedly not about a crush — although I do mention him a couple of times. 😀  I’ve also got another blog I hope to start with no plans to mention Richard Armitage at all.

J:  What pointers would you give to new bloggers scared to start out? 
R:  Start off anonymously. If you don’t like what you’re doing, you can scrap it and start over without baggage.  My first blog wasn’t anonymous, and I wish I had started it with another tone.  I’ve had to let it lie fallow for a while so I could in essence start over.

J:  Thanks Frenzy for participating.  As you can see, these are wildly easy questions.  😀
R:  Thanks for asking.   😀  


NEXT: A cuppa with Servetus.

Fitzg’s Journeys: Fine Dining with Richard Armitage

It’s Monday again, so time for Fitzg’s Journeys.  Today’s installment: Fine Dining with Richard Armitage. (If you’re having problems viewing this post in Internet Explorer, try another browser like Firefox or Chrome.  IE does not play well with plugins. If you trouble loading in the small viewer, click the far right icon at the top with the black box in it and it will load in a new window and bigger viewer.  iPads don’t have the capability for scrolling needed here. iPhone and iPads should be able to view when switching from mobile to desktop view.)




[gview file=”http://www.jagrant.com/FitzPosts/FineDiningWithRichardArmitage.doc”]




Fitzg’s Journeys: RA and the Archetype of the Byronic Hero

It’s Monday again, so time for Fitzg’s Journeys.  Today’s installment: Richard Armitage and the archetype of the Byronic hero.

(If you’re having problems viewing this post in Internet Explorer, try another browser like Firefox or Chrome.  IE does not play well with plugins. If you trouble loading in the small viewer, click the far right icon at the top with the black box in it and it will load in a new window and bigger viewer.  iPads don’t have the capability for scrolling needed here. iPhone and iPads should be able to view when switching from mobile to desktop view.)



[gview file=”http://www.jagrant.com/FitzPosts/RAandByronicArchetype.doc x”]


Fitzg’s Journeys: The Leather Life

Today is Monday, that means it’s guest blogger, Fitzg’s day.  She’s prepared a blog all about Richard Armitage and LEATHER. (If you’re having problems viewing this post in Internet Explorer, try another browser like Firefox or Chrome.  IE does not play well with plugins. If you trouble loading in the small viewer, click the far right icon at the top with the black box in it and it will load in a new window and bigger viewer.  iPads don’t have the capability for scrolling needed here.)

Click here for bigger view.

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A New Guest Blogger Does A Leicestershire Lad

Today begins a special feature here at Confessions of a Watcher by new guest blogger, Fitzg.

Fitzg is our faithful commenter and sometimes guest interviewee here at ArmitageWorld.  You may have read Servetus’s wonderful interview with her for Fanstravaganza 2.  Fitz is an interesting, cultured and erudite woman with a small problem – she has no blog.  She assures me as a technophobe that will never happen because she is the “Typhoid Mary” of all things high tech.  Such a shame.  But wait- I have the tech know-how and she has the talent. Truly this feature is made in heaven.  When asked to provide a blurb about herself, she said: “It’s always a pleasure to right about Richard Armitage.”  That’s our laconic Fitz.  She’s yet to settle on a title for her bloglet but thought “Journeys through the Work of Richard Armitage” might be catchy.

As you can see, this format is new in ArmitageWorld.  To keep all of Fitzg’s pictures and formatting, I embedded her document in a Google viewer.  You can click the + sign to zoom and read, or you can click the far right corner icon (with the little black box in it) at the top of the viewer.  The page will load a full sized viewer in a new window.  Loading time should be minimal but the wait is worth it. I hope you enjoy this as much as we have. Fitz sees herself blogging sporadically, (so let’s not tell her she will be a regular guest instead.)    So give her some love and feedback and maybe can make that happen.  Be sure to let me know if you encounter any tech problems.

She also needs a blog title.

(If you’re having problems viewing this post in Internet Explorer, try another browser like Firefox or Chrome.  IE does not play well with plugins. If you trouble loading in the small viewer, click the far right icon at the top and it will load in the second viewer.)


[gview file=”http://www.jagrant.com/FitzPosts/ALeicestershireLad.docx”]


On Meeting A Fellow Fan: the Other Fan

Yesterday Servetus posted about meeting a fellow fan on Saturday but mentioned no name.

I’m the mystery fellow fan.

She wrote in a circumspect manner so that I could decide whether to blog or not.  My hesitation wasn’t due to Servetus, she’s exactly the way she seemed otherwise:  intelligent, accomplished, perceptive, funny, empathetic, engaging and approachable. Part of my reluctance was because I felt unable to legitimately talk about our meeting without talking about past experiences. I stated in an earlier post that fandom was one of this blog’s topics.  It’s turned out to be a tricky and touchy subject to discuss and it’s hard to decide where to begin. This is as good a point as any.

When Servetus first suggested meeting, I was surprised but enthusiastic. I’ve met many people, over the years in Star Trek and then most significantly, Doctor Who fandom, both collectively at conventions and separately.  Generally it’s been a positive experience.  Two people I met through DW are still my best friends 15 later.  Many from DW fandom follow each other on Facebook.  I met up with friends in London last month with whom I have kept in touch with on Twitter and it was if I’d just seen them last year. Passion for the show has waxed and waned but people still remain friends.  I’m connected to a nice circle of people for such disparate backgrounds and countries.  We are diverse but like-minded in valuing respect, equality, common decency, debate and civility. When the chips are done, we have supported and defended each other against those who violate those values.  Everybody can vouch for each other (or find somebody who can); it’s a safe circle. And it all started on the internet, with nobody knowing each other in real life.  I particularly appreciate this safety because it’s kept me insulated from certain unpleasantness.

After Servetus and I agreed to meet, I was excited that we were part of the first group in ArmitageWorld to cross the boundary from virtual to real life.  We were ArmitageWorld pioneers who would meet each other then two more and they would meet two more and so on and so on, just like that old shampoo commercial.  Then I remembered nobody had ever seen me in this fandom and an ugly old potential problem reared it’s head: racism.  I’m African-American.  In an ideal world that shouldn’t matter but on two occasions it shockingly mattered, once before they ever met me, the other long after.  To say I was stunned is an understatement and since then I’ve been acutely conscious that internet anonymity is a double edged sword.  It can afford the freedom to explore oneself but it can also conceal.  My circle rallied to me and gave those two hell but still I was hurt.

So I addressed the issue directly with Servetus.  She was at first flippant (hope you don’t mind I’m white!), reassuring, then concerned which turned to dismay and sadness when I explained I didn’t suspect her of bigotry; I simply needed to clear the air to avoid any ugly surprises.  This is the world in which I live, the mythical post-racial America. It’s a problem not likely to go away in my lifetime.

stock vector peopleAs I said earlier, my fandom experiences have been mostly positive.  I enjoy virtual friendships and getting to know people online.  However as Servetus blogged about identity, I can only see the face a person presents to the world, the public persona.  I can gauge and assess what a person’s true persona might be to a degree, if they are not hiding behind a mask, but it’s not until I cross the boundary from virtual to reality and actually  interact with and observe that person’s expressions, gestures, demeanor, personality, and attitude that I can lay a foundation for a meaningful lasting friendship.  I noticed on Servetus’s blog that other fans are suggesting doing the same.  I heartily encourage this.  The virtual world and the internet have its uses, but crossing into real life is priceless.


Christchurch Addendum

Just learned via carrier pigeon about RA’s surprise message this morning. Access is slow here but I’m sure it’s being discussed at length on other blogs. It was lovely of him to acknowledge us. Although our aim was to help the people of Christchurch, I’m sure he’s proud of us indeed.

This is a good time to pause and take pride in our community. I’m impressed with the speed, time, and generosity this community showed in banding together for this worthy cause. Congrats to all who contributed. Congrats to RAFrenz and company who kept the Twitter feeds flying. Congrats to Calexora for the cello challenge. Lastly, congrats to Servetus, who initiated the informal fan challenge and without whom we wouldn’t have known about the telethon in the first place.

Richard Who?

Wait! In case you read my earlier post and decided I need medication pronto, WordPress says I need catchy titles to tantalize my audience.  It’s right here on the can!

I’ve observed a curious phenomenon going around ArmitageWorld these past few weeks.  Writers have been enthusing how much Richard Armitage has affected their lives.  Through his work, they’ve tapped into a higher level of creativity and its output.  Comments have chimed in to agree. This sentiment is not unusual, after all we are fans. Enthusing about out object of affection is what we do. The curious part is I seem be like a tiny island in this ocean of effusiveness.

Don’t get me wrong; I like the guy.  He’s talented, intelligent, gorgeous and seems a genuinely nice bloke.  I enjoy his work and look forward to future projects.  I’ve seen almost all his roles – once.  Listened to most of his audios -once.  I might journey across the pond to see him onstage – maybe twice.  It’s as if I soak it all in, visually and aurally and then I’m sated. My mind has recorded and cataloged it.  I have no impulse to watch his stuff repeatedly from start to finish.  Oh, I will watch a favorite scene again for screen-caps or discussion but you won’t find me sitting through an entire episode of Robin Hood.  Having said all that, I admit to revisiting both his TV and print interviews more because I find RA the man much more interesting.  As hinted by the title of my blog, “The Watcher”  I like to observe people and unravel their mystery.  As Servetus has blogged on identity (the cite which I can’t find), we can never really know what is behind a celebrity veneer besides what they want us to see.  My observations tell me RA has still waters that run quite deep. But that’s another post.

Anyway, I’ve have pondering the creativity issue. I’m unsure why RA hasn’t affected me as much as others.  It could be the nature of my personality. It could be my longevity in fandom and a sense of having been there done that.  It could be a certain jadedness creeping in.  However, I do know that his fan community has had a bigger impact on me.  Servetus’s fascinating blog introduced me to a community of mature, intelligent, educated, thoughtful women and it’s through their creativity that I feel inspired to write again.  I suppose in a sense, RA while a captivating man, is not real to me.  He exists in another closed snow globe world where I can watch the flakes fall for a while, before moving on to something else.  It’s his fans with whom I feel connected. Although we may not be acquainted in real life, we share the same thoughts, concerns, woes, livelihoods, and workaday lives.  Because I can identify, I feel more motivated by the fanfic, videos, artistry and blogs. I think, “if she can do it, I can do it.”  While RA is easy on the mind, as it were, I think we don’t give ourselves as fans enough credit for the level of enthusiasm and creativity we inspire in each other.

Or am I missing something here?

Rest assured I do like me some pretty, repeatedly.  So I leave you with a lovely one tweeted today by RichardArmitageNet.com:

A work of art

Richard Armitage shows that dancer's physique; Spooks S9; Courtesy, RichardArmitageNet.com

FanstRAvaganza 2.8: Never Can Say Goodbye

This is it, the last day of FanstRAvaganza 2. It’s been a madcap week talking All Guy All The Time. Things kicked off with an introduction dedicated to our black knight with two polls; ruminations over how I hate to love him; a feminist take on the show; a wonderful interview with Ann Marie; some sexy musings; a conversion for the uninitiated; and ended with a lovely ficlet written by Ann Marie. Arcing the entire week was Mulubinba’s challenge to convince her that Guy was worthy of all the attention.

Well, let’s deal with the polls first.

The first poll asked: Which series Guy character development did you like best?

S2 – Aww, poor baby just needed love. – 66.13% (41 votes)

S3 – He’s redeemed and triumphed over evil. – 27.42% (17 votes)

S1 – He’s rotten to the core. I love an interesting bad boy. – 6.45 (4 votes)


The second poll asked: Guy changed his image each series. Which one do you prefer?

S2 – Growing the hair and losing the cravat was much better – 67.8% (40 votes)

S3 – Greasy locks, flowing mane, fancy leather. Glamor Guy wins. – 20.34% (20 votes)

S1 – Basic bad guy black all the way. I love the mullet and cravat – 11.86% (7 votes)


The winner is S2 Guy all way. I can extrapolate from that the first question you all simply want to mother S2 Guy…or, erm, something. As for second question, Avalon polled a similar one last year and 64% voted for the S2 Guy image, garnering a 3% increase. Maybe we need to commission a study?

Mulubinba’s challenge was inspiring and I hit the keyboard with dogged determination. Would I be able to reach her? The week ended with Mulubina conceding she was wavering on the issue and might need take a new look at the black knight. Considering her earlier sentiments, I am thrilled to hear this and hope she completes her “Looking for Good in Guy” series. As an added bonus, CDoart announced she was completely persuaded and is now a Guy Girl. I call this a success. My work here is done.

I want to thank the FanstRAvaganza organizers Nat and Traxy for getting things rolling; She Too Shy To Be Named for the beautiful banners (really love the one above, want to kiss it, pet it and call it Ritchie); the other participating bloggers for showing me how it’s done and giving me the confidence to do this; and Servetus for kindly inviting me into this madness. Thank you, Dear Reader, for the lively and encouraging comments. It’s been a blast. Last, but not least, I thank Richard Armitage, whose talents we celebrate.

At the top of the week, I mentioned including a slideshow by our Angieklong. However WordPress wouldn’t play nice so that was scrapped. However she created a fun video I’m sure you’ll all like. So I’ll leave you now with the sexy black knight.

[ETA:  Be sure to catch up on the other participating blogs.  The index is hereRAFrenzy had logistical problems but will continue her celebration this week.  Don’t miss it!]


FanstRAvaganza 2.7: Guy of Gisborne – The Interview


When Ann Marie suggested interviewing the black knight himself, I was privately skeptical.  What could she ask?  Knowing his mercurial temperament, how would he react?  After discussion over borrowing Angieklong’s Sloth Machine, which works like the Doctor’s TARDIS, except it doesn’t, and Ann Marie’s reassurances she’d traveled many times there where she was a lady of substance, I wished her well and hoped her shots and insurance were current.  A few weeks later, I received a message from the Sloth Machine: “Mission Accomplished.”  The following missive was attached.



Sir Guy of Gisborne ~ The Interview

~~By Lady Ann Marie of New Jersey

The Sheriff of Nottingham, Vasey, really does hate to lose a wager. He’s not a very good sport at all. However, a wager is a wager and like it or not I correctly guessed his favorite color…black. Not that it was difficult, I mean the man is swimming in black from head to toe! However, the ease of the wager enabled me to accomplish what I wanted to do from the moment I had set eyes on his Master at Arms, Sir Guy of Gisborne. I wanted to meet him, talk to him, to understand what it was that drew my attention to him the moment he walked into the room.We had not met. Vasey did not introduce us, choosing instead to keep the dark haired Knight close to him except when I was near then Sir Guy was ordered away on an errand or task. I am not sure if he was keeping Sir Guy away from me or me away from Sir Guy.


My terms for the wager, rankled Vasey terribly. I wanted time alone with Sir Guy, for as long as I wished. Well, Vasey would not agree to that last part, and truthfully I had not expected him to, allowing only for one afternoon and then only in the Great Hall. No matter…I eagerly sat in the Great Hall, awaiting Sir Guy. I worried that he would be offended when he discovered that he was a prize.

“How may I be of service to you?”


The clang of spurs hitting stone signaled the arrival of Sir Guy of Gisborne. He entered the Great Hall and strode purposefully over to me. As I stood, he walked to me and taking my outstretched hand in his black-gloved one, raised it to his lips with a little bow, never taking his eyes from my face. His movements caused his scent to waft over me…. leather, horses, spice (what was that I wondered) and hard work. He kept my hand for a few extra moments allowing me to feel the strength of his hand through the soft, worn leather he wore.


He smiled and said, “My Lady, I am Sir Guy of Gisborne. Sheriff Vasey said that you wished to speak to me. How may I be of service to you?”


I smiled as he relinquished my hand and gestured to the seat at the head of the long table. I returned to my seat at his left hand. I called to the servant standing nearby and asked her to pour two goblets of wine. As I dismissed the servant Sir Guy called out to her, “Tell the Guard in the passageway to stand at the door. We are not to be disturbed.”


I offered him a goblet which he accepted with a smile. I was very…. I suppose the only word is…dazzled. By that smile. Fine white teeth, sensuous lips…I caught myself staring when I realized he was looking at me with an inquisitive look. I blinked…I am sure I blushed… and I lifted my own goblet to my lips and swallowed a healthy mouthful of the honeyed wine. The warmth of the liquid soothed me and gave me a moment to collect myself.


He took a sip of the wine and placed the goblet down and leaned back in the high-backed chair, resting his elbows on the arms and steepled his gloved fingers in front of him.“Now, my Lady, what is this about?”


I looked at him and made the decision to tell him the truth. “Sir Guy, what I am about to tell you may anger you but I pray it does not.” “I won this time with you in a wager with Sheriff Vasey.” I waited.


He lowered his eyes to focus on his fingers and though for a moment, his brow furrowing slightly. “My Lady, just so I understand, I am a prize?”


I sat in my chair, blushing to the roots of my hair, looking down at my hands in my lap. He raised his gaze and looked, intently, at my face, seeing my embarrassment, waiting for me to answer.


I took a breath and said, “No Sir Guy, time with you was my prize and I asked for it for two very good reasons.” I paused, uncertain should I continue.


“Please continue my Lady, I confess you have piqued my interest.”


“The first reason was because I thought it might annoy Vasey as he seemed determined that we would not be introduced.”


That comment elicited a deep chuckle and he picked up his goblet for another drink of the wine. “And the second?”


I looked him dead in the eye and said, “The second reason is that…you… interest me.”


That got him.


He raised his left eyebrow and sipped from his goblet. “The Sheriff has granted me the afternoon to spend with you,” I said.


Placing the goblet down he leaned forward in his seat, very close to me and with his voice impossibly deep and low, barely above a whisper said, “And how shall we spend this time?”


I smiled brightly and said, “I wish to talk to you.”


“Talk to me?”“Yes, talk to you.”


“Why?”“It is simple,” I said, “I find you interesting.”


“But my Lady, you do not know me.”


“Precisely!” I exclaimed.


“He pinched the bridge of his nose.”


Sir Guy pinched the bridge of his nose with his right, gloved hand and sighed. “Very well.” “We will talk.”


He settled back in his chair once again and waited, his eyes on my face, again. Reading me. Measuring.


I wasted no time. As I looked at him I noticed that the black hair, the dark stubble on his face formed the perfect complement to the blue of his eyes. “Was it your mother or father who gave you eyes so blue?”


That surprised him.“Neither. It was my Mother’s mother and my Father’s mother who were blue-eyed as my mother used to tell me.”



I smiled at him. He could not help but smile back at me. And I watched him visibly relax.


He leaned forward and as he reached to take an apple slice from the tray on the table, I asked, “Why do you wear such gloves?”


He paused in mid -reach, just for a moment. He took the apple slice and popped it into his mouth and settled back. As he chewed he looked at his gloved hands while he did so.


He swallowed, raised his gaze to mine and said, “No one has ever asked me that question.”


“Will you tell me truthfully?” “I will not share what you tell me with anyone.”


A small smile crept to his lips as his gaze shifted from me. He said, “You have met the Sheriff, you have some sense of what he is like, how he conducts his business.”


“Yes, I have heard of the things the Sheriff has done…. and that you have done in his name.” “I will not lie to you, Sir Guy, so many of those things attributed to you are reprehensible.”


“Yes, they are,” he agreed.“If you agree, why do you do them?” I asked.


He paused. “It is my job,” he said quietly. “A debt I must repay.”


I pondered that for a bit. It seemed a dangerous area to explore and I was unwilling to jeopardize his openness by pushing too far. Instead I leaned forward and asked him, my voice just above a whisper, “So, Sir Guy, why do you wear the gloves?”


He looked at me, a cloud passed over the blue of his eyes, and said softly, “It keeps it from being real. I do not allow it, the horror, to touch me. Ever.”


I saw his eyes glisten with moisture and then close. He sat there for awhile which gave me time to reflect on his answer.


I was surprised to find that I was relieved to know that he understood the horror of some of the things he has done. I was at a loss as to what to say to this tragic man. So I did the only thing I could, I rose and went to his seat and knelt beside it and took his gloved hands in my own.


Guy spoke to me, “I have never told anyone that before. I didn’t think I could speak of it.”


I rubbed my thumbs over the wolf’s head clasps on the backs of his gloves. Then, I started to pull the fingers of his left glove, causing his eyes to fly open. Guy gently tried to pull his hand from my grasp but I held it firmly, “No.”


I pulled the entire glove off and started on the right hand. I pulled that off too. I held both of his hands in mine and looked into his eyes. His hands were warm, large with slender fingers. They were beautiful, really.


“Sir Guy, you must remember to remove the gloves on occasion and feel.” “I have watched you for several days and have never seen you express the slightest hint of happiness.”


He smiled, not a genuinely happy smile, though it dazzled. He nodded, “There is very little that truly makes me happy.”


I released his hands and returned to my seat. I was about to ask him what did bring him pleasure when a young woman entered from the far end of the hall. She had dark auburn hair and was wearing a light blue gown with white silk around the décolletage. She spied my presence and came toward me unable to see the figure sitting in the chair because the chair’s back faced her.


“Oh, Lady Ann Marie, I did not know you were here,” she said pleasantly as she walked toward me.


I smiled at her but my eyes were on Guy. At the sound of her voice his face had lightened and opened, something, was it joy….hope?…lit his face.


As Marian came around the side of the chair, Guy rose and turned to face her. Marian stopped dead. She looked up into his face and I watched her forget to breathe…and I watch Guy do the same.


“So that’s the way of it, I thought.”


So that is the way of it, I thought.


From instinct and breeding, Marian lifted her hand to Sir Guy who grasped it in his bare hand. To this day I will swear that I saw an actual spark when they touched.

“Lady Marian,” Guy said as he raised her hand to his lips. I had noticed that Marian’s eyes had widened at the contact of her bare hand in his. I imagined the warmth she felt, the surprise of the tingle.

“Lady Marian, Sir Guy and I have been sitting here talking.” “Would you like to join us?” The young woman gathered her senses and turned toward me.

“Alas, I cannot, my father is ill and I was on my way to see the alchemist for a tonic for his pain.”

Neither realized that he still held her hand in his.

Marian continued, “I had hoped that Sir Guy would be free to accompany me so we could discuss a healing garden for the village of Locksley and the necessary plants….”

Guy said regretfully, “Marian, the Sheriff has assigned my time to Lady Ann Marie for the afternoon, I am not free.”

Marian lowered her gaze to their joined hands. Seeing her regret, an idea bloomed.

“Sir Guy, the Sheriff said I could have as long as I wanted this afternoon. I have accomplished what I set out to do. So I gift Lady Marian with the time that remains this afternoon to spend with you.”

Marian looked at me, “What was it you meant to do?”

I smiled at both of them. “I wanted to get to know Sir Guy better as I find him to be something of an enigma. That would take much longer than a single afternoon. I also wanted to know what brought him pleasure and, my dear, I have a very clear idea of what that answer is.”

“Sir Guy, if you leave by the same entrance that Lady Marian arrived, you should have no trouble leaving unnoticed. I will be happy to sit in the Great Hall for a spell with your guard outside the door.”

They both smiled. Guy finally relinquished Marian’s hand and stepped forward to bow and step forward to kiss my cheek. He said, “I look forward to talking with you again Lady.” His face held joy as he turned to Marian who lifted her hand to him as he took her fingers in his she smiled at me, mouthing the words , “Thank you.”

As they departed through the far entrance of the Hall I turned back to the table. And there they were.

His gloves.


All rights reserved Annie Lucas March 2011-Copyright


FanstRAvaganza is almost over.  Be sure to visit the other participating blogs. CDoart’s index is here.

[All images courtesy of richardarmitagenet.com and richardarmitagecentral.co.uk.]