Carlisle, erastes: Notes on Patroclus Rising

August 19th, 2013 § 1 comment § permalink

So, I’d expected to need to write a long note about how this fic could in any way be considered “canon.” But, to my delight, it seems you all were right with me, and when the chapter 4 reviews came in, people were exclaiming about how well C&Ed fit as a prequel to canon. I imagine, then, that less explanation is necessary, but I’ll provide a little background on where I went with this.

The title of the piece is Patroclus Rising. Patroclus is a character from Homer’s The Iliad, the epic poem about the Trojan war. He is the companion to the great warrior Achilles, and it is for revenge of Patroclus that Achilles finally becomes fully drawn into the war. Many interpretations of The Iliad interpret the Achilles/Patrolcus relationship as being in the Greek pederastic tradition. While I fully acknowledge that this interpretation is a) anachronistic and b) highly debatable, it is to that interpretation of the Achilles/Patroclus bond that I meant to allude with this title.

The tradition of Greek pederasty, which, given their  classical educations, would’ve been well known to both Carlisle and Edward, is one which is not about lasting homosexual relationships, but rather was seen as part of bringing a boy into manhood. A man in his mid twenties to early thirties, the erastes, would take under his wing a young man just on the cusp of manhood, his eromenos. He would bestow the eromenos with gifts, shelter him, coddle him, and provide him with sexual pleasure in the form of fondling, fellatio, and intercrural intercourse (between the thighs). Some very sharp readers have noticed that at no time in this fic did Edward perform a sexual act beyond kissing on Carlisle; this is in keeping with the roles of the eromenos—he is the recipient of the erastes’ affection and does not necessarily return it. It was also seen as demeaning for either party to be penetrated; to do so would be to lower one’s status (part of why women were seen as being of lower status).

The second thing which helps move this toward a more canon interpretation, and why I’m comfortable calling this canon-compliant even though it assumes that Edward wasn’t telling a complete truth when he told Bella he was sexually inexperienced, has to do with the attitudes toward homosexual encounters that existed in the 1910s and 1920s. In chapter 3, Carlisle refers to “drawing the curtains,” which was a common euphemism in that age that literally describes the secrecy with which such acts were conducted. A man who had sexual encounters with another man was still very likely to marry a woman, and was also very likely to consider his homosexual experiences to not be “sex” because they did not involve a woman. To some extent, this same attitude was held by women of the age; particularly if said man was faithful to them thereafter, which helped me build Esme in these last chapters as well. To her mind, Carlisle did not intend to stay in a sexual relationship with Edward; he was merely in an all-male environment and…things happened. (Maybe this idea is where the “magic vagina that heals all a man’s wildness” trope that we see so often in fic comes from.) So, reading this in light of canon, it is my thinking that were a relationship between Edward and Carlisle to play out as it does in Patroclus, Edward wouldn’t feel himself to be lying in calling himself a virgin. To everything he knows and understands, he is one. Perhaps at some point, he might be completely truthful with Bella about what had happened, perhaps it would be considered water under the bridge.

Figuring those two pieces out took me awhile, and I hope my Ancient Literature professor is pleased that I pulled out and re-read my fourteen-year-old copy of The Iliad. But nevertheless, it was a wonderfully fun prompt to work out, and given that it created not only Patroclus but also “For a Season,” I’m pretty chuffed to have ever been asked to write it.

Many, many, many thanks to Team Carlward: capricorn75, deelovely, HeBelongsToMe, lts929, mycrookedsmile, and sleepyvalentina for the amazing, thought-provoking prompt and for their limitless patience while I worked out the details. Crazy, inestimable thanks  to my critique partner, twitina, and of course, my unending gratitude to all of you who read. The desire to read, and the gift of the time to do so is a gift a reader gives a writer. Even if the writer never sees the reader reading, if the reader never writes a fanfic review or an Amazon review, if the reader never even so much as mentions to anyone else about this thing that she enjoyed reading…the enjoyment is gift enough. After over two decades of writing only for myself, the gift of having even one person, let alone many, desire to read is one by which I am humbled and for which I will forever be deeply grateful.

Thank you.

–g

Notes on Ch. 1 of Patroclus Rising

August 5th, 2013 § 3 comments § permalink

Three (gulp!) years ago, I signed myself up for The Fandom Gives Back:  Eclipse edition. I’m very, very, very particular about the fact that I feel that what I’m doing in writing fic is borrowing a character and world from the author, and that only that author deserves to benefit financially from her world. For that reason, I’m loathe even to ask people to donate to get an outtake or any sort of finished piece—for me, that walks way too close to the line of someone paying to receive a fanfic.

So instead, what I auction is the right to tell me what to write. The winning bidder gets to ask for the story of her choosing, and then I do my level best to produce something that matches that vision.

For FGB, I auctioned off the rights to two stories, one to robsjenn, and the other to a group of readers who wanted to see what would happen if I wrote a Carlisle/Edward slash: deelovely, Capricorn75, HeBelongstoMe, lts929,  mycrookedsmile,  and sleepyvalentina.

And then life intervened, which I’ve written more about here. 

But I absolutely love writing from prompts. They stretch me as a writer in a really lovely way, and in a way that forces me out of my comfort zones. Some of the pieces I feel are my personal best have been written either prompted, or for contests with a limited requirement: Da Capo is one such piece, as is “Secondhand Rose“, and “Souls in Stillness“. Many fic writers in Twidom say they stay away from canon (and even vampire fics entirely) because they dislike being restricted. For me, however, that’s exactly the attraction—the more limitations I have on what I can write, the more interesting I find the result.

The only trouble with writing to a prompt is that sometimes it takes a while to figure out exactly how to write the piece. Robsjenn asked for a canon prequel that explained how Edward and Alice became so close. It took me many false starts over the course of a year to figure out how to structure that piece. The piece which resulted, Present Perfectof which I’m very proud, is absolutely nothing like what I had in mind when I started it, and it’s all the stronger for the struggle. 

The same is true of Patroclus Rising, which spent much of its gestation time named The Last Days of Socrates. I knew what I wanted to do, but I also worried that in order to do that, Carlisle would end up being raucously unsympathetic. I even wrote a long authors’ note intended to go at the beginning, to warn people that I knew what I was doing, but that it wasn’t going to be Carlisle the way they usually knew him. I wrote one scene (the second scene of the finished version, although its initial draft was longer) and then stopped.

I couldn’t quite figure out how to pull that off.

Enter two other fics, Stregoni Benefici and One Day the Sun Will RiseAs I worked on each of those, I started exploring Carlisle’s vulnerabilities—where is he weak? Where is he stupid? What kinds of things bring him down? What is his singular goal in life, and in what ways can it create problems if he goes about that goal the wrong way? As I formed the answers to those questions, I got a better sense of exactly how Carlisle, as I needed him to behave in Patroclus could possibly still be perfectly in step with the Carlisle I’ve written everywhere else.

Along the way, this fic spawned another: in 2011, I decided to enter the CarlWard contest. Since I was already writing a fic which slashed Carlisle and Edward in the pre-Twilight years, I decided I would instead choose a post-Breaking Dawn canon-based AU scenario to bring them together again. That resulted in “For a Season,” one of my favorite pieces in my writing portfolio period, derivative and non-derivative alike.  So in a way, this one prompt created two different fics, but each of which, I feel, fit with canon as we know it…or at least, in the case of Patroclus, it does if you’re willing to peek around the edges a bit.

So at long last, I’m happy to post this piece. It’s grown to be one of my favorite explorations of Carlisle, and I hope will be for you, too.

Happy reading.

 

 

Notes on “Strange Fruit” [spoilers]

July 26th, 2013 § 1 comment § permalink

Sometimes, a story idea will sit with me for years before I really get my arms around it, and that’s the case with this story. I confess, I don’t even know if this is something I believe “happened” according to my headcanon, or if it is a “what if” sort of AU, but I knew I wanted to write a scene where these two laid eyes on each other, before Alice, before Edward, before Esme. That they would glimpse each other at their respective lowests, and that something about that glimpse would change them both (because even though in the end, not much about how this interaction alters Carlisle ended up in this piece, in my head, it was a profound moment for him, also). And I knew that I felt strongly pulled to explore that moment happening over a lynching (this idea started one day mid-2011 while I was listening to a spiritual and sort of evolved from there).

I’ve always viewed Carlisle and Jasper as having a special kinship, having lived such deeply lonely lives in the era before the Cullen family began to come together. And I’ve always imagined that kinship to be a very quiet one, one that is expressed in glances and emotions felt and perceived rather than any long conversations. I last got to really play with this in Chapter 9 of Ithaca is Gorges, which I wrote four years ago—I haven’t taken the time to revisit them since.

But it’s a tough tone to strike; to be able to be sensitive to the horror of the situation I put them in here, and yet to also convey what this means to two vampires, both of whom were raised in different eras and whose compassion for the situation is radically different. And I wanted to explore the way that in some ways, they’re indifferent to what’s going on, but they’re indifferent for two entirely different reasons—one because he’s struggling with being sensitive to the act of killing, and the other because secrecy keeps him bound.

In my head, I couldn’t quite get this right, so I never laid it down, even though every four months or so, I would think about it again and try to hammer it out. And then in one moment, it clicked (or at least, I hope it did!), and out came the draft. I intended to make it a 1,000-worder, but I needed a tiny bit more to get it all the way there.

Thank you for reading.

Momentum

June 4th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Sure enough, as I posted in my last blog post, the second I finished the draft of Patroclus Rising on Friday night, I turned to One Day. I’ve had this chapter in my head for over a year, and half of it written for most of that time, so the rest of it came when it was called. (Although Carlisle’s line at the end…well, I’m convinced he came up with that himself).

I *hope* that the next handful of updates to this fic should tumble pretty quickly—this chapter is really about moving to the following morning, but as it was nearing 5K already and I know I need a good 2.5-3 to hash the morning, I decided to stop Chapter 6 after the party. So, while I make no promises, Chapter 7 should follow on pretty quickly here—most of the dialogue is actually already sitting in a word doc. And then shortly thereafter we’ll hit some of the meat that I’ve been wanting to get to since I first started this fic, much of which is already on paper and just needs to be revised.

Thank you for sticking with me, and happy reading.

But, What About One Day?

May 13th, 2013 § 11 comments § permalink

So, I know we’re approaching the year mark on the last One Day update. And people have been asking where, and when, and exactly what do I mean by “soon.” 

I know it’s the story everyone loves. I love it too. As painful as it is to inhabit Carlisle and Bella in that gut-wrenching of an AU, it’s also delightful to write. For me, it’s all the things that fic should be; a piece that unearths qualities of the characters that go unexplored because of the situation they’re in in the canon, that rips the rug out from under them but keeps them as in-character as possible to allow for a story that makes sense.

That sort of thing is why, after four years (and let’s not kid ourselves, various frustrations I’ve had with being in the Twilight fandom), I still  am immensely proud of having written, and still enjoy writing fic. It’s very different from writing something that’s wholly your own, and as far as I’m concerned, that difference is exactly what makes it so worth my time to do.

In 20…10? Has it been that long since Eclipse was released? I volunteered myself for The Fandom Gives Back: Eclipse. I auctioned off the rights to a prompt for two short stories.

But 2011 and 2012, as it turned out, would be the years the fandom turned in on itself. I wrote a post on tumblr about it awhile back, but I found 2012 an extremely difficult year to get myself to write anything. One thing I do that I really enjoy aside from writing and my academic work is that I’m a bookseller. Which means I’ve spent the last year with a lot of pulled-to-publish fanfiction in my face. (It also means I get the gleeful joy of being able to be certain that a couple of titles keep coming off the shelves in my store and being shipped back to their publisher, but that doesn’t always make up for it.) So with all that frustration inhabiting not only my online world, but also the place I spend 20-30 hours a week, I just found that Twific wasn’t something I felt much like doing.

As a result, it’s taken me a longer time than I am happy with to fulfill obligations that, even with all that has intervened, I am still excited to fulfill. I was finally able to put the finishing strokes on Stregoni, to nail Alice’s voice to my satisfaction and get Present Perfect out for consumption, and now, I’m working on the last 1/3 or so of Patroclus Rising, which, when complete, will undergo a good revision and then be posted.

At that point, I will be free of things I’ve promised other people I’d do, and things which, having been so postponed for so long,  make me feel a little crummy. Which is really silly, by the way, particularly in the case of Patroclus, as the people who bid on it are almost to a one close friends of mine, and if I said, “Hey, I’m not going to do it,” they’d all understand. But the truth is, I took it on because I enjoy writing prompts—they stretch me as a writer, and much of my best fic in Twidom has come from prompts for some thing or another. So it’s more the agreements I’ve made with me that I want to uphold—the agreement that I’d accept a challenge and turn out something I’m proud of in response. That I want to do…and if I happen to delight the people who were so gracious as to make a donation in my honor for the privilege of choosing that prompt, well, even more awesome.

One Day, though…One Day is my respite.  As I said, it’s my reminder of all the reasons I enjoy writing fic, and all the things that fic can be when it’s not being…well, all the things that make me mad about how other people seem to want to use it. So when Patroclus is posted, One Day will be my only WIP, and will likely be my last fanfic for Twilight (although I will never say never…these characters touched fire in me and if I feel I want to write more about them, I damn well will).  But I find that in order to maintain a clear head and a joyous heart, I’ve had to pull back almost entirely from the communal aspects of the Twilight fandom, and at that point, I become little better than the writer who is posting things expecting hordes of fans without truly being a fan herself. I would prefer to be a part of things. But when my best friend pinpointed within about two weeks the day when I deleted most of my fandom social media presence and said she could tell because I’ve been so much happier and more myself since then…well,  that says something pretty important, and I’m listening to her.

One Day will probably never post with anything close to a regular update schedule, but I hope to not leave multiple months between chapters once it is my only fic going. At this time, I’m going to choose to keep it off FFnet, and I will probably never post it there unless for some reason I ever have to delete gisellelx.com (but even then, I own gisellelx.wordpress.com, and could port this whole blog there.)

One Day is my private joy, but it’s a little private piece of me I’m happy to let my friends peer in at. Thanks for being patient while I get the more public me squared away.