When Carlisle and Edward made a family: Notes on “Ordinary Time”

April 19th, 2019 § 1 comment § permalink

I keep my characters forever. Though it’s possible that one day, some of the characters from the world I invented when I was 9 will see the light of day (my career as an academic, which so far has turned out to be more fruitful than my career as a fiction writer, keeps getting in the way), even when those personalities lie buried in trunk novels, I keep continuing to see the world through their eyes and wondering how they would respond.

I’m finding that in the world of fanfic, which I came to much later, it’s not much different.

I wrote “For a Season” because I wanted to compete in the CarlWard contest, and I was already drafting Patroclus Rising, which explored a Carlisle and Edward pairing in the pre-Esme era. Not wanting to tread the same ground twice, I forced myself to imagine what could enable the two of them to come to each other in a world that Bella Swan had been a part of. And it yielded one of the best pieces in my writing repertoire.

“Ordinary Time” isn’t trying to reach the same heights. It’s just a check-in of sorts. At the end of “Season,” Carlisle and Edward have barely stumbled into a precarious happiness. They’re crammed into a small house with a preschooler, and they’ve embarked on a new relationship as partners. And it’s 2007: same-sex marriage is legal in only a handful of places, usually as “civil union,” and bans are being passed left, right, and center.

And then…there’s Rene. (Pronounced “wren,” for anyone who hits this blog post before the fic.)

Renesmee is born in 2006, which makes her not even a millennial. She is part of the unnamed generation, sometimes called iGen or GenZ. Even though she is homeschooled and doesn’t otherwise run into kids her age (and she no doubt is, even though I don’t go into that here), she is being exposed to ideas about sexuality, gender, and desire that would seem entirely foreign to the two men she lives with. To her, there is little particularly stigmatizing about loving someone of the same gender, and the categories of sexualities that she is comfortable with far outstrip those of her fathers.

One delightful review I got on FoS talked about Carlisle seeming too stereotypically gay in his growing house-decorating desires. I admit, the stereotype was an unintended fallout of decorating having been Esme’s hobby, but I was glad that the reviewer noticed that build. What I was headed for was that Esme used to do the decorating, and Carlisle’s slow ownership of his desire for nice things is really a representation of his slow ownership of a life without his wife. He allows himself to desire plates, and table linens, and flowers…what (who) else will he allow himself to desire? “Ordinary” picks up with Carlisle and Edward six and a half years later, when they are much more comfortable with these desires, and that comfort continues to evolve even through these three vignettes.

In any incarnation when I write a CarlWard pairing, I rest on the fundamental idea that no one in this vampire world exists within the bounds of human sexuality. I see Carlisle and Edward as being attracted first and foremost to each other, not to “men” as it were. In canon, neither of them found attraction to or sexual expression with a woman before their female mates. So it’s not that Carlisle is attracted to women, and then realizes he is attracted to men; it is that Carlisle is attracted to Esme, specifically, and then to Edward, specifically. Outside of these two, he’s pretty content to just be asexual, and so is Edward. The gender of the person they are attracted to is immaterial, and if you read carefully, I dropped a hint in about where they have landed with respect to identifying their sexual orientation. Over time, in the face of changing social acceptance (and with no small amount of help/pushing from Rene), I  imagine that they would come to embrace (and joke about their embrace of), labels like queer and gay. As the world changes around them, they are trying to keep up and find the best way to express their relationship to the world.

This “outside the bounds of human sexuality” brings me to the second line I was walking delicately in “Ordinary Time,” and which perhaps might be the thing others have the most difficulty with (though knowing my most devoted readers, perhaps not). Carlisle does not, in all my years exploring him, seem to live in a world of “either/or.” He lives in a world of “both/and.” Edward, his lover and husband, is still also his beloved son. The one identity might usually subsume the other, but it doesn’t erase it, and no matter who it might make uncomfortable, to write them any other way has never felt true to me. In my favorite CarlWards (cf. the last two chapters of “Intervention” by AllTheOtherNamesAreUsed, which delight me to no end), the authors have similarly left this ambiguity firmly in place. In 1918, their relationship went one way when it could have easily gone another, and the fact that they’ve backtracked and wound up on the opposite fork is not upsetting to either of them. Renesmee, of course, takes this all in stride and heightens it—seeing how much Carlisle enjoys being “Granddad” and refusing to deprive him of that. This mutability of relationship also extends to Rene—at this point, Carlisle has raised her for all but half a year of her life. And yet, he is mindful that she has a mother and a father, neither of whom are him. So he moves fluidly from calling her Edward’s daughter, to calling her his daughter, and back again. When they are asked to define themselves, they all choose “all of the above.”

So they have messy experiences in a messy relationship, in a very, very messy world. This is “Ordinary Time.”  Thank you to my dear friend twitina for pre-reading and not immediately declaring me ridiculous for writing a fanfic about the SCOTUS. Should you desire to nerd out on information about the cases which make up the bones of this story, head to Oyez.org.

“Ordinary Time” is the term in the liturgical church tradition for the time between Epiphany and Lent, and then between Pentecost and Advent. The American Episcopal Church, which is the denomination I’ve always imagined Carlisle would feel most comfortable attending, began allowing the ordination of LGBT clergy in 2009, and went on to eliminate official language defining marriage as only between a man and a woman and introduce gender-neutral marriage rites in 2015.

Something new is coming…

April 16th, 2019 § 4 comments § permalink

…and so I’m going to pretend like I in no way forgot to put my most recent piece (which is now 3.5 years from initial post and 1 year from final post) on my website. Nothing to see here, except for Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Vampire… :whistles:

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.

 

 

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.

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