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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

Fandom Snowflake Challenge: Day 1

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet

"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

Fandom Snowflake Challenge: Day 1

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I am going to try to do the Fandom Snowflake challenge this year. Like all of it. I usually do a day here or there, but I've liked journaling daily as part of the photo-of-the-day (although if my performance on that is any indication, then I'll miss a few days of Snowflake as well).

Day One's challenge is:

In your own space, post a rec for at least three fanworks that you have created. It can be your favorite fanworks that you've created, or fanworks you feel no one ever saw, or fanworks you say would define you as a creator. Leave a comment in this post saying you did it. Include a link to your post if you feel comfortable doing so.

So *rubs hands together* ... let's dive in!

I've self-recced stories for Fandom Snowflake and other challenges before, and my stories are the first place my brain tends to go when asked for self-recs. But I'm going to mix things up a little bit and also, in the spirit of the Snowflake Challenge, break the rules a little by only reccing two things. But they are two big things! So maybe that counts for something.

I am reccing the two sites that I built and that I currently help moderate: the Silmarillion Writers' Guild (which I also founded and own) and Many Paths to Tread.

Really, as far as fanworks that define me as a creator, here you have it. Yes yes, I've spent many hundreds of hours writing stories, and I'm not going to play coy and pretend that some of those stories haven't been important to the Silmarillion fandom, but deciding to turn my energies to learning web design now more than ten years ago was life-changing and--I like to hope--something that shaped the Tolkien fandom in positive directions.

For anyone who doesn't know the story, I decided to found the SWG after a night of insomnia in which I decided that the Internet needed a Silmarillion-only group and I should be the one to build it. I chickened out immediately upon setting up the SWG on Yahoo! Groups (remember that?!) and LiveJournal, but thankfully I was found by Uli/ford_of_bruinen, who would become my first comod, and pushed me to follow through on my dream. When SWG members wanted an archive, I set about learning to do what I'd need to do to build one. I taught myself HTML and CSS from books and started working with eFiction. This led the LotRGen moderators to approach me about building a site for them. I was impressed with the fact that, as a genfic group in an anti-slash point in fandom history, they were open to allowing any stories at an R-rating on below on the site, regardless of the orientation of the couple(s) in the story. So I agreed to help them build their site, and that brought me to MPTT.

I say all this because I've been in the Tolkien fandom for a long time now, and I'm seeing things start to change in ways that I don't like, namely that Tolkien fandom is becoming increasingly comfortable with centralization, and many fans are losing their self-sufficiency in the process. Back in the day, there were dozens of homegrown groups owned by people in the Tolkien fandom, and it wasn't particularly extraordinary to do what I did and learn specialized skills in order to run fandom projects. Plenty of people who couldn't do much more than switch on the computer when they started in fandom learned to write HTML, design graphics, and manage online communities.

There are disadvantages to local control, whether in government or fandom and I won't pretend this was always utopian, but one thing was certain: We did not depend on the blessing or existence of anyone but ourselves and our own minds and hands to have our communities. I will be blunt: I dislike how centralized Tolkien fandom has become. I dislike the snide way people look down their noses at websites like mine because we're not as advanced as AO3. I dislike how everything is on AO3 or Tumblr now. And let me be perfectly clear: I am on AO3 and Tumblr both myself. I have no problem with either site. I like both sites. I was an extremely early adopter and supporter of AO3 and continue to think that they are very much a needed part of the fan community. Notice I said "part." Because AO3 and Tumblr are not the Tolkien fandom, y'all. WE are the Tolkien fandom. These sites will not represent and defend our interests when they are different from Fandom as a whole. If you need proof, just look at the AO3 piped tag debacle, in which AO3 told Tolkien fandom to go fuck itself rather than listen to feedback about a usable system for tagging characters and pairings. And our fandom is weird. Tolkien-based fanfic is more than fifty years old; we have a history and a complex canon that is unlike any other fan community. Our needs are and will continue to differ from Fandom as a whole, and we deserve sites run by people from our own communities that listen to our needs and interests.

For my part, I plan to continue to fight to keep my sites alive and relevant. They are my proudest achievement in this fandom, and I continue to believe strongly that they are needed and important. I hope Tolkien fans reading here will make more of an effort in 2017 to support a Tolkien fandom site or project. Post your stories to a Tolkien archive; comment on something that isn't on AO3 or Tumblr; volunteer to help with an event or challenge. It doesn't have to be the SWG or MPTT, but do something to keep our Tolkien fandom institutions alive.

This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

  • Until you wrote this, I didn't even realise what a privilege small archives like the SWG are coming to be. Somehow, I've been assuming that it's a matter of course that there are plenty of home-grown archives catering to specific tastes, and the big melting pots of ff.net or AO3 (which is not meaning to say that these two are in any way comparable, except as massive multi-fandom, multi-genre platforms) have had... a reason for existing, sure, but too big to easily navigate. Even when recced (and thus directly linked to) a story, if I have several archives to choose from, I'll always prefer to read it on SWG or LJ rather than AO3 or (Valar help me) Tumblr. (Unlike you, I'm a bit of a Luddite; it's not that all new technology/platforms are evil, but I'm certainly not eager to leave a comfortable space for something "new and exciting", and Tumblr in particular rubs me entirely the wrong way. I sort of like the theory behind AO3, but haven't yet felt the urge to sign up.) It's so sad to see a mess like what happened to LOTRfanfiction, or to see HASA disappear. But I hadn't realised that the loss of small archives was such a wide-spread phenomenon.

    So, yeah. Since SWG is my fandom home and I'm rather desperately dependant on its existence, I guess I should do a lot more volunteering. >_> D'you have any odd jobs for a scatterbrain with an unpredictable schedule?
  • I, for one, am so grateful for all you have done for the Tolkien fandom. I was pulled into it by reading stories including your "Another Man's Cage", then participated and read LJ and the B2BeM stories, then I began writing and posted to SWG and/or MPTT. All of these have your hand and your thorough stamp on them. Mere thanks are totally inadequate, but "Thank You" is all I have to offer. Thanks for all you do in this community, Dawn. You are AMAZING!

    - Erulisse (one L)
  • Originally, when I started using AO3, I was just thinking of it as an opportunity for on-line back-up. I confess it is more than that to me now--I found more readers there than I expected. But I still regard SWG as my online home and am so grateful for the passion and effort invested by you and the other mods into maintaining and improving it. If I upload something to AO3 before SWG, that's because in the case of SWG I actually care about not swamping the Most Recent box and am spacing out my uploads, whereas I figure AO3 can take it, even if I hurl a fistful of drabbles at it.

    I'm sorry I have so little capacity for volunteering. I'm hoping to work on those back-up bios I promised you ages ago this week, although I've unfortunately gone down with a cold. (If you ever need a pinch-hitter for compiling the Around the World and Web section of the newsletter, I might be able to help as well.)

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