Author has written 24 stories for Mentalist, Once Upon a Time, and Castle.
On writing, resolutions, and returning to fanfiction after more than a year
If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve read one of my stories. Perhaps it’s even my new one (more on that later) that’s being posted today. Maybe it’s I See the Light, which was finished a year and a half ago now, and claimed that I knew what I was writing next. That claim is true, I did know, and equally true is the part about not knowing when it would be posted. Today I can answer the second part…it’s going to be posted today.
Yes, Once Upon a December is a story that I have had cooking on the backburner for almost two years.
Why has it taken so long? A few reasons, really.
First, the show I fell in love with is gone. It’s really hard to care about the show anymore (I’m not even caught up on the current season) since it’s like a sad shell of its former glory. I used to be so inspired by these characters and the Charming family feels, but thanks to some truly shoddy writing, the main characters are being sidelined for the character of the week and the Charming family moments sidelined along with them. I can still write AU, and will do so, but I’m feeling a bit limited there, too (more on that later as well).
Second, writing is a big part of my RL too. Not anything any of you will likely ever read, since it’s all academic stuff. But when your career is essentially being a professional writer, it’s harder to write for fun. Graduate school involves a lot of guilt – there’s always something you should be doing. If you’re writing fanfiction, well…why aren’t you writing your article? (Yes, yes, certainly fanfiction is much more fun than writing an article. But guilt doesn’t always listen to reason.)
Third, it’s hard to write AU when your repertoire of characters is limited to the ones I like – Snow, Charming, Emma, Graham, Red, Regina (don’t like her, but I like her as the villain), and Rumple (same as Regina – don’t like him, but he’s convenient). There’s only so many roles you can give them (if you slot Regina and Rumple into villain roles, which I tend to do). Henry tends to be superfluous. I don’t want Neal or Hook. The biggest challenge of writing Once Upon a December is going to be making it different from the AUs I’ve done before.
What do I mean? Without giving too much away, Once Upon a December is based on "Anastasia" in the way that I See the Light was based on "Tangled". Both stories involve a daughter separated from her family and a male love interest who reunites them. I think the same things that drew me to doing an Anastasia story were the ones that drew me to I See the Light in the first place. But I don’t want to be derivative of my own work. The key is finding a way to write this story, and make it different, despite the similarities.
One of the hardest differences to swallow has been my decision to kill a parent. I love Snowing. I absolutely love writing their romance, their strength, their shared grief. I live for Snowing angst. But – and this is a big but – I did that already. Many of my favorite scenes in I See the Light involve Snowing angst, despair over a lost daughter, the need to bolster each other as they fight against Regina. Those scenes have already been written; I couldn’t write them again.
Another difficult pill to swallow? Killing Snow instead of Charming. My first AU story (not based on any movie) was Safe and Sound, in which Snow raised Emma on her own after they went through the tree together (this was a world in which Geppetto didn’t lie and August didn’t have the chance to be an ass). Charming wasn’t dead, but Snow has been the surviving parent. I’ve written her a lot in that capacity. I don’t write Charming as often. This was the challenge to myself: to write something different, as painful as it is (and believe me, it’s painful).
This brings me to my fanfiction resolution for 2016: I’m going to write this story this year. There are 12 chapters planned, which averages out to posting a chapter a month. We’ll see how that goes – I’m not sure how regular the update pattern will be. But I can say that my resolution to myself is that this story will be done this time next year.
Thanks for reading – this note, as well as my stories – and Happy New Year!