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Rose and Her Doctor

April 2010

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Awesome Donna

Folk Music and Fan Fiction

Lisa, you've got me thinking about fanfiction. Lisa posted an entry in her journal wondering about fanfiction and gender. A little earlier she shared a great reply she made to a Fantasy Magazine article on fanfiction.

So this morning I was thinking that fanficiton is like folk music, to an extent. There are people who just write, like you describe yourself doing at an early age. I had a few cousins who did that. The thought never occurred to me for some reason, who knows why. But music, well that was a medium I dabbled in. At first it was just playing sheet music. We had a little organ that I learned the basics on when I was a 7 or 8. But when I got to be 12 or so we got a piano, and oooh...it was like riding a horse instead of a bicycle. The piano was so suited to my teenage years - it had much more breath and soul. It was a physical release. I could pound on the keys when I needed to, and express things that I couldn't express in words. I "composed" a few pieces. They weren't long pieces of music, but they recurred, and I would vary them and sometimes something new would come. I would just play them until something in me was satisfied.

When I left home, my mom gave me a guitar so I could take my music with me. It eventually moved me into a much more social place with music. I'd played music before for people to sing to ... well, ok I actually played the organ at church for years. But this was different. This was me, playing and singing with folks that were playing all kinds of music I had never been exposed to before, taking turns, passing a microphone around, everyone contributing something. Or playing with a group of women with a teacher that sang for "real" and was from Canada (why are there so many good musicians from Canada?) Or even playing backup behind a group of fiddlers from my son's school who play gypsy music. The music doesn't have to be that good or complex, although it is nice to play with folks that are in my ability range. It just has to be alive. And that's the point, really. It is a living breathing changing experience, and it satisfies my urge to create.

I'm reminded of the lyrics of a Joni Mitchell song - "He was playing real good, for free." Folk music. Music for folks to play. So many people don't ever play music or sing with others. They leave it to the radio or the professionals. I figure it is like that for lots of readers, too, like somebody's written word is it. They know what they're doing and you need to leave it to them. Maybe that belongs to "I read it in the newspaper, so it must be true!"

It never occured to me to write a tag to an episode of Doctor Who until JE left me stranded on a beach.

There is a story that is probably not true, but a good one anyway, about Mozart, the child prodigy. His mom found it hard to get him up in the morning, so she would go to the piano and play a c scale, but end it before it came to completion on the high c. cdefgab....cdefgab.... and GAh he couldn't stand it - he would jump out of bed and rush up to the piano and hit that last high c and complete the scale. Relief. This was what writing a tag for JE was for me. I couldn't stand it not being complete.

I found Doctor Who via my sister, and found YouTube to satisfy my need to see a Christmas Special. And then (strike the heavenly music) I found Doctor Who videos! And through a little comment on one of Seduff's videos I first heard the word "fanfic" and wrote to ask her what that was. So then there was Teaspoon, and eventually, because of Ever/Was, the computer-shy me was conquered and I put a toe in to LJ. And it was a whole other world, like hearing Woody Guthrie when all I ever heard before was the Eagles.

I've read some excellent fiction on teaspoon and LJ. So what if someone didn't publish it? I've had that same experience of being alive in another place, losing myself in a different reality. It is more than escapism, although that is a part of it, and a good healthy stress-relieving part of it, too. It is powerful when you are creating a world, whether through music or words. Not being a writer (and not even being much of a reader compared to folks that read a couple hours of it a day - although I'll binge a whole day away when I have a day off and be happy as a clam), I guess I wasn't aware that there was a prejudice out there against fanfiction writers. Well poppycock. I have a friend who is at college as a music major, and it is such a refreshing thing to have him come home and play music, because although he plays classical music, he has never been a snob about my folk music. In fact, although the guitar isn't his instrument, he picked it up and in no time was playing better than me, but that's not the point.

The point is that he could still play with me and still enjoy it. That's folk music. Folks getting together and sharing themselves in their music. And it is rich because the folks you are playing with are complex. And it is interesting because we always have something to learn from somebody else. And yeah, sometimes it is just not my thing and just not my kind of music. Of course. And yeah, I do love to hear folks play that are really good at what they do. They deserve to be making a living, with the talent they have. But that doesn't mean that I'd like to spend more time listening to them than playing music with my friends. And it doesn't mean that somebody couldn't be "playing real good for free" better than somebody that is playing on the radio.

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Comments

Wow, what an excellent analogy.

"He was playing real good, for free." -- that reminds me of a conversation that I had with another friend about how, generally, people don't value things that are free. I don't know if it's a human thing or a culture thing, but it goes from TANSTAFL all the way to Jesus on the cross.

Bits and pieces: 1) Isn't Seduff incredible? I want to do that! 2) You're a musician! Yea! 3) this internet stuff, yeah, pretty heady. I think that my access to the internet and my interactions there have changed my adult self as much as having children did, and that's saying a lot.