“The Boy Who Lived Forever”

To say it’s been kind of a surreal couple of days around here would be vastly understating the case. If I let myself think about it, it’s more like a surreal couple of weeks, but I sort of can’t let myself think about it. Forward motion, it’s all I got. There’s still plywood over our window.

Yesterday, when I wrote my post about fandom old home week, I wrote it expecting the Time article (“The Boy Who Lived Forever”) to drop today (when the print edition comes out). Imagine my surprise when I got a Google alert for it an hour later, and then saw that I was in the lead of the thing.

I think it’s a really lovely piece (I mean, gosh, I even told my parents about it), and that Lev captured the 101 of what fanfiction and fandom is both in content and tone. I laughed aloud reading the thing more than once (sex pollen!), and I’m really happy the article exists. It’s just an entirely random bizzareo-world bonus thing that I don’t really know how to process that I got to be in it too and that the company I’m keeping is sort of intense and includes some fandom friends (hi, XT!), Naomi Novik (who had a book release party I danced at), and Darren Criss (enough said). Seriously, I have been laughing about this whole thing on and off since I read the article.

For the record, I wound up in the piece pretty much the way anything happens — I was in the right place at the right time and put myself forward. In this case, that really meant being able and willing to have my real name in the thing. Despite the way I can be (which is something I actually have a lot of inner conflict with these days, but you don’t need to see my internal wank), I can really only speak for myself and my own dorky fannish life, so mostly I just hope I did okay.

Anyway, in the interest of living up to the Harry Potter portion of the piece, Kali and I unlocked a few pieces of fic from our co-written fanfic universe Descensus Facilis Averno: October 31, 1974 and April 15, 1978.

Both of these are PG-13, both of these are Slytherin backstory from around the time that Lucius, Narcissa, Severus and Lily were in or just out of Hogwarts. There’s probably a lot of context missing because these were part of a much larger arc with ridiculous amounts of world-building/additions, but they might amuse anyway.

From the stuff written all by my lonesome, I’ll inflict these two on you: Sometimes Knowledge, which is rated R and is also about Slytherins, and The Convenient Marriage, which is rated 16+, but is a really dark, post-Voldemort victory world where Snape and Hermione are trying to survive as collaborators.

Anyway, all of this is not, actually, the only thing that’s been a part of that “RSN, I have stuff to tell you!” chant I’ve been doing around here lately, but it is a part of it, although probably the least important and yet most bizarre. If nothing else, it’s been a brilliant distraction from looking at all the pics from the London premiere of HP7.2, which seem to have been triggering a major waterworks for everyone. I watched a little bit of it yesterday until I finally had to turn it off. My heart was just a little too permeable to get through work with dry eyes, and I really needed to.

It is certainly remarkable, I think, to look at how important and poisonous the subject of immortality is in the Harry Potter books (did Christian send me a photo of a t-shirt yesterday that says “Make Love, Not Horcruxes”? Yes, yes he did) and yet also realize that Harry has achieved on an extradiegetic (sorry, favorite word!) basis what Voldemort could not on an intradiegetic one. But because we, as fans, continue the story, and because Harry Potter also extends our own stories as something that has marked time and events in our lives, there’s also a sort of victory over mortality for the character in and beyond (as opposed to outside of) the original context of the narrative as well.

On that note, I’m headed off to work now, and then Patty and I are going to continue our plan to eat fabulous food in Boston and environs (if you don’t all know Evoo, know Evoo), and do as little else as possible. After the weekend we’re back into our busy lives, our apartment hunt, our battle against the plywood, and just trying to do what it takes to be ready for whenever we’re in the right place at the right time.

Soon, hopefully, I’ll get caught up on Torchwood: Miracle Day and have time to write about another boy who lived forever; this one, because he was loved in a way he didn’t quite want.

14 thoughts on ““The Boy Who Lived Forever””

  1. Lovely. Yes to what you say about extradiegetic immortality:

    Sonnet 81 Or I shall live your epitaph to make

    Or I shall live your epitaph to make,
    Or you survive when I in earth am rotten;
    From hence your memory death cannot take,
    Although in me each part will be forgotten.
    Your name from hence immortal life shall have,
    Though I, once gone, to all the world must die:
    The earth can yield me but a common grave,
    When you entombed in men’s eyes shall lie.
    Your monument shall be my gentle verse,
    Which eyes not yet created shall o’er-read,
    And tongues to be your being shall rehearse
    When all the breathers of this world are dead;
    You still shall live–such virtue hath my pen–
    Where breath most breathes, even in the mouths of men.

  2. I was really pleased with how your quotes turned out in that article and hoped you were, too. Of course, Lev Grossman is an old hand at HP fandom so he wouldn’t make any newbie mistakes. It’s good, RM. đŸ™‚

  3. I just saw the article, which Foxy linked to, and I instantly emailed it to the few non-fandom friends with whom I (rarely) discuss my fannish life and who have always tended to listen to my (scant) comments about it with a particularly infuriating sort of air of patience. It’s so incredibly validating to have a MSM outlet take it seriously. And great fun to add, casually, that the Racheline Maltese quoted throughout co-wrote practically the first fan fiction I ever read, and that I still follow her journal. Woo-hoo!

  4. Amazing, a MSM article about fandom and the internet that gets it mostly right! And thank you for teaching me new words today. Any day in which I add to my vocabulary is a good one.

  5. I thought the article was very good and I liked your quotes. I’m glad to hear you’re pleased with it. I learned a few things as I only dip my toes into fanfiction and only read particular authors in particular fandoms (Of which you are one, of course.) Haven’t ever read any HP fic, and I suppose it’s a fine day to start.


    1. Thank you! I am super, super tickled by the whole thing, mostly for the small world theater aspect.

      HP fanfic can be hard to pursue now because so much branches off of earlier books and there are lots of dead links. It can be a challenge!

  6. I know a couple of published writers who polished their skills writing fan fiction (Dragon Riders of Pern related fiction to be specific). I read the first page of the article, but I’ve got a ton of work to do so I’ll read the rest later. I liked what I saw. Kudos to you for being in the right place at the write time (pun intended).

    1. Thanks!

      I totally do think fanfic can and is a great tool for people to build their skills as writer, but putting words down on paper always is. I’m very wary of the idea that it’s “practice” for “the real thing” as I think it’s an art form in and of itself that has goals that are unique from those of original fiction.

  7. I used to eat at Evoo all the time! My bf lived around the corner. That’s a great area for food, if you know where to look.

  8. . The point about Hamlet was the one that made me sit up straight, but really the examples of Virgil and Stoppard fall much more neatly into the same box.

    *sob* I had 2 paragraphs before the sentence above and inadvertently highlighted and hit the space bar (I was actually trying to highlight the sentence above and it reversed itself as these things are wont to do occasionally) and for some inexplicable reason, it’s not something that can be undone! Wherefore art thou ctrl-Z?!?!

    So yeah… gong to go weep now about my lost comment, but at the end of the day my point is: great article.

  9. Since I got the Kindle and my ability to consume novel-length fic in giant commute-sized gulps dramatically increased, I’ve been putting anything that I remember was good on there that I can easily download. So, AO3/FFN/single page webpages, basically.

    Ghosts and Unfinished Games have held up surprisingly well. Especially compared to other Snape/Hermione fic that has… not. I’ll let you fill in the dots there.

    I liked the article a lot. FYI, my mom approves.

    1. er, I should have said, “other Snape fic which has not,” even though I mean Snape/Hermione, JUST SO YOU KNOW.

      Snape the Home Fries Nazi has aged very well…

  10. When I was reading the Time’s article, and I saw your name I had a very Knives Chau (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World) moment. All I could think was “I read her blog!”

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