I Wrote a Piece of Fan Fiction for 10 Years and Here’s What Happened…

Fan fiction gets a bad rap, and that’s mostly because of some of the more…strange products that end up on the internet. While we often see cringeworthy, oftentimes hilarious outcomes that freak out celebrities like James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, or even have entire Twitter accounts devoted to some of the more outlandish musings (and let’s not forget “My Immortal”), “fan fiction” is generally used as a derogative term that denotes something exceedingly derivative or poorly written. Even I thought ill of fan fiction at first.

 

This was before I published some.

…and no surprise, it’s Pirates of the Caribbean related.

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Let’s start at the beginning:

I was twelve years old, visiting the Disneyland Resort. This was in the months immediately preceding the release of Pirates 3, which everyone thought at the time would be the final installment of the franchise (oh how wrong they were). I liked the movies quite a bit, and was enchanted by the new additions to the park including Jack Sparrow and Barbossa animatronics inside the Pirates attraction, as well as the complete revamp of Tom Sawyer Island to Pirate’s Lair.

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And you can bet that I will absolutely be recreating this photo when the island reopens, given that the bone cage is still there.

Inside the Pirate-themed Pieces of Eight store in New Orleans Square, I bought a book called, Bring Me That Horizon, a compendium of cast and crew bios, on set and behind-the-scenes details, and exclusive set photos from unit publicist Michael Singer. It covered the entire trilogy, and as I had been interested in film from a young age, I was proud to have bought the book with my own money that I had earned from chores.

I started rifling through the book as soon as it was mine. I can clearly remember sitting at a waterside table at the Hungry Bear restaurant with it as I waited for my parents to bring back lunch. It was also at this table that I started thinking about a story. I wanted to write about a new character who was always a part of the Pirates stories, but was never seen, and I wanted her connected to my two favorite characters from the movies, Jack Sparrow and Tia Dalma.

The summer began with me seeing the third Pirates movie (which quickly became my favorite), getting a cat I named Calypso (because I had no self-control), and then spending the remainder of the season writing my story. I wrote on pieces of brightly colored construction paper and stuck them in all possible pages of the Singer book and carried it with me everywhere I went. So loved is that book, there are pages currently falling out of it.

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Myself and said hero, Michael Singer, along with a satchel gifted to him by Mr. Depp himself.

I named my original character Rose Hexfury, a name randomly generated for my player from the short-lived World of Warcraft-esque virtual game Pirates of the Caribbean Online. She was to be Jack’s half-sister and Tia Dalma would be her mentor. I wanted her to be a gypsy from France, interact with all of the characters in the franchise, and somehow have mystical powers by the end.

…sounds pretty lame, doesn’t it? I was twelve. Shut up.

Well, I agreed with you. Life moved on, and within a year, I was over it. My love for the Pirates movies continued to grow, but I felt silly writing this story, which I had devised into filling FIVE books (an ambitious little one, I was!). I wasn’t Ted Elliot or Terry Rossio, I was a preteen from Nevada without any writing experience whatsoever. What was the point of writing this story? Anyone who would ever read it would find it ridiculous, I thought. So I stopped. I put it down and intended to never return, and I never told anyone what I had been working so hard on that summer.

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Aforementioned well-loved book. Don’t judge it by its cover–it’s most definitely falling apart on the inside.

Word about a fourth film began years later, and at the age of fifteen, I saw the finished product of On Stranger Tides. Even though it had been years since I had written a word of Rose Hexfury’s story, I found myself worried that the movie would interfere with the canon of what I had planned. I remember feeling relieved that it hadn’t, and I even started thinking about how I could add Penelope Cruz’s character Angelica to my story. This newfound interest in picking it up again failed, however, as now I was midway through high school and really considered it childish.

I was just about to graduate from my senior year in high school when I found myself on the then still-untitled Pirates of the Caribbean 5 IMDb page. I nearly fell to the ground when my eyes drifted to the rumored cast list, which included Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush (obviously), as well as Orlando Bloom as Will Turner and GASP!…JACK DAVENPORT AS NORRINGTON! “But how?” I thought. “Norrington (who by that point had grown to become another favorite character of mine) died in Pirates 3!”

In considering ways in which this could be possible, I felt once again the familiar stir of my story begin to resurface. Even though the iteration of the script featuring Norrington’s return to the story would ultimately be rejected, I started trying to find a way to bring him into mine.

That’s when I realized that Rose Hexfury’s voice was still inside me, and somewhere deep down, a twelve-year-old version of myself refused to shut up until I finished the story. So, that summer after I graduated, I got to work, vowing to finish it once and for all. Would I publish it? Never. Would I tell anyone? DEFINITELY not. I still found the whole thing rather embarrassing. I just wanted it done so that I could print out the final product, stick it in a drawer somewhere and forget about it completely.

Then I came to college, and I began to meet people just as impassioned by film and television as I was. I met writers, nerds, fans, and fellow minds who were incredibly witty and creative. Many of these friends had dabbled in fan fiction, and one of them convinced me to put my work online via fanfiction.net at the start of 2015.

I will say, were it not for the Dead Men Tell No Tales release date tomorrow, I would have had no impetus to finish the story. But I can clearly see that the film’s plot threatens to completely destroy the ending of my now ten-year-old story. So with a hard deadline of May 26, 2017, I have finally completed Rose Hexfury’s journey, and my, how far it’s come. I can’t believe a decade-long project has finally come to a close.

This process has been absolutely invaluable to me, and I would like to tell you why:
  • The discovery that I can write! Not only that, but I like it. It’s been so interesting to go back through the old pieces of construction paper and map how my vocabulary and syntax has grown far more dynamic in the passing years. I now feel so much more certain of my abilities.
  • Learning to write in another’s voice. I tell you what, it’s surprisingly hard. It’s been so much fun but also such a challenge to visualize the performers of these established characters saying the words that I am penning. I give credit where credit is due to fan fiction writers who can do this well. It’s no easy feat.
  • Learning to keep true to another canon. My story attempts to be 100% canonically correct to ten full hours of a movie franchise, something I put down in 2007 and have stood by throughout the process. This has also proved challenging. I’ve had to know what I’m talking about, and still haven’t totally succeeded. After the storm passes, I will launch into edits to fix a few missteps, rogue typos, and inconsistencies, as I really want the story as airtight as possible.
  • Feedback. I am usually scared to death of criticism, but feedback from users of fanfiction.net has been absolutely key to my work and has helped me grow significantly. I now better know what an audience responds to, as well as times when I’m being far too vague or not giving a character enough attention.
  • The people. Branching off of this thought, I have learned to be far more open-minded about this facet of the internet. Fan fiction isn’t embarrassing. It’s not worthless or lesser, as I originally thought. People from all over the world contribute, and how amazing is it that that many people are so inspired by someone else’s work to write a continuation or a spinoff or a crossover with some other work? Yes, it most definitely can get weird, but for the most part, these sites are an epicenter of creativity and passion, and I think that deserves to be supported and treasured.
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My fic’s cover image. Phone filters these days…

My story is based on the work of Ted Elliot, Terry Rossio, Stuart Beattie, Jay Wolpert, and Jeff Nathanson, the screenwriters who built such a wonderful world for me to play with, as well as everyone involved in the creative teams of the films and the Imagineers who designed the original 1967 Disneyland attraction. I further was inspired by the work of Robb Kidd, who did an amazing job with his Jack Sparrow and Brethren Court series, which I have also looped into my story several times.

I thank my friend for forcing me to put my work online for people to read, and the handful of people who ever knew it existed in the first place and the readers on fanfiction.net.

Ten years and 196,835 words later, I am finally embracing my work. I’m not ashamed anymore. In fact, I’m proud and relieved that it’s over. If you would like to read what I’ve done, below is the link. While you’re there, I encourage you to poke around the site find stories from your own favorite movies, books, television shows, games, and more. There’s so much out there, much of it very good.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11382703/1/The-Legend-of-Rose-Hexfury

All photos by author. Gifs from giphy.
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All the Times I Wept #2: Logan (2017)

SPOILERS, FOOLS. Keep your bloody adamantium claws off this page if you don’t want Logan to be utterly ruined for you.

Welcome to the second installment of my “All the Times I Wept” series. This blog could also be subtitled, “Need a Hug After Seeing Logan? C’mon. Bring it in.”

Okay. It’s been a a few days, and I am just now ready to talk about Logan (Mangold, 2017). I genuinely thought I was ready for another Wolverine flick, and especially with all of the production’s promises to be edgier, grittier, and more emotional than anything that we’ve ever seen before in the Marvel X-Men Universe. Plus, one of my very favorite actors and League Member #3, Hugh Jackman!

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Boy, was I wrong.

It’s hard to be a severe emotional empath and also be a student of film. As a film critic, one should be able to separate themselves from the manipulative techniques used by the filmmakers to influence their audience in order to more objectively judge the quality of the film. However, every time, I have utterly failed in this endeavor. If there’s a well written and performed character in either a massively happy or sad circumstance, I’m a goner. Cue the water works.

So, I was left with the position to use this quality of mine. And hey, now I know that if a movie gets me, at least it was successful in creating a great emotional charge through good writing, powerful images, swelling music, an authentic performance, or some combination of the four.

This was the greatest strength of Logan, and I want to break down the specifics of all the times I wept here:

  • The revelation of Charles’s frail state.

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Professor Charles Xavier, whether in Patrick Stewart or James McAvoy form, was always a consistent badass. It didn’t even matter if he was constricted to a wheelchair – it was Charles’s incredible intelligence that was always the glue that held each particular X-Men team together. He was the heart and soul of each film.

So seeing him weak, slowly losing his mind, and spending a lonely existence in a toppled-over tank was heartbreaking. It’s a sight most everyone can relate to; Many of us have watched the decline of physical and mental state of someone who at one time was a strong, healthy, powerful person. It’s a scary thing to witness that reminds us of the frailty and impermanence of life. I heard audible cries of pity in my theater when Stewart whimpers out the line, “You’re just waiting for me to die,” in his first scene of the film. Gut-wrenching.

  • Charles, unable to control his powers, injures civilians and tearfully apologizes.

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Charles experiences seizures when he doesn’t take medication, and his powerful mind adversely affects all people and things around him when these attacks happen. The film alludes to, but never explains well, that one of these attacks apparently killed some of the other X-Men? I don’t know? I’d watch it again, but then again I am not interested in putting myself through more emotional trauma, thank you.

Anyways, one of these attacks occurs in a busy hotel, rendering all guests and employees within temporarily paralyzed. After Logan and Laura successfully inject medication into Charles, thereby stopping the attack, they flee the hotel, wheeling Charles through the wreckage. Seeing what his mind has caused, Charles, in tears, cries out, “I’m sorry,” to shell-shocked patrons struggling to recover. Once again, P-Stew’s performance got me bad. He is powerless to stop the damage he creates, and is just as powerless to help fix the consequences.

  • The attack at the farm.

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Dammit. Nothing happy can ever last in this movie, can it? An innocent, nice, happy family welcomes Logan, Charles and Laura in for dinner and an overnight stay. This leads to two separate groups attacking the farm and the members of the family all are killed in the process. And let’s not forget the most horrible moment; Charles remembering that his uncontrollable actions destroyed the X-Men (once again, still not sure about this. It was rather lazily thrown into the dialogue), but saying aloud that this night he, Logan, Laura, and the farm family spent together was absolutely perfect.

Then what flipping happens? Charles gets to watch LOGAN HIMSELF STAB HIM WITH HIS CLAWS. We quickly discover that it’s not Logan, but a replicated model named X-24 (also played by Jackman) created by Transigen, but that’s what Charles gets to see before he dies: What looks to be his ally stabbing him through the chest on what was, “the best night in recent memory.” And to make matters INFINITELY WORSE, as Charles dies, Logan keeps whispering, “It wasn’t me. It wasn’t me,” and it’s never clear if Charles actually hears him. Kill me.

  • “The Sunseeker”

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Charles dies in Logan’s arms, but not before whispering, “The Sunseeker,” the boat that Logan was planning on buying for the two of them to live out their days in peace aboard.

…I was wrecked (no boat puns intended).

  • Wolverine struggling to keep it together at Charles’s funeral.

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Hugh Jackman is an incredible performer. The first movie I ever saw him in and what ultimately led me to consider him for League inclusion was Les Miserables (Hooper, 2012), where he’s practically sobbing in every scene he’s in. So watching him as Logan, the Wolverine, the unbreakable, unkillable force who’s as tough as nails, struggle to hold back tears as he buries Charles, was incredibly tragic.

  • Wolverine grows steadily weaker.

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So in the climatic final battle, Logan takes all of the medicine which makes him completely heal and charge into battle with incredible strength (a moment which rendered cheering in my theater), but once the medicine quickly wears off, he’s weaker than ever. It was so hard throughout this entire film to watch the self-healing, 200 year-old mutant struggle with physical ailments, but this particular moment evoked so much pity.

I also want to take a moment and compliment the makeup on this film as well. I actually found myself extremely concerned for Jackman’s well-being during Logan; I legitimately thought he was just as haggard and exhausted as his character appeared. It wasn’t until X-24 appeared that I was reminded how Jackman really looks currently, which is stronger than ever. Good god, man.

  • Laura calls Wolverine, “Daddy.”

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I was waiting for this moment for the entire film. Yet when it happened, I was NOT ready.

Father-daughter relationships in film and theater are some of my favorite dynamics to follow. It’s just such a unique bond that ranges between protectiveness, love, fear, and pride. I was not expecting Logan to take the father-daughter route, despite the trailers making it clear that Laura shared Logan’s DNA. I thought that it would be more of the “she’s a clone,” sort of relationship between Laura/X-23 and Wolverine in the comics. So when Logan surprised me with the former alternative, I was so much more emotionally invested in their bond.

Watching Logan and Laura’s progression throughout the film from strangers to parent and child was a beautiful, well-paced transition. And as Logan, impaled by a tree branch, lay dying in his daughter’s arms in Canada, the country of his origin, my heart exploded in my chest as Laura cries out, “Daddy!” as he takes his final breath.

This was when I started sobbing.

  • THE X. 
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This gif is my attempt to be witty, but it’s actually just me masking my grief. I’m bereft.

Laura and her next-generation mutant team bury Wolverine (by a lake, just like Charles. #Rekt), and honestly, I was ugly crying so hard and trying so hard to keep my sobs inaudible that I didn’t hear Logan’s final words or Laura’s eulogy. I know it was a quote taken from the 1953 Western film, Shane, that she and Charles were watching in the hotel room earlier in the film, but I maybe heard a total of three words of her speech.

As they walk on towards freedom, Laura stays behind. She pulls the cross out of the ground that the children have fashioned together. She then turns it slightly and places it back in the earth, forming an “X” as Logan’s headstone.

I couldn’t breathe. Honestly, as I’m typing this out tears are in my eyes again. For a movie that was generally excessively long and not very well written in terms of plot, this last five-minute sequence utterly destroyed me.

  • The cruel reminder that this is Hugh’s final time as Wolverine.

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As I watched the finale of the film and the credits rolled, my sobbing was also influenced by the reminder of why Logan had to die. This was Hugh Jackman’s last time as Wolverine (shut up, Ryan Reynolds. I know you want Hugh in the Deadpool-verse, but let the poor man rest). X-Men (singer, 2000) was Jackman’s first film role ever. It’s what made him a star. It was investigating the X-Men series that convinced me to include him in The League. He played the role for 17 years. His final scene on the film was his final scene as the character – his death was the last time he’ll ever play Wolverine (once again, shut your mouth, Ry-Ry).

It’s a good thing, though. Hugh throws himself body and soul into every character he plays, sometimes with very dangerous outcomes. He’s had many health scares recently with skin cancer, and he’s nearing 50. As a fan, I’m worried about him, and if that means him taking a breather on the crazy stunts, that’s fine by me. However, that doesn’t mean that it hurt any less to see him turn in the claws. All good things must come to an end though, and even though Logan was a pretty average film with some very big flaws, what a way for a nearly 20 year-old career as a single character to go out. I bet Hugh is incredibly proud.

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As I stated before, it is highly unlikely that I will be watching this film again anytime soon, if at all. Making Professor X and Wolverine mortal and ending their cinematic lives were hard reminders about the fleeting nature of human life, and made me draw parallels to not only people I know, but also people I don’t, nor probably ever will. I’ve talked before in this blog about why celebrity deaths can affect fans so adversely, but this movie emphasized a fear: We live with these characters and the people who play them temporarily. We see them only a few hours at a time, a few years at a time, but in that moment they make us feel real emotions, and we connect to the humanity they express. They don’t know us, and therefore cannot judge or hurt us. We don’t really know them, so we never see their flaws.

Logan and Jackman made me feel throughout ten films and five years, and some were there for all 17 years of this character’s life. So when Logan died, we too lost a friend. We lost a hero. Despite being fictional, for about twenty hours of our lives, Logan was real, and now he’s gone.

That’s my eulogy for Logan, James Howlett, the Wolverine, Hugh Jackman’s very first film role, or whatever you want to call him. Overall not a great film, but damn did it bring the feels.

So long!

All gifs from giphy. 
Cover photo taken from a photo taken of a MontBlanc in Auckland, NZ.

WELL. I’m back!

Hello, no one!

And that isn’t to say that you are “no one,” if you are reading this. You are certainly someone, but until I build an actual audience, I shall simply feel as if I am posting to the great VOID. That is to say, that ever-growing black hole that exists in the universe full of ideas and opinions and creative ideas undiscovered. I post to relieve stress, get my thoughts out there at all. I think that’s why we all do it, in the grand scheme of things. Why does our social network-based society continue to grow? Because the entire world found a voice. Good for you, world!

Well, my blog is different. No longer does this blog remain just a random pool of things I want to talk about–it lacked focus and was thus the reason I quit the blog altogether. Now I know blogs are out of date, what with Vine, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. etc. etc.  My YouTube channel is more populous than any of the aforementioned items, and I believe I have a total of two followers–you, Brittany, and probably some poor soul who accidentally clicked on me.

My focus is ENTERTAINMENT. What we ALL love. Now, I don’t aim to be a critic. I simply hope to be the voice of the common man, asking questions, throwing them to the void and seeing if I get a response. I am a thespian, a film-lover, an actor, writer, director, musician…my crafts are not an any way “professional,” but I am cultured. I know what I like as far as entertainment is concerned and I wish to understand what the rest of the world thinks. Is our taste in the arts and entertainment changing as rapidly as our society is, what with rapid changes in technology? What’s working? What isn’t?

In this blog, I will talk about a wide range of topics. From movies to Disneyland, music to theater, celebrities to television shows…I will cover it all. My opinions do not intend to offend, merely to raise questions.

So follow me, if you will, through life’s crazy labyrinth! And through my questions, dear void, I hope you’ll let me entertain you!