25 August 2011

star trek and downton abbey

Star Trek and Downton Abbey.

I am not suggesting a mash-up of those two—a la Pride and Prejudice and Zombies—although I'm sure someone has thought of that. Somewhere on the vast distraction that is the Internet, Captain Jean-Luc Picard is sitting down to dinner in an Edwardian dining room as Carson the butler holds out his chair.

If you didn't get any of those references, that's all right. You don't really need to in order to understand what I'm about to say. {If you did get them, we speak the same nerdy language, and to you, I say: hello, dear friend.}

I'm connecting these two shows because of my own confession: I am a fanfic girl.

I have never admitted this before so boldly {even using bold typeface!}, and I feel both relieved and exposed {and if one of you comments about how you're a fanfic girl/boy, I will feel comforted and supported, too}.

Facfic—fan fiction—is when you take already-existing characters from a TV show or a book or a movie and imagine future adventures or more of a backstory or missing scenes for them.

Essentially, you so immerse yourself in this other world that you want more of it. Need more of it. Want to, perhaps, be part of it.

And so you turn to fanfic.


Here's the deal: I've just finished re-watching Downton Abbey. I watched it for the first time back in January on PBS, and while I loved it {and even made my sister watch it when I was visiting her in LA}, when the season ended, I moved on. On into February and away from Lady Mary and Matthew and all the rest of them.

Until recently. My friend Brenda was watching it for the first time, and one day, she mentioned a little something about it.

A little something that propelled me into immediately switching my Netflix queue so that I could re-watch Downton.

Seriously, from the effect it had on me, you'd think Brenda was some sort of PBS/iTVsorceress, casting spells with a wave of a crooked finger—spells that make you forget all about other plans and real-life friends and your pug.

Just watch the period piece. Escape, escape.

And so I did. That part of my brain that allows me to completely immerse in what I'm doing to the point of repetition {be it reading all the Anne of Green Gables books or eating eggplant every night for dinner} was flipped on, and the rest of my brain was filled with Downton, much to my slight surprise and consternation.

You may have noticed Downton creeping in to my writing.

I talked about having a lady's maid and getting my hair styled every day.

I've mentioned English country dances, and there has been a decided bent of nostalgia in my writing of late.

In the same way that I imagined I was a princess when I was younger, I found my mind wandering to what my life would've been like if I had been born an aristocrat.

I wasn't born an aristocrat; I was born in Iowa to very good people but certainly no earl or countess. But here I was, reverting to a reverie-bound 12-year-old about something that was clearly not my life.

The turns my mind takes completely take me by surprise at times. I was daydreaming! About a TV show!

Having an active imagination is one thing, a good thing, but even I was surprised by my imagination's activity.

Now, all this makes it sound like I think you should grow out of imagination or out of losing yourself in a story. Of course I don't think that; the ability to lose ourselves in stories is partly what keeps us empathetic, I think, to what other people go through.

But I knew that this particular story had a strong hold on me when I found myself reading Downton Abbey fanfic.

My girly little heart wanted to believe that Lady Mary and Matthew would end up together. And my romantic self wanted to know more about their relationship, how it developed, what they were thinking.

Enter fanfic, which I started to devour, staying up very much past my bedtime to read what other people—people who were just as invested as I was in these other people's lives—had written.

11:30 and I wasn't in bed: I was on Chapter 10 of a Mary/Matthew story.

I was, at first, surprised at how easily I found Downton fanfic and how hard it was for me to stop reading, even when some of it wasn't all that well written {I have a low tolerance, usually, for poorly written stories where the characters say all the obvious things and no one seems all that real}.

But then I remembered Imzadi. It's this Star Trek novel written about the relationship between Will Riker and Deanna Troi {you know, from The Next Generation}. I read it when I was in middle school, and it gave me more of what I craved from the TV show: more details about why they fell in love and fiery interactions they had and headstrong decisions they both made.

{You may have noticed a theme to my fanfic interests: mushy love stories. Actually, I hope you noticed that because it's pretty obvious.}

On about Day 3 of reading Downton fanfic, I realized that I've been a fanfic girl for years. Ever since I first read Imzadi.

It was like I'd come full circle with a little sliver of my nerdy self. I suddenly didn't feel so guilty for my flights of fancy, imagination-wise. I was just being true to myself, my little fanfic girl self.


  1. Okay, here is my confession that may make you feel better. I create my own fan fiction in my head - it stars me and other characters from the said fiction...in romantic situations. It's called daydreaming and is perfectly normal (I have assured myself). There, I said it.

  2. Val, thank you for your confession. Although this entire blog is essentially a confession, I have one more that builds off yours: I star in my own fan fiction, too. It is no coincidence WHATSOEVER that my favorite characters all look a little something like me.

  3. O Downton Abbey- Still be wonderful next season! I need you to be wonderful! If not, I now know there is always fanfic.

  4. Jessie, I suggest a Downton party when it does come back on in January. You know, to reward us for our patience/obsessive reading of fanfic.



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