Out with the old, in with something else

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 24,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 9 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

It feels kinda sad posting this. I have two incomplete posts that I wrote since The Serene Wombles, but I’ve been going through massive amounts of change up in Womble Towers, and I just couldn’t give my blog all the attention it deserves, so it’s been pretty quiet around here since October.

The summary is that my job was getting beyond busy, so in late November handed in my notice to focus on finishing my PhD, on which I am staggeringly behind, and live off proofreading (and a little help from my family). Which is all pretty massively scary. The last few weeks at my job were beyond intense as I worked to pass on seven years’ accumulated knowledge whilst helping to finish off a major project that needed to be done by Christmas. Then there was Christmas. Then I was ill, probably in part because I’d run myself into the ground again. And now I’m heading into the New Year and a new life. A life where I work from home, proofreading and copy editing, and in which I work intensely to find my feet again in my benighted PhD in a rush to finish.

I’m feeling pretty good about the working from home, thing. Not so good about how much work I have to do for the PhD. Pretty worried about failing after devoting what’s going to end up being about 8 years of my life to it. Feeling strongly that one’s early 20s are a bad time to make major life commitments, and yet, sadly, that the way our society works is to push us very hard to do so.

But I’m here, and the next six months have to be devoted to finishing the blasted thing off – because I’m damned if I’m going to have been through all this for nothing.

On the plus side, I’m feeling pretty good about my writing and my contributions to blogging and activism. Which has been building for a while, but sort of cemented in the way that one of my posts on Tumblr took off over the Christmas period. I say ‘took off’ – it has about 300 notes, whereas a successful post on Tumblr can expect anything from tens of thousands, to millions of notes. (That’s ‘likes’ and ‘rebloggings’ for those who don’t Tumbl.) But it’s good for me. The post was a rewrite of Star Wars from Princess Leia’s perspective, highlighting the fact that Leia is consistently the most competent of any of the Star Wars characters, that the story of the rebellion can be told with virtually no reference to Luke, and that a choice to tell the story from Leia’s perspective (the tough, skilled, intelligent, idealistic young politician turned uncompromising freedom fighter) could in many ways make the tale more interesting. Which is not to diss Star Wars. I love Luke’s tale, and I think a lot of credit is due to George Lucas for writing such a complex, interesting, and capable female character – one which is still lightyears ahead of most of what’s permitted to reach the screens today. I kinda feel like Katniss (from The Hunger Games) is Leia’s daughter from another Galaxy, you know?

Anyway, the point is, I wrote this – like many things I write on Tumblr: because it was the fusion of a lot of things I’d been thinking about for a long time, because I was angry with how the world is, and because I still see hope for how it can be different – I wrote it expecting it to be another shot off into the darkness that’s reblogged anything from zero to a dozen times, and then forgotten. But it’s still going. Every day I find someone new has reblogged it and set off a fluttering of new likes and reblogs in response. (Much thanks to Nick J Barlow, who seems to be the nexus of a lot of the reblogs. He’s a pretty awesome dude if you want to follow him on Tumblr or Twitter.) And more than just liking or reblogging it, people say things like:

This was AMAZING. I’d TOTALLY watch this. GRATUITOUS CAPITALIZATION NOTWITHSTANDING.

dvaleris

Dammit, now I wanna see this.

Jyger85

I would watch/read this. Hundreds of times.

whiskeyandheels

All of which is not only really sweet and flattering, but made me feel like I really do have a perspective that other people want to hear – that other people want to hear stories told from. There’s been a change in the water, this past year, about diversity and the sort of roles we give to women, and people of colour, and people who do not fit neatly into heteronormative and CIS-normative naratives, and I want to be a part of that. I think I could be a good force within that, and I want to do that. I wrote more about my thoughts on this matter here. I’m not saying that that post is all that’s behind that feeling. More like it marked a point of cumulation of impetus.

But damned if I’m gonna give up on this PhD without a fight. A lot of the time it feels like I’m the only person who really thinks I can do it. But I do think that. So. First things first. I have to finish my thesis.

What this means for this blog is that updates will probably continue to be rather sporadic for the next six or seven months. But after that… watch this space. There’s a change in the wind, and I want to be a part of it.

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4 Responses to Out with the old, in with something else

  1. Nick says:

    Me? Pretty awesome? Thanks! I think a lot of the reblogging came through me because someone else reblogged my reblogging as a link which then got shared – your writing did all the hard work, I just stood in the right place at the right time and people mistook me for a signpost.

    I was watching the original films over Christmas and it was interesting to see them from Leia’s perspective in the light of your rewrites. I think there is a tendency to forget the importance of who we’re seeing a story from and how much that frames our understanding of it. (It’s another of those long blog/Tumblr posts that I’m sure I’m definitely going to write at some point in the future, honestly) The other thought that naturally occurs is that the prequels might be a lot better from Padme’s perspective, but I understand not wanting to try and make sense of them.

    Anyway, good luck with the PhD!

  2. Well, I dunno how many Tumblr followers you have, but you certainly have more Twitter followers than me, so it seemed likely there was a fair correlation.

    I’d got as far as thinking that Padme is also a really interesting character, but hadn’t considered writing the films from her perspective. I’ll be honest and say that although I have watched the original trilogy so many times I can basically retell the whole thing from memory from Leia’s perspective, I’ve only watched The Phantom Menace twice, maybe three times? I suspect it wouldn’t work as well. Apart from those films generally being a mess, Padme becomes a much less interesting/active character after The Phantom Menace. Obi Wan is really the primary agent (in a way that Luke actually really isn’t, for the rebellion) for the second two films. I don’t think they’re written from a cohesive enough POV to begin with.

    Of course, our POV in the original trilogy is meant to be the two droids – the two ordinary guys somehow caught up in the story of heroes – it’s part of what allows Luke, Leia, and Han to all be such developed, interesting, significant characters. Luke is the ‘hero’ in the sense that he’s the Hero with a Thousand Faces, and in that sense the protagonist, but separating the hero from the POV is in part what allows one to switch POVs so easily and have the films still make sense. I don’t know that that’s possible in the same way in eps 1-3. We start by following Obi Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn, and that’s vaguely coherent, if poorly plotted, but they’re the heroes… only then maybe Padme is also a hero and so is Anakin; dare I say it, even Ja Jar Binks? The droids are there as more of a nod to the future movies. I think Jar Jar is supposed to fulfill their role as the ordinary dude caught up with the heroes, but we don’t start with him the way we do with the droids, we start with the heroes. Also, nobody likes Jar Jar, let alone identifies with him. He’s certainly not the eyes and ears in the other two movies. Which means that as the plot gets smeared about all over the place there’s no one consistent thread to follow, let alone restructure from a different POV.

    All of which is not me knocking your thought (hope it doesn’t seem so!) so much as exploring it on the page. I guess it’s just dimension to the fact that those films are just a mess. As far as I’m concerned, they aren’t Star Wars movies. They don’t capture the spirit of the originals and they aren’t as well crafted. Which is a shame, because some really amazing artistry went into the costumes and sets – I kinda feel bad for the people who worked on those, because if you just look at stills from the movies (especially anytime Padme is on the screen in the first movie), they’re just stunning – masterpieces.

    So, I guess that’s me talking myself out of the idea of trying the same for her, alas.

    • Nick says:

      Don’t worry, it didn’t feel like you were knocking them – I was being a bit vague because a) it was Sunday morning and b) I didn’t know how you felt about the prequels so didn’t want to say anything too bad about them in case you were wearing an ‘I love Jar Jar’ t-shirt. But no, I agree with what you said about them – they look amazing, but don’t have the same feeling to them as the originals. I think my thought about Padme as the POV was more that from that perspective you could perhaps rewrite them to create an interesting tale (which ends in tragedy as she dies) but it would be much more of a rewriting than a retelling from a different perspective – part of an attempt to salvage the disappointment they created by turning it into something new.

      But yes, probably something best thought about as ‘someone should try that’ rather than ‘I should do it’.

      • Heath Graham says:

        I think the prequels need to be redone from the original concept art. They’re beautiful, but story-wise they’re just all over the shop. Oh and way too much fanservice (hello Star Trek Into Darkness).

        All the best with the this new chapter!

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