Francine - harvest
I Blame the Dutch mpoetess
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Not quite the DVD-extras...
Late-breaking commentary meme, from this post:


zortified asked several impertinent questions like "Hey what about that WIP we're supposed to be working on?' and "Who the hell are you again?" Equally impertinent answers are here.

dragovianknight called my bluff and asked why I bitch (with love and amusement) about "Spander" but feel free to use "Spuffy" - my answer here.

indri asked "Of all your work do you have a favourite story and why? And do you have any favourite phrasings or passages in particular?" and "...what is it about the Whedonverse that inspires you to write fanfic?" Neurotic rambles are here.

flaming_muse asked the 64,000$ question of "...how Chocolatey Goodness started and evolved as it went on."

I like the word evolved -- it in no way implies that there was anything resembling a plan. You didn't really think there was a plan, did you? Anyone? Beuller?



[S/X metametameta]

CG was the first m/m slash I'd ever written, the third fanfic I ever completed (or, I should say, the first story in CG, which could stand alone, was the 3rd fanfic I ever completed) and the first time I ever wrote smut. The first story, Count Spikeula, with Spike's disgusting cereal habits, came about after I'd read most of my way through the nummytreats yahoo archive (well, egroups at the time) and thought... ok, you know, I could actually write one of these.

You sort of have to have a picture of S/X fic at the time, though, to get my mindset.

We had a few fairly 'classic' series going on. Esmerelda's slightly OOC but very hot and comfort-filled Stranger Things, Kaz' Viking!Xander series.... Michelle's high-comedy stuff like Mafia! and It's An Adventure which weren't so much series as long WIPs. Saber's two early S/X series, which were a comedic smut series and a very cool AU that still isn't finished to this day because it was her writer's block series and only got written in random surts of inspiration/frustration. Kay's Spike/Xander/Angel/Doyle foursome series was out there too, though I hadn't got deeply into it at the time due to its mild Scooby-bashing tendencies. Sands of Time had just started up...)

Aside from those and a few short gems, S/X was awash in vastly OOC, Buffy-and-Scooby-bashing crap. The plotline d'jour was "get the guys together in a way that may even be quite reasonable and in character, then introduce the angst by having Buffy and/or Willow find out and bang! We're on the run from a homicidally-enraged Slayer/witch. If every male character in the Jossverse can be brought in to support S/X because every. single. one. of. them. is in a gay relationship too, and damn those evil females despite said male characters having been canonically in love with them at one point, so much the better.

This wasn't one or two stories; this was the standard. With some "oh and btw, Xander is special/abused/has seekrit destined powers" sprinkled in for flavoring. There's a reason that (pre this year-long recent influx of damn good writers getting into the pairing) S/X had the reputation of being the International House of Crapfic.

Which situation, aided by the fact that I had drifted into S/X after having fallen in love with naughtyspirit's S/A series The Clockwork Vampire,

a) made me partial towards long series that gave me lots of development with the characters I love, and

B) artificially boosted my own writing confidence to the point where even though I know I can't plot to save my life, I was pretty sure I could do at least as well as Yet Another Wicked Slayer Of The West Story.

[/ SX metametameta]





[actual story-related content]

So even as I was writing the chocolate-and-blood-crunchies one-off story, just to see if I could do it and if people would like it, I had "I would love to make it a series; only long series feel real to me, or really get remembered by people" going through my head. I didn't have the confidence that I could actually do it; hell, I didn't have the confidence that I could actually hit "post." But I was thinking series even then, hence the Chocolatey Goodness title. I wasn't thinking that I could stretch it out into an alt-season like Sam had done with TCV, but oh, how I wanted to. I think my highest ambition was "Get them to have sex."

And people liked it, and I was, because I'm totally neurotic, surprised, and cynical. Cynical because I knew I couldn't write prose for shit. It had to be a combination of Teh Smert PeopleTM comparing it favorably to utter crap and it coming out only slightly better, with the people who had actually loved the utter crap and thus demonstrated their lack of taste already, liking my stuff because see above re obviously having no ability to discern quality from crap in the first place. I.e. -- I really thought and honestly still think that I am a mediocre writer at best, with occasional moments of get-lucky-ness.

But I did get them to have sex, dammit. And then after I got them to have sex, dammit, I got greedy, dammit, and wanted them to fall in love. Which meant there had to be more after the sex.

And then I got greedier and wanted them to *admit* they were in love, which was something totally different. Getting them to *admit* they were in love meant oh shit, this really is a series, because at the level of tortoise-crawling detail I'm writing (25 pages to cover half a day, for instance), it'll be 500 pages long before that happens. If I don't want it to be fake, and dammit, I don't want it to be fake, because those stories where they suddenly blurt out all their feelings and live in bliss make me cringe, and if I did that I'd blow my cover and *prove* that I'm a hack.

Seriously? Everything from post-peanut-butter-sex through the most recently-written chapter has been about getting them to the point where they say it out loud, preferably in front of other people. With sidenotes of "Deal with Xander's Jesse-issues" and "at least mention Spike's Angel-issues" and "deal with Xander's issues with Spike's Angel-issues."

At some point (the point where they head off to LA) plot crept in because I couldn't spend 500 pages having them make sugar-laden things and be talking-heads in the basement, without them or me going stir-crazy. So...send them off to deal with Spike's Angel-issues, play with crossovers, maybe do some S/A/X (which never quite worked out to more than S/A flashbacks and the sudden discovery that Angel/Wes wanted to jump in from nowhere), and get them out of the mf-ing basement, which was starting to drive me nuts as a setting. Plus I was entranced by the imagined fun of a road-trip episode, which turned out to be so much harder to write than I thought.

Basic not so brilliant idea? Best way to get them to Say ItTM would be to put one or both of them in real or imagined danger. (With the backup of Giles discovering it on his own via translating Spike's rubbish poetry for Xander, and acting as the confirming factor when Spike spills and Xander doesn't believe him.)

So they headed off to LA with me knowing that something was going to happen at the convention that would put them in enough danger that they'd blow their personal and emotional covers. Not A Fucking Clue what.

Buuuut... they headed off to LA amid Season 5 and the Dreaded Buffy-Love playing out onscreen, and my tiny brain went all nononononono, giving me the final straw to say okay, fine, yeah, I want it to be a full alt-season, I always wanted it to be a full alt-season, just never thought I could pull it off. But if I don't mentally undo this Spike/Buffy stuff by taking my story into Season 5, CG is always going to feel unreal to me. Plus! I can't write plot! But Joss can! Rewriting someone else's plot, that I can do! Maybe! No, really I can't and we all know it but it's a good excuse to start setting up things for a CG Season 5 that I'll be 80 before I finish at my tortoise-speed!

And thus there were AtS season 2 refs, and the danger at the convention finally had a vague purpose, which was "Set up Season 5." Er, still has that purpose, I'm just petrified by the lameness of the setup, now. And convinced of the cliched awfulness of the few things I had set in my mind for their Season 5 plot, despite that being What Happens in my head.

Insert along the way at least 4 serious "Ack, I gave them too much angst, I don't know how to get them out of this, and I think I probably just made a sham of the story by doing it too" writer's blocks. And after every one of them, the story got sloowwwweeerrrr, spent more time on sidetrips own conversation-lane, and threw in more non-S/X points of view because I don't know how to just say "And then they left the library." (TM zortified and wolfling, who got the brunt of my neurosis regarding this story. And all 800 drafts of chapters 16 and 17. *g*)

Also insert along the way a million tiny plot things which I thought would be all Jossily clever to follow up on later, instead of going boom boom boom down the line with "I am Xander's Jesse-issues, I am Xander's parental issues, I am Spike's lack of a career-path issues..." Which leaves me now with a million things that haven't yet been followed up on, and, on any given day, get labeled "Never will" or "Oh god, what a huge pile to sort through when I finally get brave enough to come back to this story."

And the final block, or run-screaming-fit, or pit of craptacular, hacktacular depression, just stretched on and on into the indefinite horizon, until finally for my own sanity, I put up a note saying, essentially, "It's on hold. Please, please stop asking me when the next part will be, because I don't know, and it's not helping." Only less pathetic and more grateful-sounding, I hope.

Hasn't actually made me less neurotic, mind you. It's just made me less likely to go off on hour-long whines about how it all sucks and I can't make it right for them and crap crap crap, more than once every few months, as opposed to three times a week. *g*

Was any of that an actual description of the story itself, or just me hanging my mental underwear out the window for everyone to see? If there was something I didn't answer that was more specific, like "What did X mean?" or "Why the hell did you do Y?" , or "What were you planning here?" (though I may be just deluded enough still, not to answer that, if it strikes me as being too much of a spoiler) feel free to ask.

Yes, I did start writing this two hours ago.


roquelaure

2004-01-21 08:35 am (UTC) (Link)

The plotline d'jour was "get the guys together in a way that may even be quite reasonable and in character, then introduce the angst by having Buffy and/or Willow find out and bang! We're on the run from a homicidally-enraged Slayer/witch. If every male character in the Jossverse can be brought in to support S/X because every. single. one. of. them. is in a gay relationship too, and damn those evil females despite said male characters having been canonically in love with them at one point, so much the better.

This wasn't one or two stories; this was the standard. With some "oh and btw, Xander is special/abused/has seekrit destined powers" sprinkled in for flavoring.


Ugh. I had almost forgotten those stories... yeep. *feels dirty*

mpoetess

2004-01-26 09:52 am (UTC) (Link)

And the Buffy-bashing authors were so very protective of/defensive of their right to heap their hatred upon her without being told it was OOC. There was even a Buffy-bashing list -- and X/S stories would show up on nummytreats crossposted to that list. If ever there was a clue to hit delete before I even reached the summary...

zortified

2004-01-21 08:47 am (UTC) (Link)

You're neurotic? Really?


mpoetess

2004-01-21 08:55 am (UTC) (Link)

:-P

marguerite_26

2004-01-21 09:07 am (UTC) (Link)

Thanks for sharing about the evolution of CG. It was fasinating to see what your drivers were.

Your drivers for writing were my drivers for devoring all 500 pages in an incredible short period of time- which is the point, I suppose. I remember wanting so badly for them to have sex, then to fallen in love, then to finally say IT!

Hearing how you went from "let's write about comfort food and hot sex" to a fabulous series? That's just... neat.
*licks the peanut butter off your forehead*

mpoetess

2004-01-26 09:53 am (UTC) (Link)

*licks the peanut butter off your nose*

xanphibian

2004-01-21 09:30 am (UTC) (Link)

*pounces and licks you all over*

mpoetess

2004-01-26 09:53 am (UTC) (Link)

This is because I smeared chocolate peanut butter all over myself, isn't it. I knew that would cause trouble.

xanphibian

2004-01-26 10:16 am (UTC) (Link)

*smacks lips*

You're yummy. :)

*ehem*

chocgood84

2004-01-21 09:30 am (UTC) (Link)

*puts on the "I know everything" cap*

As an expert (teehee) on CG (being that I've read it...umm... a lot), I can see what you mean now that you've explained it ;P But, personally, I think it's one of the best damn fics out there. Honestly. I think I told you that once or a dozen times. Anyhow, I think what you've done with Spike and Xander is amazing. You've taken them to levels I have rarely seen in other fics (I think Repossession is the only one that has stretched it more - only because Lazilu is a vengeful and beneviolent goddess and choses to torture us with it). But, you manage to insert purely in-character wit and humour into the plot (though you say there is none :P). I like the fact that you put it on hold because you didn't think you were taking it in the right direction (I think that's what was said), because you want the fic to stay true to itself. Take as much time as you need :P. I can wait. Granted, I've taken up smoking a drinking while waiting, but hey, smoking and drinking is fun too ;P Anyway, once again CG is damn good and I can't (er...can) wait for it to progress further.

*takes off the "I know everything" cap.

Would you like some chocolate? *gives you a Kiss*

Re: *ehem*

mpoetess

2004-01-26 09:54 am (UTC) (Link)

*g* I would always like some chocolate. (Except just after Christmas when I'm utterly sick of the sight of it.)

Re: *ehem*

chocgood84

2004-01-26 01:34 pm (UTC) (Link)

Heehee. Who doesn't?

lumenara

2004-01-21 10:33 am (UTC) (Link)

I have to mention that one of the images from the dream-sequences right at the end there stuck with me so much I spent a chunk of time thinking I'd actually seen it on the show-- Cordy pencilling her fang-marks to make them more noticeable. "VICTIM" on Xan's forehead also sticks with me, though in a different way.

CG is the story that brought me into both the pairing and the fandom, for which I must be eternally grateful.

I think I should also finally tell you how hard it is to find Count Chocula now. I've been looking for it pretty much since I first read CG, and I've only found it once. I was hoping to actually make the Scooby Snacks so I could send you the recipe, but here's the belated feedback anyway.

(Deleted comment)

mpoetess

2004-01-26 10:01 am (UTC) (Link)

See below re count chocula treats -- if you ever do, lemme know if it works, and what ratio of butter and schmallows you use!

And ha! - re alt seasoning. The obvious decision that would get written out would be Spuffy. Not so obvious decision that *wouldn't* get written out would be Dawn, as I rather like her. Plus of course the whole season revolved around her, so writing her out would mean I wouldn't *have* somebody else's plot framework to rely on.

mpoetess

2004-01-26 09:59 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you -- that's actually from the chapter of CG that I'm most whacko about, so it's comforting to know that the dream sequences didn't make people run screaming.

--

I've made Count Chocula treats -- they don't turn out quite as well as rice krispy treats, because the CC cereal isn't as absorbent as crispy rice. So the marshmallow gets a bit slimey and it doesn't all stick together as well. (I'm sure the solution would be to use either less butter or less marshmallows or both -- I just never got round to experimenting enough to find the proper ratio.)

(Deleted comment)

mpoetess

2004-01-26 10:02 am (UTC) (Link)

Which is just a nice way of saying that I don't have an original idea in my head. You and me both! I wanted to write the S/X version of Clockwork Vampire, basically.

And aww -- sank yew.

flaming_muse

2004-01-21 02:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh, this was excellent. Thank you so much!

mpoetess

2004-01-26 10:03 am (UTC) (Link)

Glad it made sense! (If indeed it did. *g*)

iyalode

2004-02-02 06:58 am (UTC) (Link)

Kaz' Viking!Xander series:- which I still haven't finished. Hides head in shame. Just thought I'd say hi sweetie, since i've been out of the loop for yonks.