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?
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.
- Not quite the DVD-extras...
Late-breaking commentary meme, from this post: