Category Archives: Quick Fic

An Essay on Prammage*, or How Not to Take Your Own Advice About Adverse Criticism

*Prammage: noun, colloquial.  The act of throwing one’s toys out of the pram;  going off in a flounce or a sulk; a passive-aggressive act of self-harm or self-sabotage in response to not getting one’s own way; see also ‘cutting off your nose to spite your face’.

I was going to write you a lovely blog post about playing with language today, but events have taken an interesting turn, and I wanted to share them with you.

On Monday 17th November I posted a Lewis fanfic called ‘Not So Innocent’ that I’d had hanging around on my hard disk for a while.  It was written as a quickfic, and I found it again, and thought it was funny, so I decided to post it as a quickie and didn’t think much about it.  Being a Lewis fic, it didn’t get masses of attention, because the fandom is relatively small, but the person I posted it for as a gift liked it, and that seemed all that mattered.

This morning, Wednesday 19th November, I woke up to vicious criticism on both FF.net and AO3 for the story.  The reviewer basically accused me of condoning and inciting sexual harrassment and rape.

Hmm.

This didn’t go down too well with me, since I have been victim of both sexual harrassment and abuse.

I am also not in a good place at the moment, and my response to this unexpected attack was to delete the story on both AO3 and FF.net.  I have never written a dub-con or non-con story and I wouldn’t.  It disgusts me.  I have written quite aggressively dark stories that include child abuse and public humiliation sex, but which explore the psychological wounds that underly and result from them.  For anyone to accuse me of condoning sexually abusive behaviour was just too much.

I can’t be arsed.  I’ve got too much other shit going on in my life to bother with making myself a target for such oversensitive extreme-feminist bull.

As far as I was concerned, the reader had simply not identified the subtext which runs through the story, which is that all participants know exactly what is going on, and are party to it, an irony from which the humour is supposed to arise.

Obviously I didn’t make that subtext clear enough, I realised, as I stomped off to the bathroom to shower.  (I do most of my thinking and story planning in the shower.)  And then I really got to thinking:

Was my own experience of sexual harrassment at work being a ‘normal’ part of a woman’s career colouring my work?

FULL DISCLOSURE:  I have been on the receiving end of some serious acts of sexual harrassment in my younger days (before I lost my looks, haha!).  It was regarded with a shrug as something that went on.  Indeed, at some level, ‘Not So Innocent’ must draw on the experiences I had as a young academic at a number of conferences.

At one, I allowed myself to be seduced by an older man who was also the leader of a rival project.  He was charming and intelligent, and I was lonely and desperate for comfort.  It later transpired that he was only interested in me because he thought he could extract from me details of what our project was doing.

And this is where the question of consent comes in.  We had fully consensual sex that night, but it turned out that we were consenting to two different things.  I thought I was consenting to beginning an intimate relationship with long term prospects.  He thought I was consenting to being exploited for information.  The question of consent between two people having sex turns out to be a lot more complicated than just ‘do you want to, or not’.

My own experience of conference ‘pursuits’ is not something I have examined much before, except to realise that its pretty exploitative, but I can see that in writing ‘No So Innocent’, I’ve displayed some attitudes that I had internalised without thinking.  Instead of thinking: ‘this is what happens’, maybe I should have realised: ‘this isn’t something that should happen.’

I began to reflect on ‘Not So Innocent’ in a different way, by considering what both James and Lewis are consenting to, and what Innocent is implying.  Would she really go through with her threat?  I think not. I think she’d sit James down on the end of her bed and give him a good talking-to about how much he loves Lewis, and how much Lewis clearly loves him.  I think I knew that when I was writing it.  I think James knows it too.

And even if they did have sex because he chickened out with Lewis, I think it would be lovely, passionate, and above all, uncoerced.

There was intended to be a sexual frisson between James and Jean.  I wanted him to be torn to a certain extent, attracted by the prospect of Innocent’s considerable charms.  I happen to think she’s a very sexy woman, and I think James sees that, just as she finds him attractive.  I realised I underwrote the irony because while I was writing, I wasn’t sure how the thing was going to end – and I secretly wanted James and Innocent to end up in bed together.  That is the danger of publishing an unpolished quickfic.

As for the scene where James gets into bed with Robbie, I honestly don’t think there is a consent issue there.  Robbie is clearly consenting, and if he wasn’t, he’s quite capable, both in terms of physical strength, and authority, of ejecting James.  In my opinion, it is clear that they are also both consenting to the same thing, and they both know it:  the start of a loving relationship, and the end of their unrequited yearning for each other.

And yes, it would be different if it were a man getting into a woman’s bed uninvited, or a man threatening a woman with seduction, but that isn’t what is happening.  These are two people who are in love, finally being pushed through their inhibitions by a fond friend.  The fact that they happen to be co-workers, with the ensuing power-politics, becomes irrelevant in the face of love.

I wish I hadn’t deleted the story, because I have deleted the comments of the readers as a result.  I wish I had left it so that people can make up their own minds.  Because, if nothing else, this story might make people rethink attitudes at work that they have previously taken for granted as normal, as I have.

I also think its a work I have clearly under-written in terms of subtext, and all the participants’ complicity, but I’m not going to rewrite it, or change it in any way.  I want it to stand as a testament to the fact that I will no longer throw my toys out of the pram because someone doesn’t like my work.

I have never censored myself because of a review, and I won’t start now.

So I’ve decided to republish ‘Not So Innocent’ on AO3, so that you can make up your own mind.  I’d love to have a discussion with you on the subjects raised, either in the comments here, or on AO3.

I’ll look forward to hearing from you,

love EF

Friday Quickfic: Don’t tell me what to do unless you’re naked!

John and Sherlock - Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC's 'Sherlock'.

John and Sherlock – Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC’s ‘Sherlock’.

Sometimes a story pops into your head that is just begging to be written.  Sometimes, you just can’t help it.  Sometimes, you just have to be naughty.  Sometimes, being a tiny bit wicked is the only way to make the world seem a better place.  ‘Bawdy’, Atlin Merrick once called me.  I take it as a complement.

So, in celebration of that spirit, I offer you today’s slice of naughtiness.  I haven’t written a Sherlock fic in quite a while, so it was a nice little self-starter.  I hope you like it.

A Taster:

“The incriminating words were out of his mouth, and then he couldn’t swallow them back, couldn’t reel them in. They seemed to float in front of his eyes for a moment, a skein of humiliation, the letters glowing a wanton scarlet.

He never did this. His will was of iron. No sentiment. No human weakness. No Freudian slips. And above all, no desire.

And then those secret little daydreams that he had been nurturing, hiding them away even from himself, unfurled a frond, a delicate tendril that encircled his tongue like a noose and tripped him over.”

You can read ‘Don’t tell me what to do unless you’re naked’ here on AO3, or here, on FF.net.

Happy Creating,

EF

 

 

Friday Quickfic: Locked In

Kevin Whately as Robbie Lewis and Laurence Fox as James Hathaway in ITV's 'Lewis'.

Kevin Whately as Robbie Lewis and Laurence Fox as James Hathaway in ITV’s ‘Lewis’.

I’m off on the annual summer tour of the family over the next week, and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to post as often as usual – you’ll no doubt still find me on Instagram, though!

In the meantime, here’s a little Lewis schmaltz to make you smile.  Get it here on AO3 or here on FF.net.  Virtual cookies for anyone who can pick out all the movie references.

Here’s a little taster:

‘Right, you two. This-‘ She held up a key. ‘-is the key to my office door. And I am going to walk out and lock it behind me. And you two are going to stay in here until you’ve sorted this out. One way or another. Because I cannot stand another bloody minute of it, do you hear? Oh, and Hathaway?

‘Yes, Ma’am?’ James’s head snapped up.

‘Try not to make too much of a mess of my desk, please?’

Happy Creating everyone,

EF

Friday QuickFic: Seeing in the Dark

Laurence Fox as James Hathaway and Kevin Whately as Robbie Lewis in ITV's 'Lewis'.

Laurence Fox as James Hathaway and Kevin Whately as Robbie Lewis in ITV’s ‘Lewis’.

I’ve been struggling all week to recover from my looking after the wrinklies last weekend, so you can imagine my amazement when this little number boiled out of my head yesterday afternoon!  A little Lewis angst for a Friday afternoon.  I seem to be big on cuddles these days again.  Maybe that augers well for other works.  But don’t quote me on that.

A taster:

“Suddenly its dark. Not the kind of dark you get in his flat at night, that eerie apricot glow from the street lamps filtering through the curtains. Not even the kind of dark you get on dark nights, shadows catching at the edges of your vision. No, this is the utter absence of light. Blackness in all its soul-crushing emptiness.

He hears James cry out.

‘No!’

And then some metallic thumping. Angry fists on a rusty blast door.

‘Bloody hell!’ There is real fury in that shout. And something else Lewis can’t put a name to yet, something hovering in the tone. No, can’t be. He dismisses it.”

You can find it here on A03, and here at FF.net.

Happy reading,

EF

Friday Fanfic: Role Reversal

Sorry I am late posting today.  Its been a very bad ME/CFS day, and I went back to bed as soon as I’d showered this morning because I felt so bad.  Sometimes it happens.  When it does, the only thing to do is to go with it.  Frankly, though, I’m not surprised.  I’ve been writing like a dervish all week, and was bound to run out of energy eventually.  I need to work out how to manage my bursts of creativity better, but the trouble is that when you are in the middle of one, you just get carried away with the thrill and relief of finally being able to write!

That said, I’ve been giving ‘Three Weddings and an Explosion’ a bit of a poke today, and seeing what I can make of the dog ends of Part 2 which has been sitting on my hard disk for two years while my dear, loyal readers wait far more patiently than I deserve for the resolution of the cliffhanger to see the light.  Soon, my pretties, soon…

Oh, and I’ve been playing on Twitter, where you can now find me as ‘evenlode27‘.  Its very obvious to me that I could get addicted to Twitter very, very easily…

Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox in ITV's 'Lewis'

Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox in ITV’s ‘Lewis’

In the meantime, here is a juicy little omegaverse I was working on last weekend.  I had originally thought it would make a good Quickfic, but its got huge, so I’m going to publish it in three daily chapters.  Its very smutty.  Don’t say you weren’t warned.

You can find Role Reversal here at AO3 and here at FF.net.

Do please comment if you can, I am so grateful for your feedback, and always encouraged by it.

Happy Creating,

EF

Bank Holiday Bonus Quickfic: Hats

Laurence Fox as James Hathaway and Kevin Whately as Robbie Lewis in ITV's 'Lewis'.

Laurence Fox as James Hathaway and Kevin Whately as Robbie Lewis in ITV’s ‘Lewis’.

It looks like I’ve got my writing mojo back!  Hooray!  Two fanfics in two days, though Sherlockians will be disappointed that they aren’t Johnlocks but Lewis fics.  Never mind, there is more Sherlock to come, I am sure.  In the meantime, I knocked off this shameless bit of slop and couldn’t wait to share it with you.  I hope you like it as much as I do.

Here’s a little taster:

“They stared into the glittering surface of the river. A fish was lingering amongst the weeds. James could see the grey-brown sliver of its body amidst the golden shimmer of the evening light’s reflections. A pair of couples came out of the pub and sat down at the picnic table nearby, chatting together.

‘Tried on any new hats lately?’ Lewis asked after a while.

‘Hats don’t really suit me, sir,’ James said. ‘You know that.’”

Read ‘Hats’ here at AO3, or here at FF.net.

Don’t forget to comment, I love your feedback!

Happy Creating,

EF

Friday QuickFic: Older and Wiser

john and sherlockWe write out our own psychodramas,  Thats why I believe writing is so healing.  I can explore the emotions in my fiction that I can’t deal with in real life.  This week I wrote this tough fic, called ‘Older and Wiser’.  I had not intended it to be so raw and uncompromising, but it came out that way.  I think this is because my life is currently full of difficult emotions, sad situations and lives in the process of ending.  Whether I know it or not, these things are undoubtedly on my mind all the time, and they are bound to seep out in my creative expressions.

I started this fic with the prompt ‘Older and Wiser’, and with the image of Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock, sitting at the table at Baker Street, contemplating how his relationship with John has changed over time.  I’ve been thinking a lot about how BC’s smoking is damaging his skin lately, about the wrinkles he is developing as a result, and those wrinkles were definitely on my mind when I started to write.

I think this may be a universe I want to pursue, but we’ll see.  In the meantime, here is the quickfic version, which I knocked off on Wednesday morning, and you can read it here at AO3 and here at FF.net.  I’d love to receive some feedback if you can spare the time.

I won’t say happy reading because its not, but thank you for reading if you can bear it,

EF.