I am laughably behind, but that's okay. Still gonna do it.Day 2
In your own space, share a book/song/movie/tv show/fanwork/etc that changed your life. Something that impacted on your consciousness in a way that left its mark on your soul.
You know, that word "change" - it implies that there was something significantly different before this thing came into my life. Rather than just "impact," "change" in this challenge question means that I can't just pick something at random that has an obvious influence on me. There are a ton of those things, in a fannish sense. I could opine on what Cameron Crowe did for me with his films, or Star Wars, or the Little House books. All formative, all impactful.
And then I think, I don't have just the one answer here. I have two.
The first - Stephen King. Specifically, The Stand.
The summer ABC aired the mini-series/TV movie version, I was fourteen. Somehow, I was home alone or left alone in the evenings, and I have no idea how that can be true but I do remember it that way. My family had been forceably relocated - the bank had foreclosed on my parents and we were living in a rental for the scant few months we had left in Oklahoma before we moved permanently to Texas. I had just finished the eighth grade. My life was about to change in huge ways and that summer was a big one anyway. Add Stephen King, and boom, right?
I fell in love with Stu Redman, I think. That's gotta be how it started, because I remember I wanted to watch the series at first because Gary Sinise was in it. And then Molly Ringwald, who later would not really be Fran to me, but who I recognized and loved already.
I bought the book after the first episode aired. And I devoured it, no better word. I could not put it down. I often had that problem as a young reader, so it wasn't weird or special in any way, it was just the way I read. But I finished it in a week and immediately read it again. And again. By the end of the summer, I read the entire novel (the uncut edition, a paperback with Gary Sinise and Molly Ringwald on the cover), including King's intro, four times. I took it with me to summer camp at Lake Eufaula, and a Dr. Pepper exploded in my bag and stained the first hundred or so pages. I repaired the cover with packing tape later when it started to fall off from my repeated readings. I wrote in blue ink, that has since faded into purple, next to particular lines and paragraphs that spoke to me.
I still have that copy, it is still the one I use for re-reading. When my husband and I went through to get rid of duplicate books, I sold his practically pristine copy and held on to mine.
Man proposes, God disposes.
That line stood out so starkly (Nick says it to Larry and Stu and I think Glen at one point). It was the line that I held on to as the "plans" I made for my life often fell to pieces. When I was questioning my faith as an older teenager, Glen Bateman and Nick Andros brought me new ways of thinking. I occasionally found myself, over time, echoing Fran's lines when dealing with my own weird boy dramas. The good guys have always been my guys, and I'm less enamored with Harold and Nadine - or at least, that was true back then, when I couldn't fully understand either of them and didn't realize I was also identifying with them both to a point. And Lucy. LUCY. How many times have I felt like Lucy.
You always wonder, did the fiction influence you to the point that you are imitating it? Or, are you really seeing yourself as you are in those characters regardless of their influence?
And there is no doubt whatsoever, The Stand
influenced how I write. I wrote a bunch of throw-away short stories in high school that were blatant rip-offs of plot points and The Stand
Mary Sues, but over time, it was just the rhythms and the atmosphere that stuck with me. The Stand
deeply influenced what I like in my pop culture consumption, too (post-apocalypse is my jam, you might have noticed).
I've read a lot of King since then (memorably, I read It
as a high school freshman, and found a new obsession), but not everything. I liked a lot of what I read, disliked a bunch as well. It was around the time of Dreamcatcher that I fell out with King, and I've never really gotten back to him, except of course with reading The Stand
Years after The Stand, there was The X-Files.
When I was 19, I got involved with a young man. It was one of those weird, intense relationships, a really damaging one for both of us. I probably knew it at the time - I was always trying to sabotage it, get out of it, and I would be drawn back in. I hate what I remember of myself in that time period and I absolutely think that's the time I would take back if I could.
As those things go, it was also incredibly benign in some ways. He wasn't cruel or mean, he was just lost and incredibly young.
Anyway, we had been dating for a year when dating became "sitting at his house watching him play video games." He was obsessed with some RPG that was popular at the time and would play for hours, and was somehow really titillated by me watching him blow shit up with a keystroke. I hated it. So I usually walked out. I didn't drive, so I would be stuck for awhile. In the other room, his 16-year-old brother would be watching The X-Files reruns.
I started sitting with him and watching. He was thrilled that someone would, because he was treated in the family as a little geek and his interests as silly and unimportant. He would tell me every theory about the show, all the online forum stuff, as we watched. And I got to be a bigger fan than he was. We became quite good friends for the duration of my relationship with his brother, and it was rooted completely in The X-Files.
I think most importantly, though, The X-Files got me writing for real. Boyfriend's brother introduced me to fanfiction - he shyly showed me some of his own stories, now lost to the ether. He was my first beta reader when I decided to try my hand.
Dana Scully, y'all. Dana Scully.
She was so incredible to me. I was at a really weak point in my life, I wasn't in school and I was working in retail, I hated my relationship and my boyfriend and I couldn't see a way to end that peacefully. Dana Scully gave me an awful lot of courage as things finally waned. I broke up with my boyfriend and it was as acrimonious as you might imagine. But the night I ended it, I sat down and watched "Beyond the Sea" and had a cry and stiffened my shoulders, and I woke up with no regrets. I bought a suit for a job interview at a communications firm and called it my Scully suit. I got that job and started finding out what my strengths were. I kept watching and it kept being a refuge from things that were uncomfortable, various parts of the show operated as metaphors for me, allowed me to process a lot of shit. It was cathartic.
It was interesting! I loved the conspiracy, the tentacles of it throughout the show, even as they increasingly made no sense. I remember clearly when the plot became too convoluted even for me, but the early years, available on just VHS back then (and $100 season sets - oh, I saved up for those), all resonated, all interested me deeply. I worked out a lot of creative kinks by exploring the show in fanfiction. My tastes expanded, my interests as well.
The show itself remained a huge part of my life in the years that followed. I found community online, first in the Yahoo groups and alt.tv.xfiles and then on Livejournal. I taught myself HTML because of the show and that helped me when I was laid off from that Scully suit job and rehired during a restructuring. Today, I haven't watched more than a handful of episodes in ages. I watched the new season and felt stirrings of the original passion, but honestly, the role I needed the show to play in my life has long since become obsolete. I enjoyed them (insofar as one can enjoy a train wreck, right). But I'm quite different than I was back in 1999.
I think, really, that's the whole point.