I'm sure we've all noticed that fandom is remarkably slow lately. The other day I read a fabulous story and couldn't help but feel sad when I noticed how few reviews the author had received. Just two years ago she/he would have had pages and pages of reviews. Such is the life of fandom, I suppose. Until the next movie comes out a large portion of the Star Trek audience seems to have moved on to other things. It makes me wonder about those few who are just now coming in and tentatively trying their hand at writing fanfic for the first time, if they feel their efforts are unappreciated or going unnoticed.
Reading, for me, is perhaps the greatest pleasure in the world, even more so than writing. I love to travel. If I had the means I'd do nothing but travel. But reading... reading is the way to do it without means. The only way to visit Middle Earth or attend school at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It's a journey, it's an escape, it has the power to blow your mind, tug your heart or reduce you to tears.
As a child I wanted to grow up and become an explorer and I believe it's because some of my earliest memories were of my mother reading Kipling to us (she had a hardback collection of his greatest works). His descriptions of India made me want to go there. Made me dream of life in the jungle and the animals that lived there. As I grew older I went through different stages but reading was the one constant. As a pre-teen I went through a mystery phase where I started collecting Nancy Drew novels. It got to the point where I could solve the mystery by the third or fourth chapter. ;-) From here it moved on to Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes. My mother used to receive this magazine in the mail called "Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine" and they were a collection of horror stories, so I would go and sneak those out of her room to read.
I used to get in trouble for staying up to the wee hours of morning reading on a school night. My dad would do a routine check of all of his kids before turning in and he'd catch me hiding under the covers with a flashlight and book in hand. In retrospect I wasn't being that subtle, I'm sure he caught the beam of the flashlight shining through my blanket. ;-)
When I was in high school and going through my emo stage of existence, I read all of the Poe I could get my hands on, and later, when going through my raging teenage hormone stage of existence, it switched to Jane Austin and the Bronte sisters. Reading has always been my greatest form of escape, a means to channel my emotions and let my imagination roam free.
Now, as an adult who has spent a lifetime loving a series, in my case, Star Trek, my main source of reading material is fanfic (although I also have a penchant for nonfiction archeology books... shh, don't tell ;-)).
Why am I inundating you with tales of my childhood, you may be asking yourself? I mean, get to the point, Jaylee, right? I guess I'm just trying to use it as a tool to remind, I guess, how fabulous it is that we have this in our lives. Not just the ability to read, but that it's so readily available at the touch of our fingertips. And authors put a lot of effort into writing, editing, formatting and posting their work, for when it comes down to it, reviews are the only means they have to know that their efforts have been noticed. The only means to know they have reached somebody, had their voices not only heard, but appreciated.
The gift of storytelling is truly that... a gift. A present from the imagination of the writer to those who consume their work.
In the Star Trek fandom we're tremendously blessed with some remarkable talent. I mean, just remarkable. I've read stories in fandom that are better than half of the paper-in-print published work available out there. Stories that have touched me so much I've read them again and again. So I was wracking my brain, trying to come up with a way to let the writers who are sticking in there know that they are loved now as much as ever, as well as motivate people to hang on until the next movie comes out.
What I came up with is this: The Reading/Reviewing Challenge.
Read five stories within this next week and review them. Let the authors know their work is loved and that it touched you somehow. Link me to those five stories so I can see the reviews, and I will write a ficlet for you (at least 500 words) with a plot of your prompting (no villianizing character requests please, and no mpreg, those are my limitations). For my fellow authors if you wanted to do something similar to this challenge on your own journals that would be so fantastic... I'd do a ficlet for you, too, for helping to get everyone active again.
So, what do you think, guys? Wanna try this? Or do you have any ideas to offer up to add to the challenge or perhaps make it smoother?