So, I’ve been quiet the last couple of days, and I’m behind on Zero to Hero, because a cold has taken residence in my head and kicked my brain out to make more room for it. It hurts to think, when I can think at all, and that’s not been conducive to any of my plans. I did make a start on my TEFL qualification, but anything that involves writing takes twice as long because my typing has gone to pot, even more than usual.
So I sat down and played Sims instead, called it a half duvet day.
I’ve loved Sims since I got it in a sale in the school library when I was 12. Someone had ordered it through the book club and not collected it, so it was vastly reduced. Of course, since then I’ve spent an awful lot of money on it, because I have every single game except a couple of the most recent stuff packs. That’s a hefty stack, which had a hefty price tag. Now we’re waiting for Sims 4, and the limited edition, full of shiny, pack is £70. There’s a large part of me thinks she’s going to get it.
Sims came first, and then writing came back a couple of years later, when my dad read me this article on fanfiction from the Telegraph. I think there was a similar article about Sims and then one about Neopets, both of which I played, but they might have been at a different time. He’s always giving me interesting articles, although that happens less since I grew up and started reading the Independent (online, obviously).
But this was one of those articles that he thought I’d be interested in, because the focus was on Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings fanfiction, and apparently they didn’t realise that it would be another hobby, and one that’s lasted and lasted and lasted.
I dipped my toes in and wrote some truly terrible Lord of the Rings fanfiction. I think it’s a rite of passage that everyone needs to do, quite honestly. Over the years I have probably written over 2 million words of fanfiction, got some brilliant feedback and honed my craft in a limitless sandbox. Fanfiction is derivative, sure, but my offerings have included a monster crossover between CSI, Torchwood, the Thursday Next books by Jasper Fforde and Lord of the Rings; 100 word drabbles about love that I had to whittle down from my verbose waffle; an interstellar action movie romance; and more different worlds, communities and people than you’d expect from stories based on other stories. Fanfiction taught me to play around in the background of a world, to find out what makes it tick behind the scenes. If I know when Ianto Jones feeds Myfanwy the pteranodon, what he feeds her, how he gets it into the Hub without arousing suspicion and what happens when they let her out, it’s a lot easier to figure it out for a character in a location I actually created.
It started with Lord of the Rings, but I think it ended with Torchwood. Nothing has ever captured my imagination in the same way and given it such fertile soil to till. It was everything, especially Ianto and Myfanwy, and for all its many failings, I still think it had the spark of utter brilliance.
Or maybe that’s the cold medication. And yes, I have created the Torchwood team on Sims, repeatedly. Or at least Jack and Ianto.