this is gonna be weird

Ven vendersleighc at
Sun Nov 21 20:05:13 EST 2004

This teabag thing seems to be catching on so it's
only fair to attribute. The original author of
the phrase is Louisa Young, writing in the

".......could any writer take someone else's
world-famous characters from a world-famous book
- a phenomenon, a small industry - created 100
years ago, and write a new book about them,
incorporating the spirit of the original? 

"I was tempted to offer myself. I write for
children; I was brought up in the house where
Peter Pan was written; my family has lived there
since 1929. We slept in the room from which Wendy
and the boys flew away. Marc Foster, the director
of Finding Neverland, came round with a small
horde of Hollywood people to see it. We have
feelings for Peter Pan. 

"But could I take him, like a used teabag, and
try to make another pot out of him? I think not.
He's mine as a reader, not mine to write about.
I'd just be ticking the boxes of what somebody
somewhere thinks readers would expect in a Peter
Pan sequel. Pan, check. Wendy, check. Hook,
check. Tiger Lily, Tootles and Smee,

Katta wrote

<So you consider the Peter Pan sequels "teabags"
but the Wild Sargasso Sea 
"not teabags"? How does that figure? I mean,
Peter Pan is pretty much a 
cultural artifact by now. Certainly as much as
Alice in Wonderland - does 
that make Coraline "teabags"?>
It's the idea of it being considered a formal
"sequel" that seems to make it teabags, as Louisa
Young puts it it's careful following of a
checklist. It may not be -- it hasn't even been
written yet!. Hook WAS teabags though, and
probably not even the right tea...... However the
Peter Pan archetype does of course crop up all
over the place, as well as being shorthand for a
personality type . Incidentally, talking of
archetypes I recently saw the original Disney PP
and found myself thinking "Robin Hood" at Peter
and the Lost Boys. 

I'm going to be embarrassed now, not only have I
not read Coraline but I haven't actually read
Wide Sargasso Sea either. I've read about
it...... and discussed it with a friend who was
studying it this summer and I'm going to read it
as soon as ............ But oh bugger I was doing
a bit of cultural bluffing and now I've been
sprung. (My mate was doing an essay comparing it
to Medea, which I really do know about, I'm
reminded that I really must read WWS and then her

Katta went on 
"Well, then. You've written fanfic. You obviously
had some reason for that. 
*grin* Do you think, because you've since stopped
enjoying it, that your 
reason wasn't somehow similar to other people's

Ooooooooh how sharp you are Katta, that's why I
thought I had better come clean above of course,
but you won't get me on this one...... I never
said I had stopped enjoying "it" if the "it" we
are talking about is a bunch of friends deriving
fictions from other sources and playing around
with them -- only these days I call it role
playing! And although my school friends and I
wrote our creations down what I never did was
actually read the stuff not the stuff we did or
anyone else's, let alone get anyone else to read

Here's a chink of what Minnow wrote that I agree

<From the writers' point of view I can understand

wanting to find out what
happened next, as it were, or what might have 
happened if... x y or z
instead of the original story; what I don't 
really get is why it should be
expected that anyone else is interested, or if 
anyone else is interested
why they shouldn't make up their *own* "here's 
what happened" rather than
read someone else's.

Isn't it somewhat of a personal thing rather than

something one needs to
publish?  If every child who was Mowgli for days 
on end in a series of
daydream adventures wrote it all down and got 
that out into the public
domain it'ld be fairly dire.  Hand up anyone on 
the list who *didn't*
sometimes lie awake "being" a hero from favourite

fiction?  And wouldn't
one be horrified if one's ideas from then were 
now produced for one to
comment on?>

I can sort of see why others might be interested
though -- and the huge audience for fanfic is
evidence that plenty of others are -- but on the
whole I'm not. I have found some of the critical
conventions useful, mainly where fanfic and
published fic have leaked into each other, I do
know a Mary Sue now when I see one. The idea of
Slash amuses me too. I've certainly done it in my
own imagination, I once reread Fire From Heaven
very puzzled as to what had happened to a certain
steamy scene I remembered ............. making
I've also thought up slash scenes for my own
work, which would never make it into any official
version. I was recently reading Stephen Saylor's
Catalina (one of a series of Roman murder
mysteries) and I was pretty certain the author
intended a slash reading to be there for those
who wished! 

Katta said

<But I think it's important to remember that a
lot of fanfic originates from 
things like TV shows and comics, where it's in
the nature of the original 
version not only to have many stories, but to
have many stories written by 
different people. And when things space out (as
they tend to do) fans not 
only go, "wait a minute, what kind of crack is
this writer on?" but also 
"*I* have a better grip on the characters than

And I agree that that kind of thing is a lot less
likely to be teabags. However I think my lack of
interest in that kind of fanfic relates more to
how I feel about fim/tv versus books. I don't
like film novelisations and I think very few fims
or televisations of books hold a candle to the
originals. I love Buffy but I have never read any
of those lovely looking books and only read a
couple of fanfics out of curiousity. For me, I
suppose, the appeal just doesn't translate.


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