On Saturday, October 12th, I attended my second MiddleMoot, hosted on the campus of Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, Iowa. After the Welcome Address delivered by Robert Steed in the auditorium of Tama Hall, the first session I attended was a fascinating look at the theme of female grief as foresight and subcreation by Jude Bleile (more details forthcoming in a separate post). The following session I selected from the program was entitled “The Journey of FanFiction” presented by Nicole Evans, a fellow member of the Tolkien Society of Kansas City, a librarian, writer and blogger.
Nicole spoke briefly about the history of fanfiction, even citing examples from her adolescence (over 12,000 on one site alone but who’s counting?) and explained the interactive nature of her session. We, the audience, would select five pieces of a story puzzle that we then would assemble creatively into a short fanfiction story. We could then enter our story into a pool to be read and voted on by attendees for a prize to be awarded at the end of the conference.
The five elements we would drew were Character, Object, Setting, Plot and First Lines. The photo below displays my drawing. We had approximately thirty minutes to compose our tales. We were to underline each item as we used it in our story so the readers/judges could confirm we had used all five.
Corey Olsen would write fanfiction using Odo as a character, the Arkenstone for an object, Mordor as a setting, sneaking into the Council of Elrond for a plot and start off with a first line of ‘I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.’Audience Participation, The Journey of FanFiction
After a few minutes of juggling these items in my mind, I began to write. My handwriting is abominable at the best of times. When I’m feeling pressured to complete something on a tight deadline AND be creative at the same time, it becomes nearly illegible. I forged ahead, scribbling and scrabbling down the page of my notebook.
Nicole warned us this exercise was not meant to be easy. I felt ‘lucky’ that three, possibly four, of the five elements I drew seemed to fit together. The middle three in the photo above definitely made sense. However, the brooch Pippin, or was it Merry, threw away during their forced march with the Uruk-hai. And no wizards were involved until later.
Here, then, is the first draft in type-written form with a minimum of corrections (converting my shorthand to full words):
‘Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards,’ muttered Pippin under his breath, while sneaking through Farmer Maggot’s fields on his way back to the Shire. He was searching for the opening in the High Hay that would give him the first glimpse of home. Pippin tripped and tumbled into a wet patch of mushroom, exclaiming loudly and sputtering through a face full of muck and mud.
Wiping his eyes clear, Pippin’s ears pricked at the ominous sound of a low growl behind him. Slowly, he turned his head and looked over his shoulder, into the slavering jowls of one of Farmer Maggot’s hounds. Pippin searched around him for something to use in defense or distraction, but all his scrambling fingers could find were the crush remnants of Farmer Maggot’s mushrooms.
The dog advanced menacingly and Pippin felt panic rising in his chest. After surviving capture and torture at the hands of the Uruk-Hai, not to mention the Siege of Minas Tirith, to be eaten alive on his way home by one of Farmer Maggot’s dogs seemed ridiculous.
Just as he is about to bolt, Pippin spies among the trampled mushrooms his second Leaves of Lorien brooch that he’d just received from Galadriel. She had graciously replaced the brooch he’d left for Aragorn to find during his kidnapping by Saruman’s Uruk-Hai. Keeping a close eye on the advancing hound, Pippin snatched the shining token and flung it into the hound’s gaping maw.
Caught completely by surprise, the dog involuntarily inhaled and began coughing and choking on the Leaf of Lorien brooch. Shaking its head violently and wimpering, the dog ran back to its master’s home.
‘Best not to meddle with young hobbits returning from adventures!’ cried Pippin after the retreating dog.
Pippin stood, stretched and spied the got in the hedgerow. Whistling, he strode quickly westward, towards the Shire, already concocting a tale to share over ale with Sam, Merry and Frodo at the Green Dragon Inn.
The above recreation was not the final draft that I submitted for judging. I decided my handwriting had gotten even more illegible as my creative juices got warmed up. I took a sheet of blank paper provided by Nicole and started a second draft, but after only two paragraphs, she warned us we had just five minutes left to wrap-up or stories. I nearly despaired as I knew I could not transcribe and rewrite my story in the time remaining.
Tomorrow I will share the second draft I actually submitted. I was the last one in the room, aside from Nicole and her boyfriend, but I did manage to complete my first fanfiction composition.