Running with the Wolves

“We find lingering evidence of archetype in the images and symbols found in stories, literature, poetry, painting, and religion. It would appear that its glow, its voice, and its fragrance are meant to cause us to be raised up from contemplating the shit on our tails to occasionally travelling in the company of the stars.”

“Women Who Run With the Wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

In which I reflect on stories in general, and JE in particular, and why this might turn out to be the end of the road for me, too.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last couple of years, it is that you will probably regret it if you announce publicly, with a fanfare, that you’re leaving fandom. However, I do feel the time has come to stand back and, at the very least, not post any more fiction for some time.

When DW presents me with a problem, I usually try to come to terms with it through writing fic, and that’s how I approached Journey’s End. As far as I could see, there were three possible scenarios. One – we accept canon and find a way to give everyone the best resolution possible. Two – we accept the Alt!Verse with Blue Ten and Rose and pack up and move over there. Three – we regard the outcome as being fundamentally tragic, the story of a man who was given a second chance and threw it away rather than face the issues that brought up.

Already, each reading and associated ones has developed its own close-knit, passionately argued following and separate communities, rather like a church splitting on the grounds of conscience. I’ve sympathy with all three views, just as throughout S3 I shipped Ten and Rose but enjoyed the challenge of writing sympathetically from Martha’s POV. And with Ten and Donna, I really hit my stride and I’ve rarely written more naturally or enjoyed the process more. But, as Ten said to Donna on the rooftop, that’s all gone now.

I could, of course, bring Donna back. I could go as AU as I like. Trouble is, every time I do that I get identified with a position and the people who hold it. That’s already happening, I think. Although the majority of my recent reviews are positive, there are people who have had negative responses, based not so much on whether I can write, but rather on whether they agree with me. Those criticisms are somewhat wounding because, in my last two stories, both post-JE, dealing with Scenarios 1 and 2 respectively, in a very real sense I wasn’t agreeing with myself. I was trying to write out my feelings and come to a position of acceptance. There probably was some insincerity involved, a sense in which I was making characters into a mouthpiece for various positions, and that doesn’t make for good writing, though you can fudge it to some extent.

Maybe my whole response to JE is coloured that I’m suffering from depression at the moment. I hadn’t realised how much I was investing in this show until after JE I very rapidly became upset enough to need urgent medical help. I could come back to it all in a few months’ time and recognise that in fact it was an absolutely brilliant compromise; after all it’s now officially the most watched show on TV that week, which propels it straight into DW history. So who’s going to listen to me after that? We get Billie and David back, or at least everything lined up for the odd special or two, we keep the classic fans happy and we have an angst-fest, which always seems to go down well. And RTD gets a Fellowship, which he probably richly deserves for services to the job market in South Wales alone.

But the fact remains, I see it as a bleak and hopeless ending, a so-called resolution that leaves us contemplating the shit on our tails and forever exiled from the stars (as in the case of 10.2 and Rose). And for me the only alternative to that view is to take both Ten and Rose completely OOC. According to River Song, the Doctor is the impossible man who just never gives up. I think the same could be said for the Rose I came to love in S1/S2 – but not the one who sleepwalked through the last few episodes of S4 and really only came to life in the moment when she saw her Doctor running towards her. I loved Rose because she would never give up and settle for what she could get. Real life is full of people who do exactly that, but I want to watch stories about people who don’t. I want a mythic, epic love story, not a compromise.

Now this puts me in a minority, I think it’s fair to say. I don’t feel like arguing my case, because it’s based on gut feelings, not logic – that’s what matters when I write and when I invest emotionally in any work of art. For me, writing any kind of fixit fic is making an accommodation with a reality I don’t accept. It’s not about pique, it’s about integrity. I’m not saying the people who disagree with me, who think the ending was happy and hopeful, at least for 10.2 and Rose, don’t have integrity. But I can’t retain mine while agreeing with them.

Ten, to me, is a tragic hero, alienated from himself and everyone who could help him. I wish that wasn’t so but I’ve looked at the alternatives and that’s still the way I see it. Either that, or I agree to retcon the characters I love – they go in one jump from being impossible people who never give up to being realists who take what they can get. If that’s what they become, I won’t enjoy writing about them and I think some of the comments I’m already receiving suggest I’m not doing it with conviction. To be honest, I want characters who are much more courageous than I am myself, people who run with the wolves rather than lying with the lambs. I thought, for a while, RTD had created two such people in Ten and Rose. Looks like I was wrong.

So I won’t be posting anything DW related for a while, maybe never again. I’ve a busy summer ahead of me, hanging out with some good friends I made through this very fandom and, among other things, seeing DT play Hamlet. I need to spend a little more time in the real world, I think. I don’t want to get pulled into arguments and there are always those in fandom – Nine vs Ten, Rose vs Martha and now 10=clone vs 10=not a clone. I’m a bit too tired and fragile to bother with all that. I’ll still read other people’s work and, mostly, appreciate it even when they read the characters differently. No doubt I’ll comment, too. But I’ve figured out where I stand on it and for me, that wasn’t a happy ending, and the man Rose loves is back in a different universe with very little to show for the experience of knowing her in terms of character development.

I wish I could see it another way, because this one breaks my heart. But I can’t.

If my Rose could whisper in the ear of her beloved brown Ten, I think she’d say something like this:

Being able to say that one is a survivor is an accomplishment. For many, the power is in the name itself. And yet comes a time in the individuation process when the threat or trauma is significantly past. Then is the time to go to the next stage after survivorship, to healing and thriving. … One can take so much pride in being a survivor that it becomes a hazard to further creative development. … Once the threat is past, there is a potential trap in calling ourselves by names taken on during the most terrible time of our lives. It creates a mind-set that is potentially limiting. It is not good to base the soul identity solely on the feats and losses and victories of the bad times.”

How appropriate that these beautiful words are from a book called, “Women Who Run With The Wolves.”

Run, Rose! Run! And:

“Don’t let it be forgot,
That once there was a spot,
For one brief shining moment,
That was known as Camelot.”

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15 thoughts on “Running with the Wolves

  1. Oh, I totally understand your position. As someone who is still trying to come to turns with the ending and hoping that I can accept the ending as happy (including writing fic to convince myself of it)… I find it extremely odd that a television show could be affecting me this much.
    And I think that you’re right… you have to take them OOC in some sense to make it plausible. Personally, I haven’t completely decided if I can do that yet. I feel myself hoping that I can do so just so that I’m not depressed (at least in the case of Ten II/Rose, I’m still completely in denial over Donna).

  2. Oh man, you have no idea how much I love to see someone quoting Women Who Run With The Wolves.
    One – we accept canon and find a way to give everyone the best resolution possible. Two – we accept the Alt!Verse with Blue Ten and Rose and pack up and move over there. Three – we regard the outcome as being fundamentally tragic, the story of a man who was given a second chance and threw it away rather than face the issues that brought up.
    Already, each reading and associated ones has developed its own close-knit, passionately argued following and separate communities, rather like a church splitting on the grounds of conscience.

    Ugh, it’s driving me crazy. Apparently there have been defriendings and all sorts of crazy shit. I just think it’s crap storytelling, and that denying two of the main female characters agency in their own lives and futures is kinda offensive. I’m getting a bit tired of fandom, myself.
    Maybe my whole response to JE is coloured that I’m suffering from depression at the moment. I hadn’t realised how much I was investing in this show until after JE I very rapidly became upset enough to need urgent medical help.
    I really hope whatever treatment you get works well for you, and that your recovery is swift. I’ve had Major Depressive Disorder nearly my entire life, and I know how awful it can be. The good news for you is that for adults going through a depressive episode, in two-thirds of cases it ends with complete recovery. You already sound like you’re taking good, solid, positive steps forward towards being healthy again. *hugs*
    Now this puts me in a minority, I think it’s fair to say.
    There’s you and me and, like, three other people. We could form a knitting circle, or something…
    Ten, to me, is a tragic hero, alienated from himself and everyone who could help him.
    That is depressing. I think I’ll stick with pretending Nine never regenerated. 😦
    I want characters who are much more courageous than I am myself, people who run with the wolves
    Me too. That’s half the fun of fiction!
    So I won’t be posting anything DW related for a while, maybe never again.
    That’s okay, and very understandable. I think I might be approaching a similar place emotionally – I’ve been slowly detaching from DW the past few months or so, and while I don’t think I’ll be leaving Fandom-with-a-capital-F (born and raised a fanbrat, me), I am looking forward to getting into something new again.
    It is not good to base the soul identity solely on the feats and losses and victories of the bad times.”
    God, he needs to hear this so badly. Woe.

  3. Puts my hand into the circle! I just can’t buy JE as something that works. I just can’t make it work in my head. And it hurts me that so many of us…the people I found most insightful…really…are leaving the fandom. But that is a true sign I think of what fandom may actually be…a sort of self-consuming thing. I’ve belonged to 4 of them now and I’ve never found myself to be enough of a fundamentalist.
    Rae

  4. You know what I’ve noticed…? The Ten/Rose people seem to be more upset over Donna…and the Donna people seem more upset over Ten/Rose. I mean…it’s like people tell themselves, “Well, what can you expect?” But then they see the OTHER story and think, “What the HELL?” I found more and more I was focusing on Donna and thinking…that’s just not right!
    Rae

  5. Hugs you!
    Knows what you mean!
    Unable to take it myself!
    Of course, I still hold out hope that RTD is laughing at us all…or letting us do the hard job of explaining how this is all good…especially after the Magnatron bit.
    Rae

  6. That’s really interesting. I’m a Ten/Rose fangirl through and through, but I also thought that Donna was made of awesome and thought she was a perfect companion. I definitely haven’t really thought of Donna at all… it’s just not right, I’m in complete and utter denial that the Donna of S4 is gone.

  7. In one way, I can see where you’re coming from, but in another I can’t really. I always knew that we’d never, ever get a happy resolution to the Doctor/Rose story in canon. It’s just not what DW is about. Never has, never will be. Not unless the series is being wound up here and now.
    So, for me, the half-human Doctor and Rose ending was amazing, really breathtaking and rather brilliant, because I never thought it would happen and yet it is the closest thing to Doctor/Rose happy ever after that we could have had. And, since they took great pains to tell us that the half-human Doctor is the Doctor, through regeneration, and to show us, even if in just a couple of scenes, that he and Rose still have that chemistry, I’m completely content that they’ll be happy. Yes, both of them want to fly among the stars, but I take as canon that line which was in the script about the original Doctor giving his twin a piece of TARDIS coral. They’ll have their own TARDIS.
    Yes, I would have preferred Rose to have a say in choosing her destiny – but in a way she did. She made the first move and kissed the half-human Doctor, Ten2. The original Doctor saw that as her choice and he left.
    Now, that’s not to say that I’m completely happy with JE; of course I’m not. I hate Donna’s ending – but then Donna was always going to be written out. But if I don’t like an ending, I make my own canon. I write alternative resolutions for Donna. I write fixits. I’m even writing a fixit of sorts for the Doctor – because that’s another outcome I know you don’t like and I don’t either: I’m tired of seeing him alone and miserable all the time. RTD may like it, but a lot of us would like to see the Doctor be at least content every now and then, and not end every season having lost everything he ever cared about. What’ll it be next time? Take his TARDIS away permanently too, without the hope of growing a new one?
    But, again, if I don’t like the ending I write another one. And another. I’ve always been a fan of ‘what ifs’ in fanfic. I’ll carry on writing Donna – either fics set during S4, or AU or fixits set post-S4. There are always gaps to be filled, or adventures they must have had between filmed adventures. You write a brilliant Donna, and a really wonderful Doctor/Donna dynamic, so it’d be a shame if you never wrote the two of them again. Who cares what canon says happened to them? Fanfic mocks canon. That’s one of its functions.
    As for fandom, I had more than enough of fan-wars and implosions in a previous fandom. If there’s lots of trauma and splits and things going around, I stay well out of it. I see there’s a lot of new comms since JE; I haven’t joined one of them, and I won’t. I’m not interested in ‘taking sides’ on BlueSuit v BrownSuit, for example. There are enough stresses in life without my fun activity becoming part of that 🙂
    I hope you can manage to destress and start to enjoy your fan activities again, but if you find you can’t then maybe the appropriate response is to withdraw – fun shouldn’t be depressing 😦

  8. Yeah, Donna is the real sticking point in all this. It is very hard for me to believe 10 would leave Rose, but he does operate from a default position that he can’t have that life. And I can see him filled with self-loathing at that moment and directing it all at his doppleganger…OR…simply afraid that Rose would see what he and Davros saw in him…”Show your companion your true self.” I can indeed see him thinking Rose would be better off far away from him…taking care of his other half.
    The thing about evil…the thing that Nuremberg shows us…is that people seldom set out to do evil. Usually, people are hurt, frightened or alone and darkness grows inside them. And that is my huge, huge problem with all of this…the Doctor is very powerful…and there is nobody to stop him from following his own rules from now on…Donna we were told was supposed to stop him…she was needed…there was a whole episode about that…and yet, when she told him to stop…he didn’t.
    Rae

  9. What was it 10 said when Rose was taken by the Wire? “Because now…Detective Inspector…no power on this Earth can stop me.”
    Once Rose is gone…yeah!
    Rae

  10. *hugs*
    I’m so sorry. If it helps, I think you’re doing exactly the right thing by pulling back.
    It’s possible for a story to be tragic and still be honest. For that matter, it’s possible for a story to be tragic and still be life-affirming. But I don’t think “Journey’s End” was either.

  11. I’ve been listless for about ten days now. There are things that need doing, things that I enjoy doing, but every morning I wake up and they still haen’t been done. So the finale is eating away at me on the inside, even if it’s not fully conscious.
    I would appreciate your feedback on my Ten/Donna ‘shag or die’ story, though. I promise it’s amusing and in character. Your words “if I can’t say something nice I don’t say anything” are haunting me, because I like how you write Ten/Donna. But if it’s too much for you to face, I completely understand. Go and be free to enjoy yourself. You deserve it. 🙂

  12. I’m happy to look it over – I have aibhinn staying with me at the moment and we’re out and about a lot so things are pretty busy. Of course, if you’d like a second opinion on it…

  13. In one way, I can see where you’re coming from, but in another I can’t really. I always knew that we’d never, ever get a happy resolution to the Doctor/Rose story in canon. It’s just not what DW is about. Never has, never will be.
    But RTD opened up loads of things that were never what the show used to be about – such as the Doctor’s emotional inner life, and the families of companions. If he’d left all that untouched I would have been fine with it. Or even if they’d said from the start that the Doctor’s static, character-wise, so ultimately it’s not a hopeful story.
    What bugs me was everything was done to set up false expectations. There really wasn’t any need for that.

  14. Re: *hugs*
    Agreed. I have no problem with tragic stories on principle. “His Dark Materials,” “The Bridges of Madison County” and “The Time Traveller’s Wife” are all multiple-Kleenex jobs but they don’t leave the same sense of emptiness because you feel that the characters have learned something and that their suffering has had a point. All affirm the value of love, and of being true to yourself but also to a higher purpose and the greater good.
    The message DW leaves is ‘Why bother saving anything or anybody – life sucks and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

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