Oh, my giddy aunt! I had forgotten how much havoc full-on fandom can play with your daily life. Yesterday was a bit of a write-off, devoted mainly to surfing the web for any mention of The Day of the Doctor and experiencing the emotional whiplash of the day after a good party. At least there wasn’t any washing up to do.
It’s rather sobering to realise how easily I could return to the state I was in from July 2006 to July 2008. Yes, the overlap between those dates and the Tenth Doctor’s tenure is no coincidence. My hard-core engagement with Live Journal fandom started after I watched Doomsday and needed somewhere for all those emotions to go. I knew my family would fear for my sanity and roll their eyes if I inflicted it on them.
I held out for about three weeks before I committed fanfic. I couldn’t have felt more ashamed if I’d been caught downloading porn. I seriously wondered what on earth had happened to me. Mercifully, I had the sense not to share that first literary outing with the world, but by Christmas 2006 I was posting regular chapters of a Christmas Invasion fixit that had the Doctor apologising to Harriet Jones and going back to Satellite Five to rescue Jack. I find most of it unreadable now, but the first chapter isn’t bad. Just as well, since one of my oldest RL friends admitted to having read it.
Over the next couple of years I produced thousands of words, 99% featuring my beloved Ten. Only Journey’s End stemmed my flow, and even then I came up with some nice Donna fic. But I never resolved RTD’s train wreck solution to my satisfaction, and in fact I became quite startled by the dark tone that some of my little vignettes took. Particularly the one where Ten sends a message to Jack that he has to sort out his mistake saving Adelaide Brooke et al, and when he opens the TARDIS door Jack pulls a gun, shoots him and says, “That’s for Ianto. Too bad he wasn’t blonde.” Yep, I was feeling nihilistic enough by then to assume that Children of Earth had happened in the same ‘verse and the Doctor had stayed well away for reasons of his own.
I guess RTD does have that effect on you.
Most of my vintage fic had a much lighter tone. In fact, light comedy with a side order of angst became my preferred voice. Like Moffatt, I really didn’t like it when people died. A few of my chapters can still reduce me to tears, particularly the one where a rather battered Ten proposes to Rose after several weeks camping out in the Powell Estate flat just after a reworked Battle of Canary Wharf. I look back and realise that I put so much of my own life and experiences into that scene, particularly the loss of my own widowed mum (like Rose, I was an only child who never knew my father). Going back to read it now, for the first time in years, I’m rather horrified by how much I humanised the Doctor. At the time I couldn’t see how out-of-character that really was.
In a sequel to that tale, I even took them to an AU Gallifrey ruled by an ageing Romana (she cropped up in a lot of my fic, as did Sarah Jane – I liked experienced older women licking Ten into shape and had a lot of fun with it). I had a reunion with the Third Doctor in Sarah Jane’s front garden and was astonished how naturally I slipped into writing Pertwee dialogue – some distant place in my memory must have filed it away, untouched since the 1970s. And I remember writing a fix-it just after Time Crash that involved Five getting Ten and Rose back together. I think that was probably my best.
Probably my mission statement in those creative times was Jane Austen’s line from the end of Mansfield Park: “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit these subjects as soon as I can.” The apparently unstoppable flow of stories started to peter out after Journey’s End, but it was the arrival of Eleven that finally ended it. I just couldn’t write him. Simple as that.
Ah, happy days. It wasn’t all bad. I probably wouldn’t have done an MA in Shakespeare Studies if it hadn’t been for David Tennant. (I once sent him a birthday gift of the story of Ten and Rose in Series Two in verse format, paralleling the Proclaimers song, That’s when he told her. I hope he liked it. Surprising how neatly the final line, “He may be a Time Lord but when all is said and done he’s still a bloke,” fitted the original tune).
Seeing Tennant as the Doctor again has brought something into focus for me. A lot of people have an enormous crush on Tennant. I don’t. It’s Ten that I’m hopelessly devoted to, and this weekend brought it all back. And I rather hope it goes away again. My family outed me one Christmas by buying me a life-size stand-up Ten. I was livid. But they had a point. I still think DT is one of the hardest working and probably nicest people in show business, and I wouldn’t have missed his RSC work for the world. But I confess that DVDs of Casanova and Blackpool sit unwatched on my shelves and, worst of all, I have yet to discover Broadchurch. Nope (see how I popped that P?), for me it’s all about Ten. And one day I’ll get over it. Yes, I will get over it. Until that day comes, you continue in your fantasies and I shall, with a little embarrassment, go forward in mine.