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Jan Talking Meme - "What inspires you to write meta about a book/movie/show?"

This is part of the January Talking Meme - which I decided to do on a whim back in December. There's still a lot of dates available, if there's something you want to ask and have me write about - or you want to see if you can "stump" me (ie, ask something I can't write about)...now's the time.

January 20: rahirah asks What inspires you to write meta about a book/movie/show?

This is a hard one.

Short answer? I honestly don't know.

Long answer: If I'd have to hazard a guess, which I sort of do, usually it's something that hits a chord inside me or resonates on some weird deep internal and indescribable level. It's more emotional than mental. I have to be passionate about whatever it is.

But this gets back to a much broader question -" why I'm driven to write to begin with"? Which actually lies at the heart of it. What inspires me to write about things that I do not have to write about or am not assigned to write about?

A need to understand or figure out my own feelings and those of others regarding the topic. And to communicate or share those feelings. There's usually, specifically in regards to meta, something that's nagging at me. The book/story/television series discussed or delved into something that bugged me on a subconscious level.

For example? Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which I wrote over 400 pages worth of meta on to date, so it's a really good example). It's interesting to note that while I did watch the series, fairly religiously and with some degree of obsessiveness from seasons 1-5 - even to go so far as to jump online and hunt spoilers or read fan websites on occasion, I did not write any meta regarding the series until February 2002. What changed? Well my real life got nasty for one thing - so I used my meta as a means of coping with the nastiness of my life in a safe manner. But what also changed - was the television show on a metaphorical and subconscious level related to my real life nastiness. I was able to deal with my own demons and even slay a few of them by writing about Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The characters I wrote the most about - were the ones whose journeys on a subconscious level resonated.

For example: Spike or rather the character that he'd become, was insanely similar to a male fictional character trope that kept reappearing in my original fiction, although not a vampire and not exactly like Spike, just very similar in some respects. I don't write about vampires - not a horror writer, never have been, don't tend to like horror all that much to be honest. Which is why my obsession with Buffy surprised a lot of people offline. It seemed out of character - since I'd never been a fan of horror and did not like vampires, werewolves, or horror stories. Also the high school thing? So over that. But the character of Spike - who was this ambiguous outsider, who'd been cruelly bullied for his art, repeatedly rejected as a human by the opposite sex, and was reluctantly a hero - when he'd much rather break people's necks or suck them dry - somehow spoke to my own frustrations and rage. There was something about the character that intrigued and bugged me - but since I did not quite understand what it was - I was compelled to figure it out by writing about it - and in communicating it to others - I hoped perhaps they would respond and maybe help me understand my own views however jumbled they were.

I think that may be it? I'm not just compelled to write down my thoughts - but to share them and obtain feedback. Feedback is important. But not just any feed-back. I wanted thoughtful and insightful feedback, which is why I jumped from the Buffy Cross and Stake posting board to the ATPO Board and even interacted on Teaatheford. Basically I needed someone insightful and of similar views to help me puzzle out what it was about this character, this episode, this story, or this book that worked or did not work for me. Why was I so obsessed with this character? Why did that plot-point bug me? Why did the Seeing Red episode both jar and excite and frustrate me? Why did I find how it motivated and pushed Spike's story forward fascinating, but what it said about everyone else's journey's frustrating?

Often, when I write meta it's a reaction to an argument I've been having in my own head. Sometimes it may be an emotional reaction to a comment/meta/fanfic about a book or character that I've read online. Or a reaction to a discussion I've had with a friend that was bugging me and I need to figure out.

For a story - whether it be a book, a film or a tv series - to inspire meta - two things must happen: 1)it must intrigue me on an emotional and mental level. I must care. 2) Other people need to care too. If no one on my flist or on the discussion board cares - I'm not going to bother writing meta. After all, what's the point, if you can't get feedback? Be like a tree falling down in the forest with no one there. (So there are tv series that I've written briefly about but stopped bothering with...because, honestly, no one cares. It's also why I don't post book reviews on every book I read.)

That said, this is obviously not always the case. I wrote a lengthy meta about the rape trope in various romance novels - inspired by an annoyance with the self-righteous reviews on Amazon and Good Reads as well as a fascination with how each writer dealt with the trope and how each reader interpreted it differently. I didn't write it to get feedback, I wrote it to get the subject out of my head - so I'd stop playing with it. Sometimes I write just to get the thing out of my head, if that makes any sense? (If you aren't a writer, I doubt it.) Or when I wrote various metas on romance novels I'd read - because I was intrigued with why I felt compelled to read them and wanted to figure it out. I enjoy analyzing problems through writing - it clarifies things in my head, and it works even better if I do it on a public forum for reasons I'll never completely understand. For some reason I prefer writing in lj than in a private journal. Although I've done both. Maybe I require the emotional/mental connection of finding a like-minded soul somewhere out there, who thinks, yep me too or this exactly... or at least the hope of one?

So I think it really comes down to three questions: Does the story, character, trope bug me in some crazy obsessive way? Do I have anything new to say about it that I feel compelled to share with others, particularly in the hopes of making that emotional/mental connection? And am I curious about what others think regardless of the connection - do I want to discuss it?

Not sure this answers the question or not. Because frankly, I'm not really sure I know.

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Comments

Whether or not it answers the question, it's very interesting to read. Thanks!
Oh good. You're welcome.
Simple answer: "I got something to say about show/book/film."

Not complicated.
The question was "what inspires" or why. Because obviously you have something to say about it. But "WHY" do you have something to say?
And why do you feel inclined to say anything at all?

It's always complicated.
Because that's how our brains work? I asked myself that a lot in the olden days, then met a whole entire discussion board's worth of people who had the same urge, and realized asking why I like to do that was the sort of question that comes from people without that urge. Best to ask them why they play basketball, or knit, or socialize on Friday nights when they could be staying home with a perfectly good video.

It's what gives them joy.