It’s been more than a month, actually, and I apologize heartily for the lapse. I’ve been extremely busy putting in overtime at the shop (it’s a fabric shop and with Halloween, can you really blame me?) and I’ve been trying to focus on my writing. However, despite the fact that November is National Novel Writing Month in which I attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days, I cannot focus on any of my books right now. Seriously, I can’t. I’ve tried and it isn’t working.
Instead, I think I’m going to focus on a silly, but fun, project Kait and I have come up with: writing our favorite books/series as Dungeons and Dragons campaigns. She’s going to work on The Lord of the Rings (and probably all of Tolkien’s Middle Earth work because that’s how she is) and I’m going to work on Harry Potter. We certainly have our work cut out for us, but we’ve been throwing ideas back and forth and we’re off to a decent start, I think. We’ll probably end up doing a few of these each, but this is what we’re starting with.
But, before I get into that, some interesting HP discussions have been happening over my FacebookLand and I want to share them with you.
Firstly, Kait and I discuss HP through chat:
Alice: “I remember, my dear. You are a woman of fine temper. It is not something easily forgotten especially since you turned all my socks into cockroaches.” Dumbly Sir to McGiggles in this fic: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/2290003/1/Pet_Project
Kait: LOL wth
Alice: There are times when fic writers are as witty as Rowling and it makes me happy.
Alice: They’re talking about Dumbledore not telling Minerva about Lupin’s werewolf-ness until much, MUCH later.
Kait: Ahh, I see.
Kait: Oh Dumbly Sir and his socks…
Alice: Also, I think this fic is Snape/Hermione. But I’m only in the first chapter of many, so I don’t entirely know yet.
Kait: Mehhh. I don’t really like that ship.
Alice: I don’t know if it’s romantic or platonic. The art that linked me to the fic was platonic, so….
Alice: I like the idea of them being secret friends.
Alice: But that probably stems from the fact that I have massive crushes on both of them and don’t like the age gap.
Kait: Platonic is fine. I don’t mind that.
Kait: But as far as romance goes, yeah. The age gap really bothers me for one
Kait: B/c he’s literally old enough to be her father.
Kait: And I just really don’t think there’s room for anyone else in his heart besides Lily.
Alice: I still think Hermione ended up with the wrong boy, though. Her being with Ron until the end was a little too tidy, imo.
Kait: Eh. It was the easy trope for trios.
Kait: Who do you think she should have ended up with?
Alice: I know, but Rowling’s so much better than that.
Alice: She chickened out on having Hermione be the hero because she didn’t think anyone would read the books if they were about a girl and she didn’t have to cave into the trope. She really didn’t.
Alice: Anyone but Ron, really.
Alice: I always really liked her with George. But he ended up marrying his Hogwarts sweetheart, too.
Alice: It’s like everyone is doomed to be stuck with their Hogwarts sweetheart forever in this universe. But that’s not how life actually works. *headdesk*
Alice: Hermione with George is so cute. That’s what should have happened.
Kait: The argument could be made that
Kait: Hang on. Haha. I’ll brb.
Alice: You’re leaving me in the middle of a sentence? Wth, harsh, dude.
Alice: “She’d stood no chance when she realized that the thing had buttons.” Hermione is like me in this fic. Me likee.
Alice: Aw, no. It’s a romance. Darn it. The first ch had it set up beautifully for it to be a friendship initiated by Hermione’s need to campaign for the injustices she perceives around her. But the ff.net category is romance. Bummer.
Alice: But it is rated M, clocking in at 52 chapters, 300,000+ words. Damn. I cannot resist a long fic. I cannot.
Kait: Uhhh damn it. Sorry haha. I had to go take care of something.
Kait: I was going to say tho, that the argument could be made that the majority of the wizarding community in the UK went to Hogwarts, based on all of our given information.
Kait: So it’s not super far-fetched that people would tend to settle down with the people that they dated/went to school with.
Alice: Went to school with, sure,because it’s not a large pool, really. But they don’t date anyone else. Like, Ginny and Harry are together forever once he realizes that Cho’s still stuck on the dead Cedric (and I don’t think she ever ends up with anyone, if memory serves). It’s like, they have no experience with anyone. Once they’re dating someone by their 6th or 7th year, they’re stuck with that person forever.
Alice: And there’s no cross-House dating in 6th and 7th years. Because Neville and Luna were never canonically a thing.
Kait: Well, you have Luna, Draco, and Neville ending up with different people that they didn’t date at Hogwarts.
Kait: And I’m pretty sure Angelina actually went to the Yule Ball with Fred.
Kait: So she and George weren’t really sweethearts.
Alice: They may been together, we don’t know. Because she never spent any time on their personal lives that didn’t have anything to do with the war.
Alice: But there was a shit ton of flirting between George and Angelina, though. But brain keeps saying Fred went with Alicia.
Alice: *But my brian
Alice: I’m having an issue at the moment. There’s too many people in here right now.
Kait: I’m 90% sure Fred went with Angelina b/c I remember being surprised that she ended up with George.
Kait: Hang on, I can figure this out. lol
Alice: Also, cute hipster at my two o’clock.
Kait: B/c I’m pretty sure I had my “Sirius’ daughter” oc go with George.
Kait: Yup. She [Angelina] went with George.
Kait: But anywayyy
Kait: Yeah, none of their dating lives are ideal.
Alice: AHAHA! Never underestimate my recollection for all things Fred Weasley!
Alice: I feel like mostly I’m angry because Ginny and Hermione deserve so much BETTER than Harry and Ron.
Alice: These are kick-ass ladies who could have been great, if they didn’t have their loser bfs holding them back.
Kait: Ahhh but we don’t get to choose who we fall in love with!
Kait: Like, Harry and Ron are still good people. Idiots, but then again most boys are.
Alice: NO BUT THE AUTHOR DOES.
Kait: But it’s not about doing better.
Kait: It’s about getting to be with the person you love.
Alice: They’re idiots with no ambition whatsoever. What did Ron even end up doing after Hogwarts?
Kait: I’m pretty sure he and Harry became Aurors.
Alice: And Harry pretty much only wanted to be an Auror because Moody made it cool and Umbridge said he couldn’t.
Alice: Is it sad that I really don’t like the heroes of the books that dominated my life for the better part of twelve years?
Alice: Hmm. Cute EMT, one o’clock.
Kait: Eh. It happens. I find that a lot of popular stories have unlikable main characters and amazing supporting characters.
Kait: Or that the mains are annoying to begin with and become better later.
Kait: And as to Harry being an Auror, I have a friend who’s going to law school b/c we jokingly said he could be good at it.
Kait: So there’s that. Lol.
Kait: A lot of people want to do stuff just b/c it seems cool.
Alice: I LIKED Harry and Ron at the beginning. But around Book 4, I started to really hate their development.
Kait: Book 5 Harry is such a dipshit.
Alice: And seriously, she should have made Hermione the MC, not Harry. It would have been phenomenal.
Alice: God, he so is.
Alice: I get that he was all stressed out and puberty apparently hit him really hard, but the angst was overdone and overkill.
Alice: And if memory serves, everyone pretty much just put up with his shit.
Alice: Just because he’s the Chosen One, doesn’t make his shit gold and smell of flowers.
Kait: No, it doesn’t. But it’s relatable when you’re at that age.
Kait: Everyone’s an angsty prat at 15.
Alice: Yeah, but my friends called me out on my bullshit, and I on theirs.
Kait: B/c our friends were slightly more self aware.
Kait: And also girls. Girls are smarter than that.
Alice: Maybe that’s why it bothered me so much. Because my basis for comparison was this group of amazing people.
Kait: Ding ding ding. haha
Alice: Also proof that it should’ve been about Hermione.
Kait: We’ll get there.
Kait: I mean, that’s what I loved about Tamora Pierce’s books.
Kait: And still love about them.
Alice: I know. I’m just scared that Rowling was right. That even if the book is amazing and wonderful, that people might not read it because with the girl as the MC, no one would care about anything other than her relationships.
Alice: Isn’t that what happened with Hunger Games?
It’s clear that I do a lot of my writing/blogging while in a Starbucks because there’s no decent cafes walking distance from my flat, right? Oh, good. Kait gets to hear about the cute people who come in. Ain’t she lucky? 😉
And this entire convo sparked an innocuous status post:
Which then prompted an incredibly verbose discussion with the Lawyer:
The Lawyer: Harry Potter is always very important.
Alice: Always and forever. Though, at times it can get me really angry.
The Lawyer: Which part makes you angry?
Alice: The part where Hermione is EASILY Best Character and the whole series should have been focused on her instead of Harry because he’s an idiot and she should have ended up with George Weasley instead of Ron, who is also an idiot and doesn’t deserve her because he’s inattentive and really pretty mean to her.
Kait: so my roommate made a good point abt hermione as she exists in canon not being an ideal main character mostly b/c not a lot of people can empathize with her and it would probably be pretty alienating b/c of how intense she is all the time. harry, on the other hand, is more every-person. i think i would just vote for harry to be genderswapped if that was thing we could change -shrugshrug-
The Lawyer: HEY NOW. I still have every intention of pulling off a very clumsy threesome with Emma Watson and Jennifer Lawrence. That being said, I don’t think the series should have focused on her — then the moral would’ve been “success depends on intelligence.” I much prefer sticking someone who’s not as talented or intelligent in the lead role — it gives the masses hope of being great.
The Lawyer: Also, don’t judge people as “idiots” — neither Harry nor Ron. Like unearned wealth and outward beauty, intelligence is something you’re lucky to get. At least neither were particularly ignorant (which is earned). The important part was their persistence and their well-placed intent. 😛
Alice: Omg, Rowling even said that she was going to make Hermione the MC. What I’m really annoyed about was that a lot of successful book franchises are focused around men and as soon as the MC is a woman, all anyone cares about are her relationships and whatever, not what she’s been able to accomplish.
Alice: And I think success is very dependent on intelligence. Hermione saved Ron and Harry’s lives countless times because THEY REFUSED TO PAY ATTENTION TO THEIR SCHOOLWORK WHILE FIGHTING A MAGICAL WAR. Seriously? Harry’s an idiot for that and Ron’s an all-around general prat, who is seriously mean to Hermione. George on the other hand actually challenged her intellectually, and as someone of the female persuasion who has on occasion been described as “smart,” I’d rather be with someone who challenged me intellectually than someone who mocked me for six years straight and only decided to be fond of me when he thought someone else was getting my attention.
Kait: how did we even start talking abt this? hahaha also, harry potter as a D&D campaign? in addition to LotR? we could do a whole SERIES O:
The Lawyer:I still disagree. Now, if you were to make Harry a female, I think that would be fine — I see no issue with having a female main character. While I value logic and reasoning, I see no reason to devalue people based on their lack of intelligence — any more than I look down on people for being born a particular gender, color, ethnicity, etc. Additionally, paying attention to schoolwork, while perhaps assisted by intelligence (though in some cases, actually thwarted by the same), is more a function of persistence and focus. If you exalt intelligence, you’re setting a bar far too high for most people, and they’ll never be able to relate. Moreover, intelligence is such a relative trait — and there’ll always be someone more intelligent (which is why there is no OBJECTIVE measurement of intelligence — only a relative measurement based on the bell curve formed by society). That’s just no moral to teach children — be born with a trait, in the top xth percentile of smart people. or else be marginalized as an idiot and a prat.
Alice: But that’s the thing. Hermione wasn’t any more or less intelligent than the average student in her class, despite what the -adults- said. She was persistent in her schoolwork and focused on learning as much as she could because she was curious about it and had a need and desire to excel in classes. Just because she did what she was supposed to do in school and really enjoyed her classwork is no reason to think that she’s any more clever than, say, Neville, who was also an incredibly gifted wizard despite having to use a wand that hadn’t chosen him for the majority of his time at Hogwarts.
Alice: Harry and Ron, on the other hand, were persistent in not doing their work and having Hermione do it for them instead. They consistently made ridiculously reckless and, dare I say, stupid decisions because they hadn’t internalized anything regarding magic that they learned in class because they were consistently not paying attention, not doing their homework, making up their Divinations assignments because they couldn’t be bothered to apply themselves. The only reason Harry succeeded in bringing Voldemort down was because he was incredibly lucky and happened to befriend a witch who knew what she was doing with a wand. For seven books, the only thing we were shown that Harry was actually capable of was flying and disarming people. He was really good at disarming people. And conjuring a patronus. But when you’re faced with the baddest wizard in existence, disarming him isn’t reeeeeally going to do you much good. Harry was terrible at defensive spells, horrible at offensive, and pretty much relied on Hermione to do the heavy lifting.
Alice: That’s not a hero I want to have. I want to have a hero who is clever enough to know that studying and doing well in school is a skill that will actually help you win the war. Despite all the work he did with Dumbledore’s Army in Book 5, Harry was a terrible, terrible wizard. He was only the chosen one because Voldemort decided he was the one based on the prophecy that could have applied to two different little boy wizards. Neville, who could have also been the chosen one, would have been a much better chosen one and protagonist for the whole series.
Alice: But, seriously, it should have been about a witch, not a wizard because I’m tired of dudes getting all the epic quests and adventures while chicks are reduced to love triangles.
The Lawyer: Absolutely — she was focused on certain areas of her life, and successful at those as a result. She was also really poor at other areas of her life — notably her social skills. She was arrogant, and at times irrationally emotional. She had a damn near pathological need to excel and be recognized in her studies — which isn’t much healthier than ignoring schoolwork. The point, during the series, was that all had room to grow. She was also used in many ways to show the other characters (and the reader) what that kind of focus can accomplish. While I thought she was a great character, I just don’t think she would have been as enjoyable a lead. We don’t want our heroes to be too good, too perfect. They have to be flawed — and Hermione was designed at the onset to be far too perfect.
The Lawyer: However, I agree with you that women are ill-represented as heroic, capable protagonists. I think that Harry could have been instead made a woman (Harriet?) and that end accomplished. For all my love of Hermione, a book from her perspective would have been a bit too neurotic for my tastes, and out of reach for the majority of readers.
Alice: Well, obviously, the way she ultimately was written wouldn’t have been a good protagonist. At least in the beginning. But it got to the point where I was literally hating everything about Harry from Book 5 on. He didn’t really grow as a character while Hermione did. He got supremely angsty and angry and still didn’t learn adequate magic (honestly, I fear for the cases he works on as an Auror).
Alice: But the potential for Hermione to have been a really great protagonist was there from the beginning. Her social awkwardness is something a lot of scholarly accomplished girls can relate to, her pathological need to excel is another. If Rowling had just stuck to her guns and really developed Hermione with a better family background than “dentist parents,” she could have been the focus of the books and it could have been really great. But she was afraid no one would read the books because they wouldn’t be about a dude.
Alice: If Harry had been a woman, I probably still would have hated him post-Book 4. There was just no character development for him whatsoever and he got a lot of things just handed to him. I love the books, but they are admittedly problematic. The entire Wizarding World in general seemed to think HP was perfect in nearly every way (except some of the people who actually knew him–Malfoys and Snape come to mind, among other Death Eater notables) and no one challenged him. He’s not a perfect dude, but the world in which he lived seemed to think so. And sometimes that’s even worse than a hero that’s written to be perfect.
The Lawyer: That was a huge part of the plot though — a society that thought he was perfect, when he was anything but. Hell, on so many levels, that’s a beautiful metaphor for misogyny — this WASP male from a good family is assumed to be perfect, while the talented, hard working female from a lower-class family (muggle-wise, not economically) is performing brilliantly but struggling to be noticed. That allegory would have been lost if she had instead been the chosen one.
The Lawyer: Stories aren’t all about the main character. Hell, the narrator is commonly the most boring character of all — designed to draw a contrast with the surrounding environment. I don’t think we would have loved Hermione as much as a main character. Neville either. It’s their contrast to Harry that makes them so noticeable.
The Lawyer: And frankly, having been a teenager myself, I’m not sure that character development is something that happens to anyone at that point anyway. 😛
The Lawyer: Anyway, I’m not trying to be contrary just for the sake of argument. It’s been an interesting discussion, and I’ve appreciated your perspective.
Alice:I don’t think she needed to be the chosen one, exactly, but I think there were other characters better suited to the task than Harry. And if she were the MC while still not being the chosen one, the allegory would have stood and maybe we would have gotten a better perspective on it because we would have been more privy to the frustrations she must have been feeling but never voiced. Aside from her campaign for the House Elves’ rights.
Alice: But you’re right, teenagers are… I’m trying to find a better word than “idiot” or “gigantic angsty prats,” but I’m failing.
Alice: And honestly, Kait pointed this out in our discussion earlier, the reason angst-ridden HP bothered me was that my basis for comparison was a group of people who were more self-aware as teens than the characters in the books and therefore we called each other out on our bs when our angst and drama was getting A Bit Much.
Alice: Honestly, I thought you were purposely playing devil’s advocate because you’re really good at it and you enjoy discussion. I knew you weren’t purposely trying to be contrary. And I did enjoy our discussion. Thank you. Your perspective has been equally educative. 🙂
It should be noted that while the Lawyer consistently calls me out on my usage of idiot (“grinning like an idiot,” “Ron and Harry are idiots,” etc), I don’t use it in a manner that refers to their intelligence. I firmly believe that someone can have the IQ equivalent to that of Einstein and still behave like an idiot. To me, while this probably doesn’t excuse my usage of the word in such a hyper-politically-correct society we’re currently in, idiocy is a behavior, not a perceived level of intelligence. And I use it with the intended definition of “an utterly foolish or senseless person.” Which I can also be at times, I admit. The Lawyer’s trying to break me of the habit of judging people’s intelligences before I get to know them, but as I at one point had the seven books (plus official and unofficial supplemental books) practically memorized, seven books in which we got to know Harry and Ron, I feel comfortable calling them idiots. Because you can’t excuse some of their decisions.
So that’s what’s been happening over at FacebookLand and it’s been vastly entertaining. I always thoroughly enjoy discussing anything with the Lawyer, really. And I like to think I’ve gotten fairly decent at holding my own against him. Though, admittedly, I come from a more emotional standpoint in most of our discussions. This one especially.
I adore the HP books, I really do. I don’t want anyone to think that I hate them because I don’t think they’re feminist enough or anything (though there are some troubling aspects regarding feminist issues in them) or because of this, that, or the other. I wouldn’t have spent the majority of my day discussing them today if I didn’t care deeply for them and the characters.
HP had a hand in shaping me as a writer and I owe a lot to Rowling and her work. During high school, nearly all of my fanfics were HP and most of my writing practice was done getting the characterizations correct. Without it, I shudder to think what my characters would be like these days. Definitely not as fleshed out and real, I think.
Anyway. So Kait and I will be working on LotR and HP as D&D campaigns. More likely than not, I’ll be posting mine here (seeing as HP is still under copyright and I don’t want to be sued or to poorly affect Rowling’s income, which is doubtful, but you never know).
I will still be working on Stardate: Dammit, but I can’t guarantee their frequency. It takes me roughly five to six, sometimes seven, hours to write one recap. It’s labor intensive and exhausting. Not that HP-as-D&D will be any less exhausting depending on how I approach it. I haven’t forgotten about the recaps and I’m still thinking about them during my commute. It’s mostly being able to set aside enough time to really focus on them and get them done.
Basically, just expect things over here to be sporadic at best. I’m going to try to be more regular in posting, but with the holidays coming up, it’s looking more likely that overtime will be a distinct feature in my future at the shop and since I have a billion Christmas gifts to purchase and a con to pay for, I’m going to take all the hours I can get my hands on. Because I’m masochistic like that, I guess.
But do know that I love you guys, however many of you there, and I have no intention of abandoning you. I’m just a busy little hedgehog, which is no excuse at all.