Doctor Who and my life

So, I haven’t posted here in a week and a half. I hadn’t really noticed, having been really busy this past week, both at work and at home. It’s summer, which has meant a lot of parades and concerts for the bands that I’m a member of, and that just took over my life for a little bit. So, even when I wasn’t at work, my time has been dedicated elsewhere.

Too lazy to go find new pics, so here's an old one.

Too lazy to go find new pics, so here’s an old one.

Of course, we are also coming into the home stretch of the long dry season of no Doctor Who. The last new episode was broadcast over seven months ago, and the long-awaited Series 8, with Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor, arrives in eleven days (thirteen days if you’re like me and are going to wait to see it in the theater). For quite a while, there has been a dearth of Doctor Who-related media, official or fan, on the Internet, because, if there’s nothing new to see, there’s nothing new to talk about. You can see this in the drivel that doctorwhotv.co.uk posts – their articles are usually pretty inane, but they’ve devolved to simply babble, such as “Is it time to introduce a new theme song?” (Really? Someone actually took the time to write this article?)

I have to admit that I haven’t really been taking part in the lead-in to Series 8. First, I am avoiding all spoilers, even general hints of “is this Doctor going to be darker” and all that stuff. But second, there really isn’t anything happening nearby. The World Tour isn’t coming within 1000 miles of my home, and I’m honestly not interested in the actors themselves. Couple that with my fear of spoilers and there’s nothing new for me to see. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t exciting.

What is both exciting and meaningful to me, though, is that this month is the first anniversary of my introduction to Doctor Who. One year ago this month (sometime in the middle of it), my husband sat down and popped in “Rose,” and in five minutes, I was sitting beside him, absolutely hooked on this TV show. I’ve talked before about why this show captivated me so much: the Doctor is exactly the hero that appeals to me, solving problems with his mind instead of his fists, dedicated to what he feels is right, and ready to sacrifice himself for others. He’s alien while still remaining someone we can relate to. Some Doctors embody this hero for me better than others, but they are all the Doctor, no matter which one I’m watching. And there’s just this incredible draw to the idea that there’s man out there who’s looking out for us, trying to defend the universe, all by himself or with a couple of friends.

More importantly, though, Doctor Who has changed my life in quite a number of ways, I’d like to think for the better though I can imagine many people would think for the worse. At the very beginning, I became completely obsessed with the show, watching the episodes as soon as I could get my hands on them and poring over Tardis Data Core for backstory and information at all other times. I’ll admit here that I spent quite a bit of time at work sneaking peeks at the wiki, but only because no one at work reads this blog. I had a blast putting together my Fifth Doctor costume and my husband’s Fourth Doctor costume for Halloween, which taught me a lot about how to look at outfits and duplicate or approximate them. And of course, I started this blog, which, at least back then, I was writing in almost every day.

As the months wore on, there was less obsession, though I still think about the show every day. But there have been some major changes in my life because of it. First, before I got into this fandom, most of my life was devoted to playing computer and video games. Now, I don’t have a problem with that at all: I believe that games are as valid a source of entertainment as anything else, maybe even more so as they teach critical thinking, logic, tactics, strategy, and (depending on the game) manual dexterity. But since Doctor Who, I’ve barely played any games at all. I do miss them, but I find that my activities centered around Doctor Who have been far more fulfilling.

Reinette was almost as fascinating a woman as the real Madame de Pompadour.

Reinette was almost as fascinating a woman as the real Madame de Pompadour.

And what are those activities? Well, for one, after watching “The Girl in the Fireplace” for the first time, an idea popped into my head of a story that wasn’t told during that episode, and I sat down and wrote it. And then it happened again after “The Day of the Doctor,” and since then, I’ve written about 25 short stories, one novella, and one novel (ok, so it’s just shy of 40,000 words, but I’m going to call it a novel), all of them Doctor Who fanfics. This amazes me, because I’ve never written any fiction before this (not counting those things you have to write in English class). Not a single one. But the Doctor Who universe, with its plethora of wonderful characters, brilliant storylines, and infinite possibilities, invites me to explore it by exercising my own imagination and creating my own stories. That’s how I view it: I’m visiting the Doctor and his companions and exploring the universe with them by writing. I’m actually creating, something I’ve never done before – not through writing, or music, or art. I’m not claiming that my writing is any good (and it really isn’t), but I’m actually doing it, and all because of this TV show.

Another such activity is music. I’ve played music for a while – I was in band in high school, and about three years ago, I picked up my instrument again and joined a community concert band – but I’m not much of a musician. (It really all comes down to my lack of aesthetic sense. I can read music and can become technically competent, but I don’t feel the music as a real musician needs to. Same with my writing, and what little art and crafting I’ve done. And my fashion sense. I’m worse than the Doctor, the way I dress.)  I enjoy playing music, but it’s never gone beyond that. Enter Doctor Who and the music of Murray Gold. I find myself listening to the background music, trying to learn how it fits with what’s going on on-screen, how it’s put together to evoke emotions. I’ve tried my hand at arranging a couple of Doctor Who pieces for concert band, not for performance (because it’s illegal to perform copyrighted material without permission), but just to learn and to explore the music. And doing this spurred me to learn more about music theory and arrange simpler pieces for practice.

The other major change in my life due to this TV show takes a bit of exposition. Doctor Who introduced me to the wonderful David Tennant, who previously I had only seen in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (and that movie completely wasted his appearance, gutting the character he played down to a caricature). His performance as the Tenth Doctor led me to seeking out his other works, many of them absolutely brilliant (Broadchurch, Casanova, Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing), and he’s become my favorite performer. Ok, yes, I admit it, I’m a fangirl. I could go on about DI Alec Hardy for hours (yes, he’s my favorite of Mr. Tennant’s characters, above the Doctor, if you can believe it).

This promo pic is outside the building in Sydney, BC that was converted into the police station set.

This promo pic is outside the building in Sydney, BC that was converted into the police station set.

So last March, I found myself with a bit of time off from work (read: laid off, but that’s no longer the case, if you’re wondering) and I joked to my husband that I should hop a train up to Victoria, B.C. to see if I can watch the filming of Gracepoint, the American remake of Broadchurch, in which Mr. Tennant is playing the Alec Hardy equivalent, Emmett Carver. With a very serious expression, he said, “Yes. Do it. Go.” I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was a completely silly suggestion, to run off by myself to a foreign country (yes, it’s just Canada, but still…) just to see if I could catch a glimpse of Mr. Tennant. But my husband insisted. He told me, “You love Broadchurch. You love David Tennant. You want to travel. Go.” So I did. Two days later, I hopped a train up to Seattle, took the ferry to Victoria, and spent four days exploring the city (it’s one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been in – it would be wonderful to retire there). I did get to see a little bit of the Gracepoint filming, and while I didn’t get to meet Mr. Tennant, I did see him multiple times: he passed in front of me four times, only ten feet away, and I got to hear his glorious Scottish burr in person as he discussed things with the director.

But the main point here is this: I would have never ventured to Canada, traveled alone, explored a new city, if it hadn’t been for Doctor Who. That trip taught me a lot: how to look after myself, how to approach people and ask for help, and just how wonderful new experiences and places are. If you think about it, that’s what the show is about, isn’t it? I want to travel and explore more, and plan to, when I can get more time off of work. I never would have done this without Doctor Who: it took the combination of Mr. Tennant, my husband encouraging me to go, and the ideal of exploration and new experiences that the show itself promotes to start me on this new path, and I thank all three of them for this.

So, if anyone ever tells you that it’s a bad thing to be obsessed about something you love, tell them that it’s all about how you channel that love, how you use it to grow and develop. I’m using my fandom to explore new paths in my life, new creative outlets, and it’s introduced me to new friends (VTEC, I’m looking at you! As well as a number of other people I’ve met on my Victoria trip and through the fanfiction sites). As with anything in this life, it’s not what it is that determines its value, it’s what you do with it.

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6 responses to “Doctor Who and my life

  1. That was so… so inspiring. You’re absolutely right, too, the value in something is what we do with it, and sometimes we need the push of something we’re passionate about to explore and try new things, like writing or music. Fandom did the same for me, too. I learned more about life and interacting with people (or even just learning about the world around me) by being in fandom than through any other social construct I’ve had. I love that your husband was so, so supportive of your spontaneity, too. He’s a keeper!! That kind of attitude is one that just feeds learning and improvement. (Congrats on seeing Tennant too! I love Broadchurch but I’m nervous about Gracepoint LOL)

    Fandom found me my first real friends on Fanfiction too. Lately I’ve been more on Tumblr though, which has a lot of fandom happening 24/7. I’m wondering if you’ve ever looked at that site. It’s pretty wild at times!

    Anyway, I really just enjoyed reading this post. Thank you for writing it. Pretty much made my night. 🙂

    • Thank you! I am very glad to hear that your fandom has inspired you, too! It just amazes me to look back at a year ago and see how much I’ve changed. Nothing before in my life has made as much of an impression on me as Doctor Who. I am eager to see where I go from here. (Maybe I’ll actually branch out and write my own original fiction novel…)

      My husband is definitely the best in the world! He is so incredibly supportive of anything I want to do. (Within reason, of course. I think if I had asked him to let me jump on a plane to some country in the middle of a war, he’d say no!) It’s taken a lot of work to get to this point in our relationship – being reasonable and supportive, from both me and him – and it’s really paid off for both of us. Almost eighteen years now!

      I don’t really follow Tumblr, if only because I’m involved in so many other sites that I don’t have the time, and I know that Tumblr can really just hook you and draw you in. I do follow one particular Tumblr, Halorvic, because I just love his art and humor. He is a huge Doctor Who and Broadchurch fan, so you can see that our interests intersect quite well. As far as Gracepoint goes, yes, I’m nervous about it, too. Part of the brilliance of Broadchurch was how British the town was, so it’ll be interesting to see if Chris Chibnall, who’s a British writer, is able to translate the show into an American town and make it feel American. I have to admit, watching the trailer and hearing Mr. Tennant as an American is jarring. In a way, I’m glad the first two episodes are going to be pretty much the same as Broadchurch, because it’s going to take me a little while to get used to seeing Alec Hardy with an American accent (not to mention all of the other characters who have the same names). 🙂 I’m much more excited for Broadchurch Season 2.

      • Fanfiction is great practice for writing, really. That’s what happened with my sister and me, and now we are planning to write an original fiction. I hope you do as well! I’d love to read it. 🙂 And Tumblr *is* quite consuming, and there’s spoilers everywhere. You have to be on top of things to roam there. XD I loved the British qualities of Broadchurch too, so I’m keeping my expectations low for Gracepoint. I really want DT to get some American recognition though, seeing how far Karen Gillan and Cumberbatch have already come!

      • Someday, maybe I’ll do original fiction. The problem is the idea – nothing’s come to me yet. I think if I ever get an idea that I believe in, I’ll be excited to jump into such a project.

        Oh, I’d love to see DT get American recognition, though it makes me sad to think that success like that will mean him having to stay on this side of the Atlantic away from his family so much. (He spent 5 months in Canada for Gracepoint; either he was away from them, or they had to uproot to follow him, not sure which.) Americans should really know him for more than just Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

  2. I am honored to be your friend, Shivver. 🙂

    Also, thanks so much for this article. It couldn’t have come at a better time. Lately, I’d been worried that my getting obsessed with fictional characters wasn’t normal or okay, even though I know that there are many people on the internet who do the same.
    You’re right, though, about how it can help you in life.

    The Doctor reminds me that a good solution to almost any problem can be found just by talking and thinking about it, and that I should wear whatever I feel is right for me and looks good on me to me without caring what others think, to be fashionable but also to mix it up. Not so long ago, I was thinking about something I had heard about in the news and I wondered how he would deal with it. While I didn’t come up with anything, I thought that there should be another way rather than taking away free will or using violence against violence in a sort of lesson-teaching vengeance.

    Whenever I feel I want to give up, I consider Zenigata’s determination and how he’s been doing the same job, and getting better and better at it, for at least twenty years. If he can do it, so can I. (I’m going to school on the 18th, I will get a job someday. I just have to keep going even if it seems impossible.)

    Turlough taught me to be more pragmatic when I was going through some rough times, to focus on what was happening, rather than what bad things could happen, and to look at things, and myself, and judge them by the facts and what they really were. That helped me let go of some of the guilt I had been feeling.

    There are things I wish I could tell you about the photo you put up there but I’m respecting your wishes and not saying a word. I don’t know if you know but it’s been…leaked, I guess, is the term? A friend of a friend had it.

    We’ll talk about the first episode after you’ve seen it. I can’t wait to see the review and read your thoughts on it.

    • *fistbump*

      People have been using fictional characters for inspiration for as long as tales have been told. After all, that’s what the original myths and legends were: stories to help people make sense of the world. Even fairy tales are meant to help children work through their thoughts and fears. I think we all become fans of things that speak to us on a deep level, and it’s important to use that to grow, sometimes consciously, and oftentimes subconsciously. I’m absolutely sure that a few times I’ve been more outspoken than I’m usually comfortable, part of that has come from Donna Noble.

      Don’t worry about the pictures – none of the pics that I put up there are mine. I’ve only posted one picture of Mr. Tennant from my trip, on FB (as “proof” to my friends of my trip’s success), and it was from far away and a bit blurry. All of the good ones, I’ve kept to myself (other than the one I sent you), as I do feel it’s a bit of an invasion of privacy to publish pictures of someone who had no control over them being taken. 🙂

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