My 2014 with the Doctor

“Lance was right. We’re just tiny.”
“No, but that’s what you do. The human race makes sense out of chaos. Marking it out with weddings and Christmas and calendars. This whole process is beautiful, but only if it’s being observed.”

– Donna and the Doctor, “The Runaway Bride”

 

newyear1It’s that arbitrary time again when we say that this year is last year and the next year is now this year. But that’s how we make sense of it all, by marking a particular day as the first day of the year and looking back at the 365 days before it to see where we’ve been and how far we’ve come. So, here I am, thinking about my past year with the Doctor and his wonderful, crazy universe.

At this time last year, I was rather disappointed with the Christmas special/regeneration episode “The Time of the Doctor”. While the Eleventh Doctor was never my favorite, it was sad to see him go (and I did miss him), and even sadder to see that his farewell episode was such a mess. But, we got to see a glimpse of the new Doctor, and anticipation was high for a new, older, different Doctor.

Of course, in order to see him, we had to survive eight months of no new Doctor Who. What does a fan do when the content faucet is turned off? Find others! For a newcomer to the show like me, there’s 27 years of classic episodes to watch, as well as the hundreds of Big Finish audios, plus novels, audiobooks, and comic books. I’ve been building up my collections of these things and watching and listening to them when I can, though it’s slow going. There’s just so much! However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how good the classic show and the alternate media have been. Yes, the classic show has a very different feel and horrendous special effects, but the stories are solid, and in many instances, they’re better than the modern show. Same for the audios. Great stories, and in many instances, because they don’t have visual effects to worry about, they can be far more ambitious than the TV show. What are you waiting for? Go check them out!

Then, in August, Series 8 debuted, with Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. I’m not going to rehash old discussions; if you read this blog regularly, you already know that while I love the new Doctor, I didn’t like the season or the companions Clara and Danny. I spent some time immersing myself in the audios, but eventually, my disappointment in Series 8 cooled my enthusiasm for the show, and it showed: I haven’t listened to a new audio in a while, and I barely posted here in October and November (and September, too, but that was for a different reason, mentioned below). I’ve recovered the enthusiasm quite a bit now, mostly by concentrating on Series 1-5, and my love for the show has remained steady.

There have been, however, two other major ways in which the show has impacted my life. The first is traveling. Before this year, I had never traveled anywhere that wasn’t either to go to school, to visit family or friends, or because of work, and I had never been out of the U.S. I’ve always wanted to travel, but either never had the money or the time or the resolve. Of course, Doctor Who made me want to visit Britain, but it was much more than that. The Doctor is an explorer and traveler, and he inspires wanderlust in me. I can’t travel the universe, but I can explore this world, and he inspired me to finally get off my butt and go. My first trip was to Victoria, B.C., to try to find the filming of Gracepoint and be a David Tennant fangirl; it was just a silly idea in my head, but my husband told me, “You love Doctor Who, you love David Tennant, and you want to travel, so go. Do it.” And I was on a train headed there three days later. That’s the Doctor to me: he teaches you to jump in head-first and experience and explore everything.

“The thing is, Adam, time travel’s like visiting Paris. You can’t just read the guide book, you’ve got to throw yourself in. Eat the food, use the wrong verbs, get charged double and end up kissing complete strangers. Or is that just me? Stop asking questions. Go and do it.”

– The Doctor, “The Long Game”

My second trip was to England and Scotland, with my best friend, who I’ve been referring to as Sandy in this blog: we left our husbands behind and wandered for nearly three weeks from Bath, to York, to Edinburgh (and the Highlands), to Cambridge, to London. This was in September, which is why this blog was silent then. The journey was incredible! We ate all kinds of new food (except I didn’t get the chance to try haggis, so next time!), tried not to get killed in the traffic horrors of Bath, took a balloon ride, toured on riverboats and lake boats, chatted with people, toured all the cathedrals we could find (Southwark Cathedral was my favorite; well, maybe after St. Paul’s), deliberately got lost wandering in London, heard the LSO in concert at the Barbican, watched a Shakespeare play at the Globe, got hit on by a drunk guy coming out of a pub in London (who, after noticing we were American, proudly proclaimed, “I’m from England!”), found the resting place of Isaac Newton… Oh, and we got to watch new Doctor Who episodes on BBC1. I want to go back, and I desperately want to travel more.

The second thing that has changed in my life is that for the first time ever, I’ve gotten invested in a real creative endeavor: I write. Last October, after watching “The Girl in the Fireplace” for the first time, I was lying in bed and thinking about the episode, and an idea for a story came to me. I thought about it so much that I couldn’t sleep, and finally, around two in the morning, I sat up, pulled out my iPad, and started typing. Two hours later, I had the first draft of the first piece of fiction I had ever written. Now, I’m not saying that I write well or anything like that, but the act of thinking of the idea and actually putting it down on paper was cathartic. I created something new. It was a fanfiction exploring Reinette’s thoughts when the Doctor returned to her when she had grown up. I showed the story to a couple of friends, and thought nothing more of it: it was just a one-off thing for me.

“It seems to me there’s so much more to the world than the average eye is allowed to see. I believe, if you look hard, there are more wonders in this universe than you could ever have dreamt of.”

– Vincent Van Gogh, “Vincent and the Doctor”

Then, a month later, we saw the 50th anniversary special, “The Day of the Doctor” in the theater, and again, the episode sparked an idea, and I wrote that story, too. And that was the real beginning of it. In the year since, I’ve written two novellas and forty short stories, all but one of which are Doctor Who fanfictions (the other is a Harry Potter fanfiction). I’ve thought about why I write – especially why I write fanfiction, rather than creating my own worlds and characters – and it comes down to this: I love exploring the Doctor Who universe, its settings and characters. Yes, there’s tons of episodes, audios, books, etc., but I can also explore it myself by creating these stories set within the universe. And I love it! Doctor Who encourages me to explore and create by inviting me in, and its main character directly advocates reaching into yourself to see what brilliance lies inside. Other people do it in their own ways: drawing fan art, making fan videos, composing/performing music, discussing episodes and themes with friends, cosplaying, or even watching the show and simply just enjoying it for what it is. My way is to write.

newyear2And that’s my year with the Doctor. I think a lot of my friends look at me and think that I’ve become pretty obsessed by this silly sci-fi show, and probably because I’m a David Tennant fangirl, but it’s really so much more than that. It’s not just a TV show, and it doesn’t matter that the characters are fictional. I embrace the ideals that the Doctor embodies, and I believe I’ve grown quite a bit personally because of this silly sci-fi show. Here’s to 2015, to further adventures with the Doctor and explorations of my world and self!

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Expanding the universe: fanfictions

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned that I write Doctor Who fanfictions, as one of the things that the show has inspired me to do. I thought it might be a good idea to talk about this a little bit.

What did this person just write about me??

What did this person just write about me??

The usual image people get in their heads when someone mentions “fanfic” is of a teenage girl, obsessed with her favorite TV show or book, writing horribly romantic stories about how her favorite character falls in love with her and whisks her away into their world. Of course, yes, there are plenty of fanfic authors like that out there. The thing is, there are also tons of very talented writers out there who love the Doctor Who universe and create adventures within that universe for themselves and others. There actually are a lot of Steven Moffats out there, but they just happen to not work for the BBC and therefore borrow the characters to create stories themselves.

In this way, the BBC is very generous: they allow people to use the Doctor Who characters and universes in their own stories, as long as they don’t claim ownership of those properties and they don’t attempt to make a profit off it. A lot of intellectual property (IP) owners allow it, and some don’t. I won’t go into the arguments about why or why not fanfictions should be allowed. To me, I think the important thing is that if the fanfic author is not trying to profit off their writing, then their efforts are basically just another way of them enjoying the content. Instead of sitting by and passively watching/reading the content provided by (IP) owner, they are actively getting involved in that content by expanding it unofficially. They mark it as fanfic and not official, and then their readers can enjoy the stories while knowing that it’s an extension of the universe and not canon.

There are all kinds of different stories to enjoy in Doctor Who fanfiction, from short one-offs that you can read in a minute to novels with tens or hundreds of chapters, from little bits of fluff to fun adventures to deep character introspections. If you’re interested in seeing some of what fanfiction has to offer, I’ve created a page of six of my favorite fanfictions, pulled from Fanfiction.net (a general fanfiction site) and A Teaspoon and an Open Mind (a Doctor Who-specific fanfiction site). They range from short to long, and cover different types of fanfictions: humor, character introspections, adventures, and alternate universes (meaning, a story set in Doctor Who but with something substantial different, like some specific event didn’t happen, or a character that died still lives).

In short, if you’re looking for Doctor Who content to read and enjoy, especially free content, I definitely recommend checking out fanfiction. Yes, there’s a lot of dross out there, but there are really great authors out there who love the universe as much as you do and their stuff is definitely worth reading.