2009 was my second Yuletide. All of my Yuletide stories so far, both years, have been over a thousand words. Last year I wrote five stories and around 22,000 words; this year, I wrote four stories, with a total word count of 23,158 words. My number of stories went down but my word count went up, so depending on how you look at it I either exceeded myself or did a little less than last year.
This is what I wrote for Yuletide 2009:
"The Cable & Deadpool Yuletide Special" (Cable & Deadpool)
"Killing Elvis" (ALIEN series)
"Sam in Casablanca" (CASABLANCA)
"Skill Set" (Disney Princesses)
"The Cable & Deadpool Yuletide Special" was my assignment. I have the worst luck at pinch-hits -- if I know the fandom, somebody else claims it or I completely miss the pinch-hit mailing -- so my other stories all were written as Yuletide treats. A little commentary on each of these, in turn.
"The Cable & Deadpool Yuletide Special"
Um. Yeah. Hi, everybody. *waves nervously* ...Wade, is this what it's like for you all the time? ("Sort of. Except I have adventures, and minor superpowers.") You also wear women's underwear. ("So do you.") No I don't! ("That's what he says, folks. It's frilly, has lilacs on it.") Shut up! Look, what I'm trying to say is that when I was putting the Cable & Deadpool Yuletide Special together, while I thought people would probably like the story, I *didn't expect people to like it quite this much.*
So, thanks, everybody. Really.
Going in, I was only casually familiar with Deadpool, and not at all with Cable, so I did a canon dump and read every single issue of Deadpool's comics. I'd heard about DEADPOOL #11 before, because its gimmick is mildly famous, but reading it was glorious. In a nod to FORREST GUMP, Deadpool scribe Joe Kelly sent Wade and his pal/hostage Blind Al back to AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #47. After the set-up, which involves Blind Al posing as Aunt May and Deadpool as Peter Parker, the comic proceeds with minorly retouched original art and rewritten word balloons. It's gob-smackingly brilliant comedy, and as I read I kept coming back to it and thinking, "You know, I could totally rip that off."
Because the archive was closed, selecting the stories was the hard part. I already knew I wanted Wade and Nate to visit last year's That Story (Meredith's "The Sandwich Story") and Yuletide's All-Time That Story (Tami's "Slave Bear of Care-A-Lot"), so I hit del.icio.us and tried to find other stories with a similar level of staying power, then winnowed that list based on story popularity, story fandom, suitability for gags, and which stories I personally liked. I did have one big goof; as mikeneko accurately pointed out, Nimori's "Death Insurance" was actually an NYR fic. Ah, well! These things happen, and I won't tell if you won't.
I had a lot of fun doing it, but I do wish I'd been able to shoehorn Wade and Nate into the stories a bit better. Trying that turned out to be much harder than I'd thought. I was very grateful to Astolat for leaving a Tantalizing Reference to Bertie Wooster's procurement of the blackmail material involving a cat, a housemaid, and a fire.
I'm really glad people enjoyed this one so much.
Marcelo was my beta on this one, because he's the biggest Deadpool fan I know, and is the kind of guy who can argue nuances of Deadpool's characterization. This can be very useful. Though our initial exchange was funny: it was basically, "Hey, Marcelo, wanna beta a Deadpool fic?" "Sure!" "Here! It's over ten thousand words I AM SO SORRY."
...yeah, it kind of wound up longer than I thought it would be.
The Weyland-Utani Corporation: Like Dilbert. But you might get eaten.
"Killing Elvis" is my favorite thing that I wrote for Yuletide this year. Not to say I don't like the other stories, but this one is really special for me, in part because it's a prime example of what I do Yuletide for: I get to write a story that I really like but would not have even *thought* of writing otherwise. If not for Leah's prompt, I would never in a million years have written a story about alien taxidermy.
I started with a different story in mind, something about some guy having an alien in his office that he thought was stuffed but was really in stasis -- basically, it was an assassination story. I liked the nasty surprise aspect, but not the set-up; there just wasn't enough story there. Then I started thinking about the life of the poor bastard who was handed the job, and Dr. Liu and her labbies were born. mikeneko was my beta on this one, and OH MY GOD, how grateful was I. Especially on the formatting, which was a nightmare to do.
Commenters focused on the format (which was a lot of fun) and the characters (with whom I fell in love). I'd never written *fanfic* with all-original characters before (with the minor exception of Burke, who is of course the brother of the late Carter Burke, Paul Reiser's character in ALIENS), but by the end of it I loved Liu and her subordinates so much I couldn't stand the thought of feeding them to Elvis, so I didn't. Seriously, I have a whole backstory for these people now.
Interesting note: despite the major speaking characters skewing female -- Burke has very few emails compared to Liu, Anne, and J.D. -- the male and male-identified characters were so distributed that this fic only narrowly passed the Bechdel test.
This was the easiest fic to write for me this Yuletide. I pretty much wrote it in chat with my friend Dafna audiencing. We were talking about THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG, and were batting around a few ideas, and then when I realized it was turning into something I jumped over to the text editor and wrote. Daf betaed it and sent it to her friend Jen for a double-check. Then it went up.
One of the comments was really interesting: in listing the various Disney Princess's foibles, I mentioned that Mulan is great at getting rid of problem customers, but she prefers pants to a dress, and that raised eyebrows. One commenter asked if Mulan's trousers should raise eyebrows, given that Mulan and Pocahontas themselves are there? Why mention gender roles and not racial ones? It's a good question, and it's actually quite an interesting issue: how do you handle racial and gender issues when writing in the Disneyverse? Do they exist, and to what degree? How do you play them?
My take is that, given that Tiana owns the restaurant, I don't think that Pocahontas's or Mulan's presence in Tiana's restaurant would be as much of an issue wrt racial politics of the time, which Disney is notably and understandably eliding, as the fact that Tiana has white princesses working for her. I also think that the context matters somewhat, because the foibles are described from Tiana's perspective, and I think one of the sets of eyebrows being raised by Mulan wearing pants is probably Tiana's. The floor is open to discussion on this; what do you guys think? To be honest, I did try to think of some other possibilities for things about Mulan that would puzzle or annoy Tiana, but the problem I ran into is that, compared to most of the other Disney Princesses, Mulan is basically *sane.*
(Though now I really want the story or fanart where they're supposed to go to a ball and Mulan's dress is Horribly Mangled, but there is a Tuxedo of Convenience that fits her marvelously. So then all the other princesses get fitted for tuxes at the last minute so they can support her daring choice of necessity. ...this is mostly because I want a line-up of the Disney Princesses wearing tuxedos.)
"Sam in Casablanca"
This story was the *hardest* one I wrote this year. If you saw me bitching about one of my stories in Yulechat, I was bitching about "Sam in Casablanca." Getting the ending on this was like pulling teeth, with tweezers. It ballooned, and ballooned, and ballooned, and finally I just said, "hell with it" and cut everything up after Renault's note and wrote an entirely new ending. Originally there was all this stuff involving Sam opening a club of his own and calling it "Casablanca" and Rick walking into it one night and he's looking for a job so Sam hires him to manage the club only Rick has this obsession with Ilsa and he gets drunk and is going to go to Ilsa's house and Sam stops him and they have a fistfight and Laszlo and Ilsa have this weird arrangement going on and Sam finally decides that goddammit these people are *crazy* and -- yeah, it was just too much and there was no end to it and it kept turning into pointless angst and feeling and I just said, "Y'know what? Fuck it." And wrote the new last scene. amonitrate was my beta on this one.
And I am really happy with how it turned out now.
I think that of all the stories I wrote, this one is the most obviously by me, because the story I write over and over and over is "a man learns a lesson." And that's what Sam does here.