fancracked: Can you tell us about your writing journey?
clio: Wow, my journey as a writer. Let’s see, I mentioned that I first posted a story on ff.net and that happened… I think 2003. I had no idea what I was doing–no concept of character development, of any real conflict, of how to move the plot along, of the use of any sort of literary elements. It’s sort of embarrassing just thinking about it, to be honest haha. All I had was an idea. I thought, if all these other people could post their stories up, why couldn’t I? And I sort of made the story up as I went along. Hence the comment where I got slammed for my crappy writing and the Mary-Sue-ishness of my story. I mentioned that the comment really affected me. I was properly humbled and for a long while, I didn’t write anything.
It wasn’t that I was traumatized by the comment or harbored ill-will towards that person. I was, and am, really grateful to them. Because it made me realize just how much I had to learn, how far I had to go, to get to where I wanted to be as a writer. I started to look at the fics that I was reading, and began to analyze them. In doing this, I was amazed to find really excellent story tellers and brilliant fic writers–ones that could challenge any published author in any bookstore. I learned a lot about writing in this period. I realized that it wasn’t good enough to just have an idea–no matter how brilliant it was. As a writer, there’s a certain obligation and responsibility you have, not just to the reader, but to the story and the characters themselves. What good is a fantastic idea for a story, if you can’t deliver upon it? What good are the characters, if they continue to be one note? Why should a reader stick with you, if you can’t tell a compelling story? These are just some of the things I learned about being a writer during this time, and I took them to heart.
I continued to write little things, here and there, but I never posted them up anywhere. I didn’t have the confidence, I suppose. But I think during this time period, I possibly found–or maybe just fine-tuned–my voice as a writer.
I also knew that if I was going to ever post something I had written again, then it would have to be better than my last attempt. Because I wanted to be taken seriously as a writer, and wanted my fics to be something more than nicely strung together words.
And I wanted to know that I was something more than a Mary-Sue writer.
I didn’t actually post anything up until 2009…so I had a 5 year “hiatus” haha. I posted up some SoEul stories, which I have yet to finish. They were received relatively well, and that helped to boost my confidence (I remember hiding under my desk dreading the reviews/comments). But there was another turning point here, besides just returning to the fic writing world. Someone had commented something about the consistency of my characters with the ones portrayed in BoF. I learned then, the double-edged sword that Gasoo writers have to contend with. Readers have strong associations with certain characters, and that I would have to deal with these ties head on. Once again, a reviewer made all the more difference in my writing.
Where am I now… this is going to sound slightly condescending, but I don’t mean for it to be. I think sometimes Gasoo fics get a bad rap for being poorly written and poorly developed, which I admit that there is some truth behind this, and it’s hard to find a WonderBang fic that is more than just superficially pleasing–I honestly don’t mean to offend, because I enjoy these kinds of light-hearted fics too, and I wouldn’t think any less of anyone who reads them and enjoys them. I think that Gasoo fics in general, and WonderBang fics more specifically, can be more than where they currently stand and gain a lot more respect for their writing/stories therein. I’m not saying that I, myself, am single-handedly going to raise WonderBang fics to some sort of new level, but I would hope that my fics help people take more seriously the writing of WonderBang fics and Gasoos in general.
These days, I try hard not to cater to too many desires of my readers–who always want a happy ending, which is natural. I think it’s not so much where the characters end up as much as how they get there. I’m far more interested in the journey than the destination. I try to make situations that push characters and challenge readers. Because I use gasoo characters, I know the preconceived traits readers will bring to the story. For example, readers will always think well of Sunye and perhaps seek to blame GD… so I try to force these characters into situations that aren’t always black and white. Can readers still stand by Sunye if she acts deceitfully? Will readers still blame GD if he’s the victim? I enjoy spinning these preconceived traits, I think it’s far more interesting than playing up to them.
Oh wow. Sorry, I should have mentioned that I don’t really ever do “brief!”
fancracked: What are some of your favorite or most memorable/meaningful characters that you have written?
clio: You really are going with the difficult questions, aren’t you? :)
There’s only one character that has really resonated with me thus far. But I didn’t post the story up so you’ll never find her… and I didn’t write her for kpop, but is it still alright if I talk about her? I’ll try to be brief haha. She was the first and only Non-Gasoo character I have ever written. Her name was Ayumi. She was everything… almost ALMOST Mary-Sue-ish. I wrote her during my “hiatus” as an attempt at getting beyond my Mary-Sue tendencies. But the thing that resonated with me about her, was how tragic she was. Despite her almost perfect life… she still didn’t get the one thing that wanted most in the world: the love of the man she loved. Her downfall was brilliant and spectacular–excuse me while I tear up at the memory of her–because she was meant to have everything, was bred to have a stunning life, and yet she quietly, passively, faded away to obscurity and oblivion in the mountains of the countryside. Unfortunately, she was more than I could handle at that time, but I miss her so perhaps I’ll revisit her sometime in the future.
hm… this is going to sound pathetic and sad. But I truly only develop Sunye and G-Dragon in my stories. It’s because there’s very little “action” in the fics and more like conflict and introspection, I guess. It’s a lot of conversation. I mean there are other characters, but I’m sorry to say that they remain devices for GD & Sunye. The GDs and the Sunyes that I’ve written all feel the same to me–and I’m not sure if this is a result of being the writer. As far as them being composites of people that I know… I don’t think they are directly (because I wish I knew people as awesome haha just kidding), but I don’t think that I can escape completely the people/situations that inform my life experience, from which I draw heavily as a writer.
fancracked: The relationship between a writer and her muses/characters is so very sacred. You’d think that because of this, we’d write without stop… and yet, we still find ourselves going through writer’s block or writer’s depression. Why do you think this is? Also, have you ever had a bad case of writer’s block/depression before?
clio: Absolutely I’ve had writer’s block before. I think for most author’s who experience this, there comes a point where you’re just exhausted. I mean, fanfic authors are not writers by profession–we all have our other lives which carry on and which we are responsible for whether we want them or not. And yet, somehow in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we expend our mental and creative energies to create a whole new world. A world which exists because we will it to exist, and yet, cannot function without our imagination. Just think of the mental drain on our brains having to control and bring to life everything in this world!
So as writers, even if we draft out storylines and chapters, even if we’ve spent an exhausting amount of time with our characters to the point where we know them like the backs of our hands, even if we know exactly where the story is supposed to go… sometimes we just hit a wall, and can write no more.
It’s not that we don’t have words, but we just can’t decide what is good, what works and what doesn’t. We can’t decide. Everything sounds plausible and that’s infuriating. I think it’s just that we’re exhausted–drained of our creativity to help guide us in decision making to move our stories along. At least, that’s my read on it.
My personal experience with writers block was due to this kind of exhaustion.
There was a time when I was writing my story “How I Know You” and I was turning out something like 2-3 chapters a week, but real life decided to rear its ugly head, as so often happens, and I was forced to take a hiatus due to school.
You’d think that when I came back to the story, that I would be super refreshed and ready to go. But that wasn’t the case at all. I was having a really hard time with it, because I felt disconnected or somehow just couldn’t imagine how to get to where I was trying to go. I was exhausted with the story, with trying to write it, with trying to make chapters interesting, with having to think about the story, period. Every turn of phrase seemed possible, but nothing felt satisfying. I struggled a lot with trying to find my footing.
I had heard that one of the best things you can do to get through writer’s block was to just keep writing. So I did, but the biggest issue for me was that I could no longer tell if I was being consistent with my characters. I had lost a feel for them. At that point I didn’t have a beta reader and I hadn’t planned on having one–I’m not sure if they are common on Soompi, but everywhere else betas are used frequently–actually I had never worked with a beta before because I’m actually quite private and slightly paranoid about “sharing” my ideas. So I wrote and edited everything myself. But with HIKY, after my 6 week hiatus, I couldn’t trust myself any further, so I swallowed my pride and turned to the best judges for character consistency: my readers. I “advertised” that I was in desperate need for a beta and it so happened that I ended up with a beta who had no prior experience, but whose thoughtful consideration helped to shake me from my block. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made in fanfiction writing, seeking out a beta.
fancracked: Did you ever learn anything or go through anything in an unexpected way (as a writer)?
clio: I suppose anything that happens in writing fics can be seen as being unexpected. I mean the only thing I have control over is the story & the characters. I post my fics up on Soompi, hoping that people will somehow find their way to them and that they will be liked. That they are liked, or not liked, is always something unexpected. Reviews/comments are likewise, unexpected because you never know what is going to be said. As I’ve mentioned before, reviews have absolutely shaped the way I write.
Thus, I am always waiting for that next comment to unexpectedly come at me and push me in the direction I need to grow as a writer. I’ve had really amazing critics who didn’t beat around the bush with my fics. I’ve tried to take their criticism to heart, since I knew then, as I know now, that there’s always room for improvement and if I want my work to get better, then I ought to listen. I’m sorry to say that I feel like on Soompi there’s just so much sugar coating going around. Maybe it’s because no one wants to get thumbed down or because you can’t really comment anonymously, but I feel like comments on stories always tend to focus only on the good, which is nice and flattering, but I’d love more critique. For my work and for others. Because unexpectedly good things can come out of it.
fancracked: Could you ever live without writing? Why so?
clio: I have lived without sharing my writing, but I’m not sure I could live without writing. I mentioned that I can be inspired by anything, at any time, and when that happens something triggers in my brain and I’m suddenly putting together a plot, crafting certain lines and words, and just letting my imagination run wherever it will. I love the sudden burst of inspiration that I get, how excited and energized I am about a story. I also love the feeling of completing a fic–that what once started as an idea in your head was made manifest and brought to fruition. It’s a feeling that is unlike anything else. And the whole process is one that I don’t think I could ever abandon. Sure, I may in the future cease to share things online, but I don’t think I could stop writing even if I tried.
fancracked: What would you like to accomplish as a writer in the future?
clio: There’s always the pursuit of becoming a better writer–challenging myself with different genres or different styles. Just how I didn’t want to be a Mary-Sue writer, I also don’t want to be one note. There’s a lot I want to do.
Genre wise I want to take on tragedy and suspense, maybe even something super natural. In my work I focus a lot on just regular life, because I feel like there can be something extraordinary can be found in the ordinary. But now I’m starting to feel like the opposite is likewise true and just as valid: that the ordinary can be found in the extraordinary. It’s an interesting notion that I’m intrigued with.
At present there’s a story idea I have that I’m really excited about, but which also scares me. It scares me because I’m not sure I have the guts to write it. It scares me because I’m not sure how it’ll be received. It scares me because it’s beyond my abilities. It scares me because of the emotional roller coaster it will put me through. It scares me because I don’t want to start it only to abandon it. It’s darker than anything I’ve ever written, and so complex that even I get confused. I would love to be able to write it. I’m hoping for someday.
fancracked: We’re nearing the end so I am wondering if there is anything we haven’t touched on that you would like to mention.
clio: Well, for the Soompi fanfiction forum, I can’t stress enough the importance of not just reading and reviewing a fic but also leaving thoughtful commentary for the author. It’s incredibly useful and I think could help do wonders not only for the individual author but for the community as well. Better authors, better writing, better stories.
I suppose I just want to say that there are a lot of ideas out there, a lot of untold stories just waiting for someone to come along a bring it to life. My hope is that authors are brave enough to tackle them. Sometimes things don’t work out the way they are supposed to, but the attempt at writing, I feel like is as important as the writing itself. Appreciate the process, not just the destination. Tell a great story, but tell it well—spell check, grammar check, review, revise, edit. And remember that the name “author” is important. Cherish it. Be responsible for it. Anyone can write. Not just anyone can be an author.
fancracked: Thank you so much for doing this interview with me! As a closer, do you have any messages you would like to send to anyone? ^^
clio: Oh, goodness.
To the reviewer who jarred me out of my Mary-Sue-ish tendency, infinite thanks.
To Lesley, who was the first person to comment on the story that returned me to being a fanfiction writer, you made me get up from where I was hiding under my desk.
To slrigrednow, who was the first person to comment on my first story at Soompi & who has read and reviewed all of subsequent WonderBang stories, thank you for your enthusiasm and generosity.
To RandomFangirl, who bailed me out in a most desperate situation by becoming by beta for HIKY, thank you for your ever thoughtful comments.
To my readers, my reviews, my friends, I appreciate you more than you can know.
Enjoy your holidays! :)