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[personal profile] somnolentblue posting in [community profile] pod_aware
The relationship between a podficcer and author can be totally hands off, completely collaborative or anything in between. There are a lot of ways podficcers and authors can help each other, check out [community profile] pod_aware on LJ or DW for more information.

Welcome to "Our Doc," the tale of the creation of our [community profile] pod_together story, Unexpected Happily Ever Afters.

This wasn't written in a completely linear fashion; throughout the writing process, we'd respond to each other and add bits to previously written sections as thoughts occurred to us. We’ve done our best to clean it up for clarity, but we left some of the tangents and goofy things in anyway.

The gdoc version, which is color-coded by speaker, can be found at Our Doc. There have been some minor edits for flow and clarity between the gdoc version and the dw/lj version. In the dw/lj version, tangents, digressions, and parenthetical discussions are indicated by a + and small font.

"Our Doc"
by [personal profile] cantarina (Ca'rina) and [personal profile] somnolentblue (Blue)

Ca'rina: This will be our doc and we shall call it “Our Doc”.

Blue: *snicker* What shirt is Blue wearing today? Why the Firefly shirt! Specifically, the "curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal shirt"! Obvs, we've been working together entirely too long.

Blue: So, I guess I should start at the beginning of my bits of the tale. Flipping through my reading list one day, I hit Ca'rina's pod-together signal boosting post and went hmmmm. Being curious, I emailed her, as one does, and said, "talk to me about pod-together, bb." (Yes, that is a direct quote. Yes, I looked up the email. Yes, I am ridiculous.) By the end of the day, she had offered to work with me on a project, and I went through the stages of "hmmmm," "probably maybe most likely yes," and "sure, let's do this," to "we must talk about ALL of the things RIGHT NOW soveryexcited." And lo, a partnership and dual sign-up was born.

Blue: About the author: somnolentblue has been writing fanfic since Fall 2009, although she was a lurking lurker who lurked for a rather long time prior to that date. She discovered the joys of listening to podfic while walking about sometime in 2010, and she has created one wee tiny podfic to date. She's kind of a perfectionist as a writer, and does entirely too many "well, what if X" emails and comments to her long-suffering betas of awesome, of whom Ca'rina is one.

Ca'rina: I’m glad that you recognize how difficult it is for us.

Blue: But it's (one of the many reasons) why you're awesome. *bats eyelashes*

Ca'rina: About the podder: Cantarina’s been wading ever-deeper+ into podfic fandom since late 2009 and is kind of a huge nerd about it. She’s written fanworks on and off (mostly off) since the late nineties, but hasn’t really identified as a writer since she started podficcing. She and Blue met through a mutual friend to hammer out how podfic could be included in the latter’s SPN challenge comm, [community profile] spn_bitesized, and thoughtful discussion turned into silly discussion turned into beta duty.

+ Blue: is it a lake or a stream or a pool? inquiring minds now have images to illustrate

+ Ca'rina: well, there is a community called “podfic_pool”, although I picture a country lake

Blue: For the record? This is a tidy version of us working together - the fonts [in the gdoc], they are different colors! Consistently!

Ca'rina: Yeah...

Blue: Right, so, signing up together! We did it! (We also did other projects via matching, but those are other stories. :D )

Blue: Stories that were not created for pod-together:
- Zombie!Westley
- Iron Chef/Supernatural crossover in Kitchen Stadium+

+ Ca'rina: I still want to record this one, though. Get on that. *cracks whip*

+ Blue: It's right under exhibits and dissertating, Mistress!

Cantarina: It’s worth noting that these stories were not created mostly because I wasn’t particularly enthused by them, or was more enthused by other ideas. I wanted to let Blue write what she would write, but I also wanted to be enthusiastic about what we were doing. I felt badly for harshing her squee

Blue: actually, I never got a squee-harshing vibe at all

Ca'rina: about Zombie!Westley ! She’s actually sent me snippets to read when I ruled it out.

Blue: Zombie!Westley is really more about the conceit, I think, not the story - it really is more suited to something small and sharpish than the pod-together scope. But, yeah, no worries! Heck, you should see the massive list of story snippets! (Okay, actually you've seen a lot of them - sometimes things get through the brainstorming process, but then life intervenes or I hit a wall and they just kind of hang about.) So, yeah, I *wanted* you to be happy with what we were doing - I think my biggest worry was producing something you wouldn't enjoy; it's sort of a strange dual-audience thing, what with the writing for you to perform and then writing for the external audience. Admittedly, I knew you wouldn't hesitate to speak up if something Wasn't Working, but it was still... not quite nerve-inducing, but something that stayed in the back of my head.

Ca'rina: Duties Cantarina did not take on during the creation of what we still refer to as Queen Buttercup (or QB, more often than not): beta duty. I handed that over right at the start; it felt like too much involvement on my end and not enough separation from the story-creation process, although I did have plenty of input along the way anyway.

Blue: Which was interesting from this side. Because I had never written anything before with the intention of being recorded, so I both wanted to tell a story that we'd both enjoy working with but I was also starting from scratch on how to format it... okay, format isn't quite the right word, but ways to tweak the story for the aural components? (This is after the settling of the fandom we'd work in and whatnot, when words were starting to hit gdocs.) IDK, I still bugged Ca'rina a lot in terms of elements and components and what kind of story was developing. She says she didn't beta, and she didn't, but she was still a huge part of the discussion and development process. (AND SHE SAID SHE'D DO A SONG, AND I WAS ALL A-FLUTTER!)

Ca'rina: I like songs! One of my favourite things about this project was that Blue let me play with various narrative formats, so while I read your typical Third-Person POV, I was also involved in the creation of filk and got to dabble in a more traditional oral-storytelling style. I have to admit one of the things that I was really excited about when approaching the project was doing non-standard narrative.

Blue: We do a lot of 3rd person POV in fannish writing, which is awesome, but I love to play with structures (which is how I end up writing limericks and Gorey-homage fic and entirely too many five things fics - it doesn't always work, but it's fun [to me] to poke at the boundaries). So when Ca'rina was happy to join in with filk and the oral storytelling aspects I was jubilant.


Ca'rina: This was actually one of two pod_together projects for me. I had a great time with both and was really lucky to be assigned equally awesome partners-in-crime on my group project (three podficcers and one writer). I was actively encouraged to leave feedback on that written piece as well, which had its own set of external betas, but the focus there was more on the aurality of the piece and making the script that it is work as a radio play. I also didn’t know the author going in and felt more awkward going in with a critical eye (Although I’m not sure that that stopped me? Also, the awkward didn’t come from any bad place or bad blood, just the run-of-the-mill “where are our boundaries” thing.)

Blue: I also did another pod-together project, a Supernatural anthology with another podficcer. I am *incredibly* proud of that story, and, for the record, Ca'rina *did* beta that one - I think that's the most-betaed piece of writing I have ever done.

Ca'rina: Five drafts later, but I think that the end result and all of the hardwork is so, so worth it!

Blue: It's interesting, to me, what things did and didn't show up in them both. The tone was incredibly different - that one is a much darker piece - but if one was doing a critical analysis of my writing there are definitely commonalities, like songs! And fairy tales! My partner and I didn't know each other going in, and we had (at least from my perspective) more coming together to do, whereas Ca'rina and I had to work to figure out some of the separations and boundaries between co-creation, collaboration, beta, and editing.




Ca'rina: <3

Blue: Right, so I think the takeaway from all that is that we already had (have? I need a past imperfect here or something) a working relationship that's pretty tight in terms of writing/betaing, but we still needed to come to an equilibrium on co-creation, the shaping of the story in a large sense, the editing of the story in the beta-sense, and working to forge something that worked for us both.

Ca'rina: This is really difficult for me. I really respect what Blue does (I told her at one point that I trusted her to write something awesome and I meant that) and while I was a co-creator, that didn’t make me a co-writer.

Blue: That was one of those funny points where you weren't-quite-betaing, but it really was working with me through the process of throwing things at the wall and seeing what stuck, especially as I tried to push at what might make the written project *also* a good springboard for the podfic project; we did what, the song first?

Ca'rina: No way. The song came in later, after we’d settled on the QB concept.

Blue: But as far as solid things written down that more-or-less stayed the same... Maybe it's congealed in my head because that's what I *heard* first (and might have bounced about ridiculously), so it's the bit that says the beginning to me.

Ca'rina: I think that maybe it doesn’t say beginning to me because while it was a really excellent part of the story, it wasn’t the whole story either. I don’t think there was one scene, for me, that said “STORY HERE, STARTED”.+

+ Ca'rina: I hope that this does read as derogatory to your writing?

+ Blue: Not at all and never! ♥

Blue: I generally end up with something, usually an image, that is the start image for me. It's not necessarily the absolute first thing on the page, but it's whatever sticks in my head at an early point - in this case, it seems to be the song, possibly because it was the irrevocable bit: voices had been recorded! Although, huh, that's a different tangent - it was really odd for me not to be futzing with specific wording and phrasing right up to the point of posting. Admittedly, I made up for this a bit by futzing with formatting and graphics (and a shout-out to too-rational for making our wee little crown dividers and podfic cover :D ) and how to format the bits in the text that had distinctive audio cues in the podfic [proclamation, song, oral stories told in the tavern, etc]. I fiddle, it's a thing.

Ca'rina: That meant I needed to try and let her have the lion’s share of the control on that end of the process, if only because the idea of letting a writer dictate how I should make my podfic makes me kick out reflexively with a pretty powerful “NO”. Even in the pod_together setting, it was really important to me that it was my recording. Which is interesting, because I take the project as a whole as irrevocably ours. Blue was even my audio beta and I would have taken creative input from her at that point, had she felt that something was really off. I guess I had two Blues in my head and with beta-Blue, the power dynamics are more or less equal (I trust her opinion and that’s really all that needs to be said), but as my writer, I’m so aware that this her creation too and that the writing is distinctly her side of the equation.

Ca'rina: My gut’s telling me that that’s how it works for me, when I approach podficcing a story, period. The writing is the writer’s and the only changes I’m allowed to make are to typos and maybe sentences that just don’t work when spoken aloud, although I don’t know that I’ve found anything I absolutely couldn’t work with. Even so, within that “allowed” category, I run the changes my the writer first. It’s not my story and so, I don’t really get to change it, just interpret it. (If I’m being unclear, think of it as a play script. It’s usually the same Shakespeare, but different actors and directors bring different things to it.) So the podfic and the story are separate entities, even in pod_together. What sets this challenge apart, I think, is that I view both projects as the single, overarching project. You can do just the podfic or just the story, but you have to take both to really get it. (This explains my irritation at a reviewer who left perfectly lovely feedback for Blue, but the wording of it indicated that she’d ignored the audio altogether. I normally wouldn’t give a fig if someone commented on just the fic, even with my podfic linked at the top or bottom - why would I want someone else's feedback? That said, because I see this is a unified project, it’s hard to reconcile that most of the world isn’t going to agree.)

Blue: So, we had a story. Well, the start of a story. The exact scenes and mechanics of the textual storytelling were up in the air until pretty late - there's actually a planned scene that was never written, and as a story of a revolution it's a really quick gloss that overlooks the deeper story of Leah and her fellow revolutionaries, but that's me burbling about the things that weren't, and maybe we should bounce to the process of writing and recording and posting?

Ca'rina: We negotiated, a lot. We actually started the brainstorming process via a voice chat.+

+ Ca'rina: I should see if I still have the notes I took? I AM UNSURE.

+ Blue: I know I don't - they were lost during my move. What I distinctly remember: shorter sentences, finding a main POV character that you were comfortable speaking-in, considering the use of special effects in the audio. I do still have the emails, but my scribbles are gone gone gone.

Ca'rina: Later, there was an endless string of email. Once the story was actually finished going through its rounds of drafts, off I went! I don’t know that the podficcing process itself was drastically changed from that of any other story. I did my practice read, then my proper read, and editededitededitededited. Aside from the filk (which I recorded with a gaggle of fangirls, because YES) and otherwise playing with the unusual aspects of the narrative (within the fic was a short narrative piece in the oral storytelling format, as a random OC’s dialogue), there was remarkably little change to my process. When Blue was my beta, she was my beta, not my writer.+

+ Ca'rina: Man, laying it out like this, I feel awfully selfish.

+ Blue: Pft, if anything you could have fussed around with it more, and that would have been fine with me. The audio is your baby - I don't know anything about it! I mean, obvs I can say "I don't understand the narration at point X" or "there's some were volume things going on here" etc, as a beta, but in terms of genesis? That's all you! In some ways I actually felt excessively selfish during the creation-writing process, because I felt like I was mostly toddling along doing the thing and you were going \o/ [which is awesome, btw, I just did a lot of "is it really what she wants"/"can I give her more stuff to play with"/"can this be altered more for better audio effect"?] and you notice that when the text when up it went up in fic-format, not script format, which I know some people did. There *were* a few notes from me about things I was thinking re: audio at particular points, but they were stripped from the final text-publication, and you found your own balance. I think the only thing that really surprised me was the pronunciation of Leah.

Ca'rina: For a joint effort, where was the collab on the podfic? In the creation of the story?

Blue: Isn't it? And I mean that seriously, not facetiously. In this context (and every collaboration in which I've been involved works differently based on the synergy of the people involved and the ultimate goals of the project in question), we both decided the story in broad strokes - there's a Revolution, Buttercup ends up as Queen Buttercup, and then some poking at the scenes to get from Buttercup et al. leaving the palace to QB. (I tried to find the relevant emails at the inception of the fic, but I think we also did some of this with IM and gdoc iteration. Also, I did a lot of tossing of ideas at [personal profile] scintilla10, my beta, as I worked through them.) Then we settled in to make it work in our respective mediums. Some of the decisions re: structure and format (the song, the proclamation, the oral storytelling) included were shaped by it being a multi-media story, but when I put myself to my keyboard and you put yourself to your mic we're still shaping it in our respective medium. I think maybe it looks perhaps differently balanced because the text precedes the audio and the audio interprets/performs the text and you not!betaed (alpha'd? IDEK, that starts sounding like kinkfic) and I betaed, and the story was still being shaped while writing was being done? So the creation and shaping were concurrent with the text-production?

Blue: Anyway, bouncing from some something Ca'rina said earlier: "Even so, within that “allowed” category, I run the changes by my the writer first. It’s not my story and so, I don’t really get to change it, just interpret it. (If I’m being unclear, think of it as a play script. It’s usually the same Shakespeare, but different actors and directors bring different things to it.) So the podfic and the story are separate entities, even in pod_together."

Blue: The pod-together fics were the first ones I've ever written expressly for the purpose of them being recorded. I have one ficbit that reena recorded during amplificathon that I think worked much, much better as audio than text (the limerick zombie!Sam story), and the Iron Chef/Spn would be/will be/is drafted in bits as a script-format. I do tend to think of the text and the audio as both different mediums and different creations, and as an author I'm actually completely comfortable with changes from the words I wrote on the screen to the audio as interpreted and recorded by the podficcer. I know I tend to write in long sentences that use a ridiculous number of semi-colons and clauses and commas, and that doesn't quite always work when doing speech - one of the things Ca'rina mentioned during our initial voice chat was using shorter sentences, and I've done enough conference papers to dread the excessively complex sentence. And I'm not sure where I'm going with this, other than to say that I did try to tone down some of my tendencies towards verbiage, but I would have been comfortable with more changes being done/requested/edited in as long as the general strokes of QB stayed put.

Blue: You know, I would love to see a born-audio work, or something that exists purely as audio. Iron Chef/Spn is the closest I'll probably ever comes in terms of writing something intended in that manner.

Ca'rina: I’ve had a project like this in the works for about a year. It would exist in written format only as a transcript.

Blue: \o/ much fun, bb! :D

Ca'rina: Who knows if I’ll ever get it done, good intentions aside?

Blue: Should we talk about the publication, or is there more to say on production? Between the non-linearity of the writing and my general fuzziness lately, I'm all a-fuddled.

Ca'rina: I think that we’re good to move on!

Blue: Publication it is! I was incredibly thrilled when AO3 posting came through. For it to work, the participants in pod-together were granted permissions to have streaming content embedded in our posts. I'm not entirely sure of the technical stuff beyond that, but I was v., v. happy that it ended up being an option on the table. It was a brilliant way to go because both of us could receive and answer feedback on the stories since AO3 allows co-creators. (Although I discovered that the custom CSS wasn't sticky between us and had to be re-applied every time the other edited the story.) So \o/ AO3, really.

Ca'rina: *official voice* This advertisement for the OTW brought to you by somnolentblue and cantarina.

Blue: Anyway, cantarina was finishing out and editing the podfic, and I took out my tendencies to fiddle by working on formatting.

Ca'rina: This confession makes me smile, because I did get a lot of email about this.

Blue: I can admit to my ridiculousness! Sometimes.

Ca'rina: I had my head up in the editing clouds and she was trying to drag me back down to html and formatting.

Blue: Some of the things we included in the fic, particularly the oral stories, the song, and the proclamation, were awkward to render textually. I didn't want to hard-code fonts, and I didn't want walls o' italics. (As much as I think of QB as being in all sparkles and glitter, that's not particularly something that needs to be rendered on the screen!) I think I ended up filtering the test-formatting entries on dw and lj to ca'rina and [personal profile] too_rational, who did our graphics (wee little crown dividers still make me *happy*), and then to [ profile] fannishliss, who did the final run through looking for misplaced words and typos and all those things that are ridiculously hard to see at the end of a project.

Ca'rina: Betas of the world, you are wonderful people <3

Blue: YES! <3

Ca'rina: (We’re not only saying this because we’ve both identified ourselves as betas within the context of this challenge. *coughs*)

Blue: Ca'rina was sending me cuts of the podfic, since I was doing beta on that (I'm still not entirely sure of the best way to beta audio, but it works for us, so huzzah!). It was *delightful* to hear it come together, and I have to admit to perhaps being a bit of flailing hands of GLEE.

Ca'rina: It’s okay, I had those too. There are some passages I came out of editing really, really happy with!

Blue: There was also trying to find a title for QB, but I cannot even remember much about that process other than it involved lots of whining from me and brainstorming with Scintilla. Also, one of the options we were considering had already been used in a Princess Bride fic, so that was out!

Ca'rina: Titling was definitely not the easiest thing we did. I don’t remember how we found “Unexpected Happily Ever Afters”, but it wasn’t me.

Blue: Scintilla suggested it, but I think we might have been in chat instead of email, because I can't find the chain of conversation. It's a quote from something, I think, although I don't remember what.

Blue: And then it was done. The formatting was sorted, the podfic was edited, and it was time to wait. We arranged to have the song segment as an additional embed, so that it could be streamed while people were reading the text. (I think this might have been partially my preference? I'm not sure - I listen to podfic at work and in transit and read text at home, so I would totally be the person who was reading at home but needed the smaller bit of audio at that specific point in time. [I actually listened to most, if not all, of the pod-together podfics while getting acquainted with the stacks at a library. It was kind of awesome. Ye olde bookes! Shiny modern audio!])

Blue: I remember one thing we did end up discussing re: formatting was where to place the full streaming embed of the podfic. (Ca'rina, I think this is probably more your field to talk than mine.)

Ca'rina: Yes! I’m trying to remember exactly what the debate was, although I remember that we disagreed. I think that you wanted to put the embed in with the header notes.

Blue: I had put the links in the header section, with the bit about downloading options, when I initially coded everything.

Ca'rina: Right, and I wanted it in the body of the text, since it was also the fanwork, rather than something administrative. The written story and the audio recording are both the one, whole “Unexpected Happily Ever Afters” fanwork - I think I’ve talked about this, so I won’t belabour it - and it was important to me to keep them together. I want to add that that’s a really unusual stance for me. I don’t even view my other pod_together project as having quite the same dual nature.

Blue: Really? Interesting.

Ca'rina: Normally, I view podfic as a fanwork separate from the original text, albeit one with very close ties to the original. I think it might be because I was so heavily involved in the shaping of the story and how comfortable it was for the two of us to give and take back and forth. We had a relationship going in and it made it easier for me to get my hands messy without feeling like I was going to step on anyone’s toes (even if that concern did still exist).

Blue: You know, I think this might be the thing I've worked on where it's the most impossible for me to point at bits and say 'I started with this bit' and 'my partner started with that bit' -- I wonder if it's because we tend to work together really closely, with all the mutual beta and brainstorming, so it sort of grew around that gestalt? Not that we both don't have our own ideas and opinions about things, because we definitely do, but the entire thing became so very inter-meshed...? IDK, I'm rambling at this point.

Ca'rina: I think that a part of your trouble clearly separating the two is that my contributions to the text were either in the minutia (tweaking a word here, a sentence there) or more frequently, purely conceptual. I didn’t actually do any writing, so you literally can’t point to the place where you stopped and I started.

Blue: Now, although not-quite-related, I have this desire to start theorizing about intertextuality and words like 'mutual imbrication'. *facepalm* Dear Self, You don't even *like* theory.

Ca'rina: *tempts you into theory, but we can save the discussion for another time*

Blue: Waiting was more "are we there yet, are we there yet" than "antici... pation", at least for me. It was there! It was done! It was shiny! It was a story that we were so incredibly proud of and happy with! And we had to wait! Alas!

Ca'rina: I was a lot more patient with this part of the process, but that’s probably because I turned around and set to editing “Time and Relative Perspectives in Space” (my group project), which went up for posting two days after QB and turned very time and thought-intensive. But that process is another story for another time!

Blue: Ahem. :)

Blue: But then, on July 21st, it was live! And lo, Unexpected Happily Ever Afters was revealed, and it was good.

Ca'rina: “Our Doc” and “Our Fanwork”?


Date: 2011-11-10 10:12 pm (UTC)
scintilla10: close-up of the Greek statue Victoire de Samothrace (Winged Victory)
From: [personal profile] scintilla10
Hee, this is awesome to read! <3

Also, I am in full expectation of blue finishing that Iron Chef AU and cantarina finishing that purely podfic project. *looks sternly at you both*

Date: 2011-11-11 12:06 am (UTC)
cantarina: donna noble in a paper crown, looking thoughtful (Default)
From: [personal profile] cantarina
Thank you for helping to make it happen :D (If there had been no podfic, there would have been no this!)

Also, eep! *salutes* Yes ma'am.


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