So I saw a remark on Pinboard that perfectly encapsulated my sense of 'WHY' when reading a lot of old fandom fic, and also about my own teeniefic: "hilariously unsexy".
"Hilariously unsexy" certainly doesn't cover everything unique about old fandoms or teeniefic; it just captured the thought that had been on the tip of my tongue as well after reading a lot of old Legolas/Gimli fic (and also the problem with the ones I wrote) (not ALL Legolas/Gimli by any means, just a lot of it).
Obviously, writing sex isn't the only thing that gets better about one's writing with practice, but I started thinking about how that is true of all my teeniefic. Trying to write better sex is, I think, something many of us have struggled with, and I often got hung up at that bit in a story and went back to look at my older ones over the years, trying to analyze which bits I'd done right and wrong. So while it wasn't a straight upward trend in my own eyes - there are some I liked better and some I hate completely - in general, it got better.
I was musing that I actually remember the first time I read many of the stories that now appear to have glaring weaknesses in the sex sections, and I clearly remember liking them or loving them at the time. I remember finding them hot at the time.
"So in my defense, I also genuinely liked reading hilariously unsexy sex at the time," I mused.
But it wasn't that. It wasn't like I thought, "I'm going to read some sexy sex and I love that. Now I'm going to read unsexy sex and I like that too." (Not ruling that out. I do it sometimes. Getting the giggles isn't necessarily a detriment.)
Ultimately I realized that at the time, I couldn't tell the difference between sexy and hilariously unsexy sex scenes (has the word 'sex' lost all meaning for anyone else or should I type it a few more times?). I'm not sure it actually occurred to me that the world contained both of those things. I literally could discern no difference among sex scenes; they were essentially all the same to me, although of course, sometimes I'd like one better or worse, and sometimes I wouldn't like one, but that was usually a matter of squicks or wandering bodyparts or unreadable punctuation - certainly not a matter of unsexiness.
And then I realized something else. The reason the sex scenes in slash mostly all seemed quite sexy to me was that in comparison to the sex scenes I'd been exposed to until that point, they were. ( Read more... )
Even sex that is hilariously unsexy by fandom standards is usually sexier than the average published sex scene.
Only after reading tons of slash, for a long time, did the shapes of 'good' and 'bad' emerge from the mist. It was sort of the way I learned to distinguish between Swedish and Finnish vowel sounds that don't exist (or are grouped together as only one sound) in English. It took a lot of listening for that, just as it took a lot of reading during which 'unsexy' and 'sexy' sex writing became clearer and clearer.
And now, of course, the difference between "yö" and "öy", and between the various sounds covered in Swedish by Å, O, and U, seem blindingly obvious, just as bad sex writing does, but I can still clearly remember when it just sounded like Wax and my teacher were repeating the same exact sound over and over again and expecting me to hear the difference, like Lina's diction coach in Singin' in the Rain