Massive thanks to Marie and Heather for their work on this transcript! Click any of the segments below to jump directly to that segment.
FERRET: You’re listening to Pod On The Suit, your Steve and Tony fandom podcast. I’m Ferret.
FLAME: And I’m Flame. Thank you so much for joining us.
FERRET: Hi Flame!
FLAME: Hi Ferret!
FERRET: Hi Fandom!
FLAME: Oh my gosh, our first episode is here (noise) after four long days of anticipation. (Laughter
FERRET: It’s been ages. I’m so excited that we’re finally airing this.
FLAME: We are recording this less than a week into the idea’s birth so, thank you to everybody already who is so into POTSCast… thank you to everybody who has made this such an overwhelmingly joyful and honoring week.
FERRET: I’ve just been bathing in love and excitement and anticipation all week.
FLAME: It’s… It’s unbelievable, every time I open up my discord there’s somebody else telling us they’re excited about this and my… the tumblr is nuts… thank you to everybody who has retweeted, reblogged, DMed one of us… I’ve even gotten a few whatsapps like…
FLAME: I know! It’s really overwhelmingly joyful so, thank you so much guys, let’s say that first off.
FERRET: It doesn’t just make it fun for us to experience that, but it’s also so exciting to be able to be giving people something that hopefully they… they really want.
FLAME: Exactly! I mean, I write fanfiction to… for a whole lot of reasons, I know you do too, but one of them is to give back to a community that had given me so much.
FERRET: Oh, absolutely, I… I’ve… My policy is always that if one of my stories makes one person’s day then it was totally worth the effort I put into it.
FLAME: Yes, yes I completely agree…
FERRET: So, for this podcast, if it made your day, then it was worth it to us.
FLAME: And, we would love it, in the spirit of AO3, if you would let us know. First of all, we need to thank Elle, from the POTS discord server… oh we’ll be saying POTS a lot, we should define that! POTS is Put On The Suit server which is a large stony server and we are POTSCast, because we are Pod On The Suit, which came from Elle, so thanks so much for that, we love a pun, here at POTSCast.
FERRET: It won’t be the first, it won’t be the last.
FLAME: No, no, not at all but we do wanna… we are always about proper credit here in fandom, so thank you Elle for that.
FERRET: Each episode we’re gonna feature one of the amazing, talented artists in our fandom, using one of their pieces as our cover art. You can see the art on our website and social media. Huge thank you to Tasteslikecocunut for being our first cover artist.
Her piece, OctoTony, is featured everywhere you can find this podcast and below or next to it, the links to her social media and ko-fi. Thanks Coconut! And thank you to the rest of the server for all the other ideas, contributions, names for things… there’s so much, that we can’t even begin to go down the whole list but this has been a community born project.
FLAME: Absolutely. You should see our Google Drive, it is like… all we’re trying to do right now is wrangle all of the ideas you have all given us into an organization that makes sense.
FERRET: And that inspired us for the theme for our first episode which is community.
FLAME: We’re gonna start really expanding a little bit on why we love this thing so much, ’cause, fundamentally, when Ferret and I were talking, when you drill it down, we are here for the people. Not only for… as I always call them, the muppets we write about, but the people we interact with.
FERRET: And then, right before we sign off we’re gonna have some quick, little mini segments – we’re gonna talk a bit about my competition trope off which I’ve been running on Twitter, we’re gonna get our events forecast from our events forecaster Marie Ships it All and… yeah… a little bit about where we’d like this to go, and what you can do, to get involved.
FLAME: Yeah, because you have to, get involved, this is… we’re gonna get to the point where we want you to understand this is an expectation.
FERRET: We need… we don’t just need the feedback for ourselves, this podcast is going to thrive on everything that you contribute to it.
FLAME: Yeah! This is your Steve and Tony-centric podcast and we wanna make sure it stays that way.
Er, so, one of the first people that we’re gonna chat to about that actually, is one of the biggest names in Stony fandom. We’re gonna be talking to Sabre. I had the absolute joy of chatting with her, so, we’ll getting to that in a little bit. But then, Ferret and I are gonna get into… what for us is the best way to community right now, which is Discord. So we’re gonna have a conversation about that, and then, in terms of engagement, one of the most interesting fics we’ve seen recently in using different media and having different kinds of ways to tell the stories that we all love… it’s a fic by a wonderful writer named KandiSheek and we’re gonna be talking about that at the end of the pod.
FERRET: This can hopefully not just be our two voices but hundreds, and maybe thousands of voices.
FLAME: Yes, absolutely, so let’s get started!
Interview with Sabre
FLAME: Hi! Sabre thanks so much for joining us today!
SABRE: Thank you for having me! I am super excited to be here.
FLAME: Well, I mean, we’re gonna start conversations about the incredible fandom we’ve gotta start with er… with you, to be honest, so…
SABRE: Aww, well, thank you, I don’t know about that but I will take it.
FLAME: As we… As I kind of open with that, I would like to hear your fandom story, like, how did you get into it, also, why the name, I’m hoping it has something to do with a light saber but I could be wrong so… what’s going on?
SABRE: Your guess is correct. This has been my pseudonym, email, whatever, which I maybe and probably shouldn’t tell people but it has been there since I first had my AOL account back when I was, I believe 18, right when I first went off to college and the internet started, right around that time it started to be available, you know, in your home.
We had to pick sign-ons and I chose that because of light saber. I’m a huge Star Wars fan and so I chose Sabre, CMC are my initials. I spelled saber weirdly because I was a pretentious college student at the time, and that has haunted me ever since! And so there’s been a lot of mispronunciations of what that name was supposed to be, I say it in my head as “saber C-M-C”, most people seem to call me Sabre which is fine but… it’s just been mine forever and it’s what I use for just about everything in some version or another. So that was for where the name came from.
As far as my fandom origin story, I guess, as you would call it, I… you know I had always liked the Marvel movies, I really enjoyed Iron Man and you know, I liked watching them but I had never really gotten into fandom at that point. Probably the first fandom i was in was X-files which was one of the first big internet fandoms and really helped, in a lot of ways, get the whole idea of internet fandom going. But then, after that kind of fell out of the way I never really got into another fandom.
Life happened, I was in Law school, and then I was a young lawyer, and then I was a mom, and, you know, just, I wasn’t involved with fandom really with any depth. I was… I’d read fanfiction from time to time but didn’t actually go participate in fandom. And then in 2014, I moved from Florida back to Texas, for a job-related reason and, at the time my daughter was finishing her school year, still in Florida, so she was living with my parents finishing out the last about month and a half or so of her school year, so I was out here by myself living in a little studio apartment. My mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was getting ready to go through surgery and treatment and all that, so there was just a lot of life stuff happening, and I think, you know, like a lot of people probably, you know I was looking for something, a distraction, some sense of community and belonging and connection, you know, I just, I felt very isolated without my daughter and with everything that my family was going through at the time, I think, I was kind of just looking for something so that, the timing happened to be serendipitous I guess and that was when the Winter Soldier came out.
I think I saw the movie like, seven times, I just… I loved it. And I… you know, again, it was kind of that connection moment at the right time in my life and the right media coming at me and so, I went online and was initially, actually looking at Steve and Natasha stuff and, because of course Tony wasn’t even in the movie, it didn’t really occur to me. So I happened to be watching some fan videos and one of them was a fan video by Ann2who who is also a Stony lover and wrote Say When and all of that. She does amazing fan videos and of course hers was a Stony fan video and, I was like, just falling into the rabbit hole of “Oh wow, this is what I’m looking for! This is, you know, the passion and just, the spark.” and you know, it was just like, everything, all of a sudden clicked. And of course, you know, I liked Robert Downey Junior, I thought he was great and all of that but it really… that was what initially drew me in. So I always kind of laugh and say that I’m the only person who walked out of the Winter Soldier and ended up a Stony shipper but that’s, how it worked! And you know, I watched a ton of fan videos, a whole bunch of them and then I said to myself, you know, “So I wonder if people have maybe written fanfiction about this. Lemme go look!” And, as it turned out they had! And you know, I got to learn about the whole history in the comics which I had no idea about but it meant that there was a lot to work with already. So there was already a vibrant community I sort of just crawled into, and you know, I just loved it! I just absolutely loved what i was reading, the level of fiction that was already out there was amazing and you know, so, I just spent that whole summer basically setting up my house out here and reading stony fanfiction, that was it. I don’t think I did anything else. So that was how i came to the ship originally.
FLAME: I mean there are worse ways to spend the summer.
SABRE: Right, yeah, definitely.
FLAME: So I feel that. So what was the first fic you wrote?
SABRE: The first fic I wrote was one called Poster Child, which is about Tony jerking himself off to a poster of Steve, so yeah (laughs) very high brow, really… yeah, went for the art there, but basically it was just because I’d read about that in a few different fics that had mentioned it but I couldn’t find the fic that actually had that so, you know, in the spirit of, be the thing you wanna see in the world, I thought, well, I’m gonna try this and, I had not written any fiction in twenty years. The last time i wrote… I was 39 when I wrote Poster Child and seriously the last fiction I’d written I was 19, which had been a Star Wars fiction, and then… you know…. But I just decided to try it, I don’t know. And, I thought to myself well, you know, what’s the worst that could happen? You know, people don’t like it, and I’ll just delete it, and I said to myself, if I get 50 kudos then I’ll be super happy and super proud of myself. I will have done something, I will have contributed, you know so many people have made me happy with their writing and this will be a little way to give back. And that, you know, in my mind that was gonna be it, it was gonna be a one-shot, just one thing and I was done, and obviously that did not quite work out, you know, ’cause, as I’m sure you know, once you start and you get that interaction, that validation, it’s… you know it just feels so wonderful, it’s just… it’s so fulfilling. And, so, you know, people liked it and were so nice about it, and wanted more and i am by nature a people-pleaser, so, when people said “hey you should… you can make this longer!” I was like, “ok!” So, I did, and it ended up, I think, being like 6 chapters and you know I just really had fun, it was just such a positive experience and… then of course, once you have one idea, you start getting others, and these plot bunnies just multiply and, you know, so there was another idea and I thought well I could write that real quick, I’ll just do this one, just this one! And first that, and then the next one comes, the next one comes and it just sort of picked up steam as it went and in fact, I wasn’t on tumblr, I had… I actually had no idea that tumblr existed. Another writer named Winterstar reached out to me in the comments once, and the comment said “Hey you should be on Tumblr!” And, so I was like, “ok, lemme go figure out what this is!” And I started a tumblr account some time after that and have been lurking around ever since!
FLAME: It’s funny, like, it’s almost… i talk about fandom as emotional pringles, like, once you pop you cannot stop. Like, it’s just… yeah, I mean, I came in very recently, I’m not even a year into this fandom and I experienced something very similar so that really resonates with me and I’m sure it does with a lot of other folks, but… in thinking about your fandom… one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you is when I entered the fandom, right after Endgame ’cause things needed to get fixed and that’s why I came, I was very sure I was never ever going to read Alpha/Beta/Omega ever, ’cause I just didn’t understand it, and I didn’t get it, so let me just tell listeners right here: I’m gonna start to ask Sabre about about her very very famous work, Celestial Navigation, which for some folks may… may veer into some Not Safe For Work territory that might not wanna hear so we’ll let you know when we’re back into talking about some other fandom stuff, just a heads-up for listeners.
I… but, everyone that I kept finding on tumblr, ’cause I didn’t really know what to do but I knew how to google “stony fanfiction”, just kept talking about this massive work, “Celestial Navigation” and so, I downloaded it for a vacation and read it… stayed up all night for a plane flight and read it. And i quickly discovered it has spawned its own fanworks, which you are kind enough to be graciously happy about. So I’d love to hear…
SABRE: I’m thrilled! I think it’s amazing!
FLAME: That’s so… I mean, part of the history of fandom though, is creators not being ok with other people playing in their worlds so… it’s so really… I find it very kind and very generous so, I’d love to hear a little bit about how you plotted Celestial Navigation and then were you surprised by the reception of it? Are you still surprised?
SABRE: I am surprised! It really… writing it… you know, initially, it was just a thank you fic, it was gonna be a one-shot… actually Ferret was the one who… suggested the prompt for Omega Tony, and bless her, that was all that she prompted and I like prompts that are very broad, and I had wanted to… I’d had this idea of doing… kinda a take on arranged marriage. I wanted to do an A/B/O fic that sort of took it seriously and really looked at… ok like, if we had this world, what would it really look like because a lot of what I had read until that point was basically porn and you know, the A/B/O thing was a lot of times used as a way to sort of get more animalistic feelings, not really have to deal with consent a lot and, there is nothing wrong with that, I enjoy that stuff but I had this idea that I was gonna try writing and just see what happened if I just took this seriously and said what would this world look like, what if it really didn’t look that different, you know, and what if, really a lot of things that end up applying to women in our world, applied to Omegas and particularly to Tony who, you know, we know as this smart, strong, capable, you know, brave hero… what if those things had been applied to him his whole life? what would that look like? And… so that was all the stuff in my head but initially it was just gonna be a one-shot and that one-shot ended up kind of being a two-shots, got spread out over two chapters ‘cause, shockingly it just got long and then I had plans to end it there but I got so many comments on it and, so many people wanting more that I decided to keep going and, of course, initially in my head it was going to be 80k because I always think it’s gonna be 80k and I’m consistently absolutely wrong about that. But yeah, my brain still says “it’s about 80k!”. So, anyway, and, you know, as far as plot I will have to admit that I am not the best at plotting something out from the beginning, I kind of just go with it and see what happens, and as I go, I do better about plotting it out, keeping notes in my phone, making an outline, that kind of thing. It sort of develops overtime but I didn’t initially have any plot beyond Tony and Steve are in a sort of arranged marriage situation and have to figure things out. That was basically it. And then, it just kind of took off, in a way that I had never anticipated. I started to get all these comments that were so thoughtful and so personal, you know, because people really recognized, I think, a lot of the things in the story from their lives and were seeing in a slightly different way because what’s being applied to Tony, who again, we sort of have these preconceived notions of this character, so when you see some of these things and him having to deal with it, it seems super wrong, in a way that I think we don’t always recognize? I mean, obviously we know some things in life are wrong, you know, when they happen to women, but then there are some subtle little things that we miss a lot of the time, you know, because they’re just ubiquitous, they’re everywhere, and so, it was really just, very humbling to read all of these comments from people who, you know, were really feeling this fic on a deeper level than I ever would have thought initially, from, you know, just a fic.
So yeah, so it kinda became its own thing, and, as I went that was both a good thing and a bad thing in some ways. I mean I loved it, I loved the feedback, I loved how interested people were, it became a lot of pressure and I will tell you that when I finished it I was so relieved to be done, because that last chapter, I knew how I wanted to end it, I knew that the ending was gonna be a little bittersweet, they weren’t gonna end up perfectly happy the way a lot of people seemed to want and so I wasn’t sure what the reception was gonna be for that, but I remembered reading, you know, kind of these writing advice things and one of the things was that sometimes the most satisfying endings are not always the ones where everything is… where it doesn’t… it ends on a happy note, they won but there is that of bittersweetness to it and so that was sort of what I was going for with the epilogue in particular.
But, just being done with that, because there had been so many asks on Tumblr “when is the final chapter coming out?”, “when is the final chapter coming out?” and so, finally finishing it and feeling like I had kind of achieved what I wanted with it, that I was happy with where they ended up was… that was a lot of pressure, and… you know, making people happy because they had followed along for so long and you know, you don’t wanna whiff it at the end! I mean, so many times, I walked away from some piece of media and I’m so happy with, you know, 90% of it and then they get to the end and it just falls apart and that can take away so much and so there was… I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to try to not do those and to try to end it on a little bit of a wistful note and I wasn’t sure how that was going to be received.
Luckily it seemed like people responded to it, you know, and that was great, it was wonderful but I, I swore of course at that time that I was never going to write a long fic again. No. That was just not going to happen. Of course, we all know that didn’t work but, it was exhausting, not gonna lie, it was a wonderful experience and super, just, validating as a writer, as a person to have so many people respond to it like that, but it was also super exhausting so by the end I was just like, “I’m done! I’m not doing that ever again! We’re gonna stick to one-shots!” and you know, of course, that didn’t work out but I did take a little break from writing long fic for a while and you know, I don’t think I’ll ever write anything that’s received the way Celestial Navigation was, except, I guess Steve’s point of view now but, for whatever reason that just seemed to strike a chord with readers and I mean it has really been an amazing experience in fandom to have something like that that means so much to people, and people, you know, it really does seem to mean a lot to them and that’s just this amazing, humbling, wonderful thing to feel like I’ve contributed something like that.
FLAME: I mean, I can only imagine, like, you articulated perfectly, which doesn’t surprise me, but the idea that it can be… that we can create landmarks in our own fandom, that we aren’t just relying on the commercialized narrative of canon, but I think, I mean, if Celestial Navigation is, if not the first Omega Tony masterwork, it’s certainly one of the first, and arguably one of the only true… encompassing kind of things that I find a lot of tropes now that I can find with Omega Tony, I can find them back in Celestial Navigation. And I know, when I write him, there are times when I think about Joshua and how he’s named Jericho in your world and what that looks like. On the off side of, you know, one of the reasons that A/B/O fics are interesting to me is the idea of mpreg which I know doesn’t come from us, I think it comes from… I think it comes from Star Trek, like, way way way back in the day.
SABRE: Probably everything has its origins in Star Trek somehow and then kind of made its way through Supernatural at some point.
FLAME: Yeah, I think like the thread line, I was reading… I’m reading an academic book right now on the thread line of Sherlock Holmes to Star Trek to Supernatural on a lot of things.
SABRE: That’s about right!
FLAME: With brief detours into Buffy and Harry Potter but… so, one of the things that folks that are on the POTS server on discord, which there will be links about that and we’re gonna get into a discord conversation later in this particular podcast, we talk a lot about eggs on that server, and just wondering about conversations and thoughts on… is a big part of being, of writing and thinking about Omega Tony the… even in cryptid fics and your OctoTony and everything else, is part of that for you thinking about fertility?
SABRE: In some ways, I suppose it is entangled in that because when you’re thinking about an A/B/O world, you know, of course one of the reasons that women, or in this case Omegas, have so many things to deal with is because they are the ones who bear and raise the children in those situations so, you know that all plays into it. I don’t typically write actual mpreg, for one reason, I’ve never been pregnant, my daughter is adopted so, it’s just a lack of knowledge, a lack of real connection to it, I’m not quite sure how I would do that so there is, you know, for me, a little bit of an intimidation factor with trying to write that, and make it seem at least at all realistic in any way but I do, you know, I do think of the whole idea of fertility, is, you know it has to be connected to those tropes because that’s just a part of how we got to where we are with all of these stereotypes and prejudices and, you know, other things that we deal with.
FLAME: Yeah, I mean, I’m really interested in the idea of like, how writers talk about stuff like slick and things like that with Omegas, and all of the things at the beginning of… because, you know, we don’t have an agreed upon omegaverse as writers which I love but we all have those little things at the top of the author’s notes that are like “Hey, in this one it acts like a period.”, “In this one…” you know…
FLAME: As we all try to figure it out but we all have to… I personally like that it makes us… it makes us ask these questions, because you’re absolutely right, I mean fertility is one of the reasons that historically women have been and people and people who have periods especially and people who bear and don’t bear and things like that have been the way they are, so, I’m gonna be really interested as more and more writers, trans writers and people who are addressing trans issues dip into A/B/O fics and what that kind of looks like as we kind of explore that. That’s just me personally.
SABRE: Yeah, no I think that’s gonna be really interesting, there’s so much to do with that. And you know I think, looking particularly at Steve and his transformation, it just seems to lend itself so easily to those kinds of ideas that I am very interested to see what people end up doing with it.
I know Omega Tony is a lot more popular but I do think that there is a lot of interesting things to be done there with Omega Steve but yeah…
I mean, when you look at Celestial Navigation and you know, the talk about heat, and suppressants and there is one point in the fic where Tony’s talking to a doctor and the doctor tells him look at these suppressants and you know, this was taken almost verbatim from some, I can’t remember, some Southern state’s law that was, you know, they’re supposed to tell women about having an abortion that it… raises your risk of breast cancer which it doesn’t but, you know, it was taken from that kind of statement and again, it’s all about control and these notions of who gets to make the decisions for the Omega’s body and you know, all of those things that we deal with as women and you know, I think, that just becomes such an interesting part of setting up your world and, you know, how you’re gonna deal with that, if you want to deal with that, of course, not all fics want to get into all of that and that’s fine. I love reading, you know, some of those, one-shot porn things, so nothing wrong with that, but you know, if you are gonna deal with it, there are just so many options for how you want to set up that world and I agree, I love that we are so free and so open with whatever the author wants to do for their world. Especially now that it seems that there are more people who are interested in exploring this on, you know, sort of a more in-depth level.
FLAME: Yeah… Yeah, well this is a good pivot point, so, folks who are listening to us know that we are going to stop talking about Celestial Navigation and talk a little bit more about the effect of Celestial Navigation which is that, Sabre, you are a Big Name Fan and, I would like to know how that feels. (laughter)
SABRE: I would say that I (….) part of the popular crowd, and I don’t really… my self-perception has always been that I was one of the ones on the fringes, I’m, you know, one of the introverts so it’s a very unusual feeling that people know who I am that… you know, we’ve had meetups, for people come in, we all meet up and get together and it’s all stony fans and stuff, you know,people ask me questions and, it’s very weird.
As I’ve said on Discord to Ferret in particular that I need somebody to ghostwrite some of these answers for me because I’m not the one with the life experience to answer some of these questions but it is… It’s a strange position to be in. It’s very gratifying in a way, I won’t lie, it is… I mean, everybody wants to be liked and so yes, that is very very gratifying in many ways and, you know, even if at the same time it’s weird. I do worry sometimes because, of course the more popular you get, it seems like, the more people like to tear you down so there’s always kind of that risk-reward sort of things and I sometimes get in my head. And what if come after me personally, you know, this is not really the kind of thing I necessarily want to be broadcast about myself. Now, I do try to protect my identity a little bit, you know, what if somebody didn’t like a fic, and decides to, you know, do something. You know, so you kind of, start to have those thoughts which is not a great part of fandom and I will say, our fandom has overall been wonderful, but you know, but there… after, particularly after Civil War, there was some issues, you know, people got very very passionate about their feelings on that one and you know, it did kind of occur to me that this could go the wrong way, you know, if somebody who can’t really separate you know, fandom from real life, who, decides really make an issue of things and you know, I don’t want that, I don’t want drama in my real life. This is supposed to be fun, I do this for fun. So, you know there are those concerns and you know, there’s always people who of course, you know, aren’t gonna like me for whatever reason and that’s fine, you know, just like so many actors, and you know, certainly one particular actress than anybody who’s been on tumblr has noticed that I do not like, you know, so there is always people who aren’t gonna like you and that’s ok, just as long as we kind of keep it reasonable and not make it personal.
I have had to take breaks before where sometimes, you know, it’s been a matter of turning off anon, because, you know, people are obviously a lot more willing to say things on anon and I just needed to take a break from that… There was… I took a little break from tumblr and twitter for a while, got off discord, just kind of kept myself off for a little while there because there had just been a few comments from people saying that, basically, here I was a mom and I was middle-aged and I was writing fic where Tony was barely 18 and you know, that this was gross. And, just at that time, for whatever reason it just got to me, and I just needed to take a step back for a little while and get my head straight, which I did, and you know, then came back… but, you know, there are always those sides of things when you’re popular and it’s not that I’d necessarily trade it for, you know, still struggling to find a readership like I did in the beginning but it is, you know, it is what it is, I mean it’s just a part of it, you’re a bigger target so, you know, there’s always those thoughts out there.
FLAME: The idea of target (SOMETHING), like I know… I mean we’ve talked on the discord server and you’ve been very open about some of the asks you get in anonymous and we all… we all kind of talk about how we would handle them you know, a lot, but do you think there is a different type of discourse on tumblr and twitter versus like say, discord, like do you get to be a different version of Sabre in different spaces?
SABRE: Yeah, I think, for me discord is a lot more personal, you know it feels like we know each other in a way, that we don’t really get to know each other on tumblr and twitter unless you’re communicating, you know, by message or something like that. The discord server it just feels kinder because you do have this personal connection so I really feel most comfortable there. On twitter I don’t really… I’ve locked my twitter so I don’t, you know, I don’t follow a whole lot of people, at least not in fandom and I kind of just use twitter to just follow news and you know, other non-fandom things. So, for me, I use twitter for a little different purpose even though, if you looked at my twitter you’d just see it’s mostly stony stuff that I’ve reblogged, but I don’t actually talk a lot on there, I don’t usually post my personally content there, it’s mostly just reblogs. I do use tumblr a lot and that seems to be the way that a lot of people kind to reach out, at least for now, you know it’s certainly changed since the purge but it is less personal than discord and there certainly seems to be more of a willingness for people to you know, say harsh things but at the same time you know there is a lot of people who are really more comfortable reaching out on anon to say wonderful things and you know, to have that connection that way. So, for me, personally discord is this happy little place where we all chat and are silly and have fun and it’s really easy and it’s easy to be a little bit more free with what I say and not as concerned in my responses. Twitter to me, seemed very casual, so I thought I could be a more casual over there, could be a little more saltier, probably more like I am in real life and then quickly realize that no, that is not the place for it, if anything you have to be more careful on Twitter. It’s very unforgiving, you know, every little thing that you say is suddenly analyzed and picked apart twelve different ways by people, and you know, because you only get so many characters to say it in, it’s really hard to capture any kind of nuance in anything so for me, I kind of figured out that twitter when I need to try to express myself very well and tumblr is kind of that in-between land and I like it because it gives me the opportunity to interact with people and to really think about the responses that I give… and try to be considerate and kind, and put my best self forward. It’s probably not really as authentic as discord but it gives me an opportunity to be a better version of myself and to try to help people and be kind where I can and I want to try to do that, so I do like it for that reason, but discord is probably a lot closer to how I am in real life.
FLAME: That’s interesting, I feel similar – like, for me Twitter is a very fast moving place where, you know, it can be like you are selectively nuanced and, like you used the word unforgiving and for me it frequently is, so I would agree with that but it’s also one of the places, like, I know I get some DMs and retweets from people who are… for me it’s also a very multiship place, which, does not matter for you since you are a monoshipper, very famously, but I like interacting with people for whom, like, Steve and Tony are their bicycles, you know, which I’m sure… I’m sure I can do more on tumblr, but, tumblr scares me, I am learning tumblr but I do love discord, I’ve fallen in love with discord and Ferret and I are about to have a conversation actually in a few minute son the pod about discord as a place to maybe make friends in fandom. AO3 comments are not that place for a lot of reasons like not necessarily negatively, like you can’t necessarily be private etc… but AO3 comments are a great place to point people to other places and I know I always point them to discord so, in terms of people who are listening to this and are like ‘oh, but I’m a lurker’ or ‘I’m not a writer’ or ‘I’m really new and I want to make friends’, it sounds like you would be with us maybe and recommend discord?
SABRE: I do! And I’ve tried to promote it as much as I can on tumblr and encourage people to give it a try even if it’s something that you’re not comfortable… interacting with people and you just wanna lurk, that’s fine but I do think that you get that sense of connection much more directly, or at least I do, through discord where it feels like there is a real person there as opposed to a tumblr handle. It just feels far more, like, a real honest interaction, like you’re talking to friends and in a way that can be a little intimidating for new people to join, but you we have, at least on the MCU one I think there’s over a thousand people now so there’s plenty of people to talk to if you want to and, you know, it can still feel a little clique-ish and you know, that is a part of any group and so, there is a little bit of that intimidation factor sometimes for new people, but if you will give it a try and just dip your toe in, everybody is so nice, and so welcoming and so happy to have new friends.
We’re all, what I have heard called ‘awkward turtles’ which was a term another person at one of our stony meetups used for us and I thought that that was perfect. We are all these awkward turtles but when we get together we can have a lot of fun and it’s less awkward. And so, I do think that discord is just such a more friendly place and I hope it stays that way. We have great moderators who really try and keep on top of things and make sure you know, there’s no ship wars, there’s no real arguing – you might get into a debate sometimes about things but there… it’s a friendly debate, and everybody is very comfortable with you know, the ‘you do you’, ‘like what you like, it’s ok, we might have different opinions about things’ but, you know, it really stays really friendly and so, I find that to be a much more welcoming place as far as fandom goes and it reminds me and, I’m dating myself again, but it reminds me of the old chat rooms that we used to have back in the X-files fandom where everybody knew each other and you know, you felt like you knew these people and we would meet up and these were friends, these were true friends and I think I found that on discord, far more easily than I did on tumblr where it still seems that there is just a distance between people there and discord just bridges that gap so easily and makes the people behind these names seem like real people.
FLAME: I like that, ‘cause I agree. So finally, because you know, I’m conscious of our time and I always want to free you to get back to writing…
SABRE: (laughter) optimistic, I like it!
FLAME: -I’m here for cheerleading. What are you reading right now that you would love for us to be reading? Do you have any recs for us?
SABRE: I do yes! There are several, actually, I’m reading Ferret’s Pride and Prejudice work-in-progress right now, if people aren’t reading they should definitely be reading that, it’s fantastic. But, going back a little bit, one of my favorite writers is Winterstar(95) and, one of my favorite series of hers is one called This is Battle, This is War, which is, a BDSM series, that takes place really in canon where, you know some BDSM it’s like a world where there’s subs and doms and all that, this isn’t that it’s a canon-based world and she just sets up the relationship so well and makes it believable why these characters would be like that and would find enjoyment it it, why they came together so well, I love how she writes them both as being awesome and it’s one of those… it’s an older series, it’s one of the first ones I read when I started reading back in 2014, and I will encourage people to check that out. The first in the series is Objects in Motion and that’s they’re basically getting together and then it follows through their whole relationship and it’s really wonderful and another one that I would encourage people to try is a work-in-progress by Vorkosigan, I don’t know if I’m saying that right and it’s called To Cross the Red Line and it’s got seven chapters so far, it’s a work-in-progress but it is so good, it’s set in space, it’s a Battlestar Galactica fusion, which, if you haven’t read Battlestar Galactica, or watched it or anything, don’t feel like you won’t be able to get into it, I’ve watched maybe one season of Battlestar and dropped out but you don’t need to know that for the fic. It’s fantastic, I’m really enjoying this totally different setting but you know, keeping the characters true to themselves, it’s been really fascinating so I would encourage people to check that out. It’s called To Cross the Red Line, by Vorkosigan.
And my third rec, which I think I always end up reccing somehow, is… and I’m gonna butcher the Italian, I’m sorry, but it’s Voglio Sentirti, by lackluster_lexicon, which is not for everyone, you’ve got some armor kink, BDSM, post-CW, very rough, but there’s just so much depth to it, and it’s just, one of the most fascinating fics I think I’ve ever read. It’s just heartbreaking, I love it and you can definitely read it as trans Tony, you know, you mentioned earlier that we were seeing more of that, it can be read that way, it doesn’t have to be but it can be and I just think it’s so interesting and such a unique take on this. It’s one of those that you read and it sticks with you and you found yourself thinking about it later. So I would really encourage people to check that out, it’s definitely not for everyone so mind the tags, but if that is your speed, you know, I really encourage people to give that a try.
Honestly there’s just so many out there and I wish I had more time for reading than I do these days, and you know, that’s always one of the reasons I appreciate the recs on discord so much and what you guys are doing with your recs and you know bringing attention to these fics that people may have missed because maybe they’re not by a name that they recognize and so they just scroll past them on AO3. It’s so easy to do, I find myself doing it and I know I’m missing out on a bunch of great ones so I really appreciate people bringing those recs forward and I’m always encouraging people to, you know, rec things on tumblr and if I’ve missed something with my recs blog, with the masterlist and if you know somebody has an idea or a fic that should be on there that I’ve missed, you know, to please let me know because I really want to try to give some attention to these other authors and… Because I know how much I appreciated it when people did it for me, I got so excited when I was able to be on a rec list.
FLAME: Yeah, I think somebody put me on a rec list like at the end of the year and I’m pretty sure I cried so, yeah, we have a beautiful pay-it-forward kind of vibe and I really hope we can keep that going, for sure. And then, just out of curiosity, out of the things that you have written, what are you the most proud of?
SABRE: Wow, good question. Hmm, I think, I’m most proud of A Higher Form of War, because that was my first long fic. I finished it, I wrote it… you know it felt like writing a novel, it has everything in it that I love, you know, it is probably the fic that is most self-indulgent for things I like so I’m proud of myself for that. I’m proud of myself for trying some new things recently. So with, you know, OctoTony we had one with eggs, you know, so kind of branching out a little bit I mean when I started I was definitely kinda, just like, stick to the plain, vanilla stuff and dash this A/B/O, I would never touch that with a ten-foot pole, and you know, here I am a few years later, writing tentacles and eggs and stuff, so you know, branching out a little bit and challenging myself to try some things, that’s been fun. But probably, the thing that I should be most proud of is really just the first one and doing it, just putting myself out there and doing it, because it’s always easier to not write, always, always easier to just think of the story in your head for yourself. Writing is a chore, with effort and you know, time, and frustration, and so, just to have done it, is an accomplishment, and I hope that every other writer out there feels that way, that just the act of doing it, you should be proud of it, because it’s just always easier to not do it, so the fact that you did it and you shared it is amazing. So, you know, ultimately I think I should be most proud of the first one and just trying something that’s scary.
FLAME: I completely agree! So, Sabre thank you so much for your time, everybody listening, everything that Sabre mentioned links-wise will be in the show notes so don’t fear that we… because we will inevitably mispronounce everything on this podcast, let me just throw that out there right now, so don’t worry we’ll make sure you’ve got links so you can chase everything down. Sabre thank you so much for your time!
SABRE: Thank you so much for having me! I am so excited to listen to all of your podcasts, I really can’t wait you guys, thank you so much!
Let’s Talk: Discord & Community
FERRET: So, we’re gonna talk about discord as part of our community conversation. I said before that I kind of there for the early days of discord becoming a kind of home for fandom. It was, so, just to start with what discord is, if you don’t know, it’s a live group chat program, it was sort of born after slack which was around for a little while which is similar but has a business focus and discord was originally created targeted towards gamers and you’ll see that in a lot of the ways that it’s branded, the little icon, it’s a game controller which I think not everybody actually… I think it can be kind of hard to see that, but it is. And, so it became this place for people to play games together and talk about the video games that they liked and, as other places started to get less comfortable to be in or they died off, like LiveJournal disappearing and Imzy which was around for a while and then died; discord just happened to land at the right moment to draw a lot of people in as a way to connect with other fans and it’s also fairly unique in that… I mean, I can’t say that it’s unique because IRC was where all this live chat kind of thing actually started but in terms of what the other popular social medias are for fandom right now it’s unique in that it is a live text chat that moves at real speed.
A lot of people coming in to discord have only had experiences with maybe Twitter being the fastest interaction they’ve dealt with with social media and tumblr, so you’re reblogging, you have space to put your own thoughts but it’s contained, you have SOMETHING whereas a live chat might seem intimidating at first. But the great benefit of having a live chat is how quickly you can connect with people and many people at one time can be participating in a conversation and still have it balanced instead of creating all these separate tweets and replies, and more endless nested sections on forums.
FLAME: Yeah, because the thing about slack is like everything had to be like nested and it was like, what is happening, where do I find what the hell is going on. Discord has none of that.
FERRET: Yeah, discord itself is divided into servers. The discord itself is just a landing place but within it you can host servers and each server is divided into categories of channels and each channel is generally a topic for discussion, and in that channel is just a straight text chat like you might have seen in IRC or if you use facebook messenger, it’s like that, but with a group of people. And the wonderful thing about that is it’s totally open, it’s free, you can create your own server, and that means that fandom has the freedom to build the spaces that people wanna be a part of.
FLAME: Yeah, and so there are servers that are massive, so let’s just say that, there are servers for a lot of different purposes. There are servers for.. that are focused on characters, and ships, there are servers that are pretty much events servers and that’s where you get the like, information on events and for a lot of people, in my short time in fandom, a lot of folks who don’t really know where to start with discord tend to start with events servers and that’s a really great place to start I think. But breaking into established discords, so let’s say, you’re listening to this and you’re like, I would love to find a thousand people to talk about stony with, good news for you the links…
FERRET: We have those people!
FLAME: We have some folks for you to meet! The same with, like, there’s like a huge Stuckony server, if you like Tony, Bucky and Steve together, a massive Stuckony server that would love, that everybody would love to meet you. I’m in a Buckynat one, I’m in a Steve/Bucky one, Sambucky, like all of them, so there’s all those and we’ll link a few of them in the show notes that we’re aware of, there’s always servers that we are not aware of so the best ways to find those out is to head to our discord server where our mods are gonna make sure that we can connect you to places that we wanna be in.
FERRET: You can also end up nearly pad jumping from server to server because you’ll jump into one, you know maybe you start in a Steve/Tony server and that helps you find a Steve/Sam server and that helps you find a Sam/Bucky server, so once you start getting in and connecting you can just sort of join whatever looks interesting and stick with the ones that grab you.
FLAME: Absolutely, because the thing is, every server has its own set of rules and every server has its own culture so there are servers that are much more intense on like, offline life chat, than they are in talking about the ship itself for instance. There are servers that are really really ship-focused to the extent where you can’t talk about another ship on the server but the one that server that’s there for. So there’s different rules and different cultures so when you show up to a server, you’re gonna be heading towards a landing page which is gonna ask you to read the rules and kind of say who you are. This can be anything you want, pretty much, you’re gonna be asked to confirm your age I think on every server…
FERRET: Generally only the ones that are 18+. There are fewer but there are definitely all ages servers out there, I will link the ones I know about. I think, you know, you have to be over 13 to use the discord app itself, and not every server you have to be over 18 but a lot of them are restricted to 18+.
FLAME: Yeah, I have a couple that are 16+ and so they still want age verification but it should tell you that I am filthy-minded that most of mine are 18+ so let’s throw that out there but, and then beyond that, you’re gonna get a list of channels and it’s gonna be a thing, my biggest tip for walking into a server that’s already like 800 to a 1000 people is to actually go ahead and mute nearly all of the channels initially. You can do that, you can mute individual channels and then kind of open them up one by one so like, if you are not somebody who wants to talk about art all the time? Mute that channel at first, until you get to know other people, until you feel comfortable with the speed at which every channel is going because even within a server there are channels that are quieter than other channels and so kind of as you get to know, muting, all muting does is you’re not gonna get a notification that something new has happened which helps, I think the overwhelm, if you’re entire server isn’t lighting up all the time telling you that you have something that you need to pay attention to in that server.
FERRET: It can really… you spend so much time jumping around trying to catch up on each channel that you don’t stop and actually talk to anyone.
FLAME: Yeah! And the best way to make friends on discord is to spend enough time in one or two channels at first, to make sure that you get to know people, because, Sabre brought this up in our interview, and Ferret and i talked about it a little bit earlier on in the pod, fandom is about people, and the best thing about discord is that you get to talk them like, because we are, actual friends, instead of just someone you interact with on tumblr, in a different kind of environment because like, Ferret brought up just now, it’s a real time conversation and it moves hecking fast, a lot. Sometimes it doesn’t, but like if people get going, they get going. So that’s my biggest tip for doing it, never be afraid also to leave a discord that you don’t like. There is no penalty, just go away and if five months from now you decide to go back, no one’s gonna be mad, and if they are? You don’t wanna be there anyway.
FERRET: This is another one of those “curate your own fandom experience” situations. You can pick the servers you wanna be in and it’s no one’s business but your own.
FLAME: Absolutely. And speaking of that too, I wanna address the idea of cliques because I hear this a couple of the servers that I’m in.
FERRET: I actually, I’ve been asked a couple times… people have said to me on Tumblr and other places that they felt they were scared to join because they were afraid of it being to cliquey.
FLAME: That’s fair and I get that because when you’re just lurking in a channel probably, at any given time, there’s probably ten to fifteen people talking and then it moves on really quickly and there can be 700 talking but you can’t really see that, you just see a bunch of people talking back and forth. There are inside jokes in a lot of servers because people have been together for a long time and that’s truth. I would encourage people to think about the difference between a group of people who all happen to know each other and would love to have new friends and a group of people who don’t want new friends. That’s the difference between a group and a clique.
FERRET: Yeah, that’s an excellent distinction and I think one of the important parts of that distinction is that, if you come into a group and you see a bunch of people enjoying each other’s company and having those jokes, it may feel exclusionary to you because you don’t have that but the truth is that the reason they’re behaving that way is because they like each other and they’ve all made each other feel welcome, so that positive energy is something you can become a part of.
FLAME: Yes, and it can be hard, and it’s not for other people. There’s a couple servers that I was on where I was really excited because I thought the vibe was gonna be right for me but it did, to me, end up feeling cliquey, and so I left those servers. Because it just wasn’t for me and that’s fine. I have found home in some other servers – we’re gonna talk about the POTS (Put on the Suit) server a lot on this – our server is populated as we record this with honestly just a giant group of lovely people who would love to meet anyone who is listening to this right now.
Come out and meet us! And I think we’re a pretty good starter server because, we’re small first of all, but also because we are, a lot of us are in a lot of different servers as I’m looking through the list of people, we can connect you out to other places really easily.
FERRET: There is a central network here for sure and we also have, we have channels for talking about your personal life instead if you feel shy maybe about talking about the topic of the podcast or a specific ship or anything and you just wanna chat with people to get comfortable and make some friends that’s an option here too.
FLAME: Absolutely, and then the sky’s the limit from there. If you are somebody… We’re gonna talk about events a lot because we both run them and participate in them and love them but if you are, perhaps, thinking of starting an event, a lot of bingos these days have servers. That’s a great way to get involved and brainstorm with people if you’re a creator. A lot of events have their own servers and those are really great ways to really engage, not only on a people to people level but a creator to creator level
FERRET: The event servers also… sometimes events can feel sort of isolating if you have to keep your project a secret until it’s posted, maybe you have a partner you’re working with or maybe you’re working on your own and it can kind of feel like, “normally I would ask for someone’s help or just some motivating, a cheer reading or whatever” and that’s not an option you have to be secret for an event but a lot of times, if there’s an event discord server, you’re free to discuss your project in the server. So you should check the rules for the specific discord but if you’re feeling a little lonely in an event, that’s a great way to connect with other people who are in the same boat.
FLAME: Yeah, because like, I’ve ended up in this place right now where I’m in far too many bangs and so like, I’m writing…
FERRET: There’s a relatable mood…
FLAME: There’s a mood, I know, but like, I’m writing thousands of words a week and no one is reading them and so I’m like in my little corner being “no one is going to like my fics”… I did this to myself, but, these servers are perfect places to share! And I’m getting really good feedback which is lovely of people.
FERRET: So motivating.
FLAME: Yeah! Because, let’s just deal, let’s right now, do away with the myth that if you’re writing, the writing should be its own reward – guys that’s not how this works.
FERRET: Feedback is not just motivating and validating but it’s another form of connection and that’s why we’re here in fandom, to connect with people. So you should absolutely feel wonderful about forming those connections in all the myriad of ways there is in fandom to do that.
FLAME: Absolutely, and, in groups of people, this is just kind of one of the last things we’ll talk about in terms of discord, it is very very possible that very difficult conversations are going to come up on servers. Even in servers with really strong rules about not having those conversations, humans are humans and we get carried away in conversation and mods are only around so often and all that kind of stuff so, a very big rule of thumb Ferret and I would both say is to remember to be kind as often as you can and to remember that everybody around you does not automatically agree with you about everything just because you both happen to like the same superheroes.
FERRET: Yeah, it’s important to take a breath sometimes and acknowledge that your life experiences may not be universal and additionally that if something makes you feel uncomfortable about a topic that you don’t like or even that it’s three people who don’t share your opinion and you’re the only one at the moment that is on your side, you can always step away. Leave that channel for a while, mute the whole server if you need to, come back later, in an hour, in a day, in a month, and that’s fine.
FLAME: Absolutely, muting is a gift from the discord deities that we should all use.
FERRET: No one will know what you have muted. That’s your own business.
FLAME: Absolutely no one, and spoiler alert, no one knows if you have your DMs muted either. So if you’re having those conversations in private and it’s too much for you, like, there’s ways to do that too. Just remember, because we are… this is a text-based communication, emotions kinda run really high really quickly but you cannot read tone – emojis are helpful, gifs are helpful – give yourself and other people grace as we are learning to have relationships with each other entirely over text.
FERRET: In, what am I at, like, 5 or 6 years of having text conversations with people, I really feel like the most important thing I’ve learned is to give people the benefit of the doubt, just, assume they meant that in the nicest way possible and even if they didn’t, you’re still living in a more positive world for it.
FLAME: Yeah, we are all here to have fun. It’s a hobby. Let’s take a deep breath and remember that, and we say this to ourselves as well so this is not a judgement statement to anyone else, it’s just tips and things we have to remind ourselves to do as well.
FERRET: Absolutely, everyone has their moments. I’ve also been asked a few times, or seen people get excited about starting their own servers and I just want to briefly say, the great thing about discord is you absolutely host your own server. It’s free, it’s open, you can set it up to be whatever topic you want, you could set up whatever channels you want. It’s a very flexible system and it has a lot of power to it for organizing people. But I will also issue a caution, that people are people and if you have a publically available join link, you have no control over how many people may be interested in joining your server and I do think it’s important to learn a little bit about rules and permissions, a little bit about structures and channels, how you can protect yourself from bots, that kind of thing, before you charge in. So, the best way to figure out how to own a server is to join a server, get to know people, get to know discord, volunteer to mod a server you already like, that will get you on the back end of things and then if that feels good, I highly recommend starting your own server but go in with some experience under your belt.
FLAME: Yeah that’s the tech side, because my response… it takes a lot of time to nurture a community so like think about what you’re doing too. Like it’s a lot. Building a server is a lot of work.
FERRET: You want it to be something you’re gonna enjoy because you’re passionate about the topic and the people, you wanna connect to those people. Definitely, it does happen that someone gets enthusiastic, they start a server, a lot of people join it and they lose passion for that subject or that ship or that canon or whatever it is and they wanna step away yeah. So either make sure you’re really engaged with the topic or set yourself up so there’s someone you can hand it off to if you change your mind.
FLAME: Yeah, teams are important in everything so it’s not just…
FERRET: Yeah, I don’t think any… I would never run a discord server by myself, absolutely not, it’s all a team effort.
FLAME: I would do very little, I’m the biggest fan of delegation, so… but that’s a separate topic for another time. So in terms of servers, we are definitely… just our two main ones, the one that’s for our podcast and the one that we were born out of: Put on the suit. But please check our shownotes for a whole lot of other ones, especially if you are not and MCU person, please know that there are tons of comics servers as well.
FERRET: And on top of that, if there’s a specific server that you’re looking for, you can poke us on our social media or ask in our discord channels and we’ll start the network going and see if we can find anybody that has something for you.
FLAME: Absolutely, because the likelihood is that it exists and it is tiny and would love for you to come and join.
FERRET: Most of the time, all you need is to put it out there in the universe that you’re looking for something and… there is a public discord registry of servers but you have to choose to have your server put on it and most small fandom servers don’t do that so it really is a matter of connecting to a network and sniffing things out. But, I know all of us here on the PotsCast are happy to help you sniff so.
FLAME: Consider us your golden retrievers.
FERRET: Hm, nifflers?
FLAME: Nifflers! Yes! That will end up being a role on the…
FERRET: I can see that becoming a role. So yeah, if you’re out there and you know a lot of discord servers and you wanna come and be a discord niffler on our server come on down and let us know.
FLAME: It’d be amazing.
The Plug: Keep Boredom at Bay
Keep Boredom at Bay, By KandiSheek
FERRET: Now it’s time for the plug, our segment where we’re going to have a longish conversation about a certain fic. Today’s is from KandiSheek, and we want to thank her for letting us chat about her work this first time out.
FLAME: So we’re going to be talking about Keep Boredom at Bay, which you may know as “The Dick Pic Fic.” Because it does actually include dick pics.
FERRET: Real actual dick pics, which was a bold move, but really worked for me.
FLAME: Worked for me too! So, there’s a couple things here, that just blew my mind. One is that it’s largely told in text messages. For anyone who hasn’t read it, the premise is that Tony “accidentally,” I’m using air quotes here because I do not believe it was, accidentally sends Steve a picture of his sweatpants, where he is very clearly aroused. This is sometime after New York in our canonical timeline, they are not like friends, but are certainly colleagues and they have each other’s phone. But one of the fun things about the fic is that their names for each other evolve throughout the fic.
FERRET: I loved that. I actually had to go back and check, because when I realized it was happening, I wanted to go back and see all, I did it. I clicked “entire fic” and I just went through and found all the different names that they had in there.
FLAME: Yeah, and so it evolves from Steve, from Cap. Like he’s in his phone as “Anthony Edward Stark” at the beginning, then he becomes Tony Stark, and it kind of goes on from there. But it is not only told entirely in text messages, which if anyone has read my fanfiction, you know that I use text messages like a fool. It’s not only in text form, she actually did a skin where it looks like an iOS like iMessage.
FERRET: Yeah, so in Ao3, Ao3’s actually got a lot of power that we don’t always explore, but you can use HTML coding and these work skins to actually set it up so that it looks like that. It’s not an image that she made and saved, it’s a work skin that you can put right into the code part of your fic.
FLAME: So she wrote it as text messages and the code did that graphic work? is what you’re telling me?
FERRET: Yeah, there’s actually, we’re going to link in the show notes to a guide that she shared that she used in order to do that. And some of the other resources you can look into for doing cool work skins, because it’s definitely not the only thing you can do. It’s really powerful and you can do some cool stuff.
FLAME: That’s amazing, and so throughout the fic, it really looks like what we’re reading, because we are in the world of this fic, from Steve’s phone. His conversations with Tony. And how it evolves, and they’re joking about memes, and their selfies they send to each other, and the way their language evolves. There are times that Tony is really really drunk, and he is texting, drunk texting like all of us drunk text. Or times that his grammar is perfect, and that’s when Steve’s like, “oh this must be when JARVIS is typing for you.” There are times where they joke about how emotions are really terrible, and there are some other really really sweet moments. And so, I don’t know about you guys, and Ferret and I have talked a little bit about generations and kind of things, but fandom especially is a text based thing. Like we all know each other through text. I make jokes all the time that some of my very closest friends, I have no idea what their voices sound like.
FERRET: Now you all know what our voices sound like, but for a lot of you, this is the first time.
FLAME: Yeah, you’re welcome, I’m Sorry, depending on what you think about my voice. And so, it’s a really different level of intimacy, than hearing someone’s voice and being able to hear inflections, than inferring inflections from text messages. But I felt the intimacy, like even more than I usually do through prose.
FERRET: Yeah, I think that was, it’s this kind of an interesting evolution of an epistolary format, because we’re not, you get to see everything and also using this skin added the extra layer, like you said, of seeing their names and all of that. It gives it the actual images she used, she drew art for it, so there’s everything that’s in there, is real and shows up as it would in an actual conversation. And so, it’s definitely adding an extra layer, extra tone to the way that they talk, so that everything that you lose with the lack of prose. All that diving into people’s heads, and being able to say exactly what they’re feeling. What you lose from that, you gain all these new layers that we can’t put into prose
FLAME: Yeah, I was thinking, we all know what it means when somebody is just really quick texting and there are typos, you don’t go back and change them. There’s a level of that, like that is enough of a sentence to me in a way. I can imagine Tony, lying on his sofa, with a bottle of Glenlevit, three quarters of the way down, drunk texting with one thumb. Versus when he was very clearly trying to make sure he could tell Steve he loved him. And then, and there are going to be spoilers for this fic just know that, if you haven’t read it yet, stop right here, go read it, it flies, it is so fast.
FERRET: It looks like a lot of chapters and a lot of words, but you’ll just dive right through it.
FLAME: You’ll dive right through it, I read it very quickly, even, and I know I’m hearing some of my friends roll their eyes because I’m a famously fast reader, but like know this is wonderful.
FERRET: It really is.
FLAME: We experience them finding Bucky, through text message.
FERRET: If you just hear that, the instinct is to say, “that can’t possibly be as emotionally impactful as being inside somebody’s head in close third person
FLAME: It was worse.
FERRET: It was, you fill in the blanks with your own feelings.
FLAME: Also, because how many of us have been in a relationship and you’ve been in a fight, and looked at a wall, and picked up your phone and seen you’ve seen that last twenty text messages.
FERRET: Yeah, or you send a text and that feeling of waiting for the person to read it and write back, and how scary that is. I really felt that through the whole fic. I mean, through the difficult parts.
FLAME: Gosh, I mean I am somebody who really loves exploring Tony and Steve’s emotions around finding Bucky. I’m also a Stuckony Shipper, so like there’s a lot of ways that this could go for me.
FERRET: Yeah, for me too.
FLAME: But I haven’t felt it that viscerally in a while, in the fics I’ve read.
FERRET: It really hit me, and I was, semi unfortunately, I was reading this as a WIP, as it went, which I don’t normally do, but um, Kandisheek was updating almost every day, or sometimes multiple times a day, so it was just right there, and I couldn’t save them up. I just had to read them. So I ended up on a couple of cliffhangers that were really hard 24 hour waits. So, uh, but you know, that’s what the characters were going through a lot of the time too, so that really hit me.
FLAME: I loved also the side conversations, they both have side conversations with the other people’s wing-people.
FERRET: You get little, these other moments. And the only cues for that are the structure of the iMessage skins, so you can see that there is a different name at the top. You can try and guess who it is based on the name, and then through the context of the conversation that comes out pretty quickly who you’re talking to.
FLAME: And, again, just a real reminder that, we as a fandom understand that nobody is an island, and there’s no way that these two men would be dating in life, without Sam, Natasha, Clint, Rhodey and Pepper all up in their business.
FERRET: There’s a lot of support, and a couple of shovel talks.
FLAME: So many shovel talks via text message. Sam’s is one of my favorites in this. We don’t think, I don’t think we get enough in our fandom, I don’t think we get enough Sam Wilson. So I’m hoping that this can inspire some more Sam and Steve buddy, uh, Tropes? I don’t know what word I’m trying to use.
FERRET: Yeah, using the text messages also gave this a more voyeuristic aspect. Even moreso necessarily than you get from maybe email or letter epistolary. Because you really felt, and especially I was reading it on my phone. And it was like, it really felt like I was holding someone else’s phone and I was reading their messages. And when things got raunchy, when they were sending pictures back and forth, it really, without ever having to bring in voyeurism as kink within the fic, there’s an inherent voyuerism to the way that we’re reading it and consuming it that I thought was really engaging. And it went beyond sexual too, because we got this sort of emotional voyeurism of seeing this difficult transitionary period in their relationship. Where first they figure out what they want from each other, and then they start flirting, and then it gets sexual, and they become closer friends, and that just kind of all evolved naturally. And then we go through this challenging part in their relationship. So you really feel included, but in this kind of, almost naughty voyeuristic way where you’re peeking in and reading their phones when they’re not there.
FLAME: That’s a really interesting point, yeah. And I am not somebody who saves dick pics on my phone, just spoiler alert.
FERRET: Me neither.
FLAME: Just not my jam. So at one point, I was reading this one my phone as well, and Mr. Flame looked over from his side of the couch, and UM. and I was like, “Fanfic, it’s fanfic.” He was like, “They put that in fanfic?” and we got this whole great conversation about what does it mean when people send dick pics. And what does that look like, and all those kind of things, so I’ve been thinking about that for a while as well. And to that end, I know I communicate a lot of emotion these days through memes.
FLAME: And GIFs. And I am not somebody who is shy with using my words, none of you are shocked, and I don’t ever feel necessarily at a loss for words, but memes are still often just better. Pictures are better. So when we think about what the dick pics in this fic were communicating, but also like, the llama memes. What does it say visually in ways that we in a lot of other fics don’t get a chance to do. Although now that I know skins, they may be showing up more in my fics. Because this is a really great example of a real emotional genius.
FERRET: Yeah, it really touches something different that we get to see, and it speaks to what, like you said about text chat already being something that we relate to as a group of people. Using images to communicate something beyond, like there’s an idiomatic meaning behind a lot of the memes that we send. And we can communicate a lot more sometimes with the GIF than we could in words. So to see, to be able to get that from a fanfic as well, it’s just these sort of layers upon layers that really spoke to me, and spoke to the thousands of people that loved the story
FLAME: Yeah, I’ve never seen anything blow up so quickly, and I was so delighted by it. Like, I did not read it as a WIP, but I saw the server, the POTS server lose it’s collective mind whenever Kandi posted another chapter.
FERRET: Yeah, it really became a bit of a cultural event, which is, it’s always fun to see that happen and be a part of it. And I hope that Kandi enjoyed the process and the feedback and everything.
FLAME: Yeah, we’re sorry if we overwhelmed you? And at the same time, we’re not.
FERRET: Yeah, because you know, You did this to us, so you get this back.
FLAME: Correct. Well, Ferret, I could go on about this for a whole lot longer, but I’m gonna hit pause here, so that it can be a bit of a summarized conversation. Did we cover everything, is there anything else that you wanted to bring up?
FERRET: Yeah, I think that’s yeah, pretty much everything. I did wanna speak sort of in a broader sense to some people who are thinking about creating a fic that has this epistolary aspect, whether you’re using emails or texts or any other kind of straight communication like that, is that there’s this difficult question of “Can I tell the whole story in epistolary only? Or should I switch to prose? If I’m going to switch to prose, when should I switch to prose?”
And I think Kandi made some good choices here in that we see the cues very easily when it’s going to switch to prose. And it switches there when they’re together, so their communication would be dead, but these are still moments that we want to get to see as the reader. So, having, I find that in writing that kind of structure, if you choose from the outset whether you’re gonna a trigger that creates those prose moments, or if you’re gonna do the whole thing in epistolary, the hardest part is how you’re gonna end it, generally. Because you wanna have that peak moment of emotional satisfaction, and you have to decide if that’s gonna come in prose or if it’s gonna come in the epistolary format. So I was impressed with her choices and I think they flowed really well, and it was really nice that we got to see both the epistolary, which you can read really fast, and it feels really easy to consume. And then, some of the harder hitting prose parts were the deeper emotional connection in there.
FLAME: Yeah, and even like the scene that I thought was gonna be nothing, which was the karaoke scene. And I was like, oh this will be really fun, was one of the most emotionally impactful of the whole time, and she did that through prose, and it would have had to be through prose in order to get the way she wanted to craft that scene. And that was really really beautiful.
FERRET: Yeah, I really agree. So yeah, I think it raises some cool things to think about that go beyond just a single fic, but speaking to fic writers in particularly, to think about epistolary as a format, which doesn’t get a huge amount of attention, and different ways you can add those extra layers to it, and make it as powerful, or even more powerful than prose.
FLAME: And, to boot, it is wonderful. So on top of all that, it’s just a really fun fic too.
FERRET: It really is. So, huge thank you to Kandisheek for being super brave and letting us do our first Plug episode about her fic, Keep Boredom at Bay, again the link will be in the liner notes, and we hope that after you hear this, if you haven’t already paused it to go read it, that you’re gonna run out and read it right now.
Trope-Off, Events Forecast, Thank You, Sign-off
Ferret: So If you follow me, Ferret, on Twitter, you might have seen I’m running this little silly poll game or competition that I call “trope-off.” I started it, I wanna say about 6 months ago.
Flame: Oh my god, that long? Ok.
Ferret: I don’t know, there’s no rhythm to when I post them, so I potentially should have had a schedule. But I did not foresee it being as much of a thing as it has become when I started it But the idea is on Twitter, you can post polls that people can vote in and it doesn’t show who voted for what. So people, I feel, feel really comfortable voting for the truth.
Flame: Oh, that’s a good point. And that will be important because we’re gonna start doing polls too, so watch out for that.
Ferret: If you want some practice getting into twitter polls and voting for stuff, I think trope-off is a good place to start for now. When we start posting on Potscast. But, I just picked 25 tropes, and I’ll admit there may have, I tried to be varied, but possibly there is some bias there, but I am also open to running a round 2, if people come up with 25 more tropes that they wanna see. The idea was every poll was 2 tropes, its double elimination.
Flame: Ooh, ok.
Ferret: 25 tropes in the running and we’re pitting them all against each other until we find out what the ultimate trope. That’s, I’m hesitant to say everybody’s favorite, because I recognize that the only question that is asked in each poll is which do you prefer?
Flame: Yeah so it’s almost like the king of trope mountain for the meantime.
Ferret: Yeah, It’s whomever happened to come out on top, and I think there’s a lot of factors. it’s interesting I post the trope off announcement in the POTS server whenever I post them and so I’m going to get to see how people respond to them. Some people are super upset that they have to pick, because they want to pick both, and Twitter won’t let you.
Ferret: I’m usually that person. I’m like, “Ferret, Why are putting these ones against each other?”
Flame: I don’t get very much hate, but the most anger that I’ve had in the last couple of months has been “how dare you make me choose on trope-off.” I’ll take it, I’ll be that person. The reactions in really fun and some of the results have really surprised me. So I just kind of wanted to go over sort of what has happened so far and get people up to date if they haven’t been following trope off , and if they want to get in and start voting. Anyone is welcome to vote as long as you have a twitter in any poll, and you don’t have to vote in every trope-off poll, you don’t have to have started from the beginning if you want to start voting now. But, but yeah it’s a big upset for me was that hurt/Comfort has been kicked out.
Ferret: I know that’s what I said. So first, its first loss was to Mutual pining, which is a really hard first one to be up against.
Flame: Yeah, because they are very similar. Like that’s it they’re kind of shades of the same coin
Ferret: I think they go hand-in-hand a lot and personally if I had to pick 2 favorite tropes, it would be mutual pining and hurt/comfort. So…
Flame: so shocking if you’re a Stony writer and have those 2.
Ferret: I think it’s also shocking if you go look at my Ao3 and realize half of my stuff is tagged one of the other. But yes, it was up against Mutual pining 41 to 59 those pretty close.
Flame: Oh that is yeah
Ferret: And it got kicked into the loser’s bracket, and then it’s next draw, real bummer for hurt/comfort was up against ID Porn.
Flame: Oh, yeah I went ID porn in that one, I’ll reveal my vote cuz between those two I’m going to go ID porn.
Ferret: And it went 48-52 in favor of ID porn.
Flame: Oh that’s close!
Ferret: That’s close. So hurt/comfort is out. I think that’s a bit of a shocker.
Flame: I think it’s a major shocker. Because I would say that’s one of the like 5 tropes I would think of off the top of my head as one that people would identify as a favorite Trope.
Ferret: Yeah and I think we perhaps, the interesting thing about whatever results we get at the end of trope-off is going to be, to ask people to then just maybe name their top three. And we’ll see if that aligns. Perhaps most people’s, most people will have some of the ones that got kicked out early on. Some of the ones that didn’t win a single contest include: hooker AU
Flame: That one’s on the wane right now so that doesn’t surprise me
Ferret: Yeah it’s definitely one that seems to trend up and down. Tentacles got kicked out early on, sorry.
Flame: That’s a crime, but that’s ok, we’ll cover that later.
Ferret: Non con, kind of specialized. I can see people who like it, like it a lot, but definitely some people who don’t.
Flame: And I know people who read it and would say that if they read it but they have to be in a specific mood. It wouldn’t win against anything else
Ferret: yeah, Kidfic got kicked out.
Ferret: Gender swap got kicked out. Fantasy Au and BDSM AU both got kicked out, and so did animal transformation. They all lost all of their battles.
Ferret: MmmHmm. We’ve also lost High School/College Au. Time travel, secret relationship, one one lost two. De-aging is out and so is coffee shop AU.
Flame: Guys, that means everything I’m writing this year is out, no one’s going to read my fics!
Ferret: Do you know what the next most common thing, next to people yelling at me and being angry that I’ve made them do this, the next most common think people comment about trope-off is asking if I’m going to if I’m going to write the winner, which is like I’m almost guarantee you I already have. but you know, maybe I’ll do something extra for it, and on each question, suggesting prompt ideas that include both.
Flame: Oh my God, OK, I love our fandom. That’s really fun cuz a lot of the ones that I’ve seen I’m not super super duper active on Twitter so I’m sure I missed some of your trope-offs, but a lot of mine have been like immediately “I wonder how I can combine those.
Ferret: Yeah, and that in that seems to be, I wasn’t expecting that as the response but it seems to be an almost Universal urge and there’s been some legitimate, fully fleshed-out prompt ideas
Ferret: That are just in response to seeing 2 tropes side by side.
Flame: Ooh, we might need to figure out a way, in future delightful stuff for Potscast, is how do we maybe collect some of those ideas so we can birth some of those things into reality
Ferret: Yeah that would be amazing. Maybe we can work with the stony prompts tumblr.
Flame:Ooh my God yeah that would be perfect, and then all of our incredible, we maybe just besides a discord niffler, we could have prompt nifflers.
Ferret: Yeah, that would be great. Not that I need anymore ideas.
Flame: No, no more ideas.
Ferret: I think most of the writers in the fandom probably feel that way too,
Flame: Yeah, my work in progress list is like 3 google pages long I think at this point.
Ferret: But yeah I think that it’s kind of a testament to be creativity available to us that all you have to do, even though they are supposed to be competing head to head, all you have to do is write two tropes right next to each other and you’re spawning all kinds of ideas. And I think, I have to say I mean I think I love running this, and it’s turned out to be more fun than I expected to be and way more ongoing than I expected it to be. And you should see the website that I have to track all the brackets and everything. But um, I think i love more the combinations that have come out of it then you know that the battle results
Flame: Yeah I think that’s really really fascinating. If we were, as a Marvel fandom in general I’m going to say of all the ships that I sail, if we were going to do mascot GIF, it would be that one from the El Dorado cartoon of the two dudes going “both? Both is good”
Ferret: Yeah, Absolutely.
Flame: Yeah, we’ll talk about this later in some other segments every time somebody says “oh I have this idea that someone else already done it and it’s so much better,” you’ll find seven people immediately being like, “No, write it!”
Ferret: Both. Or someone saying “Should I do this idea? Or this idea?” Both.
Flame: Both. And usually somebody else wailing, “That’s not helpful!”
Ferret: So I think, before trope-off is done, we’re over halfway, but just barely over halfway, but I think the resounding conclusion that I can make is: Both.
Ferret: The answer’s both.
Flame: The answer is both, I love it
Ferret: I will, I will be keeping podcast up to date with how trope-off goes, and maybe we can think of something special to do when we crown a winner in the end.
Flame: Ooooh definitely. And you can hit us up on our contacts and if you immediately just went “OH I know what they should do.” Be sure to let us know your thoughts.
Ferret: If you’ve got some ideas, let us know. And if you want to vote in trope-off, as I said, they’re not on the potscast twitter, they are on mine @festiveferret twitter. And I’ll be posting those polls at completely random intervals that suit me. You’ll have to follow me, sorry.
Flame: If a, I’m currently the voice behind the Potscast twitter, so if I remember, I will retweet the trope-off stuff, but the best way to do it really is to follow ferret.
Ferret: And I also post them in discord. And I’ll post them in our potscast discord as well. Like just a link to them. So if you’re only on discord, that’s fine too. But you do need,Ii believe, to have a twitter account to be able to vote. So.
Flame: True statement. Yeah. this is not an endorsement to join twitter, like we are aware
Ferret: Yeah, if you don’t want to be on twitter, that’s fine. And I can’t include write in votes in the actual numbers, because of the way twitter calculates it, but by all means, you can go in the POTS discord server or our Potscast discord server talk about your opinions even if you can’t vote.
Flame: We love opinions in fandom
Ferret: We do, and this podcast is all going to be about opinions
Flame: Pretty much, yeah. Somebody once commented on a friend’s youtube channel, these are two overly qualified, or no, like overly educated women offering unsolicited opinions. I was like “oh yeah, that’s the summary of my life.”
Ferret: Another tagline! We’re creating quite a few taglines.
Flame: Over enthusiastic shippers offering unsolicited opinions. That’s the potscast theme. Speaking of, things that we are hoping for, obviously, this is the first episode, obviously this all happened really quick you’re listening to this, you know, less than two weeks after the idea was born.
Ferret: Yeah, two weeks
Flame: Yeah, and so we want to thank you ahead of time for all the grace you’re going to offer us
Ferret: All the leeway.
Flame: All the leeway, all the ways
Ferret: As we find our way randomly around this confusing pool
Flame: We are, as we’ve said a couple times, and we’re gonna keep flailing, the support is incredible, we’re taking this really seriously, we hope you can see that we’re not trying to throw something together really quick. We are really trying to make sure this is something that can be around for fandom, for a while. But we are definitely going to make some missteps, throwing spaghetti at the wall as always, leads to some messes, but also some really beautiful art. So please please hear our deep deep thanks for joining us so early on this journey and also our deepest apologies for all the ways in which we’re gonna be awkward.
Ferret: And if you got feedback, we want to hear it. please be kind, especially as we get our feet under us but we wanna hear from you as we bring it back around to our theme, this is about community, this podcast is born out of community. We hope it’s going to be part of the community, and also build another sub community into the community we already have.
Marie: Hi Fandom! Marie here to tell you all about what goes on, challenge-wise in a marvel fandom near you in our event forecast! A little note before I start with the current events, is that you’ll be able to find everything I mention in the forecast linked and explained in the show notes of each episode over on pod on the suit.com, all right so now for the fun stuff .
The bidding weeks of both Fandom for Australia and Fandom Trumps Hate are now closed. So a reminder that the Winning Bidders of FFA are expected to show proof of donation by March 15th, while the receipts of FTH’s winning bidders are due March 6th at 8 pm EST.
Yesterday was the last day of prompts from the Marvel Harlequin Hoopla, a Happily Ever After Marvel multiship and fandom-wide prompt challenge, but if you’re still working on a fill for the hoopla and you haven’t been able to post it yet, fear not, you have until March 15 to get them in!
The Cap-Ironman Reverse Bang will be holding limited-time discord chats for both the writers and artists of the event. The first of those chats will happen on March 8, and you can help set the time for that by responding to the poll that’s up on the tumblr as well as the community’s DW page.
The Cap-Ironman bingo is taking sign-ups and delivering cards until the end of the current round, that is July 31st.
The community’s comment bingo is also still running and you can get a card for the round until April 30th.
Finally, the kink meme is on-going as well, and follows the same schedule as the regular bingo you can therefore drop or fill a prompt up until July 31st.
These 3 challenges are open to all creators, and members of the community at large. All relevant info, rules and dates can be found on the community’s DW page.
Tony Stark Bingo is also taking late sign-ups until June 1, the current round ending July 4. Details on how to get a standard card are on their tumblr. Email email@example.com to request NSFW or SFW any time after sign ups close.
The MCU Kink Bingo is also accepting late sign-ups through its sign-up link, which can be found on their blog. The round ends on April 30th.
And last but not least, the Put on the Suit Stony (MCU, 18+) Discord server has announced a new event! The Brag Bucket! Taking place during the weekend of March 21st/March 22nd, members will be invited to say good things about themselves and will enter a prize raffle as a result! So if you’re not a part of the server yet, you might consider joining for the fun that will bring, and if you are, get ready to brag stonies! Click here to join!
This has been your events forecast, I’ll see you next episode and happy shipping!
Ferret: Wow so here we are at the end of our first episode.
Flame: It’s just unbelievable
Ferret: I can’t believe how much has gone into this but also how quickly it’s come together and also how unbelievably excited I am for all the future stuff to have to come.
Flame: Yeah, and how again, humbled and honored that we are that the fandom has embraced this so quickly. We can’t wait to hear how we can make it even better for you
Ferret: We really really want to hear from you, we’ve got all of our social media, please follow us and engage. We’ve also if you go to our website if you’re already there and click on the participate tab at the top, we’ve got some forms you can fill out, some different ways you can get involved. We really want to make this about the entire Stony Community, but also beyond that, into other Steve-Tony topics as well.
Flame: And we know that a lot of you were listening, perhaps as you’re driving or doing other things and you couldn’t pause and scribble down stuff that we talked about so please know that on the show notes there are links to everything we mentioned. And that will be a thing that happens with every single episode, so don’t worry that you’re going to lose something because you were driving.
Ferret: So you don’t have to make any notes, just scroll down on the website and have a look there, we’ll have all the links you need. We also want to throw in another enormous thank you to our guests on the first episode, Sabrecmc for the interview, we want to thank tastes-like-coconut for being our cover artist this episode,
Flame: Yeah thanks for taking a risk on us guys and for trusting us in this way. It was really wonderful to have this participation, also just tastes-like-coconut art about octo Tony is one of the most stunning pieces of art I seen, so I’m just really excited that I get to be part of something is attached to.
Ferret: It’s gorgeous.
Flame: You’re going to hear me and Ferret all the time, and obviously that’s part of this podcast, but please don’t ever think that we are doing this alone. Not only are we grateful to all of you for participating, but we have this incredible staff that has all signed on to help us. You’re going to hear some of them on air, but even if you don’t, the behind-the-scenes work is insane and we are so grateful for these four folks you just stepped up, and without us even asking them to be completely frank, heard about the pod and were like “right, how do I help.” So we have Marie who you’ve already met doing our events forecast. Bill Longbow and Roserose are going to be helping us out on the Discord and then Kocuria is our Graphics maven, if you have any of the graphic design that we have done, that was all done by her pretty much in about 36 hours.
Ferret: It was a whirlwind. And she just produced all this amazing stuff.
Flame: She is insane. We are so grateful, and links to connect with all of them on their AO3 are on the website as well, if you want to poke around in their work they’re all wonderful Creators in their own right.
Ferret: We also have the whole staff on Discord so if you want to come talk to me or Flame, or anyone else involved you can come onto our Discord chat and ping one of us, and we’d be happy to have a conversation.
Flame: We do love, I hope you got that vibe, making new friends. You’ve been listening to Pod on the Suit, thanks for joining us!