"I'd love to cook up a more in-depth post about my influences and process while writing it," she said. "You can expect that tomorrow or the day after," she said.
...Yeah. That didn't happen. Partly because I got up the next morning and wondered if I really had much to say about the fic after all, and partly because I'd written enough (and the bulk of it very quickly) to start feeling sick of this particular AU. After a few more days, though, I decided that I did have things to say. Quite possibly things that only I'm interested in, but hey. It'll be nice to have them written out and stored somewhere.
Okay, so. Let's begin with inspirations and/or influences. I know I'd been kicking the idea of a Hope Shlottman Lives AU around for a while before these, but two things jump-started my inspiration. One was the Defenders Big Bang challenge, which I came across on Tumblr and thought looked cool. Also, I felt like Hope's story had enough scope to clear the 10,000 word requirement (though I was dumb enough to assume it probably wouldn't go over). The second thing was an Adele song-- "Sweetest Devotion", specifically, I think, the lyrics "I wasn't ready then, I'm ready now/I'm heading straight for you" (plus it's all about a mother's love for her child, but I hadn't figured out the ending to Hope's story yet). After signing up for the big bang I wrote two false starts before coming up with a beginning that stuck--Hope spotting Daredevil on a rooftop. And then everything was hunky-dory...until I hit chapter 2 (which wasn't chapter 2 at that point; I didn't split the story into chapters until the second draft).
Around chapter 2 I stopped writing and didn't pick the story up again for a month. It wasn't that I didn't like the story anymore. I'd just stopped thinking it was any good. Halfway through July I decided that I should at least put in a good faith effort to finish it. I really, really didn't want to write it, but I did want to have something to post come August. I wrote 500 words a day until two days before the final deadline, when I wrote about 3,000 words in one day and another 3,000 or so the next. None of those last few ending scenes are examples of my most polished writing, but they do include some of the most emotional stuff I've ever written, and I'm very proud of them. And, as much as I dreaded getting started again, once I settled into the routine of writing a bit every day, Hope's story flowed pretty well. Not perfectly, but finishing things up never felt like pulling teeth. It was even fun.
Lesson learned, I guess, is that taking breaks--even extended breaks--from a story doesn't mean you'll never come back to it. It also doesn't mean (at least for me) that you'll lose the thread of the story. Coming back to Hope's fic, I had a little more perspective, and a bit of a better grasp on the emotional core. After I finished the first draft and picked a posting date, I had just enough time to do a (slapdash) second draft, where I cleaned up some of the most awkward sentences, added chapter breaks, and rewrote the middle to include more action scenes. This story isn't perfect. It is finished, though, and full of so many things I love--female friendship, creepy dream sequences, found families. For a while there I was sure it would suck, but (all thanks to the big bang deadlines) I pushed through, and on the other side I can see that, while it won't ever be my most polished or most popular fic, it's one I love to pieces.
Oh, yeah, since I started off promising to talk about my inspirations and influences, then segued into something completely different, here's the list:
- Music-wise, my biggest inspirations were Halsey and Adele. For Halsey it was mostly her song "Roman Holiday", though I also listened to "Hurricane". Both of these songs are about New York City, and they have a gritty, seedy quality to them that captures a very Jessica-Jones-ish spirit. For Adele it was "Sweetest Devotion", which semi-pertains to the plot, and "Water Under the Bridge", "Send My Love (To Your New Lover)", and "When We Were Young", which don't. They did help put me in the mood to write, though.
- Jessica Jones, obviously. I had a feeling from the get-go that Hope wouldn't make it, but her interactions with Jessica left me hoping (hah) that she wouldn't. There's a sense that Hope's one of the few (and maybe even only) people who truly gets Jessica's pain and trauma. The show's not from her point of view, so I didn't get to spend any time in her head until I wrote the fic. It wasn't until I'd started writing after the month-long break that I realized how much I'd wanted to do that.
- The idea that you can move past trauma without ever quite getting over it. Also the idea that there's a kind of strength in allowing yourself to be weak--in letting other people help you. I didn't work either of those ideas in as well as I'd like to, but I did what I could with the time I had.