When Carlisle and Edward made a family: Notes on “Ordinary Time”

April 19th, 2019 § 1 comment § permalink

I keep my characters forever. Though it’s possible that one day, some of the characters from the world I invented when I was 9 will see the light of day (my career as an academic, which so far has turned out to be more fruitful than my career as a fiction writer, keeps getting in the way), even when those personalities lie buried in trunk novels, I keep continuing to see the world through their eyes and wondering how they would respond.

I’m finding that in the world of fanfic, which I came to much later, it’s not much different.

I wrote “For a Season” because I wanted to compete in the CarlWard contest, and I was already drafting Patroclus Rising, which explored a Carlisle and Edward pairing in the pre-Esme era. Not wanting to tread the same ground twice, I forced myself to imagine what could enable the two of them to come to each other in a world that Bella Swan had been a part of. And it yielded one of the best pieces in my writing repertoire.

“Ordinary Time” isn’t trying to reach the same heights. It’s just a check-in of sorts. At the end of “Season,” Carlisle and Edward have barely stumbled into a precarious happiness. They’re crammed into a small house with a preschooler, and they’ve embarked on a new relationship as partners. And it’s 2007: same-sex marriage is legal in only a handful of places, usually as “civil union,” and bans are being passed left, right, and center.

And then…there’s Rene. (Pronounced “wren,” for anyone who hits this blog post before the fic.)

Renesmee was born in 2006, which makes her not even a millennial. She is part of the unnamed generation, sometimes called iGen or GenZ. Even though she is homeschooled and doesn’t otherwise run into kids her age (and she no doubt is, even though I don’t go into that here), she is being exposed to ideas about sexuality, gender, and desire that would seem entirely foreign to the two men she lives with. To her, there is little particularly stigmatizing about loving someone of the same gender, and the categories of sexualities that she is comfortable with far outstrip those of her fathers.

One delightful review I got on “Season” talked about Carlisle seeming too stereotypically gay in his growing house-decorating desires. I admit, the stereotype was an unintended fallout of decorating having been Esme’s hobby, but I was glad that the reviewer noticed that build. What I was headed for was that Esme used to do the decorating, and Carlisle’s slow ownership of his desire for nice things is really a representation of his slow ownership of a life without his wife. He allows himself to desire plates, and table linens, and flowers…what (who) else will he allow himself to desire? “Ordinary” picks up with Carlisle and Edward six and a half years later, when they are much more comfortable with these desires, and that comfort continues to evolve even through these three vignettes.

In any incarnation when I write a CarlWard pairing, I rest on the fundamental idea that no one in this vampire world exists within the bounds of human sexuality. I see Carlisle and Edward as being attracted first and foremost to each other, not to “men” as it were. In canon, neither of them found attraction to or sexual expression with a woman before their female mates. So it’s not that Carlisle is attracted to women, and then realizes he is attracted to men; it is that Carlisle is attracted to Esme, specifically, and then to Edward, specifically. Outside of these two, he’s pretty content to just be asexual, and so is Edward. The gender of the person they are attracted to is immaterial, and if you read carefully, I dropped a hint in about where they have landed with respect to identifying their sexual orientation. Over time, in the face of changing social acceptance (and with no small amount of help/pushing from Rene), I  imagine that they would come to embrace (and joke about their embrace of), labels like queer and gay. As the world changes around them, they are trying to keep up and find the best way to express their relationship to the world.

This “outside the bounds of human sexuality” brings me to the second line I was walking delicately in “Ordinary Time,” and which perhaps might be the thing others have the most difficulty with (though knowing my most devoted readers, perhaps not). Carlisle does not, in all my years exploring him, seem to live in a world of “either/or.” He lives in a world of “both/and.” Edward, his lover and husband, is still also his beloved son. The one identity might usually subsume the other, but it doesn’t erase it, and no matter who it might make uncomfortable, to write them any other way has never felt true to me. In my favorite CarlWards (cf. the last two chapters of “Intervention” by AllTheOtherNamesAreUsed, which delight me to no end), the authors have similarly left this ambiguity firmly in place. In 1918, their relationship went one way when it could have easily gone another, and the fact that they’ve backtracked and wound up on the opposite fork is not upsetting to either of them. Renesmee, of course, takes this all in stride and heightens it—seeing how much Carlisle enjoys being “Granddad” and refusing to deprive him of that. This mutability of relationship also extends to Rene—at this point, Carlisle has raised her for all but half a year of her life. And yet, he is mindful that she has a mother and a father, neither of whom are him. So he moves fluidly from calling her Edward’s daughter, to calling her his daughter, and back again. When they are asked to define themselves, they all choose “all of the above.”

So they have messy experiences in a messy relationship, in a very, very messy world. This is “Ordinary Time.”  Thank you to my dear friend twitina for pre-reading and not immediately declaring me ridiculous for writing a fanfic about the SCOTUS. Should you desire to nerd out on information about the cases which make up the bones of this story, head to Oyez.org.

“Ordinary Time” is the term in the liturgical church tradition for the time between Epiphany and Lent, and then between Pentecost and Advent. The American Episcopal Church, which is the denomination I’ve always imagined Carlisle would feel most comfortable attending, began allowing the ordination of LGBT clergy in 2009, and went on to eliminate official language defining marriage as only between a man and a woman and introduce gender-neutral marriage rites in 2015.

Something new is coming…

April 16th, 2019 § 6 comments § permalink

…and so I’m going to pretend like I in no way forgot to put my most recent piece (which is now 3.5 years from initial post and 1 year from final post) on my website. Nothing to see here, except for Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Vampire… :whistles:

Notes on “Verities”

January 19th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink


So, ADifferentForest.com, which is one of my sometimes fandom haunts (I try to stay away because I tend to just end up arguing with people, but it tends to suck me in like a tractor beam), continues to host 1,000-word fic challenges. I find them fun, because it’s always very interesting to see what I can do in about 1,000 words. 1,000 words requires precision that is a great workout for my writing muscles. Present tense? Past tense? First person? Multiple scenes? One scene? Every one of those decisions has huge repercussions in short short stories in a way that it doesn’t in a longer piece, where the effect of any one of those is mitigated by all the other writing you do.

This one started because the prompt was “Edward’s Angsty Christmas.” It had to be Edward, it had to be angst (I hate that word, but–let’s say Edward had to be having a not-so-happy Christmas), it had to be 10 years post Eclipse and “canon, with no Renesmee.” Because wolvesnvamps is someone who I can tease publicly a little, I snarkily pointed out that, as obnoxious as she may be to some, Renesmee is canon 10 years post Eclipse.

She replied that I know she ignores BD (true) and would I please write something anyway?

So since I was being silly, I decided to see if there was a way to write the prompt exactly as written, and still with my defense of what is canon…and this little ditty came out. It’s not as polished as I like things to be , so it’s going to be one of these website-only pieces. Enjoy a trip into my twisted mind.

Last year at Christmas, I used the ADF challenge to turn out “Souls in Stillness.” That fic is titled after a contemporary advent hymn called “My Soul in Stillness Waits.” So for this one, I chose another contemporary advent hymn, “Each Winter as The Year Grows Older.” The chorus reads:

Each winter as the year grows older
We each grow older, too
The chill sets in a little colder
The verities we knew
Seem shaken and untrue.

The Verities We Knew

She never believed in Santa, but she did believe in us. And we came through every time. Until the day we couldn’t.

Notes on “Self-Destruction”

December 30th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

WARNING: This note and the fic itself contain spoilers for the Hunger Games trilogy, particularly Mockingjay.

So it seemed everyone in Twidom read The Hunger Games, and the whole world was waiting for Mockingjay, the third in the series. They looked good, both in terms of their content and as physical books—the jackets that Scholastic put on the hardcovers still, to this day, make me want to buy all three every time I see them on display (which is often—I think we’ve had them on some sort of promo display at work almost every month this year). I find myself constantly remembering that I already bought the boxed set last August.

I waited until Mockingjay came out and read them all. They were addictive, and quick, much like Twilight. But like many, I wasn’t terribly happy with how they resolved. I was eager to write fic for it, especially for my favorite character, Cinna (I fell in love with the character who was the father figure…I bet you didn’t see that coming.)But I have, at last count, four long-ish Twifics in progress and felt guilty about writing in a different fandom.

ADF seems to be the source of a lot of my new one-shots these days, and this one is no exception. A fic prompt meme on 12/29 got me thinking about a critical moment in the series which I thought went less than well, which was Katniss’s decision to go back on her word about not having children. In canon, I thought Collins rushed that revelation by jumping straight to the epilogue. So when someone asked for a fic chronicling Katniss’s choice, I jumped at the chance to spend some time exploring that, without losing the acerbic, straight-shooting character who was in the other two books.

I knew I’d gotten it right when the prompter said, “I love this because I want to smack this Katniss in the face.” And perhaps that wouldn’t be seen as a compliment by most, but it was exactly what I was going for.

So, here it is: my first foray into Hunger Games fanfiction, prompted by and written for neuroticris. Happy Reading!

(And yes, for you patient people I hope to update SB just after the New Year. Thank you for sticking with me on it.)

Notes on “Seventeen”

September 5th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

People ask if I’m Team Jacob or Team Edward. Sometimes I respond I’m Team Carlisle, but most of the time, I say, “I’m team ‘Everybody hold on, grow up, and revisit this decision when you’re all adults.’”

I was a different person at twenty-seven than I was at seventeen. Not in core, fundamental ways, but in little ways that tweaked my understanding of the world and where I fit in it. I fully expect the same will be true at thirty-seven.

I’ve always thought Bella would choose differently if the right situation and the right maturity presented itself. To me, the relationship as it was presented in the saga never truly went beyond infatuation (whether this was due to SM not knowing how to characterize them more maturely or due to true faults in the characters themselves, I don’t know), and so the decision to base all of eternity seemed foolhardy at best.

So when A Different Forest ran another 1,000-word vampfic contest (love those, and love that they keep asking for vampfic!) with the prompt that the fic be set ten years after the end of Eclipse, I knew where I was going with it. What happens when a human changes, and the vampire can’t go with her?

Nothing good.

With “Souls,” I added to the story in the second draft, and I think it ultimately landed at 1,200 words. With “Seventeen,” I decided to keep the final draft at exactly 1,000. It’s a short foray into an AU that never should’ve happened–and which we can be glad did not.

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