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Observations on H/D Career Fair 2009 - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
Observations on H/D Career Fair 2009


I want to preface this by saying at once that I am not an experienced fest participant.  Fêtes, yes, but not fests.


That being said, I must say that I am astounded by the quality of the work in the late H/D Career Fair, and still more by the evident work put in by the moderators, under whom it seems, from the outside, to have run with preternatural smoothness.  It must have been a Herculean task.


I am likewise impressed by the decision to post the submissions, not only over time, but in a fashion that alternated lengthy fanfics with shorter works of fic or art. 


The one drawback I can see – and it is insuperable – is that the length of the posting period combined with the anonymity of authors ands artists necessarily results in there being comments and questions and insightful, incisive criticism going without response for a month.  It must surely be as frustrating for a writer or artist as it must have been for the mods, to be unable for a period to say, variously, Thank you, and, You’re right, I buggered that up, thank you for spotting that and telling me, and, Well, that part was the prompt, actually, and All That.


However, these are the defects of the innate qualities of a well-run, justly popular, and anonymous festival.  It is far more important that, firstly, readers were given time to savour each succeeding round of posts, and, secondly, that the authorial and artistic anonymity is preserved.  I shouldn’t at all care to speculate as to how many artists and authors have benefited from being thus exposed, without ‘baggage’, to new readers, but the number must be rather high; and certainly, as a reader, I make quite sure that I have been much rewarded by discovering new artists and authors – well, new to me, which is, rather, the point.  I was by no means over-egging the pudding when I remarked to Vaysh that, whenever I saw that there were new posts to the community, it ‘affected me rather as do the first bars of “Soul Limbo”: with a sense of building and delicious anticipation’ – and so it did, with the exception that the quality of play was far more consistent than England have been in the Ashes for quite some time.


In fact, that metaphor wants considering.  There were fiction and art posts that I could admire but that left me unmoved, or that I rather disliked, and the same will have been true of each of you, I imagine, as we all of us respond differently to one another to any creative work.  Yet the point is, surely, that posts that one might admire but be unmoved by, or that one disliked, were admirably done and worthy of applause, as one admires whilst damning the opposing bowler who clean bowls one’s best batsman, or the opposing bat who hits one’s best bowling for six.


Thematically, I noticed a few common threads in the fest. 


Insofar as any fics used – not advocated: used, as background, plot point, and, as it happened, humour – partisan politics or current affairs, both – Drink Up Thi Zider and Little Red Courgette – made the EU something of a villain.  (Both stories were repeatedly described as the ‘most thoroughly British’ fics in the festival, I may add: Dave Cameron, take note.)  I happen to know who were the two writers, I may add, and if one is a true-Blue Tory Eurosceptic, the other is assuredly not; rather, the stories themselves seem to have dictated the use of the EU and the reliable British trope of Comic Yet Dastardly Continentals.


As regards influences from outwith the Potter canon, these tended to be cinematic (but not HP movie-verse); mythological; and literary, in that order.  There was a notable send-up of a Brad Pitt vehicle (the ‘ASSassSIN’ story); the Matter of Britain and the Matter, if you will, of Ireland made appearances (the infamous Zider and Normal Does It, respectively) – both, curiously, were illustrated fics (the posting schedule having been created by the moderators, it is meaningless that Zider was the first posted fic with illustrations, I should note: what we have here is in fact convergence, not cross-pollination); and a literary cross-over in Blood and Brimstone.  Punch Lines was of course a crossover with ISIHAC, and I believe it to have been the only post with sound files.  (I’m very fond of that fic, as it did wondrous justice to a frankly insipid and uninspiring prompt.)


Interestingly, it seems to have been the longer and more daunting fics that were illustrated.


In the workaday prompts in particular – bakers, shopkeepers, and the like – and indeed throughout the fest, it has been remarked by all that a Great Deal of Research has gone into these posts.  Well, yes; but none, as I recall, smell of the lamp.  I am inclined, rather, to believe that those choosing a prompt chose prompts of which they had a working knowledge: that, in short, these prompts freed the writers’s inner anoraks.  (And why o why was there not a steam-train prompt, come to that?)  I for one am rejoiced that so many writers and artists have a catholic range of interests outwith fandom, and still more that the nature of the fest allowed so many of them to use those interests and hobby-horses in fandom.  I think it to have enriched the posts immeasurably.


I stand astounded by the quality of this fest – all the more because it was, initially, a substitution for this year’s autumnal Inspired festival.  I rather hope that when Inspired resumes, Career Fair will continue alongside.


My gratitude, then, to the brilliant mods and the stunningly talented artists and authors (well, and one utter hack, I may add.  Cider, indeed).  Floreat!  (Even those who are not Old Etonians.)

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12 comments or Leave a comment
(Deleted comment)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: November 2nd, 2009 07:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes, well, I knew it wasn't for the Toryism.

And you MUST read 'Little Red Courgette', really. An instant classic.
(Deleted comment)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: November 2nd, 2009 08:22 pm (UTC) (Link)

Naturally. My worth is evident -

- in the fact that I like YOU.
blamebrampton From: blamebrampton Date: November 2nd, 2009 09:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Tragically, I died of giggling less of a third of the way through this post of insight. Revived my attempted feline CPR with tuna breath (which would bring back most).
magic_at_mungos From: magic_at_mungos Date: November 2nd, 2009 09:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Any must reads? I haven't been following that fest but there have been some amazing fics at ownficfest which I've really enjoyed.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: November 2nd, 2009 10:19 pm (UTC) (Link)

You simply must read-

- the last posted, Little Red Courgette.
magic_at_mungos From: magic_at_mungos Date: November 3rd, 2009 08:05 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: You simply must read-

Excellent. Thank you!
blamebrampton From: blamebrampton Date: November 3rd, 2009 05:56 am (UTC) (Link)
And Drink Up Thy Zyder, and Blood and Brimstone. The former is an Arthurian lens over the HP world, in which comedy, politics and deeply suppressed desire bubble along in a delicious broth, all seasoned by love in all its permutations.

The second is a more bitter tale, which I am still reading through, but which is a crossover with Ginn Hale's Wicked Gentlemen (which I have not read at all) and tells of an Inquisitorial church hell-bent on stamping out difference and holding on to power, in prose that has the lush sensuousness of the first story, but shaping a harsher, crueller world. Both are very fine writing.
magic_at_mungos From: magic_at_mungos Date: November 3rd, 2009 08:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooh thank you. That last one looks fab.
career_fair_mod From: career_fair_mod Date: November 3rd, 2009 03:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
*loves this like mad*

wemyss From: wemyss Date: November 5th, 2009 07:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

The sentiment -

- is reciprocated, towards you and all the mods, for so wondrous a fest.
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 6th, 2009 03:39 am (UTC) (Link)

story feedback


please let me use this way of leaving feedback for the story "Drink Up Thy Zider". (I assume you wrote it since you are credited as the author, if not I apologize.) I do not have an lj-account and hd_career_fair has disabled anonymous comments, yet I wish to give some feedback.

First off, I am not a native speaker of English. English is my third language. And this is where my problem with your story comes from.

I am sure you put a lot of effort into writing it and you sure know your stuff. I especially like the Britishness of the story. Your overall style is very refreshing.

But I have problems understanding the text. Now, I am no beginner - I am a Certified Translator for English and have read with Dickens, Collins, Bronte, Melville and Stevenson; all texts which are not easy to understand and are considered university level English literature for non-native speakers. In general I understand you wrote, but what I am missing is the many abbreviations that are not explained and that are hard to look up, both in a dictionary and online. If I don't know an abbreviation or cannot infer its meaning from the general sentence my chances of finding out what it says are about 20 %. And there are also some things which are hard to understand if you are not British. Your style of run-on sentences doesn't help, often I have to read a sentence or paragraph 4-5 times to get what it says. It is absolutely frustrating to read your story like that and distracts from the enjoyment of the text.

I guess what I (and other readers) would need is a glossary.

My suggestion to solve this would be the following: help me understand what you wrote and in return I will translate the story into German, my native language.

Please let me know what you think, I'll be checking in here for a reply within the next week or so.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: November 6th, 2009 05:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

Well , curiously enough...

... I shall be posting an annotated version quite soon.

Mind, I shall quite likely be amusing myself with mock-scholarly footnotes whilst failing to explain what is perfectly evident to the Brits and impenetrable to those not blessed by being British,simply because one often doesn't know what perfectly evident things are impenetrable to those suffering under the misfortune of - through no fault of their own - Not Being British. Which is why I run britpickery, actually.

Do let me know what you think of the annotated version.
12 comments or Leave a comment