This is a brain dump about Star Wars fanfiction.
There are two parts, one posting today and the other tomorrow. I’m writing a brain dump because I’ve been trying to put an outline together for a new blog series for a couple of weeks now, and I just can’t get the swirling mass of my thoughts into any kind of a coherent structure. This is stream of consciousness, so if you don’t like those, I suggest you move on.
Between 2007 and 2009, Natacha Guyot and I collaborated on a project called One Path. It was an AU rewrite of the Star Wars Canon with a focus on Obi-Wan Kenobi and Padme Amidala. The basic premise of the story was that Obi Wan and Padme became friends during the events of the Phantom Menace and gradually embarked on a romantic relationship that forced Obi-Wan to decide whether he would pursue love or remain a member of the Jedi Order.
I’m having trouble figuring out even how much to explain when I’m writing a brain dump of what swirling in my head. The problem is, One Path makes sense to me. It makes more sense to me than Star Wars Canon does (and I’m not arguing that one is better than the other; I’m just saying that I spent so long developing One Path and the lives of its characters that their experiences and motivations feel as real and as valid to me as the Star Wars films. It’s hard for me to remember that when I talk about One Path, it’s going to sound weird or implausible to a lot of Star Wars fans. It’s hard for me to deal with that because I have this urge to explain or to clarify the how’s and why’s, which is really impossible unless someone already has the framework to approach an AU as a valid possibility rather than having a knee-jerk reaction of, “Um, NO, that’s weird/wrong/strange/whatever.” And if the person’s having that reaction, there’s nothing I can do to change it anyway.
But One Path mattered. And the most important thing to Natacha and I when we talked about the project was that we wanted a story that reflected our love for the canon and maintained canon Star Wars’ tone, style, and themes as much as possible. We wanted a story that felt like Star Wars. So, when people react dismissively or negatively just based on the idea of a different romantic pairing or the absence of the “Skywalker” bloodline… I lose my shit. I honestly just lose my shit, but I’m a nice person so I try to explain before the shut down and thus avoid having to lose my shit. Because I don’t like losing my shit, especially over fandom.
Let me back up and try to explain this another way. I heard ROTJ radio play when I was in kindergarten. I’ve loved Star Wars ever since. I read Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy when I was in my teens, and I was so excited about the idea of Star Wars books. I picked up a few more EU novels when I could afford them, and while I enjoyed a few (notably the Courtship of Princess Leia and Children of the Jedi) I’m not a major fan of the EU. The books have uneven characterization, authors whose understanding of the Force and how it works is…inconsisent at best and plain dumb at worst, not to mention how often the books focus on the author’s pet Mary Sue/Gary Stu characters, lots of storylines that have interesting potential but never see it realized, and I have a major gripe with the way I feel that Leia and the Solo children were done a disservice by various marketing decisions connected to the film franchise. (MY GOD WHAT AN AWFUL AWKARD SENTENCE.) So the bottom line is that my relationship with the EU has never been particularly good. When I saw the Phantom Menace, there were parts I really liked. I was willing to go with the PT and keep an open mind. I had a lot of objections to Attack of the Clones, but I tried to support the franchise anyway. I knew going in to ROTS that it wouldn’t be an easy film to watch. I knew I would cry, be broken and hurt for a while. But I was sure it would be worth it. It wasn’t. The movie was insanely triggering for something with so little exploration of the characters’ motivation, and when I got to the end I just sat stunned for all the wrong reasons.
There are some fantastic, pure Star Wars moments in Revenge of the Sith. The cinematics and special effects are awesome. Act I is pretty damn near perfect…….and then the movie becomes a storytelling nightmare that relies entirely on characters making the most inexplicable decisions and random leaps of logic. It’s not that I object to Anakin’s fall, or even that I object to the reasons for it (although they’re not consistent) it’s that they’re never dealt with deeply enough for anything to convince me there was a point to the process. Anakin’s paranoia, his nightmares, his desperate need for approval, are there but never delved into. He just falls because he’s an idiot who gives up. Add Padme’s abandomnent of the twins (dying of a broken heart? Fuck that. Not in a warzone when you have two infants who need you.) and I felt like I’d spent my whole life waiting to watch a couple of phenomenally immature people destroy a civilization FOR NOTHING. Because not only were they idiots, but I didn’t care that their story ended in tragedy. There was nothing worth grieving about it. I grieved for the twins, for Obi-Wan, and what Padme might have become.)
So, I tried really hard to accept the prequels for what they were and appreciate the parts I like. I was semi-successful, but as time went on, I was more and more uncomfortable with the Anakin/Padme relationship and gradually my love of Star Wars faded into disillusionment. I was unable to just dismiss the prequels, because as I said, there are parts of them I really do like, but I kept my involvement in the Star Wars fandom strictly in a far future RPG setting or the timeframe of the OT. (My involvement in fandom is usually related to creating fanfiction or role-play. I’m not the type to attend conventions or do movie nights with groups of people. It’s just not my thing.)
Natacha and I met in the Stargate fandom, and I’m not even sure when we started to talk about Star Wars or discovered that we were both Star Wars fans. I remember she was an A/P shipper at the time and I was still trying to be one. In February or March 2007, I was involved in an Obi-Wan fan community and making a lot of graphics for them. I happened to see this screencap
And I joked to Natacha that it looked shippy. She knew I had not been impressed with the Obi-Wan/Padme (Obidala) fan theories and fanfiction that I had seen around up until that point. All of them seemed to revolve around the idea of a relationship that began at some point in or after AtoC, and basically had a love-triangle where Obi-Wan and Anakin were both involved in forbidden passion with Padme. It seemed unlikely to me and completely out of character for Obi-Wan and Padme. She was always loyal to Anakin, and Obi-Wan was…well…not the insecure boy with attachment issues that Anakin was. If he fell in love with someone, he would be conflicted, but ultimately I felt that he would leave the Jedi Order if he decided to pursue the relationship. I’d never thought that he would try to hide his feelings let alone engage in a forbidden affair. It would be unfamiliar and potentially traumatic for him, but he’s a different kind of man from Skywalker. Padme makes a lot of mistakes in her canon relationship with Anakin, but she remained steadfastly loyal to him throughout everything. What she really needed was a straightforward relationship she could be open about that would provide balance between her political service and her commitments to family. She would have been too young to start a relationship like that in TPM, and Obi-Wan was committed to keep his word to Qui-Gon at the end of the movie…but a deep friendship at that time might benefit them both. AtoC was another story. What if…?
And that’s how One Path was born.