Buffy is in her thirties now.
I’ve seen a number of people commemorating the fact that this week, yesterday actually, would be Buffy Summer’s thirtieth birthday according to the hints dropped in the TV show. For several years, each January brought us a new ‘birthday party from Hell’ for the guardian of the Hellmouth, including vampire boyfriends turning evil, losing her Slayer strength, her Watcher getting turned into a demon, her little sister finding out that she was a key, and being trapped in the house by a curse.
It seems as if to mark this birthday, the ‘Buffy season eight’ comics series is finally wrapping up, and season nine will kick off soon, which is cool. I’ve still got a long ways to catch up on season eight myself, so I don’t really know what’s been going on in Buffy’s life since she left Sunnydale.
But at this point, on my writing blog, I’d like to reflect on the debt that I owe Buffy and her friends, (and her marvelous creator,) as a writer. It goes back to the spring of 1998, after that season two birthday episode with Angelus and the Judge, when I first really hit the Internet looking for speculation or clues about what would happen next, and in the process, as I recall, came upon a few Buffy fanfic websites, like slayerette.org and the Slayer’s Fanfic Archive.
I didn’t dive into writing fanfic right away, though I was intrigued by the notion, (and realized that I had previously played around with a few Star Trek fanfic ideas without realizing what fanfic was.) But I was blown away by the imagination of some of the fanfic authors I found, and as spring turned into summer, in the middle of a trip with my parents to attend my niece’s dedication ceremony, I conceived a plotline, and started writing it during a stream-of-consciousness exercise for a summer internet correspondence creative writing course. That scene grew into a series of 24 Buffy fanfic stories meant to represent an alternate season 3 for the show.
I didn’t actually spend that long writing Buffy fanfic – from the late summer of 1998 to the late fall of 2000, as far as I can figure it out. But I definitely manage to crank out a fair bit of writing over those two years and a few months, and looking back, I can see how much I improved from the earlier stories to the later ones. This was the first time in my life when I was really writing regularly and FINISHING stories regularly – I’d written a few complete stories before, but they’d been somewhat hit-and-miss in comparison. I learned a lot about channeling creativity and sticking to a self-imposed deadline, though I did end up with a bad case of creative burnout until I happened upon my next muse-fandom!
In a weird way, my Buffy fanfic years were like a foreshadowing of the spirit of Nanowrimo. (And the first ever National Novel Writing Month happened in San Francisco roughly halfway through this period, though I wouldn’t discover the event for years.) I’m pretty sure that I never wrote 50,000 words of Buffy fanfic in a 30 day period, but the elements of going and writing every day, sharing the experience of writing with a supportive community, and focusing more on the practice of writing than whether what you were writing was great literature – I like to think that I had all of that back then.
So – here’s to the big three oh, Buff, and may there be many more birthday cakes in your future. Hopefully at least one will survive without being squashed, slimed, or burnt to a crisp. And thank you for the gifts that you’ve given us all, of entertainment, inspiration, and stories of all kinds.