'It Matters' was the story that started it all and it was basically me trying to see if I could write fanfiction.
I had been reading everyone else's fanfiction for a few weeks. I'd basically been making my way through the posts on MelloMatt enjoying the fanart and reading the fanfiction. I kept reading all this stuff about Matt being a bit stupid, but I was under the impression that he was third at Wammy's House. That made him a bit clever. I also kept reading things about him playing games and basically not applying himself. The thought crept into my mind, 'what if Matt had applied himself, what then?' Mello was working flat out to be second. Matt was playing a lot of games and had sauntered in at third. It's logical to think then that Matt could easily have beaten Mello. If Mello and Near were often neck and neck, that means that Matt could have also have beaten Near. I wondered about what kind of mind resists the pressure to succeed like that. I wondered about the dynamics of Mello and Matt's relationship and if the key to that personal sabotage was there. The story grew in my head.
All genres of fiction writing have rules. If I had treated 'It Matters' as a simple work of fiction, then it (and subsequently the series) would have been very different. However, I hunted through Google for the rules of fanfiction, specifically that derived from Japanese manga. I read whole essays on the stuff. I read about courtcases and Mary-Sues; I read about parodies, satires and yaoi. I especially read about yaoi. I learned about seme and uke.
In real life, I have several homosexual friends. Many of them have been/are in long-term relationships. I've never noted any dynamics that seem fundamentally different to heterosexual relationships. This whole seme/uke thing was a revelation. I had a quick skim through fanfictions again and realised that it was endemic. If I was going to write this story, I was going to have to write seme/uke. What would have happened would have been a partnership that was far more co-operative. Whoever fancied it at the time would be on top. There would have been none of the 'this person always tops' malarkey that everyone wrote and therefore I thought I had to too. The more I read about seme/uke, the more I realised that there was an inherent philosophy that rankled against gender equality. The uke is supposed to be 'feminine', but the context also meant that the uke is supposed to be weaker.
I didn't like seme/uke. I'm still not keen, even now I understand it better. I decided to cheat and go for something that could look like seme/uke but wasn't really. I went for sado-masochism, with a strong option on bondage, dominance and submission. I figured that if I wrote it vaguely enough, then people would miss the fact that I hadn't got a genre specific seme and uke. It worked. I've since discovered that that's because the majority of people haven't realised that there are all of those genre traditions. It passes because unless you know what you're looking for, you're not going to see what's not there.
This sorted out in my mind, I then had to identify my pseudo 'seme' and pseudo 'uke'. There was a big worry in my mind, which I'll come to shortly, so I decided not to swim against the tide. I would go for the roles which others were doing. I nipped into MelloMatt and read the first fanfiction that I saw. It was seme!Mello and uke!Matt. I looked at the name of the community and had one of those facepalm moments. It is called MelloMatt. I had read a rant from a Japanese lady explaining that, predominantly Western, people misunderstood the order of names. You had to put the seme first, then the uke. This whole community therefore was seme!Mello and uke!Matt. That's what everyone did then. Hurrah!
It was only months later, last month to be precise, that I discovered I was totally in the minority at the time. Most people viewed it as seme!Matt and uke!Mello. To be honest, I had known that at the time, I would have written it like that too. I just didn't want to tread on anyone's toes. I would have written seme!Matt, even though I personally thought that Mello would never stand for being dominated. He has to be number one in everything.
'It Matters' was set during an unspecified time, though reference was made to the hunt for Kira. The timing was basically because I was new to all of this and had read up on the rules of fanfiction. As I understood this at the time, it was a big no-no to rewrite a canon scene. I've since learned that everyone ignores that rule, but I thought I'd be lynched if I didn't do that at the time. I had a flick through the manga and figured that, in order to avoid canon, I would have to set it either before Mello and Matt start following people in America or else during those lost two and a half months in Japan. The latter would have to bounce off the canon more than the former, so I vaguely timed it pre-New York.
I did have a slight concern. I knew that there were only a few days within which to set this story. Mello blew the building up in Los Angeles during the early hours of November 11th. On November 19th, the same year, Mello walks into the SPK headquarters with Hal. It's stated that he had been living in her house for a week. This means that he turned up there on November 12th, having spent the day travelling from Los Angeles to New York. On November 21st, two days after the meeting between Mello and Near, the mob attack Near's headquarters. Mello overlooks the scene. On November 29th, Mello receives a tip-off from Hal and we see Matt for the first time.
It was against this back-drop that I envisaged 'It Matters' taking place, as I wrote it. In truth, I kept it very vague and lived in fear of people throwing things as they worked it out. I was so nervous when I posted it to MelloMatt on Live Journal. I thought that the 'do not rewrite canon' rule was so steadfast that the first question people would ask would be, 'when is this set?' I would have to answer that it's a handful of weeks squeezed into the timeframe when Mello was supposed to be travelling from LA to NYC. Then I'd be an outcast. Absolutely no-one asked. I must have checked the posts, on Adult Fanfiction and MelloMatt, about once every couple of minutes. So freaking nervous of that question. It was ok. No-one asked anything. In fact, no-one said a word. It felt like that Carter USM lyric, 'You should have been the talk of the town, but the whole place remained speechless'. I reasoned that at least no-one was shouting at me.
I went to work. I returned six hours later to discover that the hits on Adult Fanfiction had nearly doubled and someone named Tenshiamanda had written a good review. I think I actually had tears in my eyes. I sat and proof-read it, flicking constantly to MelloMatt to see if anyone had commented. Hours later, I'd just finished, when someone finally did. The_and_moose reiterated what Tenshiamanda had said. It was positive. Then Awhaaaa not only commented but befriended me. I shrieked! I went to bed very happy and all kind shivery pleased with myself.
Next day, there were more comments from Shini_skittles, Catmoongirl and Miyamashi. The first two encouraged me to write more. I did have ideas, but they strayed into the canon. Because of their comments, I tried out those ideas (in what would become 'All the Way Here'), but I quickly realised that it was very restrictive trying to write around the canon without once mentioning it. If it hadn't been for Miyamashi, I would have abandoned 'All the Way Here' after chapter three.
No-one commented at all the next day. I was still in deep conversation with Miyamashi and she was sparking ideas that saved 'All the Way Here', but it seemed that no-one new was reading my story. It wasn't until the following day that Spoiled-kitten and Pro-Kira commented. Their positive reactions were the deciding factor, especially since Spoiled-kitten befriended me too. I was suddenly sitting here with eight people liking 'It Matters', two of whom had befriended me and one of whom was challenging my mind. It gave me the confidence to carry on writing and so I did.
Thousands have now read 'It Matters'. I try not to think about that or else I'll freak out. LOL But those eight people will always have a special place in my heart, because they read a story by a noob and made me feel welcome. Thank you Awhaaaa and Spoiled-kitten for befriending me; thank you Miyamashi for engaging my mind; and thank you Tensiamanda, The_and_moose, Shini_skittles, Catmoongirl and Pro-Kira for encouraging me. Thank you everyone else who has read my story since. Less than three all of you.