Feb 22 2005 - Feb 22 2015! It’s my 10 Year SWANniversary~ (On Tumblr!)
I have, predictably, a lot of feelings about this:
I have other things that made it to ten years. It’s not like I only started making things in 2005, after all. But for some reason, this is particularly large. During the entire course of this thing’s life, I have thought, “Oh, it’s only a few years old,” but trying to wrap my head around it being a decade, trying to sit and say, “This is a ten years old, this story could be in elementary school. This outlasted the relationship I got from it. This spanned not only all of my college years, but years well beyond them,” is still not hitting properly. Even as I did this image, put a “10” on Nny’s shirt, talked with friends about how alarmingly long ago ten years should feel, I’m still not fully convinced it was really ten years.
To talk of just the image:
When I started, I just wanted to do ‘The Homicides’, but then I couldn’t decide who that even was. Just Nny, Devi, Edgar and Jimmy, as the members that perform? Or plus Tenna because she’s a very integral part of the friend group? Plus Banshee because she worms her way into the group in ISH? Plus Tess because of the way ISH ends? Then I said, ‘Ugh, I just wanted to do a picture with everyone and I can’t even figure out who that is.” The word ‘everyone’ then set off ‘What about Squee, Pepito, and Dib?’ Because SWAN’s story wouldn’t even have happened without Pepito being a fuck up, he had to be there. And Dib became such a resource in reSWAN, so I just said “Fine, okay, everyone.”
I’d be lying if I said the focus of the story wasn’t primarily Nny and Edgar and their relationship, so they’re front and center, with the Homicides fanned out behind them, and the remaining support topping off this disaster of a sundae.
Rainbow, blood, actual glitter, and lyrics. What kind of perfect heaven for me to paint this thing. The words you see everywhere are significant lyrics from the story (and one from a song that’ll be in reSWAN later), including people’s personal songs. A lot of the lyrics are placed significantly, but some of them are just where they would fit. It’s most of the songs that appeared in the story (SWAN, ISH, and reSWAN), just most often not the ‘title’ lyric.
This ended up a much happier image than I think I intended. I started out imagining a real blood bath, something really scary and unsettling and challenging the viewer, but maybe this sort of rainbow blood-stained joy is more like what I got from making this thing in the long run, and thus kind of more appropriate as a celebration. We’re going with that.
As for just what this all means:
I was so terrified to write SWAN that it took me a week to write even a summary paragraph, and even then, I couldn’t write Johnny and Edgar’s names, I just wrote N and E, and then I blacked out most of the paragraph with a Sharpie like an FBI alien report, so fucking strong was my shame that I was going to attempt doing this.
The thing was mostly made for schmeisicle, who forced me to post it and LEAVE it posted under the threat that she would post a copy for me if I ever took it down. She was the first person to stay up entirely too late at night talking to me about this world, the first person to be its major support. Many of you followed after her. Cyri, LA, PolyesterRage, Moz, My Australian Homicides, Gu. And there are some people who are gone and probably wouldn’t want to be mentioned in this, but I think about the part you played in this too, because at a certain point, if you had something to do with ME, you had something to do with this. There was a point where the things I wove into the story wove themselves back into me and my life became a kind of SWAN feedback loop.
I met so many people doing this, I AFFECTED so many people doing this, my whole life flipped over and changed directions because I started this, and that is all still unbelievable to me. Orientation and identity attempted to figure themselves out, the only romantic relationships I’ve had to date existed in the span of this story and one of them came out because the other person loved it. Even if that relationship is over now, that is still mindblowing to me.
I’m happy to have been able to connect to all the people I did, no matter how brief. I love you all like some kind of fucked up fandom big sister. Some of you were so young when I started this thing that you were questionably old enough to even be reading the source material. (Some of you were just fucking learning to read, given your current ages. You obviously came along later. That’s okay, I still love you.) I care about so many of you just because you cared about this thing I needed to get out so badly that I battled my own deeply rooted shame and anxiety to do so. You guys wore keys and drew stars on your faces and made me fanart and songs and fic of fic and sent me your worries and concerns and kept me company and sometimes beta read this disaster and you accepted and loved Banshee and then some of you came back later and said this all had as large an effect on your lives as it did on mine and that is wonderful.
I heard stories about learning about what being male or female or neither could mean, I heard stories of discovering orientation and identity, I heard about ceasing to fetishize homosexual relationships, I heard about coping and strength and all these other wonderful things from people because they’d interacted with something I’d done and that’s enormous to me. People came to me asking me to help with their real lives because I’d made this thing about musical fucked up teenagers and I hope the things I said helped, because I was overwhelmed and alarmed that you came to me as just a woman who wrote a weird thing, but I wanted to help so much. I care so much about you guys and I don’t know most of you and a bunch of the ones I do know have lost touch a bit. That’s okay, I get it. It just means the whole fucking world to me that you were here at all and there was a thing once that maybe stuck with you even a little bit like it’s stuck with me.
I grew up right along with this story, and some of you did too, which I’m massively grateful for. I’m just as happy that there are people who more recently found it, and perhaps found it when they thought I was never going to touch it again.
Revisiting SWAN has been wonderful - I can do it with less fear and make it more honest, more full. I can make it more like the story I was straining to fit into a template I thought people expected when I started it. I can represent and comfort people who need it. (Comfort the disturbed, and disturb the comfortable, yes?) I can make it what I needed, and what I still need. I can make it something that might keep affecting people for another ten years.
It’s not going to be a lot of people. I don’t have any delusions about the enormity of this thing - I know it was a largeish phenomenon but only within the confines of a very small fandom, and so did not amount to a whole lot of people or notoriety at all - but it was my whole world for a long time and the amazing things I’ve received doing it (even the ones that ultimately caused me pain) have made me resolve to never again say ‘self-indulgent’ like it’s a bad thing. My self-indulgence changed my own life, and the lives of other people, for the better. Literally, I’m Still Here because of SWAN, and I am worth indulging. And so are you guys. My wishes for everyone at the end of ISH still stand, even stronger now.
So for those of you who are still here too, Thank You. So much. I’m so glad you read the stuff I made ten years ago when everything about me was ten years weaker. Even the things I made only six or seven years weaker, in ISH, still, thank you so much for seeing it, enjoying it, responding to it. I love hearing that you laughed or cried or felt strongly enough to decorate yourself with it and dedicate some time to it. I have a connection to people I’ve never met through these characters I borrowed and changed, through songs that I passed along, and through some frequently clumsily arranged words matched up with bright colors.
The Homicides feel like old friends. Those of you who loved them with me feel like a strange kind of family. This is all very precious to me, and I’m finding that even with the amount of words I’m spewing here, they don’t feel like enough words and they don’t feel like the right ones.
But all this - the Homicides and what they did for me, you guys, the stories you tell me because I told you mine - it’s Incredible.