12 November 2014 @ 12:57 am
The final section of my Applefic has now been completed. It has been a long time coming.

At this point, it's almost hard to remember the puzzled despair of the summer of 2012, when—for the second year in a row—the moderators of [community profile] maryrenaultfics were mysteriously nowhere, there were sadly few posts to the community, and the usual time for the Summer Prompt came and went. The previous year, a few sharp nudges had brought them back to their duties, and the prompt had been posted, albeit belatedly. In 2012, they were nowhere to be found. As in the previous year, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek ITOWverse ficlet to try to draw them out; but to no avail.

Finally, on the 1st of September, I took it upon myself to post an Autumn prompt, "apple". It was well received by those members still round. (Indeed, it even flushed the mods from cover!) Yet, although I immediately told people that I myself had an idea, it was not until the 8th of October that I actually posted anything.

In the meantime (to prod myself on, as much as anything), I referred more than once to my "applefic"—at the time, no more than a cute shorthand for "the fic I do—honestly!—intend to write for the 'apple' prompt". By the time anything was actually ready to post, though, I had called it that so many times that, when I cast around for a title, I could come up with nothing else. In my mind, it had become "my applefic" so certainly that "Applefic" was the only possible title.

One reason for the delay was my need to clarify my intentions, which crystallized into a multi-part ficlet series in which the stories would consecutively visit Laurie from childhood to youth while, at the same time, progressing through the seasons. At first, therefore, I planned to write four stories, i.e. one each for spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Even by the time I posted the first one, though, I had modified this plan to include a fifth story, a postscript set during or after the war that would circle the year back to spring. In coming up with this dual time frame, I was influenced by Alan Garner's Stone Book Quartet, which I greatly admire. Admittedly, its four novellas span about a century, each with its own protagonist from the same family; and, looked at in the dual time, cover morning, afternoon, evening (sunset), and night. However, the principle is much the same.

Thus the first three ficlets, posted on the 8th and 27th of October and the 20th of November, follow the plan. The Spring story sees Laurie as a small boy, perhaps five or six years old, on the first day after he and his mother move to the village. The Summer story sees him at eight or nine or so, coming home from his prep school for the hols. The Autumn (or end of summer) story sees him at twelve or thirteen, just about to return to public school for the autumn term. That story, by the way, includes by permission an original character created by my sister: a farmer's son named Simon, who is a friend of Laurie's in the village.

So far, so good. However, when it came time to write the Winter story, I found myself on the horns of a dilemma. You see, I had two potential plots, in two distinct time periods. In the end, therefore, I decided to interpolate a Christmas story, which was posted on the 24th of December, serving the double function of being a present for the community. I squeezed out the time to write, what with having both Yuletide commitments and a ficlet challenge on [community profile] fkcommentfic. Still, I got all done by Christmas Day itself.

The "real" Winter story should then have been written for New Year's Day. Or the end of the holidays. Or before the end of January. Or at least before the snow all melted!

And so it was—if you allow for a gap of a total year. It was actually posted on the 1st of January 2014. What can I say? The last few years have been fairly depressing in RL, not to mention hectic. Without a deadline to write to, stories have simply gone begging in vain.

Over the course of this year it has become increasingly obvious that, if my Applefic were to be completed in the original venue so that readers there might enjoy it, it would need to be done. As it turns out, I got yet another idea, resulting in yet another interpolated ficlet—a sort of Late Winter/Early Spring ficlet. Or (for simplicity) an Easter ficlet. (In fact, I checked the date of Easter that year, and had a look to see what was going on at the time so that Laurie could make a suitable war reference.) This was posted on the 10th of October. My sister's suggestion that Remembrance Day would be most appropriate for the final story then kicked me into action to complete the series on the 11th of November.

All in all, the original four-parter thus has turned into a seven-parter; but I think it's the better for it.

As with most of my stories, I have put my Applefic on my website. Oh, it's on [community profile] maryrenaultfics, of course; but that has its limitations. For one thing, the comm has been closed for several years now. However, even before that, I always also put my fan fiction on my website. I take pains to match the graphics with the story; and, of course, one cannot do much in that line in any LJ/DW community, nor on AO3. One can link in graphic art; but one cannot use background tiles.

There is therefore an index page to the series; and each of the appleficlets has its own webpage layout, save that the first and final stories share the same design, since they take place at the same time of year.

The index page has a stylized dark green, leafy background. A large picture of a Granny Smith apple on a white ground is used for the central panel, which has the usual complicated sort of border of nested tables that I use on most of my webpages. Each link is accompanied by a bullet in the form of a small red apple. (All the apple pictures used throughout the Applefic pages came originally from Wikimedia Commons, though pretty well all of them got tweaked one way or another to suit my purpose.)

The Spring ficlet has an apple-blossom background. Or, more accurately, it has an impressionistic tile of unidentifiable pink tree-blossom. (It's really a bit too dark for most varieties of apple. However, the original tile was much darker. Try as I might, though, I could not get it lighter without spoiling its appearance.) Sprigs of blossom decorate the link to the next story.

The Summer ficlet has a green, leafy background. The link is decorated with a modified picture of a pair of green apples. I snipped them off the stalk, and then shrank them in size before sticking them back so that twig would look suitable to the season.

The Autumn ficlet has an apple background. I tweaked the colour slightly; but it's basically a tile of apples ... in a basket originally, I suppose.

The Christmas ficlet has an apple pie background. The tile originally had a pinkish red filling (I think, rhubarb); and it took quite a bit of manipulation to get it looking more the colour of an apple pie.

The Winter ficlet has snowy branches.

The Easter ficlet has a background of unidentified twiggery, with a slightly greenish background suggestive of early spring. Daffodils and primroses decorate the story, but the link has a Cox's orange pippin—an apple that, if properly stored in the fall, would indeed still be available in the early spring.

The final, post-war story, of course, brings us back to Spring. It also closes the story of the cottage where Laurie grew up. He arrives in the first story, and says farewell at the end of the series.