Disclaimer: Many real names of places, people, and events have been altered or abbreviated to protect the innocent. Namely, me.
Ever wondered what the lives of the Yuletide-obsessed are like? Well, I'm going to tell you, because I'm one of them. I'm not talking about pagans or advertisers or capitalists. I'm talking about the people who sign up for Yuletide, that annual rare-fandom exchange for people who are starved for fic in their minuscule
Welcome to the Internet, where my comrades, more than a thousand-strong in all, live and write and panic and laugh and cry and brainstorm. Many of these things are done together. We live in far-flung places - from Brazil to Belarus, from China to Canada, from Hong Kong to Hippo-Land, from Ireland to the Internet, from Mongolia to Malaysia, from South Africa to Spain, … you get the idea. There is, of course, a sizable population of us in the United States of America, generally thought to be the place that Yuletide originated.
It's a crazy life, but someone's got to live it.
In the Real World™, some of us have our lives put together. Many more do not. And there are those who live in delusion, thinking that they've got it all when they don't. But hey, why care about the Real World™ when something's brewing in #yuletide chat…
N in a cafe, panicking about what to write for his recipient. E trying to find a canon beta for her obscure fandom. Word has it that she scoured the beta spreadsheet for the past three years and repeatedly asked #yuletide by way of hippos but her effort was in vain. P, regretfully defaulting before 22nd December 2011 for Classified Reasons. R, typing a 12k epic in a week. E, dragging herself across the 1000-word mark. A, writing treat upon treat at the very last minute. #yuletide, engaging in flanick (flail + panic). Bears and Icebergs invading #yuletide topics. The number of fics and fandoms climbing. Only a fandom starting with 'Q' is needed to 'sweep' the whole alphabet. A change from smoky blue squares with taunting question marks to four smaller squares with symbols and more colors… titles morphing from 'Mystery Work' into Actual Titles…. Could it be? Fics are up?!
THE REFRESH BUTTON FINALLY YIELDS RESULTS. CHAT EXPLODES, NO NETSPLITS REPORTED
Yes, the Yuletide 2011 collection is finally up! Compared to Yuletide 2010 there are 92 fewer participants but far more fics. The grand total of fics? 2644. The fandoms run the gamut from RPF to obscure, decades-old movies and TV shows to classics that have been on Project Gutenberg for years. There are also fandoms based on songs, videos and plays. It has come to my attention that there is a Ben and Jerry's - yes, that’s the ice-cream brand - fandom. And three stories for three different recipients, too! The truth is stranger than fiction.
Sometime around 9 am EST (or thereabouts, give or take several dozen minutes - data here is a little fuzzy due to interference from the Flail) - some intrepid people noticed that Yuletide 2011 stories could finally be read. #yuletide exploded in flail and caps lock as hippos and humans alike stampeded AO3. No injuries were reported, but we heard several high-pitched squeals of joy. We're busy devouring our gifts, downloading All The Fic to our electronic gadgets and leaving kudos and comments everywhere. We're all dying to find out whether our recipient liked our gift and whether anyone else besides our recipient will like our stories. We’re praying that our stories will get recced, but we fear that writing in a fandom that no one knows about hampers our chances. We want to find out who the author of our gifts is for all types of Reasons. We know that some of them are in #yuletide right now, worrying that they haven't received any feedback yet, keyboard-smashing about their gifts or some combination of the two. And we'd love to know who they are. But that would ruin the fun, so we run from one fic to another like particles in Brownian motion and pray that AO3’s servers survive our onslaught.
Just a reminder - the Yuletide Madness 2011 collection goes live on 26th December 2011, sometime in the morning of the EST timezone. If you want to set an alarm or prepare to stay up for the next 24 hours, now is the time to do so. If you need to finish a last-minute Treat, now is also the time to do so. If you need hippos to stick-dance a beta request for you, run to #yuletide. If, good heavens, you want to start an epic fic, I give you permission to embark on your (potentially) endless expedition. Remember to eat three square meals and drink 8 glasses of water every day. If you aren't careful, you might keel over from exhaustion right when the first Madness fics start popping up as clickable links. And that would be a major pity.
I'll be watching this little corner of the Internet. I'll be watching what happens. It's going to be a season of flail, panic, drama and gratitude. I just know it.Who am I? That's a secret I'll never tell.
You know you love me...