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Translations: Terminations and Transitions

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(More extensive) Author's Notes (in part because it is easier to hyperlink in the body of a story.)

First of all, I should explain about the meaning of the word translation as I’ve been using it in the titles of this series. In biology, translation is part the way in which DNA instructions become actual proteins. The DNA is the programming on the computer, including, say, a design file which gets turned into a PDF (messenger RNA) through a process called “transcription.” Now, you’ve seen PDFs online, but you can also print them. When you do that, you press the print button, it brings up a dialogue, your computer talks to a printer, the printer shoots ink or puts toner on paper in a specific configuration, and then something comes out and you have a real thing in your hand, rather than a collection of instructions for making the thing or the idea of the thing.

In biology, the messenger RNA leaves the nucleus and ribosomes attach to it in specific orders based on the coding of the RNA. That’s initiation. Then amino acids stick to the ribosomes in a specific order (like printer ink on paper, or plastic in a 3d printer adhering to the layer below) and get stuck together into a long chain. That’s elongation. When the end of the program is reached, the protein comes out of this microscopic cellular printer, and you have a polypeptide, which is like a sheet of paper in a book that is the eventual protein. That’s termination, the point at which the instruction has become a “real” complex unit, ready to build into more complex units.

So termination isn’t “death,” it’s the beginning of a new process. And this story has been about the process of getting from the idea of the thing to the actual thing.

This is partly about the “end of the beginning” of their relationship, and partly about a half dozen different transitions going on. Other stories in this series will probably have “transition” in the title. This will also have chapter titles, which may or may not follow a pattern.

On the political situation for LGBT people in Russia. I can’t, can not bring myself to write this completely true to the current situation in St. Petersburg. I can barely bring myself to read about the current situation in St. Petersburg. Let me just say that IRL they would probably not set foot in Russia without a team of bodyguards and then only for competitions. Or they would have been a hell of a lot more careful. Being out in St. Petersburg now is incredibly dangerous. trigger warnings abound.

Johnny Weir shot a documentary called To Russia with Love on the down-low while in Russia for the Sochi Olympics. As of this writing, it's streaming on Amazon Prime. If you're interested in the real-world situation there for LGBT people, you should definitely watch it. But it's heartbreaking.

If you wonder why I use that acronym, they just really don't go deep enough into the nuances to pretend that the movie really covers QUIAP per se. They talk mostly about gay men. My impression is that people are spending too much time trying not to get killed to insist on more granular labels.

And that's about ten times more depressing than anything that you'll find in this particular story. 

ETA: it's gotten worse IRL since I started. There will be some reference to violence happening in Russia when they are not in Russia. It will not be as bad as IRL.

So, some of my assumptions going in:

1. In my version, the series takes place almost entirely in 2016. In the show, there's evidence (a sign at the Cup of China) that the show actually takes place in 2015, which makes sense timeline-wise given where events take place. I didn't know that at the time, and from a "real world politics" perspective, 2015 vs. 2016 Matters A Whole Lot. I could write a Tumblr post on the differences (and probably will.) For our purposes, the tension around Trump's election and the stuff going on in Russia matters, so 2016 for the show it is. ETA: Aaaand there's now mixed messages from the creators on this, and maybe 2016 is canon after all? Hard to say. Not really relevant, this is what it is and it's set in 2017 with the show happening in 2016.

2. How old is Minako? How old is Lilia? We don’t know exactly. But elite ballerinas are hypermobile, it’s a prerequisite, and most inherently hypermobile people have some variation of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome—a connective tissue disorder which makes joints particularly bendy… and often makes skin look incredibly young. I was mistaken for a teenager into my 30s. My mother was mistaken for my sister at 40. EDS ranges from a cool party trick (or a serious athletic advantage) to a debilitating shit-show of a syndrome that is like the godfather of 97 other syndromes. They're all one big unhappy family. (ETA: this is a rapidly developing area of medical science and definitions have actually changed since I started writing the story. So if this seems off with current websites, that's why. It doesn't change the fact that many hypermobile people look very young.) My grandmother lived to be 101 and could still put her hands flat on the floor without bending her knees when she was 90. So, without further ado, let me introduce you to some real world ballerinas who may well have inspired these characters. 

This is Maya Plisetskaya (I’m SURE the name similarity is no accident, it is a feminine version of Plisetsky) who inspired Lilia, dancing when she was 50 years old.

And this is Miyako Yoshida, who is, oh, 50-ish and fucking adorable. Here. More. Tell me this woman didn’t inspire Minako.

So my headcanon puts Minako at about 51-52 and Lilia at 52-55. They’re contemporaries. But Lilia could be anywhere from a low of 50 to a high of 80 and I would not disbelieve it. Plisetskaya died at age 89 and looked MAYYYYBE 70, though I’ve seen 45-year-olds look worse than she did within a couple years of her death. At 50, she could have easily passed for a slightly tired 30. On the show, she’s drawn with dark hair, and drawn but not wrinkled skin, outstanding posture. She’s older, but she doesn’t look “old.” Most people just looking at her would guess 45. Knowing she’s a ballerina, and seeing who she’s based on, and who she was married to, I’ll say 55 is probably the best bet. A 15-year age gap (between her and Yakov) at say, 25 and 40 would not raise eyebrows even a little in the elite dancing/skating world. Less so at 50 and 35. So I don't headcanon Lilia and Minako as teacher and student, but as close contemporaries. Very close.

3. How hard is it to plan a wedding? Let me put it this way, the next fanfic wedding I'm planning? They're eloping. Weddings are ridiculous and what they're doing is absurd and the only reason they're doing it is because of the political situation (see: why it's important that the show was 2016 and this story is 2017.) Real world advice? Keep it small, cheap, and simple. Worry less about the trappings and more about making sure you're hitched at the end of it. There is an inverse correlation between wedding expense and marriage length. (That means that weddings that are more expensive often result in shorter marriages.) I've planned a wedding. If I knew then what I know now, I would have married him dressed in a burlap sack in a barn simply to be married to him. The wedding was a party that I can barely remember and spent a year planning. I hand-dyed silk. I hand-embossed invitations. 90% of the people who were there I haven't seen since. I don't regret it, but really, it doesn't have to be that hard. These guys are getting to take the easy way out by having a magazine intern and a wedding planning service do literally everything and it's still overwhelming (mostly because they're doing it in 4 weeks but that's, you know, them. Without the large volume of other people's effort and other people's money, they would be getting hitched at a Danish registry office.)

4. On music and routines. I have a (distant) background in piano (8y), voice (20+y), ballet (6y), and I've had maybe 5 figure skating lessons in my life that I can remember.  I have a few years of high school (Belgian) French and a little bit of grade-school (Canadian) French and I did not, in fact, write the thing in the first chapter in French, but I did run it through enough translation software to make sure that it mostly rhymes where it should. Going into the first chapter, you might want to familiarize yourself with some of the the following:

Nessun Dorma (Stammi Vicino, musically, feels like an homage to this, to me.)

Spanish Guitar (Eros gives this feel)

And on that note, The Flower Duet. It's relevant. It's also a gorgeous wlw love song. Also, would be good to skate to in its own right.

Victor canonically has pieces composed to his specifications. I've actually had pieces composed to mine, but not for this, lol. Saying, "I want something that fits with these other pieces but pays homage to this piece over here, oh, and please keep the thematic elements similar enough that I don't have to change my routine too much," is actually probably easier on the composer than "I need something to skate to."

5. On scoring and planning routines. Okay, so this is completely unnecessary at the fanfic level if you just want to wing it (which I did with the first four stories) in regards to plausible scores for ridiculously high difficulty routines. But I got tired of looking things up constantly and made a spreadsheet that contains the following information:

  • Which skaters canonically can do which jumps
  • How much various jumps are worth
  • Requirements for long and short programs
  • Jump scores of canon routines (where available/where I cared) and potential routines in a situation where Yuuri, Victor and Yuri get into a feedback loop of one-upsmanship that involve things like five or six quads. Really absurd, but the points make sense. 
  • Several real world examples of judges details from scoring, including Nathan Chen's 5-quad skate at Nationals and Yuzuru Hanyu's world-record-setting 2015 Grand Prix Final free skate (which was "only" 3 quads, but had more +3 GOES than anyone has probably ever received before or since.)
  • A template that actually calculates scores. You still have to plug in base value manually (see sheet 1) but you can set up "planned" vs. "actually performed" and assign a GOE (caution: non-quad jumps have lower top GOE, this calculation will end up being in there for my own sanity but isn't yet.) 

If other fanfic writers want to make a copy (file: make a copy) of the spreadsheet to play with, go right ahead.

TL:DR on the nitty gritty of the spreadsheet? The highest difficulty performance ever seen scored 7 points less than the most beautiful ever performed despite being a point or two higher in technical difficulty. GOE matters. Program components score matters. Sometimes picking something you can skate beautifully will be more useful than blowing the top off of the technical score. Hanyu's had 2 fewer quads than Chen's. He added a quad for 2017 4cc and lost 15 points on reduced GOE and PCS. 

As I'm writing this there's about 19.5k 43k 45k 52k (and finished) of Terminations written. But there's also 9600 words of another piece written, one which moves alongside these, about Yurio, called, "Transition: Puberty." Carpe writem. This is why it is a good idea to subscribe to this SERIES, as that is a separate piece.

This paragraph ETA on 3/17/17: In addition, I have finished but not published a 1900 word short near the end of the series, a longer story mapped out called, Transition: Leap, and there will be another short finish to the series called Transition and Translation: Coda. Leap will be pretty much everyone, but pivots around Yurio, and will cover from Europeans in January of 2017 through Russian Nationals the same year. The short is basically a couple days in early January of 2018. Coda is like, Jan and Feb of 2018 but isn't going to be a big sportsy thing. 

If you're keeping track, yes, this means I actively finished something mid-chapter in this story that happens a year later, and am actively writing three separate stories at once, which is not how I usually work, but it keeps me from getting thrown too much. Also, it means that I can go from writing Yuuri on a pole and switch gears to writing the triplets when I start to get too technical.

ETA 5/17: Closing in on the end of this one, Puberty is finished and the plot bunnies for the next one are rabbitly multiplying. 

ETA: 5/28/17: This is finished, will be posted over the course of this week, and I'm 13k into the next book.

I have a lot of opinions about how to organize story structures/series here on AO3. If you'd like to learn more about why I post things the way I do, please see this bit of meta.

If you are curious about my process in writing in Google Docs and working with beta readers, see this tutorial.

I have long finished fics in many fandoms, and you can get at most of them by clicking on my username.

I'm Jenroses on Tumblr, and have my own website

For those who followed along with my mutterings about my hands during the time I was writing and posting Elongations:

I got sick December 28. That was right around the time this series started. I wrote something like 70k in 4 weeks. In that 4 weeks, I was really sick, but my joints also started hurting. 29 joints. It was when one of my knuckles swelled up that I went in to my doctor and got some bloodwork done. The bloodwork came back with really suspicious numbers that were so high that my rheumatologist (see: EDS) jumped me over a 3 month wait list to see him the following Friday, prescribed steroids and had me get bloodwork that day. I went on steroids and lost 12 pounds, that's how much swelling was going on.

The steroids were a godsend. The test results were not. A certain antibody came back so high they could not measure it. "More than our test can quantify." So after 2 years of mysterious symptoms and two other diagnoses, I was finally diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis officially on February 10. I started chemotherapy that day. Note that Elongations finished posting February 6. 

The dose of chemo for this is about 1/15th what someone with cancer would get. It is nevertheless kicking my ass. I have written 22k since I started it a month ago... plus a ridiculous amount of meta and a significant amount of work on my original novel (using the word novel very loosely, it's more than that.) And I've read a ridiculous number of other people's fanfics during that time. Like, I think I'm subscribed to 20 WIPs. It's absurd. 

That's a long and personal way of saying, "Please don't ask when updates will be coming, or I will explain the side effects of chemotherapy. Please do tell me when something I write moves you, I need the pick-me-up." And if I ever seem crabby, this is why.

The good news is that my hands don't hurt much.

The best way to keep up with this (and any other WIP) is to subscribe. Bookmark if you like, but the subscription will drop an email to you every time a chapter comes out. 

ETA 5/17: No more cancer drugs for now, on to daily DMARDS specific to RA since the chemo was sending me into new flares. Fun times. But writing is hit or miss. My hands don't hurt much, but my energy is really low, which is apparently typical of this drug. We heard you liked fatigue so we put fatigue in your fatigue so you could be really tired all the fucking time. No advice please. 


ETA: 5/28/17: So, I appeared on That Infamous Shitlist. Given that this series is the only thing I've written for this fandom and given that there are no underage shenanigans or anything else on their "criteria" list, I have no CLUE why. I don't really want to know, it was actually an honor to be included with some of the best writers in the fandom and I've been using that list for weeks as a reading list. 

I don't expect my writing to resonate with everyone. But just to be clear, I'm a disabled survivor, living with chronic physical illness and an anxiety disorder, and emotional stress actually damages my physical health.  You don't have to like my work. Please don't feel like it's your duty to inform me of all my shortcomings. 

I knew the shitlist was bull before I found out I was on it. It's a terrible concept and intellectually I know very well that I don't deserve to be on anyone's "list of bad people." EVEN SO, the full body stress reaction was so strong that I ended up back in an RA flare and had to up my steroids again. 

Ostracizing people hurts them. Even trying to ostracize them, hurts them. It is a major, major trigger for me. Don't do it. In this case, I fit into the exact category of people the list was ostensibly trying to protect.

And the effects of social exclusion are a huge part of what I write about in all my current fandoms. 

When you try to exclude all possible mentions of underage sexuality, it not only disenfranchises teenagers, but it silences survivors. Simply because I write an aro/ace Yuri doesn't mean that I think it's impossible for him to be written in other ways, or that other people are bad for doing so. Fanfic has room for everything. You get to pick and choose what you read, and that's beautiful. (Also, he's not 15. He's a cartoon.)

Last, but not least, I have a request!

If you're enough of a fan that you stuck it out through this extremely lengthy note, and you like to do fanart for YOI, I have an art request for this series! (Really, I will make greedy grabby hands over any art done for this series, but I really, REALLY want to do magazine covers.)