I remember the very beginning pretty much to the day, because it was the night before I started high school. One night, out of the blue (although not so much when you consider my childhood), I started writing. It was the first version of what would become hundreds of Paxverse stories, and the first incarnation of Areahannah MacPine, my first Mary Sue as well as my nearest, dearest, and most beloved character. She has since become less twinky and more persony, as I've revamped her character about a dozen times. But she is still and always will be my favourite.
Anyway. I started writing. This was really just the ultimate manifestation of my deep abiding weirdness. I was raised in a geek household, and I was also one of those kids who wanted to keep playing make-believe after other kids had decided they were too old for that sort of thing. I'm pretty sure writing was a method of continuing that without getting quite so many funny looks. At least, the kind that made me feel ungainly and disliked and out-of-synch. As much. I'd hit the Internet a couple of years earlier, and found fanfic. This was, we should note, the mid-to-late nineties. The fanfiction community was still pretty staggery. So I wandered around for a while. Eventually I was beckoned into internet fandom, mostly by my cousin lisew, mostly, in the first place, into ReBoot. Then came another notable Mary Sue/avatar of mine. She was an Oriole, a character type Lise created, so she and I could wander around and mess with the universe in ReBoot fanfic. Her name was Chandri. She had aquamarine skin, blue hair, and violet eyes, and she was a vague, glowy shadow who wandered about interfering in storylines. The Orioles could also dimension-hop, travel through time... your basic catch-all self-insertion character.
I kept writing, though for the most part I didn't show anyone anything but ReBoot fic and what little comicfic I'd done and, way back in the mists of time, *coughMercedesLackyandAnneMcCaffreyficco
Sorry. That doesn't seem quite dramatic enough:
And then, I found Subreality.
Actually Lise found it first - she generally does - and one day, she showed me an Oriole story she'd written, one in which Lise and Chandri followed Matrix and Ray through a between-chapter interlude, into a place called the Subreality Cafe. (In an amusing sidebar, the same interlude left an enormous red quasi-robotic and occasionally vicious dog named Frisket stranded under the Cafe's corner table for several years, waiting for his masters to come back.) I hung around lurking for a while, reading up, and eventually dared to submit a few, really cruddy fics to the archive. After a while it was more than just an archive, it was where the random story thoughts in my head came from, and where a big part of me resided when the rest of me was busy, elsewhere. It was also, at that age, and to a big degree still is, an amazing, beautiful, and very real place where magic was absolutely real, and there were no boundaries, and no limits, and all you needed to go there, and make things happen, was talent and will. A great, limitless, living dream. And at the middle of all of that was Kielle.
It was more than just feedback - and here's where I get all sappy and twelve - it was where I grew up. It was, notably, a world full of people who had kept playing make-believe, who were nerdy like me, who hadn't "grown up" in the "normal" way, and yet a lot of them were basically grown-ups, with lives and jobs and things I'd been told, or had implied to me, by other people, mostly my classmates, you couldn't have if you thought the way I did. It was Subreality, and through it, the rest of fandom, that convinced me that I could be geek and proud and still function in the real world. It was because of fandom that I decided I didn't really want to be normal, and it was because of that decision that I managed to make the IRL friends I have now, and made it through high school without drying up and blowing away.
More importantly, though, probably most importantly, Subreality gave me a sort of world-view, at least a view of the world with me in it. A lot of people look at Subreality and say it was just a big self-gratification-fest, but the biggest thing Subreality did for me was give me the impression that being a Writer (and when I say it in my head I still use the capital "w") wasn't just some thing I could do that made me childish and weird, but rather a talent, something that made me powerful and special. And looking at that now, it does look cheesy. But it's no less true. It was also Subreality, and the very strange presence it had in my life and the lives of other die-hard Subrealizens, that gave me my code surrounding my writing. The idea that art was not only powerful, with the ability to change the world and the people in it, but also that there was an accompanying responsibility to use that power wisely. ("Great power comes with great responsibility," if you will. ;) It's that conviction that forms the basis of everything else I believe. If that hadn't happened, I'd probably have a simpler life, but it would also be empty and boring. I wouldn't be me - at least, not a version of me that *this* me respected, much. It was close, and lucky. It's one of the main reasons for most of my political beliefs. It's why I'm stubborn and arrogant. It's the driving force behind everything I've ever made and done I've been proud of. It's the reason I have any passion to speak of. It's the reason I am who I am.
And Kielle did that.
I didn't say this at the wake. All I really did do was draw what I've been seeing in my head for a month: Kelly, standing at the edge of the Mists, waving back to us. I wrote a story, once, a lot like that, that I remember she liked, and it's stayed with me for a while. I was going to, but as I was listening to everyone else, people who knew her in real life, to people who talked to her all the time, to people who knew her from childhood, other people who, I guess I thought, had a much better claim on missing her. Also, as I discovered later that evening, I think I was too scared to do so. I got shaky when I went up during karaoke, which is weird, because I've been performing since the age of two, and stage fright isn't generally something that happens to me. Hell, I used to win public speaking contests in long strings. I suppose it was because, unlike most performances in my life, I actually care what you people think of me, being, aside from half a dozen IRL people, the closest thing I have to peers. (I mentioned I was arrogant, right? ;)
Kelly was an amazing person. People say that about other people all the time, I guess, but it's no less true for all that. Her creativity was so enormous and prolific and self-perpetuating it was practically contagious. Actually contagious, actually. She went around building communities and creating universes and bringing people together that wouldn't have met without her. Everywhere she went, she made people feel closer to each other. She built family groups out of nothing. And she had this ability... to make everyone, no matter how really obscure, feel important and talented. She made everyone who knew her feel like they were the most important person in her life, even if, in reality, you were one among... hundreds. Her personality was stronger than anyone else's I've ever known. She was clever, and wise, and kind, and powerful, and cared about everything, so much, with such fervency, that you felt warm just standing next to her. Or just being in the same chatroom, or having her comment on an LJ post. She practically glowed with it.
I doubt I'm the only one she affected the way she affected me. But I have Kelly to thank for who I am, and that happened because of who she was. I don't know that she set out to change people's lives and the way the fanfiction community, at least the parts I know, developed; I don't know if she intended to do that. I think all those things happened through her just doing what came naturally, and just being herself. That that person was capable of doing what she did is fortunate for many of us. And I suspect she doesn't need to be told any of this, but I needed to say it. And that I'm grateful.
And in a minute, now, I'll post about some slightly more corporeal things.