Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Force of Nature

Occasionally, I will have an afternoon like my afternoon today, in which all I need to do gets done early and an open expanse of freedom lies before me.  Reading and movie-going rank at the top of my list of how I usually spend these afternoons, but every once in a while I like to mix it up, which is why today I decided (of all things) to go through my scores of old internet bookmarks and (of all things) visit a website that long ago was part of my daily routine but that I hadn't laid eyes on in years, and it was there that I discovered (of all things) that Jenna was publishing Force of Nature again.

Of all things.


It is not an exaggeration to say that the movie Brokeback Mountain changed my life.  Brokeback begat the Jake crush, and the Jake crush begat the involvement with Jake Watch, and the involvement with Jake Watch begat the book I'm Stalking Jake!, and the book I'm Stalking Jake! begat the adulthood I am currently living.

But before most of that begatting, there was just a movie that made my 24-year-old self pine with hopeless romanticism, and there was a whole wide world of fanfiction on the internet to give me the storybook ending that the film failed to deliver.  The very first Brokeback fanfiction story I ever read was a novel-length masterpiece (I don't use the word lightly) called Somebody New.  It picked up the story shortly before the movie ended and wove an entirely different outcome.

So successful was this story that the author immediately began working on its sequel, Force of Nature, and when I think of those early, early Jake days, before I was even writing for Jake Watch, I remember very vividly the thrill that flooded me every time I saw a new chapter of Force of Nature had been posted.  I would damn near wet myself.

But then there was some kind of legal issue and Force and Nature was abruptly halted.  And I was devastated.  And I wrote a sweeping defense of its power on MySpace (which I am sadly no longer able to link to), and I wrote extensive and mournful e-mails to my internet friends whom I used to discuss Brokeback Mountain fanfiction with.  I took heart in the author's public assurance that she would continue to write even if she wasn't able to publish the story online, but knowing it was out there and I couldn't read it made me ache in an unseemly and admittedly pathetic way.

I would have killed to read the rest of that story.

And what do you know?  Seven years later, thanks to a free afternoon, I now know that I can do just that.


Except I think we all know where I'm going with this.

I'm not going to read Force of Nature.

I have no doubt it remains as powerful and well-written as it was all those years ago, but...that's not me anymore.  I left Jack and Ennis behind long ago and while I wish them the best, I no longer have any need to know what happened to them.

How can something that had such a devastating grip on you fade away so quickly as to mean absolutely nothing in a few years' time?

I don't know.  But I think I needed that little reminder today - that the things that we think are so terribly important, the things that we invest so much emotional energy in, are often things that ultimately don't wind up mattering to us.

It's also a nice reminder that sometimes stories do live on.  Jenna didn't give up and here she is.  It took a while, but it turned out okay.

And for all I might find myself stressed over right now, I'm confident that okay is what it will be for me, too. :)


  1. Becky - you are VERY IMPRESSIVE! It is amazing how BBM and then Jake was the center of our lives. It felt like both would continue to be a force in our lives for a long time. And then Heath died and something within us died too. What was once important is still important but is now a pale image in the distance. Thanks for this reminder of how things change and we move on.

    1. Beautifully put, Leslie!! I'm incredibly grateful for those years - you and I wouldn't be friends if not for that era! - and yet wow have things changed.

      I actually did go back and re-read the last originally posted chapter of this story yesterday, just to see if the magic was still there and if I might have an interest in continuing to read. It was remarkable (er, maybe sad) how much I remembered...I had read the last lines in that last chapter so many times they'd imprinted themselves on my brain.

      But nope, no need (or desire even) these days to find out what happened next.

      That reminder was incredibly well-timed for me, and as someone who used to read so many of these stories along with me, I know you know more than most exactly where I'm coming from. Onward we go. :)