The Circuit by Agent 6.2
|Title:||The Circuit by Agent 6.2|
|Topic:||The Circuit, Fanfiction|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
The Circuit by Agent 6.2 is an article by Agent 6.2. It was printed in The Hatstand Express #10 and explains the history of the circuit, one of early Professionals fandom's way of distributing fiction.
As "The Professionals" has become increasingly popular and more and more people have begun reading the masses of fan fiction, some new definitions for old words have sprung into being. Words like 'hatstand' and 'circuit'. Those of you who have been around for the last couple of years already know where 'hatstand' came from - I'm not sure who first coined the term 'circuit' but it IS something I know a lot about. People (gosh, at least one or two!) have been asking me how The Circuit" got started, and though much of the origins have been lost in the far reaches of distant memory (which is another way of saying 'I for get'), this, to the best of my recollection, is The Story.
It was during this time, largely because most of us early circuit riders were: a. broke, or b. cheap, that the first of the birthday present stories were written. I wrote "American Tourister" for Agent 6.9, soon following it up with "Song for Sid." I proceeded to introduce my long-time friend, better known to you as Agent 3.4 1/2 into the fandom... and her first effort in the writing of the Pros was a little thing called "Pigi Pigi". It was a gift to another friend who cordially detested the show, the actors and the fact that all her friends had started talking in numbers and initials.
Along about this time, Agent 6.9 journeyed off to MediaWest and came back with a couple of English stories that were a little DIFFERENT in content than what we had been doing. "Consequences" and "Remember Angola" were my first two experiences with B/D fiction - and I was not especially pleased with either of them. Well written, yes, and not uninteresting - but the personalities of the main characters simply did not match what I thought they should be. I didn't like the rape and felt it wasn't necessary to get these two together. Agent 6.9 and I talked about it "That's now how it would have to be — we could do better than this...(and the ever popular) What If..." Eventually Agent 6.9 wrote what has become "Doyle's Dream", I countered with "Shower", she wrote "Victorian Bed", and I wrote "Doyle's Trip to Wales"...These were all stories intended only for each other to see, which is why there are private jokes scattered throughout, no titles, few corrections, etc.
Connie Faddis, an old friend from my Doctor Who days, had put me in contact with one of the British writers who put me in touch with the heads of Blue Jay Press, and we started trading stories. Agents 3.4, 6.9 and I soon found that other than what we had written, there were very few straight stories to be found. If we wanted to trade stories with the British lot, we would have to concentrate on writing slash - there was simply not a market for anything else. Our mere style of writing was enough to send the Brits into tizzies, let alone the content! (I once got back 6 pages, typewritten, single spaced, of unsolicited criticism from one of the British lot. Not a word about STORY content, or characterization - just piddly little things that didn't help me as a writer at all.) We took the attitude of 'We'll write slash but it will be OUR slash, the way WE see it and not written to anybody's specifications but our own. Like it or lump it.' I think everybody's horizons broadened. I guess they liked it, they wanted more!
Word gets about in fandom. I received letters from three people who were interested in the stories and the series. None of them wrote, but all were interested in getting EVERY story, be it slash or straight. I sent them stories, they paid me in either tapes or money...it was the beginning of The Circuit. For a long time there were six of us in the States, only three of us who wrote, then Rob and Vicki joined us and we gained two more writers (more slash and straight people). Stories came in slowly, we continued to write, and gradually, very gradually, the stockpile began to rise.
In 1982/83 various people took the Pros with them to cons and forcefed Doyle Walking to the masses. At the same time, again through mutual friends, we discovered a core group of EXCELLENT Brit writers who had no idea there were Americans delving into their speciality, but were absolutely delighted at the prospect. Americans joined, Brits joined. Everybody wanted ALL the stories NOW. I was about the only person around with access to fairly cheap copying, and I was the only one crazy enough to take on the responsibility of trying to see that everyone got what they wanted. Person A wants everything. Person B wants just slash, person C wants just slash, but no humor or death stories. Stories got catagorized, everybody wrote and told me I should set up my story list the way THEY wanted me to (and let's face it, everybody's ideas were better than mine, but mine worked best for me!), and more stories came in as more people started writing. Before long the Aussie crowd joined in on the fun, which meant I was now sending to people on three continents and that my numbers had increased from the original six people to about 35 (and those 35 sent to THEIR friends, and on.
There have been a lot of complaints lately about lack of stories coming in on the circuit. I can only say that yes, the arrival of zines has diminished the amount of material coming in. A lot of the writers have gone/are going on to other things for various reasons. The fact that the circuit has grown so large has made a big difference; someone will think that I have a story in when I don't, or that somebody else will pass it on to me when they haven't. There are at least two lending libraries in the States which makes things easier, but cut down on the personal aspect. I no longer know what's in the works - there's nobody there to encourage the new people like we did before. And people new on the circuit should realize that it took us several years to build up the story piles we have now. The stories didn't all come in at once - they were nurtured along separately, each and every one of them, and sometimes we went for months without seeing a new one in final form. I sincerely hope the circuit will continue. There's no way it can go on in the old form that I started and ran for so long - it's just gotten too big; we were too good at what we did! But it was fun while it lasted and maybe something better will come along to replace it one of these days. After all, Doyle's jeans have been a never ceasing source of inspiration thus far!