The second of two for ranalore
, about Things We Lost in the War
:I guess for that one I'd love more meta than commentary, really. I'd love to hear what inspired you to write the story, which is one I kind of really, really wanted and never expected because I always want poetry+my OTC fic in all my fandoms and sometimes it fits better than others and in this case I thought it might actually fit but I wasn't sure anybody else saw it that way and so I resigned myself to likely never getting it.
You know, I was trying to remember what started me down this path but I can't for the life of me remember, I started writing it so long ago. A lot of times an idea will just spring fully formed into my mind, and I think at some point the idea of Bucky not being ready to have contact face to face with Steve was there (honestly, it probably came out of writing Dark Approach, I believe), but that he could write, would want to write. We forget these days how important letters were to people back then, how difficult and expensive even phone calls were, and I had been reading some letters from the front of the European theatre during the war as well as my dad's letters home. My dad, genius though he was in the sciences, couldn't string a coherent sentence together half the time in print, but his letters from the war were still really amazing and full of such vivid detail it almost didn't seem like the dad I knew--and I think that's one of the things that wormed its way into Bucky's story, that people can have these different layers to them that come out in different ways depending on the type of communication.
Letters pull forth a different type of thinking, there's a...space, I guess, to process your thoughts, and an intimacy of thought when you're sharing communication with someone. They give you time to sink into your feelings, and you're safe, in a way, to respond to the prompts of someone else's letter to you, there's no one there to talk over you or have a body-language reaction that might overcome what you want to say.
And I know a lot about dead drops, but when I was in Washington DC last October, I went to the Spy Museum, where they had the post box that was used as a dead drop in the famous FBI spy case, and I found where Steve's apartment was, because I'd been thinking about this story and planning the letters and how they'd get delivered. It was a super inspirational fannish trip, and that put a lot of thoughts in my head about how the story itself would develop, how things would proceed and what they'd do along the way--sort of the blocking, as it were.
I've never been the biggest poetry fan, to be honest, but the poets and poems I like, I really really like. Rilke's one of them, and it helped that he was of an era where Bucky could have read his stuff and he would have had that presence and be well known enough. Thinking about Steve being a painter was what inspired me to want to have literary!Bucky--that Bucky could have a gift too that was beyond just being a soldier and a weapon, beyond the typical fanfic tropes of working at the docks or something like that. I've been writing since I was five, and it's just always been this thing in my life, even when I wasn't doing it, so I really liked thinking about Bucky having something like that in his life. That he could have had such a rich interior life.
But of course, that would be something that would come out in his letters home once he was in combat, and in writing to Steve because he didn't know how else to deal with his pain. Some of the WWII letters I've read over the years were just so amazing, so tragic and hopeless and yet beautiful, and I wanted some of that for Bucky, so that Steve could see the parts of Bucky he never did back then. And then they could move forward.
To be honest, I didn't expect people to embrace this aspect. I thought everyone would laugh at it, that the idea of Bucky loving poetry and literature would just be...stupid. Because of circumstances, I wasn't able to get it beta'd as I'd hoped, and that was my biggest fear, posting it without having anyone to tell me that it was a ridiculous idea and a poorly done story. And I still wonder if some people I know think it's a ridiculous idea; I haven't ever been that nervous posting something. But the people who've liked literary!Bucky seem to really like it, so I'm breathing a bit easier now.
I think it's really easy to see guys raised during the Depression, in poverty, in tough old Brooklyn, as only being rough and tumble. With Steve, we have his canon as an artist, but the most we have about Bucky is the tough teen sidekick that Brubaker created and gave more of a background and maturity to. I just didn't think being tough and having that background cancels out an appreciation for art, or a capability. Bucky contains multitudes, you know? I just really wanted to give him that chance at an artistic voice, too, while writing a war story and a recovery story and a love story.