"We are likely to be disconcerted by ... hiatuses of thought."
-- Edmund Wilson
 

There's no good way to break up with someone. All of the lines sound clichéd: "I need my space." "I want to just be friends." "It's not you, it's me." And the sad thing is that most of the time, they're true. Even harder, then, is to call for a separation, a hiatus: "We need time apart."
 And that's what we're doing here at apocrypha. So since there's no good way to say it, we're just going to try and map out what it is that's brought us to this decision, after five and a half years and 24 issues - and there's no doubt we're going to bungle it somehow, and toes will be stepped on, and clichés will be uttered. But as was once said, clichés are only that way because they are true.
First: We need our space.
The fact is that apocrypha, the 'zine, is run solely by two women - one with a job and family and one with a job and a dog and a freelancing concern - and it's become increasingly difficult to find the time to work the 'zine, even though it only comes out a few times a year, into our routine. For a time, it was a labor of love; as it became more onerous in places and required more attention, we'd hoped to recruit more columnists and possibly design experts who, like us, would volunteer their skills to produce something slick and exciting. That has not materialized, and so, between vetting stories, suggesting rewrites, arguing, discussing, web page designing, collecting news (Olga has been invaluable in assisting in that recently) and trying to solicit non-fiction items as well as contributing occasionally ourselves, this is not a one-week out of every four months project, this is a weekly, sometimes daily effort. Without assistance, we're finding it more and more of a challenge.
Second: It's not you (well, maybe some of you), it's us.
apocrypha has been a wonderful vehicle over the past years to showcase what we, the editors, thought was quality fanfiction. We've come across a lot of drek on the 'net, as well as a lot of readers and writers who don't mind drek, but that's not what we envisioned for  apocrypha. A goal had been to develop a stable of writers who consistently put together some of the most interesting, well-written, well-edited stories on the Internet, to hopefully make the fandom stand out amongst all of the others out there. We've never seen ourselves as a clearing house; we don't have time for everything. So we wanted to be selective. 
Increasingly, that, too, has become - to our minds - more difficult. Perhaps we've grown too jaded, perhaps we've been too hard on everyone all along. But we've gone through stories most readers wouldn't believe could be sent out as finished product, from stuff that makes us wonder if the writer has seen the shows to stuff that made us wonder if English was their native tongue (and in that instance, the author was furious that we would ask such a question, despite having sent in sentences like: "She sat there at the table, frail and negligent in her black gabardine dress, reading a book. Jack folded his arms, lingering upon her presence, bear in mind. Cleared his throat and watched her raise those dark eyes, solicit the interruption.")
So we've been worn down a bit. The good stuff seems to be coming fewer and farther between, and part of that may be our own weariness, and part of that may be that the show is no longer sparking the kind of creative interest it once did. And for our part, that's the major contributor to our disillusionment: The show itself.
Although newer fans are no doubt going to disagree (and we understand; there is nothing like being a new fan to a show as long-reaching as L&O has been), the truth is that sometime around the time it won the Emmy, L&O grabbed its niche and has kept its fingers tenaciously wedged in that handhold ever since. It's a niche that cranks out generally decent crime tales every week, three times a week (a note from Dick Wolf to the his staff once read: "Thanks for helping make the impossible possible every week") but has lost the ability (except in rare instances) to surprise or inspire. While we still cheer it for being realistic, which gives it a superiority above mediocre fare like The Practice and CSI, L&O has stagnated. Early on, it found a way to make characters 3/4 their job, and 1/4 their lives - so that the lives influenced how they did the job, but did not take us into their homes. Now, the job is 15/16 and the life, if at all, is 1/16 of the mix, which makes most of the newer characters cardboard cutouts of their predecessors. While this may work for the show, it does not seem to work for inspiring fan fiction. The vast majority of what we still get is related to the mortality of Claire, of Jack and Claire's relationship, of Mike's relationship with the rest of the world. The newer stuff has latched on to Lennie - leaving virtually every character since 1996 barely explored. They are simply not inspirational. The fiction they have generated is, for the most part, as flat as they are. And after hundreds of stories about the old characters, we're finding it harder and harder to read something fresh - not necessarily brand new, but told in a fresh way or style. Our editors' notes have recently been threaded through with soft-pedaled bitching and moaning, with advisories included - and in the end, that has not helped. Instead, what it's created is L&O meta-fanfic, with this month's "Open Letter," by Cirocco Jones, which has Lennie and Rey telling writers how not to write their characters. That, if nothing else, should be a wake-up call to the genre.
Third: We need time apart.
So we're taking a break. We're thinking of it as a chance to rejuvenate and revitalize the batteries. Start watching our L&O DVDs from the first season and remember what it was that got us all excited about this show in the first place. The show has just started airing widely in Britain; perhaps in the next few months a slew of British writers will decide they just have to start telling the tales of Mike Logan, Rey Curtis, Ben Stone and Jack McCoy again, and their perspective will be inspiring. And, perhaps it will not.
In the meantime, apocrypha will still accept fiction, nonfiction, reviews and whatever else you want to throw our way. The list will remain active; contributions to the Characters page are still welcome. However, we will not be responding immediately to submissions, nor will we be offering commentary until at least May, 2003. We will be discussing over the ensuing months whether or not we will pick up the apocrypha magazine again, and how often we will publish. Perhaps twice a year should be enough; perhaps more. We never wanted to stick to a rigorous schedule - we wanted the fanfic to tell us when it was ready to publish. Now that there's less we want to publish, we're going to listen a little harder. Few things are worse than a lack of passion, and we want to be able to feel about L&O and apocrypha the way we did back in 1997, when we first began publishing. If we can't come back to that again, then apocrypha will at least stand as the net's best collection of archived L&O fanfic. After all, we do still want to remain friends!
In the meantime, here is our final issue for 2002, chock full of stories, challenges and - in a surprise, our Blue Wall Award winners. Although we'd called for nominations in the last issue, since the next issue won't be out until mid-next year, we decided to consider the nominations as votes, and tallied winners that way. Congratulations to our authors, and be sure to check them out at the writings page! Additionally, Kor would like to point to "Thirty Three Days," a short character study that she really enjoyed and Kitt would like to nod her furry little head at Jones's "Open Letter," saying, "Now, that's an original idea we can all take to heart."
So enjoy this issue, have a lovely holiday season and a very happy New Year. We're off to take a nap!


Love,


 

From: Perro315
Sent: Saturday, October 05, 2002 10:46 PM
Subject: Prudence

Pretty cool---good mix of established L & O character history, intelligent supposition, and creative merging of two entirely different worlds 
("Charmed" 's Halliwell sisters, and L & O regulars!) Good job!
 

 

From: Sue Flaxman 
Sent: Friday, November 01, 2002 8:38 PM
Subject: Protector

LOVED IT!!!!!  Poor Serena...
 
Boom
 

From: STCHNNOCRN 
Sent: Thursday, October 31, 2002 1:11 PM
Subject: Protector

Oh my gosh! You know I don't like the "Dead Claire" stories, but this was excellent!!  Great job! 

Lori