My Immortal


Last night, for no better reason than because we could, IdleMuse, Electric Sheep and I did a dramatic reading of the infamous Harry Potter fan-fiction ‘My Immortal.

For those of you who don’t know what My Immortal is, let me explain. Some time between 2006 and 2007, a girl named Tara Gilesbie wrote a story, centred around the works of JK Rowling.

The fandom of Harry Potter is a large one, and there are certain stories that reach a certain level of fame within a certain community. My Immortal is one of these stories. However, it didn’t reach fame in the Harry Potter Fan Fiction community. Instead, it came to the attention of ‘preps and flamers’ (better known as trolls).

These days, youtube is littered with dramatic readings of the story by various people. You can find it with spelling errors pronounced or corrected, with funny voices and accents, and done by people who can barely contain their laughter.

Ebony, the protagonist.

Tara Gilesbie is probably the Rebecca Black of the fan fiction world. She was young, and enthusiastic about what she was trying to do. Now, there is a a lot of speculation as to whether My Immortal is actually a ‘troll fic’, but I want to assume for the purposes of this post that it’s a real story written by a real person.

There are a few things that genuinely worry me about the story. Firstly, the quality of the writing, and I’m not talking story telling here. I mean simple things like spelling and grammar, and mistakes that a quick proof read would fix. I simply don’t understand how someone can make such mistakes.

Since it’s something I’ve never really had any trouble with, the idea that other people can’t remember the differences between ‘of’ and ‘off’ and other such word pairings (your and you’re, they’re and their, etc.) really makes me wonder about the quality of our education system. It’s been proven time and again that for a lot of people, the way that they get taught in schools is simply not effective, and yet nothing has been done to try and help these people learn in ways that are suitable to them. Tara Gilesbie is obviously one of these people who has been failed by contemporary education and needs an alternative way to learn the language she speaks. (Maybe if they had Gerard Way teaching…)

Another thing, and perhaps a more personal worry, about the story and the author, is the attitude towards self harm. More than once, the protagonist of the story states that she wants to sit around with her friends and cut her wrists (as a form of relaxation), and on multiple occasions, the author says that she will cut her wrists for every negative review she receives. She also blames late updates on having to go to the hospital for cut wrists more than once.

Is it just me, or is this attitude towards self harm a disgusting point of view to have? As a person who has experienced self harm for other reasons, the thought of sitting with friends and doing it as a social activity is one that is abhorrent to me. Self harm, to someone suffering from depression, is a way of relieving pain. Bear with me here, because it’s very difficult to articulate. For me, personally, the internal pain and intensity of feeling that accompanies a severe depressive episode is such that I feel like there is pain, self loathing, sadness, hopelessness, guilt, and something that I cannot locate the words for, are all bubbling up in my veins, searing and white hot fire that is seething and writhing inside with nowhere to go. Taking a sharp, gleaming knife and forging a place for the pain to leave my body seems, at times, the only solution.

So, to me, the culture of casual self harm because of how ‘cool’ it is and because it’s like a badge of honour amongst that particular friendship group, is sickening. I’ve seen people, mainly kids in their early teens, who consider themselves to be ‘gothic’ (and no, I don’t mean that they think they’re members of a Germanic tribe from ages past) but the world at large see them as ‘emo’, with cuts up and down their arms that look like they annoyed a cage full of feral cats. Thin scratches are their harm of choice, with short sleeves so best to show them off.

I wish I could fathom why people felt the need to do this kind of thing, why they think that it’s something so worth bragging about. If I could work out why, then maybe I could work out how to persuade them to stop.

All that aside, spending nearly five hours with some of my best friends reading out what is in fact possibly the worst piece of writing ever produced and laughing almost continuously, was a fantastic way to spend the evening, and I recommend it to anyone, as long as you think you can stomach the mutilation of the English language.

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10 thoughts on “My Immortal

  1. Oh, My Immortal. A beautiful piece of fail that fandom jumped on… I did make it all the way through, once.

    (As an aside, the thought of Gerard Way sitting down with writers of ‘goffick’ mary-sues and talking to them about grammar and self-harm is hilarious and awesome.)

    I mostly think that fanfic like that is written that way deliberately – intentional text speak and without spell-check because the writer is typing directly into a text-box and desperate to get their fantasy (because they usually are straight-up self insert fantasies) onto the screen as fast as possible. And because it is their fantasy, any comment about the lack of spell-checking or concrit becomes a direct attack on them as a person.

    Mostly, fics like this skip over what the writer doesn’t know about. I tend to switch between finding it vaguely reassuring (and hilarious) and triggery as fuck when there are throwaway lines such as, “so we cut ourselves and then went to dinner”, “then we did the sex”, or “and then he raped me” with no elaboration or any kind of ramifications for the character/mary-sue.

  2. [Grr failed to finish the paragraph.]

    While they might be writing about these things ridiculously lightly and referring to them in an off-hand sentence, even though describing what they were wearing took a paragraph or two…at least they don’t have first hand experience to draw on.

    • Because only a certain level of general mirth can lead to us reading such a thing, I’ve not felt My Immortal being triggery, but I know that it actually quite is – hence this post.

      And I agree that there are two ways to take it. I just wish that they didn’t feel the need to kid themselves into thinking that they do know enough about self harm to feel qualified enough to write about it. I don’t understand how or why it’s become such a big deal to have a few scratches on your arms.

      I know I would do anything to hide the scars I have, and don’t want any acclaim for them!

  3. Your/you’re their/there/they’re may give you no problems, but you’re still putting too many commas in your sentence structure and thus breaking it in the wrong way/place 😛

    Some people just don’t ‘get’ human language. I know people who can bend their heads round mathematics that makes my eyes hurt, but can’t reliably use their/they’re/there correctly, or spell certain simple words. I don’t think it’s necessarily our education system, it’s just that some people’s brains aren’t wired to be able to grok certain things. No matter how much I tried when I was a kid, no matter how much I wanted to and how much I practised with the instrument of my choice, I could never grasp more than the most basic levels of music and being a musician. Compare that to friends with no formal training of any kind who can pick up an instrument of a type they’ve never seen before and be throwing out a recognisable popular tune within 10 minutes. Give them a few days and they’ll be composing their own stuff on it. I can do it with computer programming languages, and while my English writing skills are perfectly adequate and correct I *still* can’t make my brain remember what a noun is, or a verb, adverb, adjective etc etc. I know what looks and ‘feels’ right, but I can’t make my brain remember the technical terms no matter how hard I try, and I suck *hugely* at trying to learn any foreign language.

    • Well shit – I was extra careful when writing this post, so as not to seem hypocritical! Do you mind pointing out where my excessive comma use is?

      Also, the stuff you said there has made my brain-cogs start turning. There will probably be a post before too long of me perambulating on this matter.

  4. To take one example:

    “It’s been proven time and again that for a lot of people, the way that they get taught in schools is simply not effective, and yet nothing has been done to try and help these people learn in ways that are suitable to them.”

    The first comma in that sentence seems jarring to me. I’d remove it entirely and say the sentence flows more evenly. I might also restructure it to “It’s been proven time and again that the way that people get taught in schools is simply not effective in a lot of cases”, but I don’t think it really matters which way round it is.

    The comma before an ‘and’ feels like it should be something else, but removing it entirely doesn’t work. Possibly a semicolon, but I tend to avoid using those as i’m never sure of the correct usage so would probably leave it as a comma.

    • I confess a similar lack of knowledge about semi colons and therefore largely ignore them.

      I think what I probably need to do is proof read my posts more closely before publishing them – since I can see what you mean with that sentence.

  5. I have to admit I can’t comment on much of the rest of the post as I didn’t read it closely. The bits about language and teaching interested me, but I have little to no interest in fic and completely unrelated issues with the whole self harm thing, so I largely skim read the rest of the post rather than properly paying attention.

  6. Semicolons are an awesome tool when you learn to use them; in fact, I used one just now. Not entirely correctly, but it’ll do.

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