Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Year Of Star Trek

Well, it's almost over. I have the two latest films to watch today (and I'm going to re-watch the original pilot) and then I will have watched all of Star Trek in 2013.

When this year first started I thought that, when December rolled around, I might get a Star Trek tattoo to celebrate the completion of my project. For years, I wanted to get a bunch of geek symbols all meshed together into one large tattoo. Now, I can't imagine doing that.

I've thought a lot about this little phenomenon because it's indicative of something larger.

I mentioned in a recent post (I say recent but I think it was sometime in November) that my appreciation for Star Trek has shifted, deepened even though my level of fervor for it seems to have cooled. How is this possible? What changed? How can I appreciate something more and less at the same time?

I've had about a month since then to reflect on this and I think it comes down to a few things. (Stick with me because I'm honestly still just gathering my thought about this and, as it's December 31st, I'm quite emotional about it all.)

For one thing, my life changed pretty drastically this year. With Scott suddenly working in television, I got a glimpse at the workings that make the magic happen. I hung around sound stages, stayed up late with Scott while he was finishing revisions of drafts, talked to him about how his episodes would fit into the larger arcs of the series, and drank beer with Jonathan Frakes. It should've been surreal but it wasn't. It was just the direction my life had taken. And, with that direction, I found a more personal, more human part of the show that I was watching. I couldn't just look at Picard and see Picard anymore. I saw the actor, styled by professionals, saying lines written by one guy, revised by another guy, and approved by yet another guy, directed by someone else entirely on a set created by hundreds of people. It's not that I stopped believing in magic but that I developed a new understood how magic worked. So, there's that.

Another thing: I just got a book deal. It's odd because I got a deal for two of my novels at the same time. The first, Awesome Jones, took me several years to write and revise. It was my baby, my first child, and I spent a long time just figuring out how to bring it up. I've lived in the world of Awesome Jones for years. I know the city the characters inhabit better than I know my own. And now, every one else is about to have access to that city. Those characters. Their story. I'm turning over the keys to my world to anyone who wants them and it's exciting and terrifying and humbling all at once. At the same time, I'm slowly going from being a fan to a creator and I think that has changed the way I view the worlds of other fandoms.

Alright, here's the last (maybe?) thing. When I first started this project, I LOVED Star Trek. I understood that it had had its not-as-good episodes and that it had ups and downs over the years but, as a fan with the power of Netflix, I was capable of glossing over that stuff. I could also watch it any time I wanted. I could spend weeks without watching Star Trek and not even realize it. I would happen upon an episode I hadn't seen in years and think, "Oh, I forgot all about this one." But then, January rolled around and I started this blog. To say I watched three episodes a day (which is true) isn't even really giving what happened here credit. What I ended up in was a completely immersive experience. I watched the episodes. I read about the episodes. I took notes about the episodes. I read about the behind-the-scenes stuff. I wrote a post (almost every day) that was (hopefully) thoughtful and (hopefully) well-crafted. And then I put it online for a bunch of strangers (who soon became friends) to read. This became my job. It became my entire life. I stopped responding to emails. I stopped writing and submitting short stories. I stopped watching other TV. My whole life suddenly became Star Trek.  When I would (on rare occasion) meet up with friends, I found that all my "humorous anecdotes" were now about some Star Trek behind-the-scenes thing or something hilarious Geordi did the other day. I lived it, breathed it, and dreamed it.

Then, somewhere around the end of DS9 and the beginning of Voyager, I hit a wall. I woke up one morning and thought, "I don't know. Can I keep doing this? I'm so tired. I'm sick. I'm suddenly trying to revise a novel and I'm in the middle of my second move of the year and..." But then I just stopped moaning, turned on the TV, sat down with my breakfast, and watched Star Trek. And I was comforted. And I wrote a post. And I was comforted. And I read the comments. And I was comforted. And I realized that, even though Star Trek had taken over my life in many ways, it had become such an integral part of my day that I didn't want to be without it. That even when I was sort of exhausted with this whole thing, I was comforted by the experience.

In fact, now, if I just start talking about the year coming to an end, my throat tightens up and I'm seconds away from full-fledged tears. I have cried and cried and cried. I have burst into tears just listening to other people talk about finish their own projects. I have broken down upon receiving emails from my readers. I have blubbered into my tea just counting the number of episodes I had left. I don't want the project to be over.

So many times people have asked, "But won't you be relieved? You don't have to be tied down to this show anymore. You can watch whatever you want and blog whenever you feel like it."

Nope. I don't feel relieved. I feel distressed. I feel like someone is cutting a part of my life away.

Because that's what, in the course of this year, Star Trek has become. It's a part of my life. It's as familiar to me as any other part of my day. It's not perfect. (In fact, in many ways it's very flawed. It's a show about humans created by human hands and human hearts and so there's no way for it to be perfect.) But I love it. And my love for it is less about fawning over it and worshiping it as I might once have done. Now, after My Year Of Star Trek, it's about acknowledging that it's a part of my life, that it's always been a part of my life, and letting it slip back into the background, knowing that it's always there if I need it.


  1. I love this project. I think it has improved your writing and even your outlook on the way you create art and live your life. And your thoughts about it in this post? So thoughtful and honest and personal. I can't imagine you writing something like this a year ago. I'm sad to see this project end, but seeing how it's impacted you as a writer, I'm excited to see what's coming next.

  2. Beautiful post, and a beautiful year of work!

  3. Well done, Ashley-Rose. Well spoken and delivered with honesty. Thank you for sharing this year of Star Trek. You have bravely and boldy gone there and immersed your creative self and your reflective soul into work that mattered to you and many fans. Someday I hope to watch all of the shows and episodes after TNG which is where I stopped, and when I do I will be able to go back to all of your blog posts and match them up to the episodes. What I enjoyed immensely with these writings is how you dovetailed your own episodes of life into the episodes of Star Trek.Cheers to you for completing an enormous project and I raise a Happy New Year's toast to you for your future endeavors! (Some of which I am sure will spring from this blog.) <3 mama

  4. "Mr.Paris, set a course... ...for home."

    I will only say "bravo". And "Happy New Year"!

  5. You know those time-lapse photos of flowers blooming? Your blog has been like that to me. I feel like I am watching someone grow and become. With each post you've opened a little more. There's just something very effective and relatable in your writing. I am so happy I stumbled upon My Year of Star Trek!

    By the way, you may have missed one of the most influential Star Trek films. ;-) Galaxy Quest! Have you ever seen it?

    I hope you'll keep writing!

  6. With deep appreciation and admiration, AshleyRose. Thank you for all you've shared this year. It's meant the world to me. Looking forward to whatever comes next! XXOO

  7. Your devotion and perseverance to this project are inspiring! It must have been hard to keep it going with so much happening in your life. I can’t imagine anyone relating to Star Trek more deeply or sharing it as personally as you have. Looking forward to your reflections on the most recent films when you have time.

  8. By the way... with a little effort and editing, this blog would make a wonderful book. It's really part of your personal story/history... (posted after my post to "a new year".)

  9. Well done. I applaud your tenacity. As much as I love Star Trek, I'm not sure I could marathon myself through it. I've never watched more than two episodes a day, and hardly watch more than two a week. In fact, it's been months since I've last watched one.

    That being said, I've loved this blog since the day I stumbled upon it. The reason I found it was because some character on a recent TV show said either "Negro" or "Negress" (I don't remember which or which show) and the person I was watching it with was shocked and appalled.

    "They can't say that on television!" they said.

    I knew you could and that it had been. I Googled the quote, "My, what a charming Negress." I knew it was from Star Trek but I couldn't remember which episode. It led me to "Ten Reasons Why You Should Watch 'The Savage Curtain"" at myyearofstartrek.com and this:

    3- The following exchange happens:
    Abe: (to Uhura) Oh my, what a charming negress.
    (Kirk is taken aback and Abe apologizes)
    Uhura: But why should I object to that term, sir? In our century, we've learned not to fear words.

    I pointed that out to my friend and thought it was a perfect capsule of a future I'd like to be involved in.

    I've been reading ever since.

    Thank you, Ashley-Rose.

  10. I can definitely understand the mixed emotions that come with the end of a big project like this. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I'm excited to see where the next year takes you.


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