Yanno over the winter, when there was all that frothing about how wicked it was to wish people Happy Holidays when it was CHRISTMAS, DAMMIT, counterbalanced by the other frothing about HOW DARE U FORCE UR RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS DOWN MY THROAT, OPPRESSOR PIG?!?!
Exhausting, wasn't it?
Here's my proposal. You go right on ahead and wish me a happy whatever the hell it is you celebrate in December and/or January when it's cold and dark and we all need a bloody holiday with some candles and maybe a nice mince pie, yanno, and a toddy. And I will wish you a happy whatever the hell it is that I celebrate, and neither one of us will say "Oh, I don't celebrate (insert holiday here) because I am a (insert creed or religion here)." And we will both be spared the embarrassment of trying to guess whether the other guy is an infidel or something else, and we will have much more energy for not sliding into a SAD-induced carbohydrate consumption frenzy.
And then we will agree to shake hands and maybe have a nice slice of pie and a toddy, yeah?
Because dude, I am happy that you want me to be happy, and it's flippin' dark out there come midwinter, and let's be honest, wouldn't some cider go down good right about now?
There is one thing about writing original fiction, by the way, that fanfiction is probably singularly useless for practicing. Somewhat earlier, I said that thing about most people not actually reading, but skimming and making assumptions. One of the ways this manifests is when readers don't notice some element of worldbuilding, or somehow fail to integrate it into the story. (I cite as an example the fact that truepenny's Felix and Mildmay books take place on a make-believe psuedo-North American continent, not a make-believe psuedo-European one, and some of her readers trip on that.)
Now, as an SFF writer, there are a whole BUNCH of tricks you can use to work a reader around to seeing things your way, to buying into the world of the book. Some of these same tricks come in useful for making a reader accept a handwavy bit of plot or character development too; in Writerland, we technically refer to that process as "kicking some leaves over it." (ahem)
Or, to use the classical description, cut to suit, hammer to fit, paint to match.
Sandpaper is your friend. And there are a whole bunch of ways to manipulate the reader into accepting your reality tunnel. Some involve cajoling, tricking, seducing. Some involve a whistle, a point over the shoulder, and an accomplice with a blunt object and a heavy hand. A story is indeed fifty percent what's on the page and fifty percent what's in the reader's head, but we play games to get the reader bringing as much of the right fifty percent as possible.
But when you're writing something in a shared reality tunnel, you don't have to bring those tricks. Because you're all standing on the same foundation. So you can use shorthand, because you are attempting to evoke something already existing rather than to create something entirely new.
I suspect, actually, that this is why my early short story sales were mostly all pastiche. It's easier to evoke Kipling's reality than it is to build my own.
In a completely unrelated note, NPR just referred to the UConn Huskies as "college basketball royalty" when discussing how the boys washed out of the tournament last night.
Boy, when I was a student there, we were sick with amaze to make it into the NCAA tournament at all. How fast you stop being the underdog and become The Man. Because in 1990, the role of George Mason was being played by the University of Connecticut.
I hope, sixteen years down the line, announcers are boggling over how the mighty George Mason could have gone down to a team nobody has heard of.
The girls, of course, are still in the game. Because they are the Queens of College Basketball, and only Tennessee can rival them.