The 9 Ports of Shipping (Full Moon Special #12)

Thus it came to pass that the twelfth Full Moon has risen above this humble larper (and larping writer) as she goes on with her monthly howling celebrations. This time – for this awesome year’s last Full Moon – we discuss the practice commonly known as shipping, ships, and everything else that rocks your ocean.

For the beginning, let us acknowledge the nine shipping ports, or stops, or phases – something every shipper has to go through in their early naval education, should they consider themselves fully-fledged sailors.

The Ship

The first port, realizing you’re a shipper, comes to us in different stages while we’re still in the shipyard, but mostly quite early in one’s adventures. To realize one’s a shipper, one must only inquire into themselves as to whether they find any pairing (or more than a pair) in a certain fandom attractive, and whether one roots for them to actually become a pair (or more). If one does, well… one’s, basically, doomed for life.

The second port, finding shipper friends, is something not all sailors are lucky enough to experience. Those who do know how thrilling it is to chant about random shipping incidents, fanfics worth reading (and those which are most definitely not), new OTPs and OT3s and – not the least of it – to cry on each other’s shoulder when stuff like Arrow 2×23 happens.

The third port, learning about all of the vast ocean of ships out there, (whether you’re a Phile or not, you know they are out there), is a destination each of us has to reach alone, although friendly sailors are always welcome along the way. Whether you’re the oldfashioned type (like me with Fanlore articles) or a trendsetter yourself, there are limitless resources to educate you about all the possibilities of shipping. (And I do mean all. I just wish some of them included a comprehensive list of Ao3 tags – because, recently, I’ve gotten a little lost myself in all the undercurrents.)

The fourth port, navigating the currents of the Ao3 archives, Livejournal communities, YouTube, Tumblr recs and/or Fanfiction.net, is obligatory for every shipper who doesn’t just drool, but also read. The skillset necessary to do that is impressive, I must say (although hitting rank:kudos and status:complete does aid one’s fanfic adventures), but it’s not something to stop you or anyone from indulging in a bit of reading.

The fifth port welcomes shippers who come out as such – to themselves and to people around them. For me, this one came quite late (like, ten plus years later than I discovered Fanfiction.net), somewhere around this post. I have to say, Castle helped. And Sterek. And the co-alpha. And all the people who had to suffer me for years – talking about the ships, ranting about the ships, being insufferable about the ships. Well, umm, I’m not sure if my own acceptance of the fact I’m a shipper had helped anyone, but it certainly helped me – librarians love labels, after all.

Of all the ships...

The sixth port, dating a shipper, is something not all of us get to experience. Those who do, usually have a blast – whether they ship together, separately or totally unrelated to each other. The co-alpha and I have gone through all the versions of the dance, from shipping together (there were even a couple of fics we wrote in pair, in the days of old), shipping side by side, shipping stuff we can’t figure out why the other one ships (yeah, I’m weird) and coming back together somewere around Castle 4x23. Now it’s just a question of time when another ship will sail our way – and we are looking forward to going on board together.

The seventh port welcomes shippers of rare ships and weird ships. I feel you – because not even this list of Teen Wolf ships mentions all of mine. One of my favourite aspects of online shipping (although I’m just a spectator) can be translated as your ship is not my ship but your ship is okay. Although fandom wars are a legend of the modern era in themselves, I never was one to say no ship is shippable and no OTP acceptable (though my lines are drawn at characters under 17, thank you very much). Shippers of rare sails usually find each other in several online shipping fests (that’s the way I found out about the concept of “rare ships” in the first place) and have to dare read the most random of fics – since the best of writers seem to hang around the biggest of sailing companies. Still, there is always hope – and lovely Ao3 tags.

The eighth port awaits those who dare answer the common muggle question – what is a ship? Not three days ago I was present in person as two teenage fangirls tried to explain to their unenlightened geek friends (still loving my day job) what a ship is. Boy, was it a wonder. Not only did they not mention the word “romantic” in any way (luckily, sex wasn’t even brought up as a topic), but it turned out we all have very different views on what a ship is and can be. Several days earlier, I watched the soap opera episode of Castle with my primary pack – and had to explain to my mother what a ship is (carefully avoiding the question as to why I know so much about it). Fortunately, it would appear that my primary pack is on board with Caskett, too  – so it didn’t end up as awkward as it could’ve ended.

The ninth port, near the end of the journey – or close to another beginning – comes when we realize, all over again, that even muggles can be shippers – see above. Maybe it took watching early Castle episodes with my first pack, all over again, to realize it – or maybe it was waiting there all along, but I truly believe shipping is a passion common to geeks, non-geeks and fledgling geeks alike. In short, we can all embrace the wonderful, multicoloured sails of honestly hoping that fictional characters someone else had imagined could be together (or pretend they were together, if it’s a dead or over fandom). Hey, some people participate in swordfighting with heavyweight plate armour – I ship. I can’t catch a hit to my eyeglasses, they can’t blush when someone asks them “what is it that you do in your spare time?”. The worldwide ocean is truly big enough for us all…

For the end, let us celebrate our many many sails (in all the colours imaginable – and probably some invented, too) under the light of this year’s last Full Moon. From what I hear, many people have trouble sleeping under it – may I humbly suggest you sail yourself, this time, whether via reading fanfiction, watching fanvids, indulging in fanart, watching or reading your favourite fandom’s original work – or maybe creating something derivative yourself? Many happy ships this month! And get ready for a whole new year of Full Moons and new ships which await you on the open seas – after all, they’re just around the corner…

pain and sufferance

Art by the wonderful online shippers of the-ship-too-huge-for-just-one-name-so-it-went-and-got-four.