Of HTML, Markdown, Tumblr, and Archive of Our Own

Chatter Web Development Internet

Picture this...

It's ~circa 2010 and your older sister has just entered her fanfiction phase - alongside this there comes the account, the tumblr blogs, the AMVs (with Cascada's 'Everytime we touch' blaring in the background, obviously) - your sibling has well and truly become deeply invested in fandom life, and you, as the impressionable younger sibling, can only sit and watch.

Until, of course, a little over a year later you're given unsupervised access to the interwebs with your very own android tablet (not an iPad, mind you - your parents hate Apple too much), and you dive headfirst into the frothing cesspool that many today call 'The Internet'.

Immediately you make a Tumblr blog, and launch yourself into the same circles your sister did - always tiptoeing around each other online - she didn't want to see my obsessive Pokemon blogging, and I certainly didn't want to see her Harry Potter fanfictions, (Thank god she's grown out of that now - not the fanfics, but the Harry Potter) but aside from all that, it's all good! It's all good because you're in your early teens and you've just discovered that you can download hacked Pokemon straight to your DS with a DNS exploit (even though at the time of writing, you've just spent several hours fighting with DNS configurations) - it's all good because you've just discovered you can customise your tumblr theme to your exact specifications with a little bit of HTML and CSS wizardry, and by God, you feel smart. You customise your friends' blogs, your sister's blog - you're in your early teens and you've just won the ICT prize at school (It was a frisbee) and your goals for the future are to become a graphic designer for Nintendo, because you love Princess Peach (I would figure out a few years later I was gay) and 'Graphic Designer' is the only computer-related job at the tender age of... wait, how old are you?

Skipping ahead...

Okay, so you went from golden child of Computer Science to mostly-average school student scraping through their GCSEs and then their A-Levels - you had a mental break in 2015, but man, who didn't?! Your HTML skills have gone from 'Oh my god, you can make a website? And it runs in Google?! Witchcraft! Wizardry!' to 'Your style sheet is honestly scuffed...' but you don't even care (you care a lot) because it's two-thousand-and-whatever and you've kind of grown out of all the anime and fanfictions and whatever... After all, you gotta focus. University is coming soon, you don't really have time for any of that--


It's 2020, and the last few years were a blur. (Looking back and writing this blog post, I can't even remember what I did in the upper years of school and sixth form. A couple of things stick out, but that's for another time...) You're stuck at home, you don't know whether you're coming or going, but you also haven't left your bed in about a week.

It feels like regression, like you're going back to being too depressed to move, too agoraphobic to look out the window. You fall back into old habits, and then old interests. Somehow, as an adult, you make your return to fanfiction.


I don't write much anymore, the busyness has very much crept in again, but for that time in isolation with the pandemic, I fell back into it. It was simultaneously the best and worst thing I could've done, and I find myself both grateful and resentful. Getting back into fanfiction resulted in me using a site called Archive of Our Own, or AO3 for short - a replacement for older sites, such as Wattpad and Fanfiction-dot-net, AO3 provided so much customisation over my works, meaning I was able to create something I was truly proud of.

You're probably asking 'what the hell does this have to do with HTML?' and the answer is: Everything. (Or like, at least a little bit) AO3 uses a HTML editor in order to format works, and I found myself picking up my old HTML notes just so I'd have a clue of how to do things, and make my fics look nice. And there's so much you can do! Looking up AO3 tutorials for HTML helped me add so many little fun & funky elements to make my works really stand out and shine - who doesn't want a choose your own adventure fic? Or a fic with fake tweets (that act like real tweets) and text messages - for me, writing wasn't just about putting the words on the page, it was about how creative I could be with the storytelling, what elements would be fun, what would make it more real?

Sadly, as I said, I don't write any more - life got in the way as it usually does, but I'm still entranced by the creativity

It's thanks to sites like Tumblr and AO3 that I am who I am today (slightly neurotic, socially anxious, and a perpetual procrastinator), and it's probably because of them that I have any interest in software development today (though I'm not the greatest at it!) - and it's thanks to them that I wanted to have my own little site, my own little piece of the web where I can ramble on to my heart's content!

And it's also thanks to them that when my friend was explaining markdown earlier today I went 'Oh, like on AO3? The fanfiction site?' and I got to watch someone lose respect for me in real-time.

Anyways, thank you for reading, and I wish you all the best!

Lots of love from awenllais

(P.S. If you were wondering, yes, AO3 can run doom: here )