My preference has always been to relate to SPN as a world rather than a work. I'll still talk about arcs sometimes, and parallels and undercurrents and all that, because, well. It is a work. But the way I love it--like, really, really love it--is as a world, or a universe. These are nebulous enough that there is no form they're meant to hew to, nothing they are supposed to be, and no reason to. They are as they are, and your life within it is working with the pieces.
I love thinking about the infinite reasons Sam and Dean say this or that, and the idea that a weird comment or reaction can be a product of one very specific set of immediate and long-standing circumstances that will never exist in that same way ever again. Maybe it's just something they said, and it's nothing, everyone around them knows it's nothing, and the moment passes. Or maybe it's not, but the moment passes anyway. Perhaps unevenly. But maybe it stays, past its meaning--someone is angry in one tense but their recipient takes it in another. And then, as Dean has said, the story became the story. I love taking this at the level of the person, but also at the level of the world.
I think also one of the differences I see in thinking about something as a world rather than as a work is, a world is not my work. As a writerly person, written works kind of are, and they come with a whole system of like, being responsible to a story/argument and to those of others. But that's not what I want my relationship to SPN to be, because I don't personally get a whole lot out of that mode; that doesn't serve me. I also like... I don't care. XP SPN is not my story, and therefore not my responsibility. It's not my job to make sure there are arcs and beats and consistencies, paired with daring (but productive, and only productive) leaps of faith, and I certainly don't envy anyone whose job it is. I don't want that job, and I definitely don't want to do it in my free time, for free. It's not my problem.
Which makes me free to drop/ignore/let fade into soft focus anything I don't care about. I'm in early S9 right now and I completely forgot literally any of this angel stuff was even happening, or that any of these characters existed (Bartholomew? Malachai? Meriel???). And I love S9. I routinely forget that Benny exists and I have never in my life framed Sam and Dean's relationship to Jack as fatherly. They can say whatever they want; I'm completely at liberty to decide how serious they are, or how thoroughly they've considered they've examined their interpersonal lives lol.
I'm also free to expand upon whatever I want, in whatever direction I want. Which for me tends to take one of two forms: Me getting overly fascinated with aspects of canon that I feel are objectively alien to me but then get overly interesting, or me dressing canon in a full-on gown and train filled with everything I love, to excess. These as practices obviously isn't unique to me--it's pretty much the definition of fandom. But there are a lot of different ways to do them, and a lot of orientations to canon from which they stem. I don't really have any orientation to the "fix-it" or like, the "this makes canon better for me." Sometimes I get comments on fic that are like, you did X better than the show did, or I hated Y episode and Z character's actions but this fic was good. Which is meant as a compliment and also is one? But my reaction is always like, Lord, not again. /O\ Those just make me sad. Because my feeling is always that the world is something I'm writing with, and within--nor against, or in an attempt to shore it up or whatever. Regardless of how canon-compliant or not the fic might be (though you may have noticed my loving preference is generally for writing very boring fic that sits next to canon more or less compliantly and contributes dimension, but usually not, like, ideas).
It also gets kind of sticky when like, you're in that zone where you're deriving a lot more pleasure playing by yourself than you are trying to wade through the vast universe that is all of fandom. I was trying to explain to my dad what 9x13 was and very nearly forgot that that episode had nothing to do with Lisa and that Lisa and Donna had never slept with each other. WHICH LIKE, can make playing in fandom probably not the best outlet, because when your headcanon becomes basically indistinguishable from your perception of canon, that's when you get into all that shipwar or ESG/EDG crap, you know?
But at the same time I also don't really see the point of holding to strong boundaries between what is canon and what is headcanon, what is the work and what is the fanwork. Because that's just SPN as a work again. As a world, those borders are, like I said before, nebulous. That capacity and nebulousness can clearly lead to wretched, zany things, and maybe some righteousness and a very strange relationship to how a world should serve you (see: Chuck, if we're going to get meta about this). But I'm also like, I'm not here to responsibly separate canon from headcanon, either. I don't give a shit. I'm here for SPN's world, which is my world, and there isn't going to be a boundary because that's the whole point. I'm here to chase my hedonism.
Pretty early on in my relationship with SPN--like, S7 early, so two years in--I knew that my relationship to SPN would outlast my participation in its fandom. Which was a weird thing to know, because it was the opposite of much of the conversation at the time, where people were divesting themselves of canon but remaining very much invested in fandom. I don't mean this out of any disrespect to the great things this fandom has created, and the deep friendships I have made through fandom. I very much value these things, and very much think that all my friends from SPN are wonderful people and brilliant creatives. I hope that does not need to be said (but am happy to say it ad nauseam!). But I knew. Whatever (semi-)private conversation I was having with SPN was going to last longer than the house party that is fandom. And I'm not one for hanging around things I don't enjoy anymore.
I think what makes it feel really hard and awkward, though, is that like. All my SPN thoughts and feelings are here, on this journal, and almost exclusively here. I don't want to just up and put it anywhere else. But it's still weird, even if I unfollow all the comms, don't cross-post, make aggressive use of LJ's shitty filtering system, lock comments, etc. because to be in a place without explicitly wanting to interact with it feels standoffish and self-absorbed. I don't want to feel that way, or come across that way, but... I still need to put all this SPN somewhere and I want to put it on LJ because that's where all of it already is. Even though of all our social media options LJ is probably the best suited for this--it's supposed to be a journal, with writing that is at a remove from being explicitly public, in circulation, etc.--I'm still just like ehhhh I'm an asshole. My instinct is to be interactive and community-oriented when there are people around. But I'm also like, I am here to chase my hedonism and relate to a thing in a very particular way and only care about things in a very particular way and love in a very particular way and none of those desires jibe with that. Uhhh, this is not where this post started but I guess it's where it's ending!