forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
[personal profile] forestofglory
I've been doing fanish stuff almost as long as I can remember but it's only in the last several years I've started to think of myself as someone who's part of fandom and even then it's with caveats about which part of fandom. (Ie SFF book fandom but not really transformative works fandom.) It might be more straight forward to talk about weather I consider myself a fan, but it's not so much about my identity as someone who likes stuff I've always felt comfortable saying I'm a fan in that sense it's more about my sense of belonging to a community.

As kid I used to play pretend games based on my favorite books, have long philosophical arguments with my friends about what book characters should do and just generally obsess of my favorite fictional things. At one point I had a handmade spreadsheet of ElfQuest characters. All of that made me a fan, but since I was mostly doing it by myself it didn’t make me part of fandom.

I first encountered the idea of fandom as teen reading author personal essays about going to cons, voting in the Hugos and doing SWFA stuff. Some of them even talked about writing fanfic. The library had a several collections of Hugo winning stories with commentary by Asimov where he wrote very affectionately about cons and such. (I didn't learn about him assaulting women at cons until years later.) So I knew as a teen that SFF fandom existed but it didn't feel like something I could be part of. It seemed like something you had to go cons to do, and that was pretty scary for me back then.

This was also around this time that my family got home internet access. I was soon joining forums and mailing lists to talk to other people about books on the internet. This would have been in the early 2000s. But at the time I didn’t really think about what I was doing online as fandom that still seemed like something that happened in person.

I’m not sure when exactly I started thinking of myself as part of fandom. Not for a long time after I’d be active in online fandom. Maybe after I started voting in Hugo Awards? When I started writing short fiction recs regularly, which happened soon after? When I started writing for [community profile] ladybusiness? Maybe not until I started going to conventions. I can’t recall a moment when I suddenly thought well I’m in fandom now. Looking back it's a bit sad that I struggled with this so much.

I had imposter syndrome about belonging to fandom. Like me now would definitely tell my teen self that she was part of fandom. But always felt like I was just on the edges of that space.

Right now I’m pretty happy with my place in fandom. I have friends to squee about lovely media with. People read things I rec and enjoy them and that makes me happy. I go to cons and enjoy them. I write a regularly for a Hugo Award winning blog! But all that is because of network I’ve been building up slowly over a long time.

When communities are amorphous and have ill defined boundaries it can be hard to feel like you belong. And when you take part in fandom online but don't go to cons or write fic it can feel like fandom isn't aimed at you. Community is hard. I still sometimes feel like I’m just shouting into the void. Feeling like you belong can be elusive. I want everyone to have fun enjoying media and talking about it with other people, but I’m not really sure how to use my experiences to make people feel included.

Date: 2019-02-07 06:33 am (UTC)
hamsterwoman: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hamsterwoman
I just wanted to say I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on fandom as community. I also grew up pretending to be my favorite characters and having "meta" discussions with my friends. My friend and I dabbled in what we now know to call fanfic, but this was in pre-internet days, so nobody but us an a few RL friends got to read any of it (which I'm grateful for).

I discovered online fandom in the late 90s (via Babylon 5 and Xena) but only lurked then discovered LotR messageboards and from there LJ circa 2000. But since discovering the internet and a fandom community, I've also never been a transformative works type of fan (I mean, I do read fic, for some but not all of my fandoms, but it's not an integral part of the fandom experience for me). It hasn't stopped me from saying I was in fandom, and in specific canon fandoms, because I do feel like reading and reccing and meta and just general, you know, enthusiasm, qualifies me for that.

And I feel like enthusiasm and openness is also a large part of what's needed for the fannish community building? Or at least when I look at examples of both individual networks and communities that I thought did fandom really well, that's what they have in common.

Date: 2019-02-09 10:24 am (UTC)
dolorosa_12: (sister finland)
From: [personal profile] dolorosa_12
Oh, I relate to this so much. The specifics about how I got into fandom (and in my case, when I use the word 'fandom' I mean both transformative works fandom and pro SFF fandom) are different, but your feelings about imposter syndrome really resonated with me.

When communities are amorphous and have ill defined boundaries it can be hard to feel like you belong. And when you take part in fandom online but don't go to cons or write fic it can feel like fandom isn't aimed at you. Community is hard. I still sometimes feel like I’m just shouting into the void. Feeling like you belong can be elusive.

I relate to this so, so much.

In my case, what gives me huge amounts of anxiety is trying to parse degrees of friendship. I'm mutually followed on Twitter by a lot of pro SFF authors, reviewers, and, for want of a better description, big name fans in the pro SFF community. They initiate conversations with me, bring me into discussions and so on. But Twitter is a professional space for them, so what do they think of me? A friend? A friendly acquaintance? A fan of their work? If I were to meet them in real life at a con or an author event, would they know who I am if I told them my handle? Would they consider me someone to socialise with at a con, if we happened to be in the same space (like the hotel bar or a cafe)? I'm generally a pretty friendly and chatty person online and will talk with anyone who seems to want to have a discussion, and in transformative works fandom, it's easy to recognise genuine friendship. But in that weird, nebulous space which is both a social community of pro authors and a professional setting where they're trying to sell their work, I can't figure out where I fit.

Date: 2019-02-11 04:41 pm (UTC)
dolorosa_12: (emily hanna)
From: [personal profile] dolorosa_12
SFF book fandom blurs the lines between fan and pro pretty intentionally.

Yes, absolutely, and for the most part, it's fine, as long as everyone is on the same page and understands how the other party sees them and there are no mismatched expectations or perceptions.

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forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
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