lunabee34: (fandom is my fandom by laurashapiro)
[personal profile] lunabee34
Written for [community profile] month_of_meta
Warnings: Very brief discussion of depression and anxiety

This essay is a personal narrative about my involvement in fandom. It is not intended to be a prescriptive look at fandom but rather a very personal and individually descriptive one. There are as many ways to experience fandom as there are fannish people, and I celebrate that diversity. I would never attempt to impose my experience of fandom on another fan or pretend to have the authority to dictate the multifaceted and varied beast that is Fandom. All I can do is share my own story.

That being said, I think that many fans tend to follow a handful of trajectories as their time in fandom increases, one of which is a growing sense of isolation and disconnection from fandom. I remember seeing posts describing feelings of alienation from fans who’d been around a long time when I was just a newbie and not having any idea what those fans were talking about. Now that I’m feeling a bit alienated and disconnected myself, I’ve been struggling with how to maintain ties and recover the sense of belonging I once felt.

In this essay, I discuss the factors that have contributed to my sense of disconnection, what I’ve done to try to make fandom a vital part of my life again, and the ways in which I’m still floundering. I hope this essay generates discussion; I am very interested in your fannish stories as well as staring at my own navel. If you feel disconnected from fandom, why? If not, what’s helped to maintain your sense of belonging? If you no longer feel as tied to fandom as you did in the beginning of your fannish journey, how have you chosen to deal with that change?

Fannish Trajectories: Isolation, a Sense of Disconnection from Fandom, and How We Deal

I joined online media fandom in December 2004. I immediately became very active in fandom—writing and posting fic to my journal and a variety of fic comms, participating in ficathons and other organized fannish events, posting meta and other discussions, actively following the meta discussions linked on [ profile] metafandom and my flist, reading and reccing extensively, and co-creating and –modding [ profile] club_joss (a Jossverse fic discussion comm) and [ profile] sga_talk (a Stargate Atlantis fic discussion comm). Just as an example of the degree to which I was invested in fandom in a typical month, in March 2007 I hosted a No Pressure SPN ficathon, posted 10 rec posts, posted 5 SPN fics, made 2 meta posts, and posted 2 meta-ish SPN episode reviews.

Several factors contributed to my high degree of involvement in fandom.

1. The amazing people I encountered, the amazing writing, and the amazing conversation going on around me (one of two factors which has not changed for me as time has passed).

2. It allowed me to be creative again (another permanent draw for me). I had written poetry as a teenager and taken multiple poetry workshops as an undergrad, but as soon as I started grad school, that creative outlet was gone. I was, and continue to be, so grateful for the chance to write and read in a community whose feedback makes me a better writer. And I’ve recaptured the joy of writing that was so important to me when I was younger.

3. I was a graduate student who was close to being finished with coursework and on a 2-1 teaching load. I wasn’t employed anywhere else or working on my dissertation like I should have been, so I had a lot of free time during the week.

4. My daughter was 2 at this point, but I was still suffering lingering effects of post-partum depression, and I really appreciated the escape fandom afforded me. It allowed me to immerse myself in a seemingly never-ending succession of fantasies and what-ifs. It allowed me to be obsessive about something pretty innocuous (Must Read ALL the Big Bangs!), and prevented me from dwelling on the negatives in my real life.

In the last four years, I have found myself growing increasingly more distanced from fandom and struggling to feel as if I belong. So what happened between then and now? What changed for me? Again, several factors contributed.

1. My life situation has changed. I have a career now as a tenure track professor of English. I’m teaching a 5-5 load, chairing every committee in operation on campus it feels like, and finishing up my dissertation all at the same time. I have a family I like to spend time with sometimes. :) Exercise is important to me, so I try to carve out time daily. I like my Tuesday night TV (Holla, New Girl) and my Friday night TV (Why can’t I be touched by an angel?). We have standing social activities with our friends two nights a week. I just don’t have the time to invest in fandom that I once did. Unfortunately, one of the things that kept me so connected and feeling like I belonged was the interaction that comes with frequently posting and commenting. Answering feedback to fic, hosting and participating in meta conversations, leaving feedback on other people’s work—all these things helped solidify my sense of place in fandom. I sometimes think my inability to do a lot of commenting on other people’s fic and posts is more of an issue than the shortage of posts to my own journal. Fandom 101 tells us that if you want people to talk to you, you have to talk to them first. The more you put yourself out there in fandom at large, the more interaction you’ll find happening in your own journal space. Since I don’t have time to heavily engage anymore, I’ve seen that interaction dwindle over time.

2. I’m still using fandom as an escape from feelings of anxiety and depression, but in a different way. Where before I concentrated my obsessive tendencies on writing and meta, now I’m concentrating almost exclusively on reading. If I have two free hours, I’m much more likely to start reading an epic HP fic on AO3 than writing a fic of my own or making a post to my journal. I think this is because I expend so much energy at work that when I come home, I don’t want to *do* anything. I just want to passively consume.

3. The Jossverse was my gateway to fandom. Over time, I started seeing SGA slowly overtake my flist, so I gladly followed my friends into that fandom and into SPN when it became common among my flist. But now, the fannish drift between me and my flist is pretty large. Many of them are currently most fannish about shows I don’t watch or even have a passing familiarity with like Hawaii 5-0 or Fringe or White Collar. And even though I do plan to watch some of these shows eventually, that will be far in the future when I can take a weekend and mainline a season or two at a go. To be clear, is this totally not a whine that my friends have all abandoned me, woe woe, or something equally dramatic. I’ve super stoked that they’ve got source material they’re excited about and that when I eventually get there myself, I’ll already know where all the good fic and recs are.

4. Losing people and communities has also been a part of why I’m feeling this way. For example, I have no idea where [ profile] chocgood84 is now or what he’s currently doing. We co-founded and –modded [ profile] club_joss together in the way back and spent many a night IM-ing into the wee hours of the morning, and somehow I just lost track of him. He hasn’t been online in years. In terms of comms, I had started posting to a slash comm a few years ago that did weekly (I think; maybe it was bi-weekly or monthly) challenges slashing different characters from the Jossverse. It was a lot of fun and forced me to be very creative (you try finding a canonically plausible way to slash Ben and Xander, mkay). It allowed me to meet new people and also meant that I was regularly posting fic to my journal. Unfortunately, not long after I started participating, the comm went defunct. I really, really miss that comm. :(

5. I find it very difficult to switch between different kinds of writing. I am working on my dissertation, writing articles for publication and conference presentation, and drafting proposals for my job. It’s very hard for me to step out of that academic writing mode and into a creative one. It’s like I can concentrate on only one at a time, and since the dissertation work is ongoing, that really impairs my creative writing ability.

So, given all this, how have I handled this issue? What have I done to deal? Not a whole heck of a lot as you’re about to see.

1. Since one of my issues is time, I want to maximize the small amount of time I can spend online. For me that’s meant keeping my friends list very small and not having every comm I join show up in my friends list, only the ones for which I read the majority of the posts. Fic comms are usually pretty post-heavy and scrolling through pages of fic posts just to get to your flist can be daunting. I don’t use reading filters, but I know a lot of people do, so that might also be an option for me in future. One of the things I still need to work on here is the duplication of journals I read on LJ and DW. Most of the content that shows up on my DW circle is duplicated on LJ, and that’s a time-waster to be scrolling through the same posts twice even if I’m not exactly reading them twice. I still haven’t quite figured out how to deal with that especially since sometimes people make LJ-only or DW-only posts.

2. I’ve found a couple of ways to consistently participate in fandom that I enjoy. I always do Remix and Yuletide every year, and I keep my ears open for other activities I might be interested in participating in (like this [community profile] month_of_meta, for instance). Knowing that I’m going to have at least two moments in the year when I’m fully engaged with fandom is really meaningful to me.

3. I try to wish everybody on my flist a happy birthday when the time rolls around. I read all the posts to my flist even though I don’t comment on all of them. This is a way to let my flist know I’m still thinking about them.

Other than that, y’all, I got nothing. I would love to hear suggestions that have worked for you.

Date: 2012-03-02 05:26 pm (UTC)
shinsengumi: (eradiction)
From: [personal profile] shinsengumi
I really liked reading this, thank you for sharing. As someone who's been slowly retiring from general fandom for the last two years or so and is actively looking for a way to get more involved, this is honestly very interesting. I'm definitely feeling the lurch of less free time than I had before; I spend about ten hours a day commuting to work and working, and I am one of those who really needs eight hours a sleep per night. That leaves me with six hours of supposedly free time, but when you factor in the need to cook, the fact that my long-distance partner is only available for two of my free hours and my depression crippling my will to be awake for all of my six free hours, fandom suddenly... slides.

I also came into my own as a creator following fandom; I write all the time, but the vast majority of it is about original characters, and there really isn't much of a "fandom" for that kind of thing. Almost everyone I know has moved into different fandoms that I have little or no interest in. Thankfully we're still friends on the face of it, but that doesn't give us a great scope of reasons to interact.

I think your choice to consistently participate in specific aspects of fandom every year, like Yuletide, is probably the best way for the older, busier generation of fans to stay involved. Running some low-traffic communities and modding a forum with capable modteam is one of the ways I keep myself out there, so to speak.

I don't know how many people would appreciate this, but given that we're chatting meta here I also rather... suggest? That seems like too strong a word for this passing thought but regardless, one of the things I like to do is to make a connection or relation to something people are saying about their fandoms. For example, I'm a ridiculously big fan of zombies (and we really don't know why). Sometimes, friends of mine talk about fandoms I don't know which involve zombies or similar creatures. While I have no interest in their fandom, I can hop in and say "omg zombies that sounds awesome" or "WAIT WHAT NO ZOMBIE ROMANCE IS SO MESSED UP" and still be at least a little bit relevant to the conversation. We might describe that as being... what's the word... obnoxious? Alas, but it's a thing, at least.

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Date: 2012-03-02 05:39 pm (UTC)
0jack: Closeup of Boba Fett's helmet, angular orange stripe surrounding a narrow window on a greenish metallic field. (Default)
From: [personal profile] 0jack
Oh, I feel you on the disconnect. I should write about this, too, having been a fannish writer for a good 15 years before I knew anyone would want to read any of it—I started in the days when it was a big deal when my father got an electric! portable! typewriter for work and we didn't yet own a TV. My fandoms are often paper/book fandoms, old school variations on modern comics, and small, obscure stuff.

Part of it for me is that I am not very good at being social in general. I often feel awkward about my writing abilities and wary of in-groups. Also, I am a terrible reader. I'm atrocious about the whole reciprocation thing that goes down in fandom. That's not to say I don't read, but I am immensely picky about what I read* and often would prefer not to read things by people I know. Meta doesn't apply to that, mind you. Overall, fandom culture and I are a terrible, terrible fit.

What has worked for me (when my health has been good) is getting involved on the meta/mod side and, when I wasn't writing for pay as well, editing for some people. I am a good organizer and a good cheerleader. I've always felt at my best being useful rather than popular.

I really think you're not alone. There is an incredibly high bar in some fandoms for engagement/production/reciprocation. I wonder how many other people feel a big sense of isolation and underperformance when it comes to fandom. Maybe a fandom version of a book club would be fun for some people who are bigger readers than writers, a read-along of fannish works with some meta babbling, to keep one's fingers in without much pressure.

*this is largely for PTSD reasons and not because I think other people can't write or anything, I just have so little margin for dealing with anything that I'm always on edge.

[personal profile] evith/[personal profile] wintergrey

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Date: 2012-03-02 06:02 pm (UTC)
likeadeuce: (buffysurvive)
From: [personal profile] likeadeuce
This is a really thoughtful post, and while it's personal to you, I think your trajectory both of getting involved with and getting alienated from fandom is representative of a lot of fans of a certain "generation" (quotes b/c I mean fandom generation; actual ages can range widely!) I was 'new' in LJ fandom around the same time you were, and that was a real golden age of centralizing, high-participation fandoms (Jossverse, SGA, SPN, BSG, etc).

As far as how to cope with it -- I think it's always worth asking "why?" What is it about the original fandom experience you want to reproduce. Obviously, you don't want to go back to having less job security and less social life -- but you do miss the time that gave you to talk to people online. Can you schedule chat times with people you miss talking to? Can you ask someone who is in a fandom that you're interested in but intimidated by to let you know of some fannish activities that you can participate in? Can you indoctrinate somebody you're already friends with into liking *your* fandom too? (Ahh, the last is what I tend to go with, granted that I've got some friends who are already pre-disposed to this!) It really depends on what you value -- creating something yourself? enjoying other people's creations? having a BIG community of fans to discuss things with (and remembering the attendant frustrations that rose-colored glasses about the old days can bring), or having a few friends you can reliably discuss YOUR thing with.

That's all pretty rhetorical, I realize, but I think it's a useful framework for dealing!

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Date: 2012-03-02 09:38 pm (UTC)
princessofgeeks: (Default)
From: [personal profile] princessofgeeks
thank you for the post! I've really been looking forward to reading these meta fest posts.

I discovered online fandom around 2003, and like you, job and family responsibilities have crept in and reduced the time I spend online. Also I swear that my discovery of slash prompted a mild manic episode and now that that's over I just have less energy and don't stay up as late at night.

Like you, discovering fanfic made me write. WRITE WRITE WRITE. Fanfic and orig fic both.

So that's all good.

Unlike you, I've gotten less interested in challenges and ficathons of any sort. I'm trying to focus on writing and on keeping in touch with people by commenting and reccing.

But it's definitely more sporadic.

I can't agree enough with your statement that if you want to get to know people in fandom, start communicating with them. comments on fic, on posts, posting reviews of things -- all this will get people talking to you and allow you to find a niche in fandom. This is easy for me but I have learned it's hard for others. But it really does work.

I'm always saddened when I feel that some fandoms, or fandom in general, sets a high bar to participation. My life is so full of responsibility and obligation that the voluntary nature of fandom, the no-pressure way it operates, is essential for me. I've left communities where the mods started berating the watchers or members for not doing enough. I've defriended people who hate lurkers or who claim that readers OWE writers comments. That's not how I want to do fandom. I need it to be easy, fun, voluntary and without pressure. I have enough pressure in real life. Or face to face life,.... fandom is just as real as real life. LOL. I could never be part of communities that require a certain number of posts or fic in order to stay. That would kill me.

For me, I don't think there's any way to recreate the honeymoon phase of my love affair with fandom. It's now a long-term relationship and while it's just as fulfilling, it's less exciting than it was ten years ago. Less sense of breathless discovery, more quiet comfort. But that's okay.

Like you, I"m here primarily for escape. And I haven't shared new fandoms with the same group of folks, but since I usually explore closed canons there are usually plenty of people who know the fandom already who can talk to me about it.

Date: 2012-03-02 11:21 pm (UTC)
luxken27: (Heroes - Peter contemplation)
From: [personal profile] luxken27
Your post definitely resonated with me; feeling lonely and isolated in fandom (at large) is something I still struggle with. I, personally, find that those feelings of loneliness surge along with my depression, and recognizing that pattern has been immensely helpful. I'd definitely suggest looking at the intersection of your emotions IRL and your emotions re: fandom and your place in it, and see if there's anything there. That might be the key to figuring out how to deal with this :)

This also really stood out to me:

Losing people and communities has also been a part of why I’m feeling this way.

My first fandom - Inuyasha - was a HUGE one, and I threw myself head first into it. There was a lot of drama and wank and whatnot, so I and a few others formed a fairly close-knit circle, a sort of refuge from the crazy. When the canon ended and those friends began drifting off, it was extremely difficult for me to figure out what to do without them :-/

Basically, I had to carve my own path, and what I did was find slower, lower-pressure fandoms. I went nostalgic in a *huge* way, and for almost a year I was a fandom-of-one for my current 'home base'. I definitely rediscovered the joy of writing for myself, of consuming the source material and molding it into my own head-canon and just enjoying it on my own. I could do it at my own pace, free from the dramas and pressures of on-going/fast-moving fandom.

It helped that one or two IY friends were willing to humor me and read my stuff; eventually, I found fannish friends for my obscure TV show. I think our bond is all the stronger because of the fact that we have this series in common. The only fans left after a series has completed its run are the dedicated ones, and its so much fun to nerd out with people who get it.

But, yeah. I'd definitely suggest finding something that moves more at the pace your life allows for now. When I started in fandom, I too was in graduate school, with far more free time (and the ability to follow my natural clock, LOL). If one of the ways you're keeping up with fandom is by reading fic, definitely leave comments for those authors! That's a relatively easy thing to do, and there's no timeframe for it. Even on older stories, I'd bet those writers would appreciate it :) If you want to feel connected to fic comms, I'd suggest joining general prompt challenges, like [ profile] 10tropes.

One of the hardest things, for me, was getting over the feeling of ~pressure~ to find my f-listers' new interests interesting. Luckily, (for the most part, at least) that tight circle of friends from my IY days transcended fandom, so we have things to talk about outside of the thing that brought us together. I don't know if you have a similar relationship with your f-list, but that's definitely one thing that helped me with the transition. That, and finding a new 'home,' something I could be passionate about without, necessarily, the input of my f-list.

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Date: 2012-03-03 12:36 am (UTC)
yourlibrarian: SamDeanUnderpassWalk-meg_tdj (SPN-SamDeanUnderpassWalk-meg_tdj)
From: [personal profile] yourlibrarian
Coincidentally I was just posting today about the statistical decline in usage at LJ in response to an article about the Russian side. My own feeling was that a generational shift accounted for a lot of it, simply people only having 24 hours in a day and a lot of other commitments (and multiple serious responsibilities). I think your post is a textbook case of that.

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Date: 2012-03-03 04:38 am (UTC)
amalthia: (Default)
From: [personal profile] amalthia
I go through periods of time when I'm super active in fandom and then when I'm barely engaged. I think sometimes life just gets busy or another hobby takes over what little free time is left. I've found that it's good to sometimes take a break/vacation from fandom and then come back and see what's new.

Your post resonated with me.

Date: 2012-03-03 10:20 am (UTC)
moth2fic: violets plus caption 'spring' (Default)
From: [personal profile] moth2fic
I think there's a high probability that for most people the demands of career plus family will crowd out a lot of interests, hobbies, even friendships. But provided the links are kept, however tenuously, those things can be revitalised later in life. Fandom doesn't differ in this respect from any other interests. If it's important to you it doesn't really matter if it spends a few years on the back burner - you'll return to it!

I'm lucky in that I took early retirement from work for health reasons and at that time went to a fan convention where I made a lot of good friends - people who have stayed in my life in general, not just for fannish interests. Sometimes we are only in touch for birthdays, Christmas, good wishes for house moving, children, etc. Then suddenly there will be an upsurge of fannish meta. And of course living in UK means we can actually see each other fairly often as distances are not that great.

But having said that, I now spend half my time in Portugal and have internet access problems there, so sometimes I am offline and out of touch for weeks at a time. It doesn't matter. Fandom is still there, still welcoming, and still sparkly!

Fandom has added immeasurably to my life, giving me friends who truly share my interests/tastes whereas before I had to rely on colleagues and neighbours who were and are pleasant but with whom I couldn't always have really meaningful conversations.

I'm multi-fandom, and I love meta, and I enjoy being able to read/write/comment just as much as I can at any particular time. I hope you are able to keep your links active and get lifelong benefit from them!

Date: 2012-03-03 01:35 pm (UTC)
amaresu: Sapphire and Steel from the opening (Default)
From: [personal profile] amaresu
#4 really resonates with me, even though it was more through my own choice than anything else. The end of S5 of Supernatural was kinda the last straw for me and so I ended up cutting all ties with the fandom. The fandom that had been my central fandom up to that point. I mean Doctor Who is Doctor Who, but I just don't feel very fannish about Eleven. And I think I spent about a year or so drifting and attempting to find a new central fandom without much luck.

And I think that's a big part of my disconnect with fandom. I've finally found a new shiny fandom that I greatly enjoy, but I've kinda forgotten how to join in and start anew.

Like you I've tried to keep my yearly commitments with Remix and Yuletide, but those both fell through last year and Apacolyptothon was the only yearly thing I participated in. So far this year is going better with not defaulting on Yuletide, so I'm crossing my fingers there.

Someone else upthread mentioned that they look at what brought them into the fandom and now I'm thinking about that in regards to Doctor Who and realizing all sorts of things that I'm going to have to figure out, like how to start listening to Big Finish again now that I don't spend an hour and half on the bus everyday.

This post has given me many thinky thoughts. I'm also thinking of Tumblr and how that really pulled me back into fandom even though I'm pulling away from it now. It's just such a huge time suck (not to mention bandwidth) and there are only so many hours in the day.

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Date: 2012-03-03 11:31 pm (UTC)
gloss: lumpy space princess declaiming & gesticulating (AT: LSP has something to say)
From: [personal profile] gloss
This essay is wonderful. It was brave and admirable of you to share it and get this conversation going.

I want to respond as this piece deserves, but I don't think I can. (I'm going to try! I just doubt my ability.) There are a lot of parallels between our experiences and trajectories - I think I came into BtVS slash fandom about a year before you did, for similar reasons (grateful to have found a creative outlet; experiencing depression and grad-school ick).

I've experienced two, maybe three, fandoms that worked for me, while the rest never quite gelled. In trying to figure out what worked about BtVS/Angel, DC comics, and my weird foray over on Insanejournal, I've concluded that what I need is both a source that tells stories I'm interested in and an interpretive community that's interested in the kind of stories I want to tell and read. (The sets of stories aren't identical, but they share commonalities [edit: uh, obviously, since the second set is fanfic]. The stories I want to tell are usually way queerer than canon, for instance.) Those interpretive communities don't have to be all that big - I think the biggest the IJ circle got was five or six people? - but they have to be responsive. I *love* hearing what excites people. I love brainstorming and riffing and building weird interpretations together and writing stories for each other and all of that. That is what fandom gives me that I can't find anywhere else.

I love the source texts in just about all of my "failed" fandoms, like Firefly and due South and Marvel comics, as much as I do the sources in my successful ones but my interest and involvement never gained the traction necessary to really *work*. And I really think the difference was the lack of any kind of community that appealed to me as both a writer and consumer.

I know, I know. The only way to build community is to write the stories you want to exist. But I've done that, from Captain America & The Falcon to Parks & Recreation, and it's no guarantee.

At the same time, I don't have the emotional wherewithal and, well. Naivete, that I had when I entered online fandom. I've fucked up too much and been burned too many times to find it all that easy to get close to new people any longer. I'm lucky that I still/again know awesome people like you from earlier fandoms, or I'd be even lonelier than I already am.

tl;dr no one reads me I'm gonna eat worms or something

eta haha, so I totally neglected the second point of your essay, which is how I/we get interested again and stay happy. I don't know!

Basically what I've been doing these days/years is tuning into panfandom spaces (like prompt fests & anon memes) and source-hopping (following recs and checking out canons). I try to talk about what I see and read, but it can be pretty intimidating when you're trying to talk about things that have been around for a while, things whose fandoms are completely unknown to you.

But that's what I do. I hope it'll work soon.
Edited Date: 2012-03-04 12:20 am (UTC)

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From: [personal profile] amaresu - Date: 2012-03-04 01:35 am (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-03-04 09:36 pm (UTC)
goodbyebird: Batman returns: Catwoman seen through a glass window. (NG I wish)
From: [personal profile] goodbyebird
The beginning of the Buffy comics was my gateway into fandom, and I was full on amazed by the amount of relentless geekery, clever insights, and general squee I'd happened to fall into. After a great deal of prodding from the flist I got into the SPN fandom. I'd initially stopped watching the show early in s1, but the quality of fanworks sucked me in and made me give it a second go. Even though I've now waled away from the show I won't ever regret it, as it has so far been my most rewarding fannish experience. It was just so chock full of amazing fanworks, and by a great deal of luck I managed to limit my circle to that of the thoughtful non-misogynistic side of fandom. I found the closest online friends I have in that fandom, and since falling out of touch with it I do notice the distance, the lack of things to connect over, and it does hurt. I'm still hanging in there hoping for new fandoms on the horizon though. Fandom is nothing if not cyclical ;)

I do have some problems getting into new fandoms now. I am pan-fannish, so I'll gorge on fics in various fandoms from time to time, but now that I'm dw exclusive I find it harder to find BNFs/avid reccers, not to mention fannish communities, and that makes it a bit harder to build relationships with specific individuals, as I'm frogging all over the place. But now that I'm older I do find my focus has changed a bit too, and that I bond more over RL-things as opposed to fannish ones. Hm. I seem to just be babbling here... Interesting meta all the same. Thanks for sharing. *high-fives New Girl reference*

Date: 2012-03-04 10:55 pm (UTC)
michelel72: (SGA-Rodney-NotMorning)
From: [personal profile] michelel72
I fell into fandom rather suddenly. I came into SGA late — season three-ish? — and gradually started reading fic. I was following the SGA forum at TWoP (a place I used to spend quite a lot of time!) as well. Then someone on my flist made a passing suggestion that just clicked for me and I had my first fanfic. By some alchemy I can't discern, SGA slotted into the part of my writing brain that had been build building an epic (and deeply flawed) original fic since 1995. This happened as the show was ending and as I was growing more discontent with the canon itself, yet the fandom side of things grabbed me hard.

I look back now and wonder how I ever had the time. I had to leave TWoP because it kept me in a very negative mental space, but I fell as hard or harder into fic-reading and -writing. My job, though, has been growing more demanding, and I've since started volunteering locally. I now barely have time to keep up with the low volume of day-to-day fics; I haven't read most years of the SGA Big Bang, nor pretty much any of the Atlantis Big Bangs, nor the most recent reversebang. I posted one story in a hurry in December, even though I wasn't happy with it, just to get it posted ... and it was the only story I posted in all of last year.

And that's one fandom! I read in others, but none have clicked for me in anything like the same way.

I don't know any solutions at this point. I do still read, even if that's only gen plus the less-explicit fics for a few 'ships, and I try to leave feedback of some kind. I try to get some writing in. I
can't write to prompts or deadlines — the one time I tried was entirely too stressful — but I'm running a fic fest, because I want to make sure the fest itself keeps going. It's all treading water for the moment, but it's what I can do.

(no subject)

From: [personal profile] executrix - Date: 2012-03-06 10:27 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-03-05 09:18 pm (UTC)
sazerac: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sazerac
This was great - it expressed a lot of things I feel about fandom but hadn't bothered to try committing to paper. The point about lifestyle changes is particularly apt, and wasn't really one I had considered, despite how obvious it is. I'm a different person with different commitments and priorities than the me of 5 years ago, and trying to be the same fandom entity while "real life" changes so dramatically is fairly unrealistic.

And, as with all meta of a critical bent, I enjoyed your "and here's what I can do about it" turn at the end, highlighting things you're doing to make fandom work for the You of today - it gives me hope!

Basically: great read, made me think, and by golly it's good to hear some some English people are getting tenure track jobs these days: you're like a unicorn!
Edited Date: 2012-03-05 10:19 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-03-09 08:21 pm (UTC)
sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
From: [personal profile] sholio
Late to the comment party, but I enjoyed reading your thoughts and analysis. :)

I was heavily into fandom in the early 2000s, in a completely different area of fandom than I am now (comics and anime), but for, I think, similar reasons to yours. I'd just moved to a new state, I was dealing with mental-health issues, and I was very isolated and unhappy, living in a town I didn't particularly like without any close friends in the area. So I plunged into fandom, made friends, buried myself in creative work, and generally had a wonderful time. My participation in fandom tapered off around 2003, and I was basically out of fandom entirely until I got into SGA fandom -- I'd moved again, and I was very busy with RL work and friendships, and just didn't really need fandom anymore. And when I got back into it, it was to a whole new world of LJ fandom, and a whole new circle of people. My old groups have fragmented, the old mailing lists and bulletin boards have shut down, and I'm only in touch with a couple of people from those days anymore.

When SGA fandom first started tapering off and my circle of fannish friends fragmented to new fandoms, I remember feeling very insecure and unhappy about it. But, I don't know ... I've managed to keep in touch with the people I really care about even now that we're no longer in the same fandom, and even though the old groups have fragmented again, and LJ fandom seems to be forming large cracks as people wander off to tumblr, Twitter, etc, I'm less bothered by it now. I think that the longer I'm in fandom and the more I've seen my own interest in it wax and wane, the less concerned I am about losing it completely, and the more comfortable I get with those periods when my participation is low.

I figure that as long as you're happy and fulfilled in your life, it doesn't really matter all that much where you're spending your time. Fandom will still be there to come back to. *g*

Date: 2012-03-11 10:05 pm (UTC)
aryas_zehral: (darcy tellytubbie)
From: [personal profile] aryas_zehral
:) I am also in that don't have the free time anymore and my flist and I have gone seperate ways with fandoms camp. When I was first into fanfic and fandom it was before the internet (or rather before internet was readily available in homes) and it was just me and a few friends writing and sharing (really very terrible) Star Trek fic with each other. Then there was Buffy and that consumed everything and I spent all my time not in classes working on, and talking about, and reading fic with a few people both on and offline. And then there was Firefly and then.... nothing really. Lots of shows I like and lots of characters I like but not that level of investment. I miss that level of investment.

For a while there I replaced it with land comms and even if I wasn't all consumed by the texts I was enthralled by the regular things to do and the awesome collection of people around me. But then land comms died down and I got job and I realised that I'd actually messed up my career plans. Now I need to sort myself out and I have to go to work and I can't spend all my time interacting. Even if I really want to.

So, what have I done to keep myself doing something, being involved in some limited way. Well I have a few people who are awesome and I keep track of them and their projects. I've a couple of multifandom fests and comms that I'm still a member of. And that's about it. I'm still making a few bits a peices each month and I still have one or two people to talk to. It feels a bit quiet but at least I know where to go if I do want to participate more.

Although I do kind of wish that there was a show that was all consuming again, a new Star Trek or Buffy or something similar. Something that gets me caring and wondering and spinning off in a myriad of directions. But, then again, even if there was, I wouldn't have time to play.

Date: 2012-03-13 07:57 pm (UTC)
jjhunter: Drawing of human JJ in ink tinted with blue watercolor; woman wearing glasses with arched eyebrows (JJ inked)
From: [personal profile] jjhunter
It's interesting to me to map this onto my experience with the community [community profile] poetree, which is not fannish in the sense of being focused on fandom, but to which I have spent at various points comparable bursts of energy for similar reasons (sense of disconnect or dissatisfaction with my offline life, joy of high quality discussion with others on a subject I enjoyed, opportunity to be creative, etc.). I founded the comm in October, and went through a period Jan. - Feb. where I felt more disconnected & only had spoons to do the bare minimum to keep it running. What's changed since, and has allowed me to really get back into enjoying the community even as my offline life has picked up & grow more engaging & demanding has been recruiting a partner in crime to help me with the admin stuff & provide perspective.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that the type of intensity that tends to characterize being a hard-core fan of anything, whether it be Jossverse or SGA or poetry, is hard to sustain and balance as you grow older and your offline life changes, and that's a pretty natural progression. Having partners/friends/people to lean on & squee with really helps.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts; I'll be mulling them over for some time, methinks.

Date: 2012-03-13 07:59 pm (UTC)
jjhunter: Drawing of human J.J. in red and brown inks with steampunk goggle glasses (red J.J. inked)
From: [personal profile] jjhunter
p.s. when you do have a chance, White Collar is absolutely delightful, and the fics of authors [personal profile] sam_storyteller, [personal profile] sholio, and [personal profile] china_shop for the fandom are grippingly good.

(no subject)

From: [personal profile] china_shop - Date: 2012-05-18 04:44 am (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-05-18 04:43 am (UTC)
china_shop: Neal, Peter and Elizabeth smiling (WC - OT3 smiles)
From: [personal profile] china_shop
Coming to this really late, but I wanted to say thank you for this post, especially for your strategies for increasing connection. Exactly what I needed to hear. ♥

I started in fandom in 2004 too, in Due South, and I spent 5 intense years there before I ran out of steam and a new fandom found me. DS was very social, I knew a large proportion of the people in it, and it was a lot of fun. Since moving to White Collar, I've felt increasingly isolated, and for me it's not about having less time (for reasons that don't need exploring at this juncture, I'm pretty much a full-time fan). For me it's about other things: I'm a massive spoilerphobe with a wide definition of "spoiler", so it's hard to seek out new friends without risking seeing extra-canon information for the show (stupid open canon!); the fandom's aesthetics seem quite different from mine (lots of hurt/comfort and power play, for example); the show only runs for 16 episodes a season, and the fandom seems to ebb and flow around that; etc.

There've also been some technological changes that make me feel more out of the loop, like that I mostly post fanworks to LJ/DW and AO3 now, rather than my own website, so I can't check referral logs to find recs. And I'm not on tumblr or facebook or twitter, so I miss out on all the fannish energy that's moved over there.

I'm currently trying to get more in the loop by playing in a fic exchange and signing up for the WC Big Bang. Those are basically solitary activities too, though. I think you're right about leaving feedback on fanworks -- that really is the best way to strike up conversations. And regular reccing is a good way to draw people to your journal.

Anyway, thank you! (And oooh! I just saw the rec of my WC fic at the end of this discussion! That makes me so happy! *beams*)


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