I felt moved to write this after reading discussions in a few places where people have seemed to suggest that fandom isn’t much fun for them anymore, due to issues ranging from too much ill-mannered controversy to not enough feedback. I’ve said some of the things below in comments elsewhere, but it’s the first time I’m putting it all together.
Basically, I try to enjoy fandom by doing two things:
Thing 1: Participating in ways that are fun for me and avoiding participation in ways that upset, annoy or bore me
Thing 2: Participating in ways that help others; trying to be a good citizen of fandom.
These may sound contradictory, but I don’t think they are. There are lots of different ways to participate in fandom, and lots of them help other fans. So, I think I can do plenty of things that are totally self-indulgent and some others that are helpful, all while choosing only from activities I find fun. With some thought (and some trial and error) I’ve found what works for me. Here are some of them:
- My interests and talents lead me mostly to writing fanfic and participating in meta-discussion, so that’s most of what I do.
- I enjoy as a spectator other parts of fandom that I don’t have a talent for, like vids and icon-making.
- I voice my appreciation for those who can do things I can’t, like vids and icon-making.
- I friend people who write things I find interesting to me and don’t worry about whether or not they friend me back.
- I don't finish any story or post that I don't like at the start. I can be kind of persnickety (like, if there's a spelling or grammar error in the beginning, I probably won't read the story), but it works for me.
- I mostly stay out of flamewars and other kinds of interaction that bore me. When I slip up, I exit as gracefully as I can, including apologies for offending.
- I only feedback stories I have something positive to say about (since I don't finish the ones I don't like, that's easy). I always lead with the positive comment. If I have constructive criticism, I try to gauge the author's receptivity before offering it.
- I don't feedback as much as I should, but I'm working on it. When I do say something negative, I try to frame it in a way that makes it more palatable to read.
- I answer every letter of feedback I get. I try to engage the person who wrote to me, at least a little.
- I read little_details regularly and offer info if I've got it.
- I beta for a few people. If I can manage to (in terms of time available) and if I feel competent to do so (i.e. if I know the source material well enough and have any necessary specialized skills or knowledge), I beta for anyone who asks me to.
- I offer help with the NYC details that X-Men writers often need.
- I am very grateful to fans who help me, and I express that gratitude. I thank my betas, website designers, helpers of all kinds, both privately and in my series summaries.
- I try to be open to fannish experiences and POVs that aren't my own. I try reading in genres other than slash and in fandoms other than my primary one. I sometimes find a new enthusiasm that way.
- I have a number of things I just can't stand and don't read (e.g. romance, chan, mpreg, BTVS). I make clear if asked that it's just a case of different strokes for different folks, not a judgment on the fans who do like them.
- I don’t have any OTPs and I don’t have any pairings I think people shouldn’t write. If a couple doesn’t seem plausible in a story, that’s all it means to me – the couple doesn’t seem plausible. I don’t even really understand why someone would care what couples others write about.
- I concentrate on getting what I can out of fandom and not on the negatives.
- I do some challenges and such, but not many. I follow through on any of them I commit to doing. I read and feedback a number of other stories in any challenge I do.
- I write for me, primarily. Don't get me wrong - I love the fan letters and I think I've been really lucky to get what, by my lights, is a lot of them. But I don't write according to what gets more of them. I do things that I think nobody cares about but me, like the lit guides and all the research I do for the stories. I write long series when I've seen that short stories tend to get more response, at least in the short term. I do the occasional short piece and it’s very gratifying to dash something off in an hour, spend a day or two on beta and revisions and get feedback almost instantly. Still, it’s not where my major interest lies. So, I mostly stick to what I want to write.
- I don't really care if people get lots of positive feedback for something I think is crap. A lot of fannish resentment seems to go into that. I don't think much about who's getting positive feedback for stuff I think is crap. If I think it's crap I don't finish it, so I don't notice the positive feedback.
- I write. I have just gotten back to a series I was kind of stuck on for a while, and I notice how much more I enjoy reading fanfic and reading/participating in meta when I’m writing. I think it is much for fun when it’s not a spectator sport. Writing makes me feel all warm and fuzzy about fandom.
- I get a lot out of fandom, but I don’t expect it to be more than a hobby. I think it’s a wonderful hobby: fun, creative, sociable. It also costs nothing or next to nothing (at least how I do it – I know cons can get expensive) and can be done in 20 minute increments whenever one has time. It’s absolutely the best hobby I’ve ever had, but I find I enjoy it more when I’m enjoying the rest of my life more. If I’m feeling unhappy with fandom, I look to what else in my life might need fixing.
So, do any of those resonate with any of you? Any others you can suggest?