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Some Thoughts on Fandom, Privacy, Money, and Other Stuff - Mo's Journal — LiveJournal
July 25th, 2008
09:57 am

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Some Thoughts on Fandom, Privacy, Money, and Other Stuff

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From:wneleh
Date:July 25th, 2008 09:53 pm (UTC)
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I do think that a lot of people overestimate the damage to their careers and to their personal lives that exposure of their fannish activities could cause. I think that's worth discussing (in a general way - I don't think it's very polite to accuse specific people of paranoia).

Do you think there's any advantage to being non-secretive about ones fannish activities, either personally or to society (general and fannish)?

- Helen
From:thelastgoodname
Date:July 25th, 2008 11:10 pm (UTC)
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One of the biggest parts of coming out as LGBT is that one no longer has to lie, and a lot of stress and emotional trauma disappears from life. That is one benefit about being open about any part of your life: it's stressful to lie.

Another advantage (continuing with the comparison between being gay and being fannish) would be to prove to the world that there's nothing wrong with either activity: it's entirely normal, and your Aunt Edith does it, too.
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From:wneleh
Date:July 26th, 2008 11:45 am (UTC)
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RE: The stress of secrecy and lying - I've never been that private about anything, so it doesn't really resonate with me. There are times I don't mention fanfic when it might be natural to mention another hobby, but that's almost always because I don't want to have to get into what fanfic is because I don't think, in the particular circumstance I'm in, I'll be able to explain it well.

RE: the normalization of fanfic writing - this is something I feel pretty strongly about. (And I wouldn't be very surprised if my Aunt Edith *did* write fanfic; bet she'd be good at it, too!)
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From:mofic
Date:July 25th, 2008 11:34 pm (UTC)
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Yes I do. And really, that's why I stopped being secretive about it - I saw advantages to me, personally, in not being secretive. Here are a few:

- It's a fun hobby and it's fun to talk about with people who are interested. If they're not interested they don't ask questions about it, but if you don't tell them you're doing it, they don't get an opportunity to ask questions.

- People I never would have thought of as fannish are (you for instance) and generally I've only found out we shared this because I brought it up.

- I think I'm really good at writing fanfic. I'm proud of it and I want to talk about it for that reason.

- I've put in personal ads that I write slash. I do that because I don't want to date someone who's squicked by the idea. More generally, being open about being fannish prevents hearing a lot of negative stuff about being fannish.

- Since I don't like to lie, not being open would limit my fannish activities. I don't feel I need to tell everyone I know that I write fanfic, and did keep that a secret for a while. But I wouldn't have gone to a con if I weren't comfortable answering "So where are you going?" from people at work or elsewhere.

- The old Twain thing - "If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything."

- If you're not secretive, you don't have to remember who knows and who doesnt.

I don't see any particular advantages (or disadvantages) to society in greater openness, but I don't really see this as a societal issue. I really do see it as just a hobby that some think is odd.
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From:wneleh
Date:July 26th, 2008 12:47 am (UTC)
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Hmm, maybe I'm more thinking about the advantages vs. disadvantages of merging IDs.

It's a fun hobby and it's fun to talk about with people who are interested. If they're not interested they don't ask questions about it, but if you don't tell them you're doing it, they don't get an opportunity to ask questions.

I've recently very verbal about fanfic in social spheres - well, practically in every RL interaction except for work - for this reason. The work/life barrier was constructed back when I was working very few hours/week, so that I could actually get stuff done. Now that's not so much of an issue.

I think I'm really good at writing fanfic. I'm proud of it and I want to talk about it for that reason.

I don't think I'm as good, plus I worry about people reading more than I mean them to into my fic. On the up side, I've found that people in general aren't that interested in reading much unless they're into fanfic already.

I've put in personal ads that I write slash. I do that because I don't want to date someone who's squicked by the idea. More generally, being open about being fannish prevents hearing a lot of negative stuff about being fannish.

Yeah, I can see that! (C is fannish himself, and facilitates my interests as much as he can, as I do his.)

The old Twain thing - "If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything."

Very true.

I don't see any particular advantages (or disadvantages) to society in greater openness, but I don't really see this as a societal issue. I really do see it as just a hobby that some think is odd.

I do, for a couple of reasons.

(1) It's frustrating when I encounter people who have no idea whatsoever what fanfic is. This is different than the other nouns I'm into - Patrick O'Brian, Tiger Woods, issues surrounding childrearing.

(2) I think slash (and explicit het, for that matter) says something very interesting about women's sexuality, something that I'd like more Great Minds tossing around.

(3) I think greater knowledge of fanfic would get more talented people writing; and some of those people might even write some schoppy smarm. And that would make me very happy.

Editing to add - in order for (1)-(3) to happen, we need a public face for fanfic that's not solely 17 and male or 12 and female...

- Helen



Edited at 2008-07-26 12:51 am (UTC)
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From:mofic
Date:July 26th, 2008 01:33 am (UTC)
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Hmm, maybe I'm more thinking about the advantages vs. disadvantages of merging IDs.

I didn't get that - although someone else in this thread did.

I don't really merge ids. I do like having a pseudonym (although I really wish I'd chosen a different one). I just don't hesitate to link my fannish activity to the rest of my life. I have the url for this journal in my email sig, for example (although with the proviso that it's mostly fannish - it sometimes gets people to ask me what "fannish" means).

It occurs to me that there are really two different questions here -

1. Are you reluctant to let people in fandom know your real name?

2. Are you reluctant to let people in your non-fannish life know about your fannish activities?

I think reluctance on #1 is often for fear that it would lead to people in the non-fannish life finding out about fannish activities, but there might be other reasons as well...

I'm interested in your reasons 1-3 at the bottom. Comments:

1. You're into Tiger Woods?!?!?! Seriously, I don't get frustrated by this. I feel like I spend a lot of my life explaining things about me - what I do for a living, how do lesbians have children, why lack of legal recognition of same sex marriage is bad for me and my family, etc. I'm pretty good at explanations and I'm willing to add fanfic - and slash - to the Things I Explain list. It's not frustrating to me, it just is.

2. I think there's a lot of interesting stuff to be learned from getting Great Minds to think and talk about fanfic in general and slash in particular. I'm with you there. The more people thinking about this the better.

3. The more talented people writing fanfic the better, too. What's "schoppy" btw?

I don't know that we need a public face to make these things happen, though. I'm not against it; I just see 2 and 3 as not dependent on that.
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From:wneleh
Date:July 26th, 2008 03:00 pm (UTC)
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I do like having a pseudonym (although I really wish I'd chosen a different one).

Heh, I think Mo and Mofic are great tags, mostly because you are so *not* a Mo! Very much in the way I'm not a citrus Cthulu.

1. You're into Tiger Woods?!?!?! Seriously, I don't get frustrated by this. I feel like I spend a lot of my life explaining things about me - what I do for a living, how do lesbians have children, why lack of legal recognition of same sex marriage is bad for me and my family, etc. I'm pretty good at explanations and I'm willing to add fanfic - and slash - to the Things I Explain list. It's not frustrating to me, it just is.

You didn't know about the Tiger Woods thing??? Well, I guess it doesn't come up much on LE, APW, or LJ. But I pretty much watch whenever he's playing, I go to the local PGA tournament, I subscribe to an email list of TW-related clippings, I've read biographies, I have calendars... And I find that my fanning of Tiger is pretty universally understood. I'm not, perhaps, the most typical example of a TW fan, and perhaps TW fandom isn't what people most expect of me, but I don't have to explain who he is, or what golf is, or that, no, I really don't wish his wife ill. The only thing that really puzzles people is that I don't play golf.

I don't have to explain most of the stuff you do, most of the time. I mean, if we're talking work, I draw pictures sometimes, but I don't have to explain what engineering *is.* I have occasionally explained how lesbians have children :-) and the legal implications of marriage (and family structure in general) inequalities (and thanks for writing about this, it's helped!)

RE: Schoppy - I mean schloppy. Smarm. The stuff I love to read most, though it's not precisely what I write, most of the time (my Home might be the best example of my own smarm.)

RE: The public face thing - I'm not thinking so much that we need 'poster children;' but as long as the public perception is that fanfic is a tween-teen thing, I don't see how it can get the kind of analysis I'm interested in, and (much of) the type of new involvement I hope for.
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From:mofic
Date:July 28th, 2008 02:02 pm (UTC)
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I don't remember ever hearing you talk about Tiger Woods, but I tend to tune out when people talk sports so I can't swear to it.

I agree that it would be good to have more adults in fandom in general and fanfic (both writing and critiquing) in particular. I don't know that the public face is where we'll get them, though. It can't *hurt* to have a more public presence (and I think that OTW is a good step along that way) but I think that adults in fandom will continue to join in the two ways they have been:

- they were teens or young adults in fandom and they grew up (like you)
- they stumbled across it and liked it as adults (like me)
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From:elfwreck
Date:July 26th, 2008 12:51 am (UTC)
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Very little of what you've mentioned is helped by linking your fan ID to your legal one. ("Good at writing, want to share it with friends & acquaintances" is one of them. "Fun to talk about" isn't--you can talk about fandom & fanfic w/o mentioning userIDs.)

There's a difference between being public about your involvement in an activity, and being free & open with the (potentially TMI) details thereof.

I'm not ashamed of my sex life, but I don't show photos of it to my co-workers. And if I'd told someone in confidence what positions I liked, I sure-as-hell wouldn't like to see my name on a website under "People Who Like [69]." (Hypothetical example. Not admitting anything. Not denying anything, either.)

I think that's the core issue here: not so much saying "X person is into fanfic/fandom," but saying "X legal name is attached to Y specific identity & activities in fandom."
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From:mofic
Date:July 26th, 2008 01:23 am (UTC)
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First of all, you seem to have understood wneleh better than I did. She asked was there an advantage to not being secretive about fannish activities, and that's what I thought she meant so that's what I answered. I wasn't addressing the specific question of linking one's pseudonym to one's real identity, although I will in my response to her response, since it seems that *was* what she was getting at.

Secondly, ime when I do talk about my fannish pursuits, people who are interested ask a number of questions and one of them is usually "Where can I read your stuff?" At that point I am in the position of either telling them the name I write under or refusing to. I emphatically do *not* view giving them access to my stories as "TMI" - they're written to be read.

And that's why I think your analogy with sex is way off base, at least in my Weltenschauung. I view sex as a very private activity. I don't talk about my sex life in public at all, and in private only with very few people. But my stories are out on public websites to be read by total strangers, and I think that's true of most fanfic writers. So it doesn't seem to me that wanting to hide one's fiction from cow-orkers is analogous at all to not showing pictures of oneself having sex to cow-orkers unless you're putting those pictures out on public websites for total strangers to see but not wanting your cow-orkers to know it's you.

Actually - and I realize this is a digression, but if you can't digress on your own lj, where can you? - one of the reasons I write slash is that I think writing about sex is really interesting but I don't want to write anything about my own sexual behavior or anything that might be construed as about my own sexual behavior because I do feel strongly that my sex life is private. So writing about men having sex gives me a distance that makes me more comfortable.
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From:wneleh
Date:July 26th, 2008 02:39 pm (UTC)
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I agree w/ Mofic; I've found that talking about my fanfic often leads to requests for examples. Going further - for someone important to me to really understand how large a part fanfic plays in my life, it helps if they've read at least a little. So, for example, after years of casually mentioning it to my parents, I handed my dad my laptop last year open to a story of mine and said, okay, HERE'S what I'm talking about, please read!!

The sex analogies don't really work with me; I'm pretty open about my sex life IRL, in generalities at least. For instance, birth control, how to deal with co-sleeping children, and cyclic changes in desire, are all common playground conversation topics. OTOH, my fanfic has about five kisses in it total.

I think that's the core issue here: not so much saying "X person is into fanfic/fandom," but saying "X legal name is attached to Y specific identity & activities in fandom."

Just FTR, I totally support people establishing their borders, and community enforcement of respecting those borders. I'm just wondering where those borders should be for me personally. This is partly because I've started leaving comments on articles in the print media that completely screw up their representation of fanfic, and when I do this I use my legal name. This in itself feels like a break of fannish protocol; but, if I (who really don't care about exposure) don't do it, who will? And I do this knowing that many, many people would be much more articulate; but they're, yk, teachers or live in more repressive societies or whatever.
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