rynling: (Gator Strut)
This morning I reblogged a chain of posts on Tumblr (link) about how "somewhere along the way fanart become worth more than fanfic to fandom" and how "Fan Authors have become the strange little hobbyists in the world of fandom, quality doesn't matter, care doesn't matter, research and talent and learning about writing doesn't matter." I added my own commentary, saying, "as the number of notes on this discussion indicates, there are a lot of fic writers (including myself) who are struggling through a very dark and painful space here on Tumblr."

It's probably best if I don't share the details of what I mean by "a very dark and painful space" within the context of my own life, but there are tears involved, not to mention not unoccasional substance abuse. I mean, I think many of us have at some point idealized artists like Van Gogh who suffer for their art, but when it happens to you it's really surprising how much it actually hurts. It's like, I did not plan to feel this bad about my creative endeavors??

What a lot of people say in response to a complaint like this is something along the lines of, "Well, you should create for yourself," or, "You can be happy if you have a few close friends who read your work." Both of these things are absolutely true, but at the same time it's difficult to look at someone's afternoon speedpaint get hundreds (if not thousands) of notes while the chapter you worked on for at least an hour every day for two weeks gets maybe ten notes if you're lucky. It's not that you didn't enjoy writing it, and it's not that you don't love and appreciate the people who responded to your stuff with every fiber of your heart - but also, what the fuck is even going on here? How did it happen that fic became so undervalued in fandom?

Personally, I'm not too terribly surprised that my own fic posts don't get many notes, as I write in a small subfandom, but it's been disheartening to see other people's fic all but vanish from the tags I track. There's still plenty of work being posted on AO3, but that platform isn't built for promotion and publicity, and just about the only way I find fics is if someone reblogs or recommends them on Tumblr (or here on Dreamwidth).

I guess my problem is that I see fandom as a community, and I'm disturbed that Tumblr-based fandom in particular is so dysfunctional in so many ways. This is why the essay I quoted, Social Contract Theory and Fandom Libertarianism, spoke to me so strongly: "Fandom libertarians, then, would be the people who insist that if everyone just did the fannish things they wanted to do and stayed out of everyone else’s business, we would all have a great time in fandom. And just like with political libertarianism, that sounds pretty good on the surface." But, as the author argues, libertarianism sure sucks for most people in practice, and it's not doing fandom any favors.
rynling: (Ganondorf)
I'm still thinking about why that post I wrote about yesterday didn't get any notes, and I can't help but wonder if maybe gender has something to do with it. Specifically, if I were male and had established a fandom identity as male, would I (and the artist) get more positive feedback for this sort of collaboration?

For various reasons (including the lack of support for that particular post), I feel that, if a woman works with artists to illustrate her fic, she's considered pretentious, while a dude would be "innovative." Female writers working with artists is extra, while male writers working with artists is how actual comics and video games get made. As an ongoing phenomenon created and propagated through Tumblr-based collaboration, Undertale jumps immediately to mind as an example, as does the Zelda fancomic Second Quest. And maybe it's just me, but the majority of professional writers for comics and games still seem to be male, even despite rising numbers of professional female artists. So I wonder, is there a stigma against female writers working with artists that begins in fandom, where many female creators start out?

I put an abbreviated version of this question on Twitter, and I got some interesting responses. A friend of mine who used to be a Harry Potter BNF and now studies fandom as an academic was basically like, "Pretty much." Another friend who writes for a few pop culture magazines jumped in to say that this is exactly how it tends to work with cosplay, where female models and costume designers go by pseudonyms even though male photographers get paid while simultaneously advancing their professional careers. Another friend summed the issue up nicely by saying that "women creatives 'are just playing around' while men 'have projects,'" a statement that is given weight by the fact that she gives panels at anime conventions for free while her boyfriend is always paid by these conventions to do the exact same thing she does.

And then this idiot white male friend of mine from college (the same one I was frustrated with in an earlier post) jumped in to inform me that it's difficult to judge public perception based on gender. I was like, Oh really. I get a dozen notes for my creative work on Tumblr, while you get $50,000 for your creative work on Kickstarter. Is it really so difficult to judge the difference in public perception? The only legitimate response would be "that's a good point," but he tried to argue with me, so I blocked him.

Anyway, if we can run with the hypothesis that the broader culture exhibits a resistance against female writers working with artists on fannish mixed-media creative projects, then perhaps the more specific antipathy toward writers within Tumblr's female-dominated fandom spaces begins to make a bit more sense.
rynling: (Needs More Zelda)
While I was in Tokyo I hung out with a friend who I met a good ten years ago in a semi-professional context and then stayed in touch with through Livejournal and Tumblr. She lives in Central Asia, and she was in Japan partially for business but also to meet up with a fandom friend. When she told me this, I was like, You know their name? And where they live? She was like, Of course, once you become a fandom mom everyone sort of already knows who you are anyway.

I think it's kind of cool how, once you reach a certain age in fandom, you stop caring so much about whether people can connect you to your real-life identity. To me, this actually seems like a much healthier social system than community-enforced anonymity. As someone whose job responsibilities include hiring both interns and salaried positions, I can say from firsthand experience that most potential employers are already overworked and aren't going to dig that deeply into your background as it exists as the result of a Google search; and, as someone who got balls-deep into the Gamergate nonsense a few summers ago, I can also say that anonymity isn't really going to protect you from the crazies on the internet. Real world action, whether it relates to social justice or literary and artistic movements, is based on real world communities, and anonymity within fandom precludes the possibility of such action among groups of people who are primarily female and/or minorities.

On the other hand, Super Mario Odyssey is giving me intense Peach/Bowser shipping feels, and I'm overwhelmed by the compulsion to write fic in which Peach, in full bridal gear, forces Bowser to strip until he's got nothing on except the white lace panties she's made him wear under his wedding suit.

They're both such awful pieces of shit, and I love them so much, and no one who knows me in real life can ever, ever find out about this.
rynling: (Default)
This is from Page 127 of My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness...

...wherein a depressed young woman finds the validation and acceptance she's been craving from an online community that supports her. I'm immensely happy for the artist, but this also breaks my heart. This is exactly how I thought it would be for me, and this is what I wanted from fandom, but it never happened.

There's another page in the manga where the artist describes feeling "like being at ninety-five percent rejection" just about all of the time, so that when she experiences even a small rejection it's like the end of the world for her. I think, more than anything, this explains why I tend to get so butthurt about Tumblr. I always feel like I'm already at 95% rejection, so then when I turn to fandom, expecting to find validation and acceptance, the extra 5% of rejection destroys me.

Just as the artist describes it, I have a feeling that I'm not working hard enough, and that I will never be able to work hard enough for my work to be accepted. I'm not depressed like the artist, but this sort of ongoing existential crisis creates the exact same sense of emotional precarity. I wish that fandom could function as a way to escape this emotional precarity for me as it did for her, but I'm already expending so much energy just treading water that I really can't see where I need to go to make that happen.

For the time being, I'm laying low while I take a small break to recover a bit of stamina.
rynling: (Ganondorf)
I'm having a small crisis of faith, so I'd like to affirm something in a semi-public space – it's always okay to gently push back against expressions of racism. Even if it's casual or unintentional. Even if you know the person will react poorly. Even if you're white. Even if this doesn't end all racism for everyone forever. You're not overthinking things, and you're not overreacting; you're just trying to make the space around you a little safer and more comfortable for other people to occupy, and there's nothing wrong with that.

I am overwhelmed with rage sometimes, but I think the key point is "gently." Sometimes people just need time to think and process things, and nobody is going to be receptive to being attacked.

The issue I often face, however, is that the person I'm trying to talk with isn't American, and sometimes they may not be completely fluent in English. They might not understand why I care so much, or perhaps my response is too "gentle" for them to understand that what I'm taking an issue with is an expression of racism, not the expression of their personal opinion.

I therefore have a weird kind of racism offsetting system – for every time I let things go instead of exploding in violent anger, I'll back an artist's Kickstarter so that their work can help to counter the broader situation of injustice in a more productive and meaningful way. I could just be deluding myself by thinking that this is in any way effective, but hey, more art and comics and stories in the world isn't such a bad secondary goal.
rynling: (Celes Chere)
There is a small cadre of fans within the Zelda fandom – let's call them "Ganondorf fans" – who track certain tags I use and generally like or reblog everything that shows up there. Some of them follow me, and some of them don't, but most of them don't acknowledge anything I do.

For me, "success" would mean that these people begin to like and reblog my posts.

Basically, I want to be validated and supported by my community.

I'm not good enough yet, though. If I ever want to be accepted, I need to work much harder.

The reality of the situation is that I will probably never be good enough, but I am going to obnoxiously keep trying anyway.
rynling: (Default)
If someone exhibits signs of a narcissistic personality disorder, do not engage. People like this can be extremely charming, but their relationships can only exist in a hierarchy with them at the top, and subordination is often reinforced by emotional abuse.

On the internet, a narcissistic personality disorder can usually be identified in three ways. First, by the repeated and seemingly sincere expression of extremist views and opinions. Second, by repeated insistence on mastery of a skill that is never given practical demonstration (such as fluency in a language, artistic or musical proficiency, specialist knowledge in a technical field, and so on). Third, by repeated boasting concerning a piece of equipment (a cell phone, a computer, an operating system or piece of software, etc.) that supposedly identifies the user as special and superior to non-users.

In other words, try to avoid interacting with anyone who seems fixated on expressions of dominance.
rynling: (Needs More Zelda)
I've spent the past hour drawing thumbnails for some f/f Zelda pairings I'd like to post pictures of for "Femslash February" on Tumblr, but it's hard.

Last year I got so many messages for so many months from so many people in the Zelda femslash community telling me what a bad person I am and encouraging me to commit suicide. If something like this happens once, it's funny. If it happens a few times, it's just life on the internet. If it happens at least twice a week for eight months, it kind of changes you.

People say that the best way to respond to online harassment is to not respond at all, but this tactic has the unfortunate side effect of making the violence less visible. And then, when you finally do say something, it seems like you're the crazy one for reacting so strongly. When I finally broke down and admitted to a handful of online acquaintances that I was being harassed, they said things like...

"You have to admit that they have a point."

"These people just want to be heard and respected."

"That's rude of them, but you have to understand where they're coming from."

In other words, if the extent of the harassment remains invisible, a culture in created in which the harassers are privileged over the harassed. This is insane, because I'm pretty sure the correct response to a statement like "I'm clinically depressed because I've been receiving death and rape threats every day for weeks" is not "You should think about what you did to deserve this."

At the moment I'm sobbing my eyes out, but I'm hoping this process will be cathartic. And I keep telling myself: It's okay to be a gay girl! It's okay to draw gay girls! It's okay to be in a gay mixed-race relationship! It's okay to draw gay mixed-race relationships! There is nothing wrong with me... except that I kind of suck at drawing.
rynling: (Cecil Palmer)
In Japan there's a concept called taika, which expresses the idea that everything has a suitable price. This isn't quite the golden rule of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Rather, it conveys the sense that the smooth functioning of human society requires reciprocity. You cannot take too much, but you also cannot give too much. In order for things to balance out, there must be equivalent exchange.

I think this is why I've become so disillusioned regarding fandom. In order for a fandom to function smoothly as a society, people have to give as much as they take. This can be difficult in some cases. A big name fan, for example, can't possibly return all of the notes that they're given. Still, if there isn't a steady flow of mutual promotion and appreciation between the creators of any given fandom, the community won't be able to maintain itself. People who aren't rewarded for their work will drop out, which means that new people won't have anyone to welcome them.

Back in the LiveJournal days of yore, fans tended to support one another because they read each other's personal journals and therefore saw each other as people. On Tumblr, however, you don't have much more to go on regarding a potential mutual's identity other than an infinitely scrolling wall of reblogged memes, and most fandom posts are devoid of the context of their creation to begin with. Why would you care about supporting someone in the community of your fandom on Tumblr? You don't even know who they are. I wish there were a way to work around this somehow...
rynling: (Terra Branford)
As I've been reading over my writing logs from the past eight days, the opportunity cost of my participation in fandom has become apparent. I'm tired just about all the time and I get relatively little "real" work done because I'm devoting so much of my energy to writing fic and meta and making stupid drawings. There are only so many hours in the day, and at any given point I can either be doing [work:paid] or I can be doing [fandom:unpaid], with very little room for downtime if I attempt to do both.

This is why, when people (mostly academics, bless their hearts) talk about how utopian it is for fans not to receive money for their labor, I always want to roll my eyes and ask why it's always female fans (especially minority female fans) whose unpaid labor is being championed. Men have historically had a number of avenues through which they have been able to turn their fannish interests into a career, but women should not be compensated, because fuck capitalism, amirite. Absolutely, let's have men (especially straight white men) produce the mainstream culture that feeds the dominant ideology while women relegate their work to the margins of their lives as they struggle to make ends meet! That is so radical and edgy! How very bold and daring, to suggest that women's work should remain firmly ensconced within shadow economies!


In any case, I desperately want not to feel like I'm slowly dying every second that I'm awake, so I should probably try to figure out a way to get money for the work that brings me joy.

I'm considering quitting Tumblr for a bit, and by "quitting" I actually mean "not doing anything except reblogging cute art with cute tags once or twice a day." I subscribe to most of the artists I follow on Feedly, so doing this wouldn't really require much interaction with Tumblr at all. Also, Final Fantasy XV is coming out tomorrow (HAHAHA FINALLY THANK YOU JESUS), so there's that to take into account as well... In the meantime, I think it would be nice to devote this blog to Final Fantasy, because there's no shame creating a safe haven filled with gorgeous monsters and beautiful men and transcendent warrior princesses when the real world is so godawful.
rynling: (Default)

The commission in question is (here) !!
rynling: (Gator Strut)
Hi, my name is Kathryn. I like anime, and I like video games. Welcome to the nerd circus, we're all pals here!! you might say to me, but this is not necessarily true. Friends, I have to tell you that gaming fandom and anime fandom on Tumblr are like day and nightcore.

I've run in video game fandom circles for a while now, and some of the microaggressions I routinely deal with regarding my fellow gamers would make a grown dinosaur cry. To give an example, I have people who like and/or reblog just about everything I post, but they won't follow me because that would be weird I guess?? Meanwhile, I have actual mutuals who won't like or reblog something I post until someone cooler reblogs it from me. And every so often I'll stumble across something interesting from like 2013, and I'll reblog it from the source, and then one of my mutuals will reblog it from the same source not five minutes later instead of reblogging it from me.

Like, who does that? Who mixes beer and Red Bull and dives deep into the dumpster of a Tumblr tag, scraping past the stale garbage at the top of the feed to get to the fermented trash at the bottom? What sort of unhinged person would think that wading through adolescent wank fantasies and the dank memes of yesteryear for an original reblog is a good idea? Who thinks there's any sort of social prestige to be gained by reblogging from the source? I mean, besides me obviously, but listen.

What I'm trying to say is that video game fandom people can be kind of bizarrely competitive sometimes, and they also tend to form oddly exclusive teams. This might be because video games themselves encourage such patterns of behavior, but it might also be because there's something about video games that's a little bit cool maybe. Celebrities play games, musicians play games, and there are even attractive and charismatic people who design games. You can be a game fan and still be "cool." I have never been cool in my life and don't know what that entails exactly, but the point still stands.

Anime, on the other hand, is not and has never been cool. Literally not a single human is going to accept a prestigious entertainment award and thank Megumi Hayashibara for being an inspiration, you know? Us anime fans are all hanging out in the scrub lands of popular culture, crouched around the digital bonfire that is Tumblr and passing around a tin cup of whiskey. "I've seen some shit," one of us will say. "Do you remember the English dub of Gurren Lagann in aught-eight," another will answer. And then we'll all sigh deeply and mutter something that sounds suspiciously like This drill is... my soul!! which we all know in our heart of hearts never made any damn sense. As internationally famed director Hayao Miyazaki so wisely stated, "Anime was a mistake."

Because we're all in the landfill incinerator together, anime fans stick close to one another. If an anime fan follows you on Tumblr, they will follow you forever, through thick and thin, through your changing interests and your social justice warrioring phase and any incomprehensible shitposts you may generate. When an anime fan finds another anime fan, they are Tumblr Waifus for Laifu. Treasure your anime fan mutuals, because they've got your back while the video game people are up to shenanigans.
rynling: (Ganondorf)
As I continue to reblog cute pictures and post fluffy shipfic on Tumblr, I continue to be tagged on reblogs of social justice call-out posts. As far as I can tell, I'm being targeted because of a pseudo-literary reading of Ganondorf's villain monologue at the end of The Wind Waker (link), which is a fairly lazy piece of writing but for some reason got a decent number of notes when I posted it back in March.

I was doing a lot of "volunteer activism" at the time - one of my lawyer friends dragged me along to babysit people's children while she did pro bono legal advocacy for people whose relatives had been imprisoned during the recent riots in Baltimore - and a relatively minor but still important part of my motivation for posting the piece was that my experiences had made me sick and damn tired of seeing Ganondorf being portrayed as "evil angry barbaric Oriental other." Ironically, I'm now being accused of perpetuating neoliberal and neocolonialist ideology, ie, "black people always want white people's shit."

It's complicated, and I'm willing to acknowledge the validity of multiple points of view. What I am not willing to acknowledge is the condescending and counterproductive assumption that I am ignorant and need to be educated, especially not at the rudimentary "Intersectional Feminism 101" level at which Tumblr seems to operate (probably because a majority of its most active users are in fact college students).

As Angela Davis has written, "Whenever you conceptualize social justice struggles, you will always defeat your own purposes if you cannot imagine the people around whom you are struggling as equal partners."

I am going to get that quote tattooed on my palm; and, the next time someone sends me an off-anon message to inform me that I am a bigoted cunt and should commit suicide immediately, I will tell them to talk to my hand. Or to read Women, Race, & Class for a more informed and nuanced (and still gut-wrenchingly relevant, even thirty fucking years later) view of how to handle intersectionality, either way is good.

I would consider closing my ask box entirely, but I get a lot of sweet messages from friendly strangers and adorable anons. Also, I want to continue to document the "anti" "aggro" "discourse" on Tumblr, which I think is an extremely interesting subcultural movement. I've been having almost daily conversations with a professional cultural anthropologist friend of mine about the recent drama in the BBC Sherlock fandom, and the two of us are thinking of putting together an actual academic paper about Tumblr-based fandom wank. We have both seen our fair share of epic wank sagas since the early 2000s, but we both agree that the wank on Tumblr is really... special.
rynling: (Teh Bowz)
Two days ago I posted a Peach/Bowser commission to Tumblr (and it's really cute). It got a few dozen notes, which is nice, but in less than 48 hours it's reached the point at which the note count is now falling, and the hit count for the piece on AO3 it's meant to illustrate did not rise at all. In other words, it's a small niche thing that makes no one but me happy, and that's okay, because I am very happy.

Yesterday afternoon I got a series of messages from a prominent femslash artist in the Zelda fandom who wanted to let me know, in no uncertain terms, that I can't call myself a radical feminist if I promote "abusive m/f ships." Because I work ten hours a day and don't have time for this sort of nonsense, I didn't respond to her, but what I wanted to say is that I don't identify as a radical feminist. And this is weird, because my politics are fairly radical...

  • Capital punishment needs to be abolished immediately.
  • Local police forces need to be demilitarized immediately.
  • The sale of marijuana needs to be decriminalized immediately.
  • The prison system needs to be deprivatized immediately.
  • All political prisoners need to be released immediately.
  • Undergraduate student loans need to be forgiven immediately.
  • American subsidies to the Israeli military need to cease immediately.

I also have radical views concerning dismantling the prison system entirely, naturalizing immigrants, setting up better infrastructures for public transportation and solar energy, regulating the lobbies surrounding the food industry, and establishing protections for queer, transgender, and nonbinary people.

When it comes to who ships what, though, holy fuck do I ever not give a shit.
rynling: (Terra Branford)
Why yes, I do in fact need more postapocalyptic Mad Max themed Super Mario Bros cosplay in my life.


The work of these two fabulous dudebros inspires me. Writing "A Game of Castles" was a lot of fun, but the story had a tight focus on Bowser and Peach and didn't pay too much attention to Mario. Although I have other business to attend to at the moment, I think one day I'd like to write the story (such as it is) from Mario's perspective. In my head, he is more or less Hunter S. Thompson, except that instead of journalism he has a strong commitment to murder.
rynling: (Cecil Palmer)
The Small Press Expo was this past weekend, and I went and had a good time. I met and talked with three separate artists who I think might be good to work with on an illustration for "The Modern History of Zelda," but it's difficult to find the courage to send out the first inquiry, especially since I know I'm very likely to be rejected. The email format I've been using generally goes like...

(1) How I heard of the artist.
(2) A concise description of the project.
(3) A very short explanation of why it's important to me.
(4) Why the artist is a perfect fit for the aesthetic I'm going for.
(5) The information that I am happy to pay a substantial commission fee.

If the artist responds favorably to this email, I follow up with more specific details. This is when I lose people, because there is nothing in the world dorkier than a Zelda shipfic novel.

So far I've entered into an extended email exchange with four artists, each of whom broke my heart. Hopefully one of the people I met over the weekend will respond favorably. If none of them are interested, then I will try to talk to people at Anime USA. If that doesn't work out, I will crawl back into my trash hole and re-evaluate my sense of self-worth.
rynling: (Mog Toast)
This isn't a hard game to play. Your goal is to get so drunk that you...

• Outline a fic novel and refuse to feel guilty about knowing that you will never write it.
• Go to a fic you love and leave a comment saying exactly how much you love it.
• Announce on Tumblr that you will accept open prompts for fic drabbles.
• Forget how language works as you write, which is okay, language is stupid.

I usually won't engage with people online unless I am 100% dead sober, but hosting my own private fandom parties from time to time might not be such a bad idea.
rynling: (Cecil Harvey)
I've been reading through the Ganondorf/Zelda tag on AO3 again, and what's struck me this time around is just how many kudos and encouraging comments I left on other people's stories. After three weeks of not checking the tag on Tumblr, I can barely remember the intense bitterness I once expressed; but, now that I've put some distance between myself and the fandom, I find the overt lack of reciprocity truly shocking. In fact, I'm surprised that it took me so long to get upset.

This has made me start to consider the limitations of fandom and fannish spaces.

In an earlier post I wrote that I was considering deleting my Livejournal. The site itself died at some point during 2014, and I can't imagine any reason why I would return, especially since I considered the eleven years of my writing (across more than a thousand posts) hosted there to have no value. I've deleted a number of other fandom-related accounts, so why keep this one?

When I read through my journal, however, I realized that my writing was fairly decent – or better than "decent," actually. I was charming and witty and insightful (who was that person? where did she go??), and people responded to me, leaving thousands and thousands of comments. Why in the world did I think I needed to delete all of this? Why did I think my work was trash that needed to be disposed of?

I really enjoyed writing long and self-effacing and semi-humorous personal essays about my job, my family, my shitty relationships, my interests, and – this is what drew people in, I think – my experiences with fandom. Because all of this writing occurred within a fannish space, however, it was all "fandom" and therefore worthless from the perspective of "real publishing." Although I was getting incredible pageview counts between 2009 and 2012, no one tried to scout me, and no one within my (very carefully) curated circle of connections ever suggested to me that I should try to publish my essays. No one told me that I should get on Twitter to promote myself, and no one ever offered to introduce me to anyone who could help me become a professional writer. English-language Livejoural was a fandom-focused platform, and fandom is something you do "for fun" and "for yourself," as if professional writing generates enough money for people to do it not for fun and their own personal validation (PROTIP: it usually does not).

Basically, when I was in my twenties, I had the time and energy and talent and motivation to become the professional writer I always wanted to be, but I wasted it on the fannish identity "pocketseizure," a shitty not-joke about how stories of the dangers of the Pokémon anime made me realize that I had undiagnosed epilepsy. Because "pocketseizure" was getting so much attention, often from unexpected quarters, I started writing fic under the name "rynling" so that people wouldn't be able to make the connection between me, my essays, and my stories. And then, after I went through so much trouble to fracture my identity, I was for some reason disappointed that I didn't receive the recognition that I probably would have were my writing consolidated into one body of work.

My reasoning was justified by several real-life factors, including direct censure from my graduate advisors for having started a professional blog under my own name, but I nevertheless ended up internalizing the stigma of the anonymity communally enforced within fannish spaces. I wrote anonymously and "only in fandom" because I wasn't ready for the big leagues; I was anonymous because I lacked talent, and because my writing lacked any real value.

I'm not saying that fandom is bad, obviously, but its social mores effectively served to silence my voice as a writer and forced me to relegate my creative writing to the margins of my life, where it still remains. Even now that I receive actual money for my writing (and quite a bit of it, if I do say so myself), I still feel pressure from the sort of "you're not good enough" attitude implicitly enforced by fandom.

To return to the beginning of this post, the lack of reciprocity I've experienced concerning kudos and comments on AO3 is not how professionals behave. Professionals – people who are directly invested in their own success and the success of the people around them – do not ignore or fail to support and encourage their colleagues. When there is no direct payoff and no end goal, however, no one is motivated to engage in behavior that strengthens the larger community. When we're all anonymous, we can't promote or network with each other. When we actively distance ourselves from professional success, our work and voices and ideas remain in the shadows.

As things stand, I'm not sure what the solution is for me personally, or for fandom communities more broadly speaking. Perhaps because "Cease and Desist" letters have for the most part become a thing of the past, visual artists in fandom seem to have reached a good balance of respecting anonymity when desired, allowing fandom names to become professional names, and welcoming people who participate under their real-life names. Writers are still strongly expected to remain anonymous, however, and I can't help but feel that this is gendered – and it's probably gendered, let's be real.
rynling: (Default)
This morning I fell down a rabbit hole of reading through my Livejournal and came across an interesting passage I wrote in 2013 (as part of a much longer post titled On fandom and being "crazy") that describes my experience of moving through fannish spaces prior to 2006. It reads as follows...

[ Looking back to the beginning of this Livejournal, I've realized that I used to have a strange relationship with fandom. On one hand, I loved games and fantasy novels and comic books and anime. I never had a lot of money, but what little money I had I spent on geek stuff. On the other hand, I would periodically throw away my books and VHS tapes and DVDs and console games so that people wouldn't know I was into that sort of stuff. On one hand, I loved to draw and paint fan art and fantasy art. On the other hand, I felt as if I had to keep it hidden at all times, and I would throw away entire sketchbooks and paintings so that they didn't embarrass me. On one hand, I loved fan fiction and fan conventions. On the other hand, I did everything I could to dissociate myself from "the type of people" who liked fan fiction and fan conventions.

To me now, this seems totally crazy. At the time, though, I guess I was doing my best not to appear crazy. The consensus among "normal" people seemed to be that people in fandom were crazy, and "crazy" was the one thing I didn't want to be. If I were going to have anything to do with fandom, it needed to be a socially productive and acceptable type of fandom, like starting an anime club at my high school or volunteering at Anime Weekend Atlanta over the summer.

What I wasn't able to articulate when I started writing under this Livejournal account is that my actual lived experience of fandom corroborated the idea that fans are strange people, and that this was partially because the fandoms I had experience with were dominated by males. Being a young woman interested in something like Final Fantasy or Lord of the Rings or Magic The Gathering generally involved having to tolerate a high level of sexual harassment. I'm not saying that all male fans are or were sleazeballs, but rather that male-dominated fandom spaces used to feel male-dominated to me. Even if people weren't necessarily doing anything, the attitude was still there.

In high school and college, it was difficult for me to make friends in fandom, because I subconsciously didn't want to be friends with "that type of person" – by which I meant, I guess, the type of person, male or female, who objectifies both female characters and real woman (and I mean "objectify" broadly in the sense of "creating and operating within a discursive space in which men are subjects and women are objects") or tolerates and pardons this behavior and attitude in others. Women who were involved in male-dominated fandoms struck me as especially crazy, because it seemed to me that that they were actually embracing the inherent misogyny either by becoming hyper-accommodating to a male gaze or hyper-misogynistic themselves.

One of the major components of being crazy is that your personal reality doesn't mesh with consensus reality. Aside from indicating interests that were fairly removed from what was considered socially acceptable, fandom seemed impossible for me to join as someone who considered herself a feminist. Given my experience with fandom, then, it's no wonder that I felt like everyone involved in fandom as I understood it was crazy, and that I was crazy for being involved myself. ]

I think this passage is worth reproducing here not only as a mile marker in the way I've been approaching the topic of "fandom," but also as a demonstration of the sort of thing I used to write on Livejournal before its untimely demise. I was considering deleting my account, but discovering that I had written essays like this has encouraged me me to reconsider. More on this later, I think. (ETA: I did in fact write quite a bit more.)
rynling: (Mog Toast)
This is what the emotional process of creating a story has become for me: 20% is the exhilarating freedom of writing, 20% is the intellectual challenge of editing, and 60% is the crushing depression of being ignored.

I'm getting fewer notes now than I was when I first started posting fic more than a year ago, and fandom has started to make me feel angry and bitter and lonely. Each time I post a new chapter of my current story it's like facing down the barrel of a gun, and that gun shoots every bad thought I've ever had about myself: You're not good enough, you have no talent, you have no friends, people don't like you, you're just embarrassing yourself, everyone is laughing at you, your writing is shit, your personality is shit, and you can't even pay people to work with you.


I just edited the outline of "The Legend of the Princess," the Zelda/Ganondorf story I've been working on since April, and I now have 23 chapters planned. I had originally intended the story to be complete at 13 chapters (and 20,000 words), but I took too long writing it and the focus shifted. What I need to do now is crank out about 300 words a day, keep each chapter capped at 1,500 to 2,000 words, and try to post a chapter a week. At the rate of four chapters a month, I should be done in four months, which means that I will have completed my second novel in two years. I mean, sure, this is a FANFIC NOVEL that I will have published ON THE INTERNET but it has a well-defined conflict and a detailed plot and two whole chapters of smut, which is all anyone could ask for really??

Still, it's worth acknowledging that this takes courage. I think it's also worth acknowledging that, once I'm done with this story, I need to figure out a better way to move forward with my writing.


rynling: (Default)
Rynling R&D

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