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Not ready to walk away just yet

I'm probably not going to go to Otakon next month, if only because expensive hotels are expensive and cheap hotels are too far away...I'd considered staying at the Laurel Days Inn Suites and commuting via BWI and the light rail system, but this program was clearly full of fail and almost certainly would have led to losing my hat. Bad plan. Still mulling over Capclave, the successor to Disclave; while some acquaintances of mine will be there, I have less than no interest in the GoH and the vibe I get from it is Minicon right after the HRMP Wars ended. Sod that for a game of "trufen". So most likely the next con I'll go to will either be Katsucon next February or Detour. (Because I pretty much HAVE to go to Detour.) Whether I'll do anything at these conventions is another matter, as far as volunteering or being on staff goes.

P and RS have been pushing, gently but consistently, the notion that I should just get out of fandom and get on with a life of my own, so to speak. I can see the merits in that suggestion; God knows fandom has taken quite a bit out of me and not returned all that much over the years. On the upside, I've made some great friends through fandom: thaadd, stuckintraffik, and jolest, just to name a few. I've also had a couple of rock star moments and had the satisfaction of seeing something I helped create make it big and do well. On the down side, it's also cost me some friends, a lot of time I almost certainly could have spent more productively, my MA from St. Mary's, and arguably my health. Much like politics, it's often forced me to spend a lot of time with people I would otherwise have crossed the street to avoid.

When I was a young kid just getting involved in fandom back in the 1970s, it looked pretty attractive to me. Pubbing zines, getting to know people who had similar interests to mine, staying up all night singing filksongs, shooting fireworks off the hotel room balconies partying as hard as a high school kid knew how. Looking back on it now, thirty years on, I wonder how much of that was me still smarting from suddenly finding myself on the outside in junior high school. I say that because when I got to see it up close in Minnesota, well, it just wasn't all that attractive any more. Maybe I'd changed too much to want to belong any more, maybe it was just the people, maybe it was a matter of blindly accepting my then-wife's take on the scene...whatever the reasons, it just didn't have the same luster it had six years before. Then the kids arrived, and there just wasn't money or time to indulge in fandom*, except for the Baja Manitoba Free Press, a perszine I was cranking out mainly for the benefit of my Washington-area friends.

As best I can recall, I got back into fandom in 1995 when Space: Above and Beyond came on the air. The show's producers, Glenn Morgan and James Wong, were very responsive to fan feedback, and the "59th Squadron" attracted hundreds of fans around the world. Many of the "Space Ready Reserve" had military backgrounds and gave good commentary, and the show's quality went up in an almost asymptotic curve. When Fox killed the show, the 59th agitated for its return, and celebrated when its re-runs came to the SF Channel. Representing for the SRR got me involved in Diversicon starting in 2000, Arcana in 2000 (mainly because David Drake was GoH), and later on (2003, IIRC) CONvergence and Anime Iowa. I did a lot of volunteering at all of these conventions and eventually wound up on staff at most of them. More significantly, all that volunteering got me to the point where I felt confident taking one of the lead roles in launching Anime Detour.

All of which is really irrelevant to the main point. I didn't spend much time volunteering at Balticon, Disclave, Unicon, August Party or any of the other DC-area conventions I attended in the 70s and 80s; most of those conventions have gone into the dustbin of history anyway. Not that I knew very many of the people involved in them to begin with, really; most of the fans I knew then were young punksneos like me who were at the conventions to have fun with their friends, not to spend our weekends working on the convention. Most of those fans have gafiated in any case, for the same reasons I did - lack of money, lack of time, and more pressing demands on the time we did have. I don't know that I'm quite willing to quit going to conventions, though. I also don't know that I'm ready to quit working on them - the idea of throwing a small party for a few hundred close friends where we can talk about SF, movies, anime and other stuff we like still appeals to me, and I might just get back into it someday. Just not this year.

*Let's face it, fandom is mostly a middle-class pursuit. If you're spending most of your time scrabbling to support your family with temp work and the rest of the non-sleeping time on child care & house maintenance, you aren't going to have a lot of time or money to spend on going to conventions or doing any other fanac. FIJAGH has always been my attitude.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
dejana
Jul. 7th, 2008 10:08 am (UTC)
Maybe it's just a symptom of my being tragically overinvested, but I fail to see a significant difference between being in fandom and "having a life of your own." It may just be a hobby, but hobbies are part of your life. You're going to like the things you like whether or not you're in the fandom for them. In my experience, you can either be alone with your interests, or you can be with the people who share them. Your hobbies are part of what makes you who you are... putting them aside would be like trying to be someone you're not, in my opinion.

It's true, though, that fandom often carries a negative rate of return. I can't count the number of times I've been tempted to give up on the whole thing. Overall, though, I think I'm better for it. What's wrong with turning to fandom as somewhere to belong, when you found yourself on the outside at school?

Out of curiosity, where were you when you first took an interest in fandom? You said it wasn't as attractive when you saw it up close in Minnesota. Lately I've been suspecting location may have something to do with that sort of experience.
wombat_socho
Jul. 7th, 2008 05:20 pm (UTC)
Maybe it's just a symptom of my being tragically overinvested, but I fail to see a significant difference between being in fandom and "having a life of your own." It may just be a hobby, but hobbies are part of your life. You're going to like the things you like whether or not you're in the fandom for them. In my experience, you can either be alone with your interests, or you can be with the people who share them. Your hobbies are part of what makes you who you are... putting them aside would be like trying to be someone you're not, in my opinion.
This is pretty much the way I feel about it. Fandom (for me) hasn't been such a hideous experience from end to end that I want to wash my hands of it and move on to something else; YMMV, and I know of some young people whose mileage has varied quite a bit from mine. But they're not me, and I don't feel the need to leave fandom because of their awful experiences.

There's a problem with the concept of fandom as a safe space for kids who don't fit in, but that deserves a longer post of its own. Later today, maybe.

I first got interested in fandom in 1974, when I went to my first convention (also my first Worldcon) in Washington DC and was blown away by all the cool stuff going on. Seeing fandom at closer range in 1983-86 in Minnesota (and again from 2000 onward) definitely affected my impressions of it, and not for the better.
materia_indigo
Jul. 7th, 2008 05:49 pm (UTC)
It is a hobby, and if it isn't fun anymore, then don't do it. Or do it less ... or something. I wonder why I still attend Diversicon. Actually, I really think I'll be missing Diversicon this year, but I've said that before.

I came back from CONvergence yesterday exhausted. I had a good time, but it was a serious energy drain.
wombat_socho
Jul. 7th, 2008 09:56 pm (UTC)
I think what I really need to do is figure out what parts are fun, what parts suck, and what sucky parts are necessary to enjoy the super-fun parts that don't come without getting into the suck. This could take a while, especially since (as dejana commented) the suck may depend a lot on location.

I miss being a panelist at Diversicon, but I don't miss the concom meetings one damn bit.

Edited at 2008-07-07 09:57 pm (UTC)
dejana
Jul. 7th, 2008 11:09 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I definitely wouldn't throw in the towel until you've given your new local fandom a chance. Going to all these cons like I do, I've seen the community can be very different in different parts of the country. Lately I've been starting to wonder if some of my frustration comes from just being in the wrong place. :\

Of course, there's an equal chance it might suck even more. ;) I've heard good things about Katsucon, though.
wombat_socho
Jul. 7th, 2008 11:29 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm pretty sure I'm not getting out any time soon. Just not sure how much I want to be involved in the convention-running part of it (if at all) and if I do, when.

I am told that the people who run Katsucon are good folks; I am also told that they are incompetent jackasses. Going to have to wait and see on that one, I guess.:3
luned
Jul. 9th, 2008 06:29 am (UTC)
I haven't talked to my friend in WSFA about anything fandom-related for a long time, so I have no idea if Capclave will smack of disaster or not (our last conversation, IIRC, was about the Nationals' pitching staff.)

I'm at the point where I'm about to give up conventions myself. I'll probably run 2009 out there, especially now that I see that Detour is going to be in a new location in '09, but I'm having significantly less fun than I used to have. I should probably just stick with attending non-party programming at CONvergence. It may just be a personal observation, but I get more of a vibe of "regular people with geeky interests"--the FIJAGH types--there than at the other cons I've gone to (anime cons are just...teenage, and I think I may be aging straight out of it.)
wombat_socho
Jul. 9th, 2008 12:18 pm (UTC)
Capclave/WSFA's already had its version of the HRMP Wars, which is why there is Capclave and not Disclave. I don't think Capclave is headed for disaster at all - it is what it is, and if the people running it and going to it are happy with it, fine. It just doesn't look like my kind of con.

OMG, the Nationals. :(

This may sound like a truism, but as far as cons go, you need to do less of the annoying stuff and more of the stuff that's fun for you, which sounds like more programming and fewer parties.
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