Sunday, May 27, 2007

Self-Definitions

I've spent the last fifteen years saying that I wasn't a SF fan -- or, at least, saying that I "didn't come up from fandom," or that "I wasn't in fandom before I got a SF job," which is close to the same thing. (And I generally meant it to say "I don't really belong in purely fannish gatherings, since I'm not really One Of You.") But that's not true now, and it hasn't been true for most of that time -- I just didn't realize it.

I owe my blinding realization of the obvious in part to things that Patrick Nielsen Hayden has said about fandom over the years and in part to Kurt Busiek's recent thoughts about the definition of fanfiction on rec.arts.sf.written (in this thread; this post is, I think, Busiek's first major one on the subject). Both have made the reasonable and thoughtful point that one is not essentially a fan, or a pro, or anything, but that one acts as a fan, or a pro, or whatever, in particular situations. So, if one edits professional SF books, or writes them, that activity is that of a pro. But the same person can also be a fan while doing different things. (It's not that complicated; I'm not sure why it took so long for me to apply it to myself.)

The corollary is that being a fan is not a lesser activity than being a pro; it's simply different. Some activities -- the fanfiction discussion on rasfw runs through a lot of them -- blur the line, or can move from one side to the other, but many other activities (filking, cosplay, doing a book-signing tour, working up the P&L on a new book) are clearly one or the other. Some activities (appearing on a panel at a convention, or blogging at great length about SF) can be both simultaneously.

So, while what I said about myself was factually correct, it wasn't completely true. I am a SF fan; I enjoy going to conventions (as much as I can enjoy anything, but that's a separate question), and even try to get to Masquerades most of the time when I do. A huge percentage of my time online for the past decade has been spent arguing (mostly amiably, I hope) about SF and Fantasy, mostly here or at rec.arts.sf.written. I even use fannish terms regularly (and often even correctly!)

So, since I've finally admitted that I am a fan, it's probably overdue for me to gafiate for the first time...

4 comments:

The Stealth Geek said...

I do think, however, that there is a distinct difference between being a genre fan, and being what some SF/F fans have self-idenified as "fen". Although I've worked in genre for many years, and enjoy reading much SF/F, I also have myriad other interests. In my professional career, I've frequently run across SF/F fans who in fact have NO other interests, and their fandom defines them as individuals. These are the folks who seem to self-identify as "fen".

This is not a value judgement, simply a statement of fact.

Although I enjoy certain aspects of being a SF/F fan, I tend to leave most of it at work. If I didn't, I think it wouldn't be long before I no longer enjoyed the genre at all. Since I love what I do, I would rather impose my own limits on participating in genre-related activities outside of work than risk developing a distaste for genre altogether.

James Nicoll said...

Nothing says that you have to gafiate.

La Gringa said...

What the hell does gafiate mean?

James Nicoll said...

Gafiate: the active form of Get Away From It All.

It would be a great pity if Andrew gafiated.

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