Dancing to Dirges

Depressing and happy things Tim says, sometimes while drunk

Friday, September 23, 2005

How self centered am I? Very, very yes

I went to a signing by Neil Gaiman last night. In the pantheon of writers, I have this holy trinity in my head. William Gibson, Neil Gaiman, Tim Powers. China Mieville is crowbarring his way in, but so far those are still the big three. And as of last night, Powers is the only one I haven't met.

Something occurred to me, however, as I was standing around outside the venue, waiting for the doors to open. There was a congregation of the faithful, maybe about fifty or so. They represented, in its purest most undilluted form, Gaiman fandom. Goths, mostly. There was a lot of clove smoke in the air. Blue hair, piercings, tribal tattoos. That sort of thing. And it was also the autumnal equinox, so there was a lot of talk of mumblehain. I didn't really catch the exact wording.

The point is, this got me to thinking about fandom. I understood these people, I agreed with them on the quality of Gaiman's work. When he signed my book I was too dumbstruck to say anything other than, "Yes, I'm Tim. Hi." and then I nodded and, well, managed to not make an idiot of myself. It went better than meeting Gibson, I'll say that much. So, yes, I'm a fan of Gaiman. But I'm not part of fandom. I don't devote any of my time talking about Gaiman's work with other people, I don't devote time or energy thinking about the man, my affection for his work extends to the work itself and no farther.

It's hard to explain, but what I'm trying to get at is that I've never been a *fan* of other things. I liked Star Wars, but I've never wanted to be a part of that universe. I enjoyed LotR, but I don't hold much nostalgia for the work itself. Same with other books, other authors. I enjoy the work, but I don't participate in the Fan Thing.

When I was a serious gamer, it wasn't enough for me to just be a gamer. I couldn't just play the games. I had to extend beyond that. I knew people who measured their value by how many of the books they owned, how well they knew the rules. At the time, I measured my worth by how many of the books I had written. And even then, when I was writing the games, I wasn't as much of a gamer as most of the fans.

And now it's become writing, only really it's always been writing, hasn't it? At most cons, there are two events going on at once. There's the industry event, where the writers and editors and publishers get together and talk about the craft and business of writing. And there's the fan event, where the fans get together and talk about, well, being fans.

I think I summarized it best last night when I turned to the friend I was with and said "You know, I've never wanted to be a fan of someone else. I've always wanted someone else to be a fan of me." And I guess that's a little fucked up, but so be it.


At 9:11 PM , Blogger Splitcoil said...

Jesus, that is fucked up. Okay, not really. You just have a healthy self image and are too intelligent to devote yourself to a person in that particular way.

Except for that strange Erik Estrada thing you have going.

At 4:49 PM , Blogger Marshdrifter said...

Now that I've given it some thought, I think the fandom of the WGB is what bothers me the most about it. I think that's also why I appreciate such threads as the "verb something now" threads. At that point, we're making something of ourselves and not relying upon WG to entertain us (even though he certainly does).

OTOH, those threads humble me as I don't have many skills that result in some form of electronic deliverable. I can dig a mean excavation unit, but you don't get to see it.

At 7:59 PM , Blogger Splitcoil said...

We could always start an "Excavate Something Now" thread. You'd clean up.

At 10:53 AM , Blogger Bravus said...

I was wondering, as I was reading the post, about how you'll feel once people hold your own work in the same kind of esteem. You'll have a fandom, and not all of them will be like you... that is, some will be much more fannish. How will you cope? I think most of the authors do it pretty well, although it's gotta be weird for them on a human level. (Harlan seems to be an exception, check out Penny Arcade for his tiff with those guys - hilarious!)

I've actually never done the signing/meeting thing with authors, just because I'd want to acknowledge the pleasure their work has given me, but they hear that all day long at a signing, so what the hell else does one say without sounding like a pretentious student twat? I guess at least with Gibson now, 'I'm Bravus' might get a grin. ;)

At 10:54 AM , Blogger Bravus said...

...and I kinda hope that, with WGB, we sometimes get to give him some pleasure back...

At 4:47 PM , Blogger colin said...

I find the fandom on the WGB nicely reserved and wry. I suppose it is the influence of Mr. Gibson himself. I'm not much interested in being more of a fan than that.

Having your own fans, well, that could get interesting, especially if the fans disagree violently with you. The example of Orson Scott Card comes to mind.

At 10:14 AM , Blogger José said...

For me, it is just a matter of guidance. Some people know where they want to go, even if circumstances prevent them from going just now.

Others are lost, and latch themselves to whatever they feel will give meaning to their lives. RPG fans are quite sad in that respect, because their fan attraction exploits them for money, and it does not even exist. But it helps to stop wondering what to do with your free time.

Maybe I am just too self-centered to feel it.


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