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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

Who Knows about Your Fandom Habit?

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet




"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

Who Knows about Your Fandom Habit?

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can of worms
I've been wondering about this for some time, having stumbled into conversations with fellow fanficcers about how much of their online life they are willing to admit to in their "real" life: To what extent do you share your fandom life with people off of the Internet? By "people," this could be friends, family, spouses, significant others, coworkers, the unassuming public at large...anyone. Does anyone with whom you associate exclusively in offline life know what you get up to online?

Some people, I know, share it with anyone who will listen. Others, their own spouses would know their usernames and have no idea why "Library of Moria" shows up so many times on wifey's Internet history.

So what's your story?

This question has been romping around in my brain for some months now. It is something that I always meant to ask but that quickly got lost in my other musings about fandom and online life. What inspired me to ask today is twofold.

First, my lovely friend and co-perv ann_arien posted a link to an article about the "slash subculture" called Frodo & Sam Get It On. Since I first stumbled into the slash community purely with a social psychological interest (I swear! but I'm not vouching for why I've stuck around >:^] ), these sorts of articles interest me.

Secondly, today is my one-year anniversary in the Tolkien fandom.

I read fanfic before this and even had a Pit of Voles account, exclusively to comment on other people's writing. But this day last year, I got my LiveJournal. I started planning SWG. I joined up a whole plethora of groups and archives to see what went on beneath the surface of this fandom, beneath the finished stories that I hungered to read. I even began to entertain the notion of publishing my own story, Another Man's Cage, at some point. And no one knew. Bobby knew, I believe, that his wife got up to reading fan fiction. But he certainly didn't know that I was becoming immersed in it, nor the sorts of things that I read, nor that I was writing a fanfic novel. Why? Was I ashamed? A little, yes. I still (foolishly) believed fan fiction to be a dirty habit, a bizarre addiction of sorts. It wasn't "real" writing and online friends weren't "real" friends.


But today, of course, things have changed. Bobby knows of my online activities, and no, he doesn't care a whit. He teases me about slash, yes, and when I plan an entire afternoon to do things like insta-drabbling, but he understands that it is a hobby for me, a non-threatening way to practice what I love (writing) with people I like. He knows most of my online friends in some sense or another; he's even talked to a few of you on YIM or through LJ. So one could say that I most definitely do not hide my dirty fanfic habit from him anymore.

Those people closest to me know a good deal about it too. Chances are, we've even discussed slash and the sorts of things that I imagine a lot of people keep hidden. Frankly, if they think less or me for my version of innocent fun online (or not so innocent), I don't care. I could be up to a lot worse, and most of what goes on in online fandoms is normal human behavior, nothing to be ashamed of. (Yes, even slash.)

At the same time, I understand why people would want to keep their online lives secret. After all, this is our own special world. It's a form of escape, and having one's husband reading one's LiveJournal or one's coworkers snickering over one's latest fanfic exploits is not ideal for many people. I understand that, and I would be lying if I didn't occasionally think of the offline friends and family on my flist before deciding that I really don't want to hide from them. But the thought does cross my mind.


So I'm very interested to hear your answers. And I would like to thank all of you for a great year. It's been more than I could have hoped for!
  • I basically tell anyone who will listen, and unless they are in a position to do dreadful things to me if they think my love of slash is distasteful (e.g. I don't share my male-on-male Elf fetishes with my lab supervisors!!), the fact that it's often sexually explict and/or gay comes part and parcel of that conversation.

    My parents know - my mum at one point attempted to read a ficlet I wrote, and got rather confused as she didn't really know what was going on, so mostly just thinks I'm bonkers now. With my parents, when I mention a new friend they ask, "Is he/she an Elf?" - which means, "Did you meet them via Tolkien Society and/or fanfiction?", and if I say yes I get a long-suffering groan!

    It was very weird when they first cottoned on to what slash was - I'd been talking about it all the time for 6 months, literally, but I talk so much in general that they'd just ignored me. They finally worked out what it was after that, and there was a lot of friction for about 24 hours, but I finally managed to get my mother to realise that it was nothing more than a silly hobby. She'd already seen my screensaver at that point, which was a yummy little NC17 pic from the lovely Nellas, and once she understood that it got no worse than that, all was fine.

    A lot of my RL friends also read fanfiction from time to time, although I am probably far more "fandom" than any of them. But it means that even those of them who don't really like slash at least know it's there and know it's not some sort of dangerous perversion that makes me a danger to society! And of the friends I have who aren't into fanfiction, quite a few of them have other interesting kinks and fetishes - which of us is more odd, me or my flatmate of last year with his floggers, paddles and bondage rope? *grins* (We got on fantastically - he listened to me chatter about fanfic; I admired his new toys and squeed at his stories from fetish fairs.)

    So I guess in conclusion, my online and offline lives overlap so much that it's hard to tell where one ends and the other begins, and most people have at least a vague awareness of both!
    • My parents know - my mum at one point attempted to read a ficlet I wrote, and got rather confused as she didn't really know what was going on

      My parents haven't even read my original stuff...not because I don't want them to--I've tried--but because they just won't. But if they wanted to read my fanfic, I'd let them. Of course, we'd be dodging snowballs from Hell then. ;)

      It was very weird when they first cottoned on to what slash was - I'd been talking about it all the time for 6 months, literally, but I talk so much in general that they'd just ignored me.

      *giggles* I can imagine the slow realization coming upon them. I was outright with my parents. My sister and I were talking about slash one day when I was over for dinner, and I just outright defined what it is. I didn't want anyone left out of the conversation. :^))

      (We got on fantastically - he listened to me chatter about fanfic; I admired his new toys and squeed at his stories from fetish fairs.)

      Sounds like an interesting guy! :^D A lot of my offline friends are into Internet stuff or other geeky pursuits, so they understand, but I'm not only the only fanficcer but the only Tolkienite! Coming into this community was a like a cold drink of water...finally, someone other than me who knew--and cared--who Feanor was.

      So I guess in conclusion, my online and offline lives overlap so much that it's hard to tell where one ends and the other begins, and most people have at least a vague awareness of both!

      Same here! Even my boss knows that I am active in fanfic writing (although I don't think he fully grasps what fanfic is, since he's always asking me if I'm going to have it published) and in Internet communities. Although our conversations don't tend to head in slashy directions. ;)
      • Coming into this community was a like a cold drink of water...finally, someone other than me who knew--and cared--who Feanor was.

        Oh-ho! I hear ya! *pets Feany* I care, sweetie.too much, even And you'd be surprised how many others do too. :)
        • Yes, now I see that I'm not the only weirdo out there! The questions that used to keep me awake at night bug other people too and not everyone thinks the Feanorians are Teh Evil. ;)
          • Naaah! They are not evil, just very naughty... Well, when they play as my muses, anyway... >;)
  • Oh, and HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! :D
  • (no subject) - callirhoe
    • Happy anniversary! I'm so glad you're part of the fandom, and I look forward to many more wonderful years. :-D

      Thank you so much! :) I'm happy that I leaped in with both feet. I've learned a lot, met so many great people...it's certainly been rewarding. :)

      my parents have this idea that if I'm going to waste time writing, I might as well be writing some literary fiction that might someday be published and earn me some money.

      Eek. *cringes* Well, wouldn't we all like to make money writing? But I sometimes wonder if that's really a possibility. ;)

      I tried to explain this to my boss one day, who was like, "But Dawn, you write novels." Yeah, but so do a lot of other people. "But you're good." Well, thanks for the vote of confidence...but so are a lot of other people.

      I "justified" fanfic to myself in the beginning as a good way to practice my writing techniques for a later day of publishable original fic. And a lot that I've learned in the fandom--like web design--will be very helpful one day, the difference between paying someone to design/maintain my company website and doing my own. :)

      So, as a short answer to your question: no, I don't share my online life with people I know. :-)

      And for good reasons, I think. :) Not that one has to justify this sort of choice; I was just curious.

      But there is a certain loss of escape once offline friends and family start making their way into your online corner. Luckily for me, all these people are really cool and just tend to ignore my "fannish" activities, not being into Tolkien.
  • Hmm...I don't really tell people about it. *shrug* If they asked, I would probably tell the truth. My mom sort of knows, but doesn't really know what goes on! And one or two of my close offline friends may know, but it's one of those things we don't really talk about (although sometimes I send one of my friends pictures and then we drool! :P ). They definitely would not understand slash!
    • It's not really something worth discussing with non-Tolkien people, I've always thought. Before I met you all, the only person I had to babble to about the Sil and writing was Bobby, and he did his best, but it really just didn't interest him. I think he was probably happier for me to become part of this community than I was because that means I mostly leave him alone now. :^P

      Sometimes, fanfic comes up with some not-so-close associates of mine simply because I don't hang out with a lot of other writers, so the fact that I write always seems notable. People just don't seem to get it; my boss is fond of asking if I am going to publish AMC, no matter how many times I have explained to him that it is a fanfic.
      • It's not really something worth discussing with non-Tolkien people, I've always thought.

        Hehe, yeah. Might as well just talk to yourself...which I sometimes do.

        At least my one friend rightly appreciates the good looks of Celegorm!

        my boss is fond of asking if I am going to publish AMC, no matter how many times I have explained to him that it is a fanfic

        Lol!! That's cute though.
  • Wow, a year?
    You were a bit of a late bloomer there - but better late than never, eh? :o) Congratulations!
    • Thank you! :) Yes, I lurked for a loooong time--a year, in fact--before joining communities and admitting that I wrote the stuff. In fact, I wouldn't even admit that I read the stuff for some time.
  • First of all, let me say HAPPY ANIVERSARY! and many more years in the fandom! Stick around, for your enjoyment and the benefit of us all. :) I've been reading LotR fanfic since 2003 and I've been writing, but only for myself since a lot earlier, on many subjects, fanfic mostly. But I have started sharing less than 6 months ago and now I am part of a group of wonderful friends who encourage me and my writing.

    Let me see how many offline people know that I write Elf pr0n and slash Elf pr0n, no less... My brother, who is squicked, but it's not like he has to read it. (he's not even 17!), my best friend, my former room-mates who are also close friends, one of the people who I went to France last year for an internship (he is a guy and he has read some of my slashy stuff, saying that he was not disturbed, despite not being gay!) and... **drumroll* that's it! Mum knows that I like gay men but she instinctively shudders whenever the subject comes up so, no, I don't tell her what my writing is about.

    I don't mind telling anyone about my writing and my smutty, slashy preferences, but, like you said, Dawn, I'd rather keep this part of my life protected and share my thoughts with people who understand and appreciate such things.

    I'm glad you put the link to that article in your LJ as well. More people are likely to read your post, and thus, have a look at it.
    • First of all, let me say HAPPY ANIVERSARY! and many more years in the fandom! Stick around, for your enjoyment and the benefit of us all. :)

      Thank you! :) I hope to, for certain! (And the raise I got at work pretty much assures that I will.)

      I also started sharing my writing thanks to the encouragement of others. When I posted the first chapter of AMC, I got NO response, and I was literally ready to quit while I was ahead and go back to writing for myself only when Eni left me a really nice comment that encouraged me to go on...and the rest is history. :)

      Most people know that I write, a significant percentage of them know that I write fanfic, and fewer know exactly what I write because they're not into Tolkien. Bobby has, of course, read some of my stories. Our pal Harry Potter has read a couple of my fanfics. My sister admitted to reading the Feanor/Nerdanel love scene in AMC and told me that she thought it was hott...which was a huge compliment, considering that Sharon and I have spent the better part of our lives mercilessly critiquing each other's work!

      Most people close to me know that I read a good deal of slash, although I've only written one, and I get teased by Bobby and Potter but only in a good-natured way. :) And I tease them about their hobbies too.

      Slash even came up with my boss once...but all I did was explain what it was without expanding on my association with it. ;)
  • Happy Anniversary :D

    I like to try to keep my internet life separate from my offline life, mainly because whenever I have a social life people who talk to me offline know about, I get asked questions like, "So, what's so-and-so up to?" ...which, for some reason, bugs me. (However many details I blabber in my own journal, I'm kind of a private person in the offline world, and don't like mixing one social life with another too very much.) Like, it took FOREVER before I felt brave enough to let one of my sisters find my MySpace (which I don't use much, but the username I have there can be traced to other webpages I have), and I still wonder how happy I am that I've done that.

    I think my mom does know I read some fanfiction from time to time (I've had to explain to her more than once that people just write it for fun, not because they can't write their own stuff), and my family and some friends have a general idea of what fandoms I like that I'd hang around the fellow fans of, but if I wrote fanfiction, I probably wouldn't share it with more than a couple of people I know from offline--there'd just be no interest, and I'd like the safety of a computer screen between me and any (good or bad) remarks about it. *shrug*
    • Happy Anniversary :D

      Thank you! :)

      I can see how offline friends asking after online friends could be annoying. My husband knows most of my close online friends by name and screenname, since he is also an LJ friend (a few of them, he's even "talked" to, in the online sense), but he doesn't ask after them. What we do simply doesn't interest him much. When stoopid drama strikes, though, he does tend to ask after that because we laugh at it together. :)

      My sister is also an LJ friend, but then, she is also active in the online community (GBLTA, though, not Tolkien!), and I know where she hangs out, as she knows where I hang out. We tend to stay clear of the other's circles simply because that's not where our interests lie. (Although she did admit to reading the Feanor/Nerdanel love scene in AMC. :^P) I'm not into squeeing over how hot Shakira is and my sister isn't into squeeing over how hot Maedhros is; it works, in the end. ;)

      if I wrote fanfiction, I probably wouldn't share it with more than a couple of people I know from offline--there'd just be no interest, and I'd like the safety of a computer screen between me and any (good or bad) remarks about it.

      That's perfectly understandable. :) It is hardest for me to share my writing with my husband simply because I care more for his opinion than anyone else's. It is a lot easier to offer a story for criticism online than to sit through a workshop of the same story, having people look you in the eye when they say, "This sucks." (Been there, trust me! Although no one was quite that blunt.... :^P)
      • It is a lot easier to offer a story for criticism online than to sit through a workshop of the same story, having people look you in the eye when they say, "This sucks." (Been there, trust me! Although no one was quite that blunt.... :^P)

        Heh, yeah... I had a few workshop-based classes where some classmates just didn't know the meaning of the word "tactful." (Fond memories of some guy reading my poem about a mulberry tree I used to have, and rather loudly assuming that because he'd read some random other nostalgic poem about a fruit tree before, I must have ripped that one off... :P) At least online, you can flip the bird at a stupid review in privacy, without having a professor there to scold you for it. ;)
  • Well, only my sister is really into the stuff I write (and read). She reads all of my writing - original fic, slashfic - everything, and since she is a fan like me, no problem. She says she can't write, but I've made her write a few things and she has a good sense of humour and I thought she did a good job on a couple of parodies. My boss is a big Tolkien fan and he and his wife know I write fanfic. However, since I started writing slash a few months ago I have vowed NEVER to give him my LJ address. When it's finished I may let him read my original NaNo novel, but only AFTER I have heavily edited out the slash stuff.

    There is another writer in the family - my nephew - who is at Uni studying English Literature. He's 19, another big Tolkien fan, and my sister told him I write fanfic. But there is NO WAY IN HELL that I would pass on my LJ (or web) address to him. No way at all! I might let him read some of my tame stuff, but never anything NC-17.

    As for anybody else, I would die of embarrassment if my co-workers or my other friends found out about what I do. They don't even know I write. I have one crazy, zany friend that came over last week and I almost told her but I chickened out at the last minute. She's the only who might have understood, but if she didn't, I'd die of shame.

    My husband knows and I even use him in order to write sex scenes. *ahem* Of course, he doesn't mind at all. Research is so important, nést-ce pas? He has told some friends and relatives what I do and I could kill him for that, but most people just say, "Oh, yeah?" in a way that's equivalent to a yawn, so I don't think they'll be asking me anytime soon if they can read something.
    • I remember you agonizing in an age long ago about the fact that you'd given your boss your TFF screenname and had posted some racy Legolas fic there. I remember saying, "Why not put it in your LJ then?" ;)

      LJ is a good place to hide from real-life people. If my coworkers and family knew how much I gripe about them in my LJ.... *shudders* Also, I wouldn't want my boss reading my smutty stories either, although I doubt he'd get through them, as it's really not an interest of his.

      Most people learn fairly quickly that I'm a writer, since I usually wander morosely around pissing & moaning over my recalcitrant muses and the general lack of inspiration...or, if I'm inspired, bouncing around manically waiting for the next spare second to sit down and write. :) Other times (NaNoWriMo, for instance), my laptop traveled with me places where it normally would not go, which necessitated explanations....

      "Writer" has always been a core part of who I am, so most people know; in fact, it's one of the first things people learn about me, although I remain adamant about not sharing story ideas with anyone--but especially people I don't know well. I think it jinxes me. But people--non-writers--don't understand that. Nor do they understand that I can't summarize a novel in ten seconds.

      And, yes, research is very important. >:^D

      Most of my family is also apparently bored by my writing. Neither of my parents have ever read anything I've written past grade school, including the stuff I've had published. (And I gave them a copy of the magazine, so it's not like they didn't have access.)
  • No, I don't tell people in general. I might mention that I have writing ambitions, but among most of my coworkers even literature is considered a waste of time, so I don't expect a good reception, and my social acquainances think I am weird for liking so much cultural stuff anyway. I have told a couple of close friends, a long time ago, and even showed them some stories. One got a kick out of my writing, which was nice, and one found it much too sentimental for her tastes. (Which is probably why I am so worried about getting too sappy these days.)
    • A waste of time? Wow. But I guess it's a difference in work environments. My coworkers tend to be amazed that "Dawn is a writer. Like, she makes stories up in her head." ;) But they're cops, in every stereotypical sense of the word. I was once looking something up for a story, and my notorious female coworker Kathy came in and asked what I was doing; when I told her, she rolled her eyes. I could practically hear her thinking, "Geek." But then, she thinks an evening of shooting darts and getting drunk is high-quality entertainment and I don't, so it's a difference in perspectives, I guess.

      And "sentimental" is one of the last words I would use to describe your writing.
    • even literature is considered a waste of time

      Yeah... I know about that one. When I mention that I'm working on a manuscript, I get "On what???".
      When I reply "An alternate mythology fantasy novel."
      I get blank stares and silence.
      Ta da...
  • I haven't gone out of my way to keep my fandom involvement secret, but the overwhelming majority of my Real Life friends and acquaintances simply don't care about it one way or the other (for which I am grateful).
    • Most of mine know about it...and don't care. They're not into Tolkien, so when I start rambling about something Tolkien-related, they tend to tune me out.

      But I have offline friends/family who are also LJ friends, so it's not like my writing is hidden from them...most have even read it! (And without coercion on my part, I swear. ;^D)
  • I would not say that I hide my fanfic habit. I'm simply not telling people about it. And I'm mostly doing so because I fear their reaction would be "Hey, where can I read this?" I wouldn't want people I know to read what I'm writing, neither fanfic nor original stuff. It's much easier online for me. Not that I think of anyone who reads my stuff as some faceless virtual non-entity, but at least it's no face-to-face confrontation with someone I know and their thoughts about my work. Like Vana, I like to keep my online and offline lives apart. Fanfic is a bit like movies are for me, I think. A little bit of escapism that I need at irregular interims.

    I do not think my family knows what I'm doing online either. Not because it's the super secret thing for me, but simply because I'm of age and they don't really care what I do in my free time. My family's anyway very respecting when it comes to private things. My father and I use the same web browser from time to time and it's of absolutely no question for us that neither of us spies on the other. Not because we're doing something that nobody's supposed to know about, but because it's simply a matter of privacy. I'm totally positive he'll never think "Oh, let's look what websites she visits" and neither will I.

    So I guess their pretty unaware of my fandom activities, though I suppose that if they knew they wouldn't be very surprised either. I'm the Tolkien nerd of the family after all. I guess they wouldn't even be very scandalized if finding out about my occasional enjoyment of slash stories (though they probably wouldn't understand the appeal of it). After all, I'm the weird woman with the dirty humor who searches for homoerotic subtext in literature classics, hehe. And I'm an adult after all. I feel entitled to enjoy some porn from time to time. :-P
    • I guess I'm lucky that of all the people in my life--except my sister--I am the only "writer" and so tend to earn applause for even my feeblest attempts. And my sister tends not to like what I write--fantasy and fanfic--so she doesn't read much of it. (Although she says she reads my drabbles, despite not understanding them! :^P)

      My husband and I also use the same computer, and I'm also confident that he doesn't spy on me. He knows what I'm doing. He's an LJ friend, for one, so he can read my stories if he wants. Secondly, I tell him. He'll ask, "Dawn, are you beta'ing?" "Yup." "Is it slash?" "Yup." He teases me sometimes, but he doesn't judge or care beyond that. He also knows my password. He could read my email, but why? I'll gladly tell him what I'm up to...although he probably doesn't want to know. ;)

      I'm also the only Tolkien nerd, and that keeps my real-life friends and family--those who are in my LJ that is--from reading a lot of my stuff. Although they have all read it at some point or another. But it's hard for them to comment on fanfic, and like I said, they tend to be less "literary" than me and so tend to vaguely like things without knowing why or being able to give concrit.

      Strangely, thinking on this more, I find RL criticism just as hard to take as online, although it makes sense that online would be easier. But I angst just as much about posting stories as I did about having a story workshopped for class!

      And I'm an adult after all. I feel entitled to enjoy some porn from time to time. :-P

      This really made me smile. How true! :^D And it could be a lot worse, I think. My parents have a friend who is a pr0n addict, and some of the things my dad has found while fixing his computer (after he downloads virus-laden images on pr0n sites).... o.O
      • I guess I'm lucky that of all the people in my life--except my sister--I am the only "writer" and so tend to earn applause for even my feeblest attempts.

        When I think of it, that may be the reaction of the people I know, too. I somehow managed to be born into a shockingly un-artistic family. I used to paint for some time and even my worst pictures were stared at as if they were some as of yet undiscovered work of Cezanne (or whoever). So if they should ever feel the urge to read my stuff, I guess they'd like it anyway. Though they probably wouldn't understand it. I can imagine conversations along the following lines:

        Random person: But... that's not happening in the Silm, is it?

        UH: But it is! You really should pay more attention to the subtext...

        (Not to mention that I'm probably the only one in the vicinity who read that book anyway...)

        Strangely, thinking on this more, I find RL criticism just as hard to take as online, although it makes sense that online would be easier.

        I think I can take online criticism easier than someone telling me face to face simply for the fact that, if someone should happen to write me a nasty review on ff.net or LJ (which hasn't happened until), I could simply scroll down or shut down the browser window and happily ignore it. I mean, that's probably not what I'd do, but the possibility that I might is quite enough for me. :-P
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