I grew up on Star Trek. That's basically the only show I watched. My parents took me and my sis to Star Trek conventions as kids. So Star Trek was my idea of TV and everything TV could do.
It's not a stretch to say that that's pretty limited. Star Trek, TNG in particular, is far more about cool sci-fi plots than about awesome character development. This works for the show in what it's doing. But I remember, from a fairly young age, wondering why things that happened in one episode would never get mentioned again or why weren't all the characters in therapy for massive amounts of PTSD. Happy as I was with Star Trek, I wanted more from fiction.
I created my own world for a while that fit my strict standards. It was my go-to daydream place.
When I got older, I became introduced to more TV. TV that had more arcs. Anime that had continuous stories. This all made me happy.
Then Buffy hit. Buffy, whilst I was in the depths of an excruciating depression. The show bowled me over, and I latched onto it. If I was obsessing about Buffy, I didn't have to pay attention to my own falling-apart life.
I set this LJ thing up in 2008 after some time spent on internet forums. My intention from the start was to dig into the fandom and become a notable person with Interesting Thoughts and such. Yeah, my goal was to become popular. Judge away. I feel no shame.
I wanted to share my Buffy opinions. I wanted to provide a place where other people could share theirs. I wanted to become a central point in fandom.
I succeeded, in some senses. I also learned a lot along the way.
At first, my opinions were largely emotional. I was attached to the characters, and my lens was all about them. It was only after some time that my interest shifted to the more intellectual side of things. I remember that shift while I was writing up episode reviews. Doing so forced me to focus on the craft of the show and see what the series was doing on a larger scale.
One of the hardest things was figuring out how to handle the personal and the fannish.
From the start, I labeled my LJ a "fandom journal". Originally, I never intended to make any personal posts. I planned to be like the best forum mods: They have a presence, but they don't actually personify themselves much. They exist for the purpose of the forum (Buffy, in my case), but they keep their private life sequestered away.
Well, LJ isn't like a forum. As I developed friends, I inevitably started making personal posts. I had to figure out how to handle those. I definitely wanted open discussion on my LJ, but I didn't want my private life up for criticism. So I put a rule in my profile about how personal posts aren't up for debate. Any post with the gabs' oh-so-exciting life was not up for open discussion.
This made things simple for me. There've been a few instances of line-crossing in my personal posts, but I managed to handle them. And if contention erupted in a public, fannish post, it was on me to deal with it professionally.
Yeah, I said "professionally". I'm not a professional. I got no money from fandom. And yet, I tried to approach the fannish side of my journal professionally. I provided a Buffy playground for people to come in and comment freely. My feelings tended to take a backseat in the comments section, as a result. Well, that was the theory. In practice, I sometimes failed.
This approach wasn't a bad thing, I think. Okay, yeah, it could be stressful for me, but I managed to gather some lovely close fandom friends to whom I could vent privately. And it's the best way I found to maintain that "popular" goal. If you want to be well-known (and well-regarded) in a fannish way, it does involve a certain amount of presenting things for fandom rather than for yourself. You present your thoughts, you present some new idea, some joke, some poll, some goodies, whatever, and you sit back and let fandom do with it what it will. Sometimes the response will be positive. Sometimes negative. Sometimes controversial. The key is allowing the response, regardless.
It's hard to find a way to explain all this without coming across as horrifically arrogant and full of myself. Thing is, getting to this point involved a great deal of ego deflation.
When I first started my LJ, I posted Buffy stuff almost every day. Often, multiple times a day. I was going through one of my bad depression spells, and fandom became an escape.
Usually often, I'd get no comments. I'd get absolutely no indication that anybody was reading. I kept posting, though, out of pure stubbornness (and obsessive love for the show combined with strong FEELINGS about everything).
I pimped myself mercilessly, making sure I was known with the newsletters. I proactively friended oodles of people on tenuous grounds. Eventually, slowly, I got more comments more consistently. I became immersed in the central hub of fandom activity. You know the tangle of friendships where everybody is friended to everybody else.
The central thing I learned, though, is that I'm not all that. This is the ego deflation. This is where I learned and accepted that having a popular fannish journal would require giving up part of my LJ to the public space. This meant recognizing that my opinions on the show weren't sacrosanct, that other opinions were just dandy (and, indeed, welcome), and that my LJ is more for others than it is for me.
This acknowledgement affected how I handled most things that go on in my LJ, from dissenting opinions, to criticisms, to agreement, to squee, to whatever.
And it was a trial and error process to reach that point. Lord knows, some stuff in my fandom past makes me cringe and want to hide under my desk (maybe unplugging my modem in the process). Finding that line between my LJ and an open fannish LJ was difficult. How far does that extend? What's reasonable to expect in terms of feedback? What about those personal posts?
It wasn't easy.
But I'm happy with what I've done. I look back on some of my meta, and I am so, so happy with the reception it got. The Whose Show stats, Buffy Came Back Wrong, Women Connected, the Buffy love posts, Unpopular Opinions Sanctuary Posts. I'm happy with what I've contributed. I'm happy with what other people have responded with. I think I've managed to do justice to this brilliant TV series in my own way. One important part of being a fan for me is living up to the series. Giving to it what I feel it's given to me.
This is probably an odd quirk of mine, because any sort of reciprocity between me and a TV show is honestly nonsense. But it makes sense in my head.
After these years, after these discussions, after the hours and days and months I've put such a fervor into this fannish devotion of mine, I don't know that I have anything else to add.
Yes, this leaves some projects incomplete, something I hate doing. The episode polls - just as we were getting to one of the most contentious season! The Feminist Filter - which I revel in as an opportunity to get my feminist nerd on. Then my WIP fanfics - which I hate leaving in this unfinished state.
But when that fannish spirit leaves, when it's sated, it's a disservice to the show, to you guys, and to me, to force it forward. Fandom is ultimately about having fun.
As I've come to this conclusion that I'm going to bow out of fandom, I've considered just switching my LJ to some other topic. Cats or book reviews or sociology nerdology or socks or something. However, events in my real life have shifted me to a more private mindset. I just...don't feel compelled to share opinions or thoughts with such a large audience. About anything. Maybe I'm tired of all that aforementioned popularity. Maybe I'm entering into a more private phase of my life. Whatever it is, I don't want to broadcast anything in particular.
This leaves me in something of a sad mood. I've had legitimate fun in fandom. I've made amazing friends, met amazing people, read amazing fanfic and meta, taking part in amazing discussions. It's been amazing. I recall with a smile staying up late in to participate in lengthy, joking comment threads with people. I also recall staying up far too late to debate some totally pivotal point about the series. Both were fun.
Wrapping things up on this LJ effectively closes the door on those funtimes for the foreseeable future. Of course this makes me sad.
But life - my life, at least - progresses in stages, and I'm at a point of closing out one stage of my life to move on to another. My participation in fandom has almost always been fairly quiet and inconsistent (you know, before Buffy). I've always read fanfic to an extent, but actually having a presence? Comes and goes for me. This is a point where it's going. My hobbies are changing. My life is changing. Fandom isn't as essential for me as it used to be, and my attention is directed elsewhere.
Maybe at some point in the future, at some other stage in my life, I'll find the time and inclination to pick up fandom as a hobby in earnest. Maybe I'll finish those unfinished projects and fanfics. I wouldn't be surprised. But for now, for what I can see of my life in the near future, it's not going to happen.
Nothing's going to be locked down or removed or anything. I'll maintain backups so if anything catastrophic happens to LJ (and DW), we can still have our swanky line count charts.
I'm just not going to post anymore.
Thank you to my friends who have made this whole fandom thing so fun. Thank you to all the meta-writers, the fanfic-writers, the fan artists, the archivists, the community maintainers. Thank you to the people who disagreed with me about everything. Thank you to the lurkers and commenters. Thank you! It was fun.
Edit: A convo I was having with someone made me realize that I didn't leave any indication about continuing contact with cool peeps I've met. And I'd like to! All my contact info I listed out in the previous entry is still good.
Also, if you'd like to be Facebook friends, send me a PM. I'll cross the streams now.
This entry was originally posted at http://gabrielleabelle.dreamwidth.org/374133.html. There are comments on the DW side. Comments are welcome on either side. Due to massive SPAM issues on LJ, anon comments are only on the DW side.