I had a conversation with M about fandom recently that ended up with her saying 'Well, maybe fandom isn't your audience anymore.'
It kind of broke my heart, because fandom's always been my audience. I've been in fandom since before I knew what fandom was, when I was filling notebooks with terrible fanfiction about this dinosaur book that I loved as a kid. (I liked to write about their super great trips to go swimming in a lake.) And I've been reading terrible fanfiction since I could convince my parents to buy tie-in Power Rangers books.
But I think it's getting more and more true that I don't fit into this new world of fandom. I've joked before about the 'blandification' of it with friends, that we're more interested in telling each other the same exact AUs repurposed across fandoms than we are in trying to find new and interesting stories to tell. That's always been true, that fandom will be drawn to its favorite tropes and narratives, but I think fandom as a whole has become less tolerant of things that step outside its predefined lines. Or, at least, that in the past, there were more ways to carve out your own niche of weird, interesting stories. When I read fic these days, I find myself latching onto anything that even mildly implies that a relationship will be troubled and difficult or that doesn't start from the assumption that two characters are meant to be together and works forwards from there. I miss being able to find other stories. I went back and found some old fic that was about Elijah Wood finding a black hole in his closet, and it was just as weird and as challenging as it was when I first read it.
I look back at what I've written over the last few years, and while I'm proud of what I've accomplished, so much of it feels safe and lacking any true ambition. It's always willing to go for the easy resolutions, the simplest endings, following along with fandom assumptions. It's not willing to challenge myself or my readers. I think, creatively, I need to change that or else I'm going to feel strangled and bored out of my mind.
I guess the 'right' thing to do is to suck it up, to keep pushing myself to try to tell stories that I find interesting and difficult even if the rest of fandom doesn't want to read them. I guess the 'easy' thing to do is to give into fandom and write happy, hopeful stories that it wants. I like writing stories like that, too. I guess the 'difficult' thing is to venture out, to see if I can find another community that will be more interested in what I have to say.
I don't know.
I guess that's why I have to make a decision.
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