Saturday, October 31, 2009

Just Like Fandom

The November / December 2009 issue of Horn Book Magazine has an article about fanfiction:

In Defense of Fanfiction by Becca Schaffner

As you may remember, Carlie Webber and I wrote an article about Fanfic called When Harry Met Bella for School Library Journal in August. Schaffner references that article: "On the other hand, more well-intentioned efforts like School Library Journal’s August 1, 2009, article on fanfiction cover the mechanical basics of fanfic writing and culture and try to relate them to something more traditional and tangible — that is, the print world whose value we take as a given." Schaffner's piece is more of a personal essay than the SLJ article. Whatever your level of participation in fandom (not at all, "hey so that's what I was writing in High School," or you're a BNF), it's a great article to read.

On a kinda related point: Schaffner makes the point that fandom is about the community.

And I've had a few real life conversations with people about the similarities between fandom and book bloggers. And I've seen others online who see this also. At YA Fabulous, Renay wrote: A big part of the book community is that it’s still a very new fandom, and the fandom I am a part of is definitely not young anymore, so half the time I see the drama llamas flying through the tubes and I’m like, “Oh! How sweet! ALL GROWN UP AND HAVING ITS FIRST WANK!” Or I’ll watch BNFs throw hissy fits or bribe readers with giveaways because they’re not The Center of Attention and Worshiped By The Masses and I think, “Boy, this reminds me of something! Oh right, wait, I’ve seen this before….10,000 times.” It's part of a footnote at a post at YA Fabulous.

Thoughts? Is it like a fandom? Or is it just like any other community, especially a community with no real rules?

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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy


Unknown said...

It is another fandom. And also another community. Fandoms are basically just communities loosely organized around something people are fans of, rather than organized around being real-bearded Santa Clauses or other common interests.

I'd guess that group dynamics are very similar for book bloggers/fandoms/communities as for other groups.

Liz B said...

I think there are definately similarities; but I'm also curious as to what the "something" people are fans of *is*. Is it really "books"? That just seems like such a broad thing.

R.J. Anderson said...

Well, it's not just books, but YA books -- and YA is its own genre, despite all the subgenres that exist within it. So I would say that yes, book blogging definitely has all the characteristics of a fandom.

I'm only peripherally involved as a reader/professional author who follows a few blogs like this one, but I know who the BNF's are, and I've seen the wanks, and I've watched selfishness and entitlement get out of control in some quarters, even as generosity and goodwill flows out from others. I see book bloggers getting together for their own meets and conventions, borrowing ideas for contests/interviews/reviews from each other and coming up with their own variations on the theme, and all the other things that are common in fandom.

The Floating Lush said...

Heh. Now it all makes sense...

Michelle said...

This is an interesting observation. I agree with what King Rat has said, group dynamics are the same regardless of the subject of adoration. While I also agree that books on the whole is an awfully broad subject it is one that people have in common and is a conversation piece. Could there be offshoots of that -- as RJ mentions there are YA bloggers and such -- that make things seem more closely akin to fandom in the truest sense? Sure, but I still think the commonality exists between those that write fanfiction and those who blog about books.

Drama ends up being drama whether its about a television show, a character or about book blogging I suppose. In the end we're all wanking something.

Liz B said...

RJ, I agree that part of the "fandom" comparison is in the various cliques (for want of better term) amongst book bloggers; and the various rules each clique follows (or expects others to follow).

Lush, it explains a lot, doesn't it?

Michelle, your last sentence is so true! And one person's passion is another's wank (i.e., when I say it, I'm sharing my wisdom and reminding you all of the rules; when you say it, it's wank).

Anonymous said...

Hmm, that makes me feel like I belong better! I never got into fan fiction, so the idea that it's all about the community of people who love the books/etc makes me feel lonely. But I guess kids/YA book bloggers can be my community of obsessives instead!