ideallyqualia: (Default)
ideallyqualia ([personal profile] ideallyqualia) wrote2017-07-08 09:43 pm
Entry tags:

Bird by Bird -- Fandom Thoughts

Part of me wants to write a (locked) DW post on why I suddenly deleted my twitter last year, and how I started feeling uneasy with Haikyuu!! as a fandom, but before that, I want to think out loud about what I feel right now in my current fandoms.

Granblue fantasy fandom is a little strange in a friendly way. Since it’s a popular game, most fandom interaction is right there in the game, but there’s not competition in the traditional sense. The only real competition and relative rankings come in the form of guild wars/“Unite and Fight” which happens once every couple months, and lasts a few days. It’s what it sounds like: guilds compete against each other. Each guild fights monsters for points, and the guilds with the most points proceed to the real competition, where guilds are sorted into tiers and compete one-on-one to beat each other in points.

That’s the competitive part of the game. Outside of UnF each raid battle has some slight competitive action, too, but unless you’re trying to be MVP/Vice for rewards, you’re going to want to cooperate with others, or just give it your all. It depends on the raid and what rewards are given. I’ve already gone through a couple guilds (AKA crews) that didn’t do much for me, but now that I’m in a good guild, the idea is to come together at strike times (2 hours a day at most) to help each other in important raids. People talk in raid chats, but also in crew chats and on user profile message boards. Because the competition isn’t directly fighting each other, it feels friendlier than other online gaming I’ve done in the past, like pokémon showdown, although most gbf players are actually Japanese, and not all of them speak English, so if you want to communicate with them quickly in a raid you’re stuck with using stickers.

The point is that this feels way friendlier than other fandoms I’ve been in. Most engagement has nothing to do with fics/art/etc, just farming/grinding/working in crews, and so far I haven’t seen real problems (outside of a problem I had with one of my guilds, but even then it was a REALLY minor problem). Everyone’s just too busy grinding/farming to discourse/complain about anything. The English players I’ve met have been really nice, and I’ve also tried being helpful towards newbies/low ranked players since I’m already strong enough to not be an amateur anymore.

(I should also mention that this game has gacha, which, now that I think about it, DOES come with some salt here and there if you have amazingly good/bad luck.)

I have a ton of femslash ships, and there’s so many characters that shipping is a pretty easy deal. No one fights over them from what I see. I do write fic, but I haven’t felt any ideas for longish fics, so I don’t have any real pressure to do that many yet.

Speaking of fighting, though, I’ve come to realize a very sad thing. I’m not good at arguing. No matter how much education has, at various points in my life, tried to teach me how to argue, I can’t. (I only recently discovered I have autism, which is something that would’ve been helpful to know early in life, but at least I know now that that’s a problem). After last year, I’ve decided to withdraw and never engage in fandom discourse again since I can’t defend myself, get my ideas across, or understand people well enough to communicate like that. It’s the sad disabled truth, and it’s happened IRL; last year I had some problems with a professor, and I couldn’t defend myself. Even after he vaguely threatened to kick me out of the class because of my disability, I couldn’t defend myself or properly explain this to disability services, so nothing really happened (except being stuck with a professor I was terrified of, and for the entire semester). I had to explain in detail everything about the problem, and not only is my memory bad, I also just lack the foundation of basic social comprehension skills, and my professor got to sit there in person (every time I had to speak with disabilities) and argue down everything I said.

What’s really sad is that this makes me realize mentally disabled/autistic people probably don’t get to contribute to a lot of important discourse/social justice discussions/etc, even if it’s about us. It also means that I’m always going to be struggling with talking to disabilities for the rest of my life, since I can’t anticipate needs well until something’s already happened, and disability services usually go "oh that’s too bad. :/// let us know in advance next time” when I usually can’t. If I can contribute to anything, it’s usually being vague (and unhelpful), and I’m pretty terrible at understanding and verbalizing what I need, especially when it comes to accommodations. Nowadays I’ve just accepted it, and focus instead on what I can do, like reporting/criticizing shitty doctors and deleting rude comments (with a reply kicking them in the pants, of course, since they get the email on ao3 whether the thread’s deleted or not). I have no idea what this’ll mean when it comes to jobs, but after I became disabled I already dropped things I could no longer do, so I guess now I pick from the things that’re left and hope for the best. Fortunately I’ve met a lot of disabled people IRL who’re grad students and beyond, and that’s at least a little inspiring.

So anyway. In the past I’ve tried to approach problems/discourse/etc with level headed discussion but I’m not going to anymore, I’m just going to ignore it. There really is no way of doing anything in complicated discussion that won’t put me at a disadvantage.

On the flip side, I’m now trying to commit to writing disabled characters. And not just disability-coded characters that only I know are disabled, I mean truly, disabled. I don’t know why I’m still hesitant to this day about writing it. Maybe it's because I still feel uneasy with my disabled identity? After all the crap I've gotten from doctors I suppose it's no surprise I'm emotionally confused, but I still wish i wasn't. This isn't the post to go into disability identity though so I'm cutting off that train of thought. Anyway, I've had ideas for disabled characters (not OCs), but in the beginning they were things like "Shirabu is a dormant dragon living in uni and once his wings come in he basically has fibro symptoms/bone problems" but that's still weirdly hesitant with only my foot in the water. I want to do longfics with disabled characters! If people get to tell their stories about queer characters I should get to do it too (I'm queer too but disability is usually in the forefront of my mind since that affects me every second). I probably won't get much attention but I've been that way since the start.

I don't know what to do with autistic characters, though. I've been writing a couple characters as autistic for a long time now but I haven't bothered to tag it or make it explicit. Should I? It feels weird too, like going through my fics and tagging almost all of them with fluff since they're already fluffy and deserve the tag (except weirder).

With regards to Haikyuu!!, I also still don't know what I feel. I'm definitely exasperated at the fandom, but after like a year of avoiding fandom interaction because of deleting twitter/virtually abandoning tumblr, I don't feel particularly exhausted anymore. Just annoyed and exasperated. I'm too attached to two characters (Shirabu and Ushijima) to want to give them up just because of people. So I'm writing and uploading, but not reading as much as I used to. Which feels rude, but I'm still doing my best while avoiding potential explosions (and which is still impressive because I'm mentally disabled, after all, and reading/writing is much harder for me, and I could just be sleeping even more or watching TV). In the past I was definitely exhausted, and sometimes I felt like I was eternally pissed off.

People made the dumbest things into ship wars. I was a rare pair shipper really early on in fandom (2014) so I was one of the first and I think I personally paved the way for a lot of ships — but I also got a lot of shit for it, too. For the first year I had people telling me they didn’t like my ships and they liked the popular ones (which just made me hate the popular ones, really) so I didn’t understand why these people bothered to complain to me in the first place, especially after wasting their time reading a fic for a ship they clearly didn’t like. I also had people telling me it was okay, but that the other half of the popular ship wouldn’t like it/me (example: someone once commented on a Kageyama/Yamaguchi fic complaining that Tsukishima wouldn’t like it. I don’t care). When I got a twitter for the haikyuu fandom, I think things got worse. People made me completely hate seijou/iwaoi/kagehina/popular ships/fandom at large (I still do). Sometimes I’d twitsearch keywords about my fics and find people complaining that the fic/ship even existed. And when you’re a shipper for rare ships, it’s incredibly easy to find complaints about your fics. Sometimes they’d just complain about the ship altogether because mine was the only one in existence, and they’d act like I was a blemish on the fandom for bringing it into existence.

I’ve never liked popular things, but that snowballed my hatred of them. I really just want to be in peace and avoid the rush of crowds and big groups because the way I see it, it’d only bring a greater probability of terrible people. Honestly I think people used to vaguetweet me about not liking popular fandoms/series like I was some kind of hipster, when I just wanted to avoid anxiety (can you tell how much I hate twitter?).

Anyway. I am perfectly happy sitting in a corner playing with my barely used toys while the rest of the haikyuu fandom goes by. I mean it, I’m legitimately happy writing and not being bothered. I finally found a ship with the perfect balance of “credible enough to not be criticized for being random/crack/nonsensical” and “not popular enough to have anyone complain.” It’s occasionally sad not having people to talk with about the ship, but I’d rather have this problem than the other one.

I've noticed, though, that still participating in fandom is worth it. When I became disabled and went on a health leave, I didn't know what I would do. I had to drop the pre-med track and music. Before I was disabled I pushed myself academically and tethered my life to it, and after, I couldn't keep doing that while keeping the same grades. I had to give up on being academically optimistic and settle for realistic. Fanfic/writing gave me something to hold on to, I think. I didn't feel a sense of loss going from intense schoolwork to writing. I didn't feel stressed like I need to be productive and can't sit still, because fanfic gave me a feeling of productivity. That wasn’t much of a concern anyway, but it really did help with the sense of loss, at least.

Nowadays I'm very comfortable with setting my own pace for work, since I've already been doing it for so long with writing. And I mean work in general, including schoolwork. I'm also more comfortable leaving things undone because there's too much on my plate; I can return to it later when I not only have the time, but also the right frame of mind, clear head without fogginess, and literary tools (new words fresh in my words, ambient poetry, etc) lingering in my head.

This doesn't change how I feel about criticism, though. It’s still stupid and useless for the most part — and by “most part” I mean when a stranger tries to give some anonymous “advice.”

That brings me to my next point: my academic writing skills haven’t gotten any better. I think they’ve gotten worse, even. In hindsight, some things are just inevitable; it was probably pointless writing papers on certain topics when it would just go over my professors’ heads — once in musicology, I wrote a review of a book we had to read, and I pointed out the bad aspects where the book tried to sexualize disabled people (I can’t even begin to explain why this topic appeared in a book for musicology) and my professor disagreed. Not only is it almost impossible for me to argue like I said earlier, but it’s also pretty impossible to talk about disability for a grade when my professor is an able-bodied person that doesn’t agree, and her word is final. Sometimes it’s stupefying how a professor’s word can be final; like I also said earlier, a professor threatened to throw me out of a class for being disabled, and when I tried to talk about my disability, he’d just say “no” and disagree, and I felt completely helpless without being able to add anything because all I could do was just repeat myself. And the rest of the academic papers I’ve had to write over the past year have been lab reports or scientific things, and I still feel like I didn’t get the grades I deserved, so I have no hope/enjoyment of lab reports/papers of any kind and therefore no prospects for what I want for a job, but that’s another lengthy uncomfortable topic for some other day.

So “I love to write and actually enjoy it, but my skill happens in a way that makes it completely useless” sums me up pretty well.