Minerva McTabby (mctabby) wrote,
Minerva McTabby
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Snowflake Challenge: Day 5: talk about your fannish origin story

Fandom Snowflake Challenge banner Day 5: In your own space, talk about your fannish origin story. How did you come to fandom, why did you choose your fannish name, do you have more than one secret identity? Leave a comment in this post saying you did it.

The personality fragment known as Minerva McTabby dates from 13 October 2001, when I registered that e-mail address and went into Yahoo Groups with it. Name rather obviously based on a pro-feline outlook and squeeing over the character of McGonagall.



Early signs of being Made for Fandom?
Rabid bookwormness, and all the adventure stories that played out in my head... From the age of five to about 12 I had a consistent imaginary world, starring Me (of course!) and populated with a rotating miscellany of characters from books and TV, some of whom morphed into distinct individual OCs and hung around for years.

These days I'd call it a multi-fandom crossover/mashup (RPG?) self-insert epic series WIP. Back then it was just part of me, and somewhat helpful in coping with RL. And as far as I knew, I was the only person on the planet doing it. Much later, I saw some child development literature calling this sort of thing a paracosm.

♥ imaginary friends of bygone years :D

Oh, and rhymes! Everyday entertainment. Also my party trick: dinner guests might be invited to give the child a prompt and watch her make up some verses on the spot.

I wrote some godawful Mary Sue stories at the age of 12, and loved them a lot. Around the same time, I remember making up limericks and filking pop songs to entertain friends at school (because MAD magazine had shown me the way, and then I discovered Weird Al). There were years of angsty teen poetry, too, most of it not in rhyme; and more filks and parody at university.

I read a lot of SF and fantasy, and superhero comics, along with a lot of historical fiction. At 13, I kind of wanted to be both Isaac Asimov and Jean Plaidy. *facepalms* At 18, I was wild for the Hitchhiker's Guide, the Thomas Covenant Chronicles, Mists of Avalon, Mary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy, and all kinds of historical family sagas.

(A few writing samples from ages 5-18 can be found in juvenilia.)

First taste of online fandom
There was no Web. There was my first e-mail address in 1993, and Telnet and FTP and... oooh, what is this thing called Usenet, and why are these people talking about fantasy so much? o.O

In I dived, for a closer look at groups starting with rec.arts and alt.tv and... oh, the wonder of alt.startrek.creative (ooh, what are these people writing?!) - and somewhere in all that, in 1994, I was brought aboard a mailing list known as the Patrick Stewart Estrogen Brigade, brimming with kindred spirits. There was fanfic to read. There was canon appreciation. There was parody. There was smutty fanfic! And the first slash I ever read was some Picard/Data from the PSEB's astolat.

Aside from all this ST:TNG and DS9, I was also rather fannish about The X-Files. And, later in the 1990s, Hercules and Xena - where I lurked and read fics, shipping Xena/Gabrielle. The fics were on websites by then, and since my brain was mostly running on HTML and caffeine at the time, everything fit together nicely.

Then I found eGroups (now Yahoo Groups) in late 1999, and for the next 18 months I had a great time on lists for some favorite writers (e.g. Diana Gabaldon, Guy Gavriel Kay, Susan Howatch, Julian May). This was almost entirely canon discussion. Intense, obsessive, 24/7 no-such-thing-as-tl;dr book-talk - marvellous stuff! :D

As usual, I filked and wrote bits of parody all over the place. Not fanfics, though. - I still don't feel any urge to read or write stories based on the novels of DG or GGK, since I find the canon thoroughly satisfying.

The Harry Potter books turned out to be rather different...

HP fandom and Minerva McTabby

*facepalms* It's bloody weird to blame one's fandom experience on 9/11, but that's basically how it happened. Quoting from my September 2002 fandom history post:
First reason for joining the fandom: A couple of days before 9/11, I went to a friend's place for coffee and cat-chat, and idly borrowed PoA from her. Read it at the end of September, seeking distraction from current events. Then read PS/SS, CoS, and GoF very rapidly. Then looked online, found HP4GU and Diagon Alley. I'd already been heavily involved in a large canon discussion list similar to HP4GU (for Diana Gabaldon's novels), and for HP I didn't really want to do that. Read a few fics in the Diagon Alley archives instead, then found FFN, then Schnoogle. Remember that very busy week in early October when I went through Psychic Serpent, Draco Dormiens, Draco Sinister, Irresistible Poison, Paradigm of Uncertainty, Paradise Lost, Call of the Wild, and Sin of Lycaos. Loved the Lupinfics most of all. Then discovered Snapefics. Found the Snapefans list and read PtQ there in mid-October, then found WIKTT, where I started posting PtQ in a Nutshell on October 19. Meanwhile, elsewhere, I'd discovered Snape/Lupin, followed by Harry/Snape. Decided I liked angsty Snape smut most of all, both slash and het.
So McTabby just happened to Apparate into the HP fandom in October 2001, coinciding with the start of WIKTT (the first big Snape/Hermione group) and SnapexHarryML (the first big Snape/Harry group).

HP canon was a great big fascinating-but-flawed WIP with infinite fic-loopholes. Fic was diverse and abundant - and growing rapidly (FF.net had about 38,000 HP stories when I first saw it; now, in early 2015, it has over 700,000).

And within days I was writing rhymes and parodies, because that's what tends to happen when I get fannish (as you may have gathered if you've read this far, and if you have, my thanks).

So I joined lots of groups/lists/forums, found FictionAlley Park and Witchfics.org, read heaps of lovely fics for a plethora of pairings, met heaps of lovely people (some of them still on the flist! *waves*), rhymed, started writing actual serious prose for the first time since I was 12, followed other HP folks to LiveJournal by mid-2002 - and ooh, suddenly there were so many more ways to be fannish! Memes, quizzes, polls, icons, challenges, fests, drabblethons, communities, newsletters, Summary Executions, periodic infusions of new canon to squee/flail over...

I'm really glad I wrote a round-up of 2004, one of my busiest fan-years in HP and my first time in Yuletide. (Think I can claim credit for inventing friending memes? I did host the HP Fandom Friending Frenzy four times in 2004-06, and I swear I don't recall copying it from anywhere. People started asking me for permission to do the same in other fandoms, and the whole thing just took off from there.)

Vampires, bass-ackwards: the Buffyverse via fanon

So I was somewhat intrigued (baffled? appalled?) when encountering movie-only HP fans (those who had never read the books), and even more intrigued by the occasional neither-books-nor-movies fan. Got me wondering what it would be like to dive into such a huge fandom with zero canon familiarity.

So then, of course, I had to go and try it. :D

Considered LotR, but figured I'd already been spoiled by the movies. Considered Smallville, Highlander... no, I wanted something even bigger, more HP-sized.

Buffy and Angel? Perfect guinea-pig fandom! All I knew of canon was half an episode, watched accidentally back in 1998. OK then... A bit of googling and random link-clicking, and I was up to my earlobes in Buffyverse fic.

And the first one I read happened to be Spike/Xander. First impressions really do count, I found: the whole fandom was surrounded by a Spander-colored glow for ages, whatever I went on to read. And my reading was deliberately indiscriminate, done in bulk and at high speed.

Like a kaleidoscope, like funhouse mirrors - each pairing, each fic found some character to bash/demonize - but then the next fic turned everything around and made that same character the woobie. Having no canon reference points, I found myself swept away and twirled around by story after story.

Was Buffy a whiny bitch or a martyr heroine, and why wasn't she dead, anyway - and Willow seemed to be blamed for everything, unless Angel was blamed - and did Xander really have a crush on Giles, and was Faith/Buffy practically a sure thing? And why did Dawn keep appearing and disappearing, and what was this about a robot villain, and I couldn't believe how much Spike/Buffy fic existed! This experiment went on for over a month, and by the end of it I was reading all manner of Spike-fic, including intense brilliantly-written Spuffy... but even so, something of that very first Spander story stayed with me. It probably became my canon-substitute. With a lingering whiny-bitch!Buffy bias.

The whole thing left me with a new and gentler approach to those benighted zero-canon HP fans. I wanted to offer them tea and biscuits. I could just imagine what they might think of Ginny if they'd entered the fandom via H/D fics, or Snape if they came in via H/G, and how baffled they might be by the details of MWPP or Horcruxes.

Oh yes, I did get around to watching BtVS and AtS canon. Eventually. Very fine shows they are. :D

HP closed canon and AU closure

It's been such a long time now since HP canon was a WIP. I was in the fandom when the fifth, sixth and seventh books were released (2003, 2005, 2007). Ahh, good times.

Whole fandom like a coiled spring in the days before the book comes out - the last few hours of hyper chatter and speculation - then, briefly, the total silence while everyone reads like crazy - and then, pop! pop! pop! - the reaction posts start going up, one after another, and it's all I can do to keep track of them on my flist, and comment, while writing up my own reaction post - and then the first fics-with-new-canon start flying...

I'd love to have that experience again someday. In some fandom or other. But I wasn't at all heartbroken when HP went from WIP to closed canon, because my heart had wandered off on a tangent a few months earlier.

In March 2007 I read a huge AU series - the Sacrifices Arc by lightningwave (Lightning on the Wave), all 3 million words of it - and promptly added it to my all-time favorite works of fiction list, right up there with Jane Austen and the original Earthsea trilogy.

So my HP fannish path ended up forking.

There's JKR canon and the wonderfully fun fandom it spawned...

...and then there's the brilliant AU that I much prefer as a fictional world in its own right.

Still, the rhyme-bunnies and the prose-bunnies keep happening for JKR canon. I don't feel like writing fic for the AU; it satisfies me as is, rather like the works of Gabaldon or GGK.

I've not been very active in the HP fandom lately - just lurking and reading occasionally, if that - but hey, at least I've managed three consecutive Yuletides now. :) And recent years have added vidding to my fannish playground.

Went through phases of reading at FF.net/AO3 and reccing at FAP's Help! I'm looking for... forum. Reading assorted novel-lengths with the Dark Lord, Harry, Snape, Dumbledore, Hermione, etc. Some of the better ones are on my FF.net profile's Favorites list.

Hoping to find a new multi-fandom balance of some kind. Roll on, 2015.

*waves, offers chocolate to anyone who's still reading!*

Crossposted from McTabby@DW.
Tags: fandom history, snowflake challenge
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