Is everyone berating themselves for being shippers? Or feeling angry that they feel they’re meant to be berating themselves?

I’m used to that feeling, because shame is sort of my default position when it comes to fandom, not that I’m proud of that. Objectively I know that fandoms are fucking amazing. Fanwork as a whole is some of the most creative, engaging, accessible stuff there is, and the level of collaborative, creative dialogue around a shared universe anid shared characters is absolutely astounding. But it doesn’t take much to be reduced to shame about it. I think that’s unfortunate, but it’s a tough one to fight externally and internally.

I’m not sure what prompted the conversation to start with, but I presume it’s some fans’ level of passionate, vocal devotion and very specific demands. I’ve always been in the “please don’t look at us, pretend we don’t exist, let us do our own thing” camp, though I understand how problematic that is. I still don’t really know how to deal with the powers that be talking about us and engaging with us directly. It’s often very cool, but sometimes it has that dreaded chilling effect. Passionate engagement is very easy to get judgey about (and feel judged about).

I guess there are two ways to approach fannish activity (a lie: there are more than two. But for the moment, rhetorically two): prediction, and interpretation. You can engage in order to guess the outcome of a series, and then spill over into begging creators for your preferred solution, because otherwise the whole thing is literally ruined for you, or interpretation, knowing that your own take on things is variable, and what happens is pretty much always beloved fodder. Traditionally gen and het fandoms have taken the lead on the former (“will they or won’t they?”) and slash fandoms generally opted for the latter. It’s interesting to see a slash fandom genuinely shift into the former category. Maybe it’s a good sign, I don’t know.

That said: it’s a super annoying thing when you’re in the middle of telling a story and someone tells you how it has to end, or what you have to do, or what you have to include for them to still like your story. It just is. Especially for those of us who plan extensively, there’s no way to respond to that in a productive way. At that point the story is what it is, the writer has a vision, and she’s going to execute it they way she wants to. (Or: she should. don’t bow to pressure! Trust your inner vision!) If you want something different than what you think you’re going to get, go make your own. So that’s what we do: we make our own.

The final results of creative work are generally best when everyone goes with their heart and makes their own best story, not what someone else demands that they do. Trust your storyteller, avoid demanding that they conform to your expectations or desires, and if there’s a version of their story burning a hole in your soul, write it yourself. Only you can make your own dreams come true. A creator’s first job is to please themselves. I don’t have the stats on this, but my hunch is that when’s creator creates a story he loves, we love it too.

No actor, creator, and producer can shame me as much as I can shame myself. So I’m going to skip the shame spiral this time and construct some stories instead. There’s no end of stories.