Fan – an enthusiastic devotee, follower, or admirer. Short for …
Fanatic – a person with an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal.
Fans scare me.
Okay, scare is a strong word. I feel like Marlon Perkins on Wild Kingdom: if I stumble across fans in the wild, I don’t know how to react to them when I encounter them. They may say things like “I really enjoy your” stories, reviews, or blogs and once I get that stupid “what do I say now?” look off my face, I don’t know what to do.
It’s humbling every time. Someone took the time to invest themselves in my work. Someone’s life has been touch by something I’ve written. Not to mention that I enjoy knowing that someone has taken the time to read something that I have written, has invested themselves in my work. Do I invite them over for dinner? Develop some sort of relationship with them? Listen intently as they tell me their problems? (This might be me reacting in church facilitator mode rather than writer mode.)
This is an entirely different dilemma than dealing with critics, though both are reciprocal type relationships. On a practical level, fans are our consumers. I like to preserve some of the mystery of (for) fans. I don’t go to many messageboards (besides my own). Again, like Wild Kingdom, going to fan boards is like going to where they naturally congregate. I always fear that I’m going to go out like William Shatner in that famous Saturday Night Live skit. By the way, this has nothing to do with the fact that I’ll be at InConjunction this weekend.
Don’t get me wrong, my fans are by and large wonderful folks. Sure, I get the occasional stalker, but I don’t have to send out memos of what not to send me. No one sends me bodily fluids or notes made from newspaper clippings (which happens to friends of mine). When I make appearances, I don’t have to send out memos like “please don’t flash people” nor do I have folks wanting me to sign their boobs. No, folks typically send me tracts (the latest being from a Muslim wanting me to embrace Allah) or books and only flash me their low self-esteem (I typically end up reassuring folks that they are loved or listening to their confessions – despite the fact that I’m neither Catholic nor a priest. I guess I just have one of those faces).
Now, I was all prepared to wax eloquent about the strange, quasi-mystical relationship between artist and audience. About my theory of fanatical behavior pointing to us being wired to worship (God; a cause, be it political or otherwise; ourselves; or whatever). However, a horror writer, soon-to-be-former friend of mine (oddly enough, not Chesya) decided to breakdown my fan musings this way:
*grumble, grumble, grumble*
*grumble, grumble, grumble*
If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say hi, feel free to do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.