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Portrait of the Artist as a Young Fan
by Kass

I'm a navel-gazer a few times over -- a writer, a livejournaler, and in therapy to boot -- so I think a lot about my own experiences.Including my experiences of media fandom, and my trajectory as a media fan.

I came into fandom, in 1999, via Sentinel. Until then, although I knew that fanfiction existed, I'd never found it especially interesting. (Of course, I didn't know where to look, or what I was looking for.) But I read the excellent Sentinel stories of a woman who was already one of my best friends, and bam! I was hooked.

So I read more people's stuff. I trawled her recs pages and the archive. And eventually I made my first stabs at writing -- fanpoetry, first, then fanfiction. And then I joined some lists. And then I started taping episodes as they re-aired. And by that point, I was a diehard Sentinel fan. (More accurately, a Sentinel slash fan. I read gen now and again, but not often. Mostly only if it was Merry Lynne's.)

I wasn't watching anything else, I wasn't reading anything else, and I wasn't interested in anything else. I was mono-fannish, baby, and that wasn't gonna change. When friends tried to pimp me on other shows or new obsessions, I stuck out my tongue or flounced out of irc or shook my head. I wasn't interested in anything else. I had Sentinel and that was enough.

Almost two years later, as many of my closest friends in fandom shrugged and went on to due South, I grudgingly followed. And hey: it turned out that I enjoyed the adventures of Fraser and Ray about as much as those of Jim and Blair. I got a set of tapes. I read voraciously. I wrote, some. I was still sort of enaging with Sentinel fandom, but a lot of my attention was elsewhere.

I expected that due South would be my next One True Fandom. That I'd spend a few years immersed in nothing but that, writing story after story, reading and writing endless list posts, dissecting episodes and fannish trends, and generally luxuriating in the world of Fraser and Ray.

I assumed I was what Lorelei classified as a type 2 fan, a serial monogamist. My first love had faded somewhat, but clearly I was only capable of one fannish obsession at a time, so it seemed logical that due South would be next.

I was wrong.

Maybe because the critical mass wasn't there. Maybe because I arrived too late, well after the famed Ray Wars, when the fandom seemed to be lying low in bunkers I couldn't necessarily find. Maybe because I couldn't find the Prospect-L of due South fandom, although I tried.

I still consider myself a huge due South fan. I read good stuff when it's posted.  I expect I'll keep writing it. But it didn't come to replace Sentinel in the way I'd expected. It's not my only fannish

Oddly, I'm becoming a dilettante. Dabbling here and there. Wrote some 24 slash. Am working on some Harry Potter now. My reading's broadened, too: I don't write Buffy, but I read it happily. I read Bat-stuff when my friends write it. Ditto LoTR, now and then. Sometimes I read Stargate. On truly rare occasions, I read my friends' Smallville.

So I'm wondering: why was my experience of Sentinel so absorbing? Was it that it was my first fandom, and I was overwhelmed by the combination of first-fannish-love and entry-into-fandom? Was it that I'd followed Justine here, and for some time she was the only fan I actually knew, and (at the time) she only had the one fandom, too? If I was naturally mono-fannish, innately drawn to keeping all of my fannish energy in one place, what made that change?

I'm curious about whether other people have had similar patterns: an all-encompassing obsession with a first fandom, and then a slowly broadening sense of fannish interest. I'd like to know whether my experience can be generalized in any way. Whether this is a natural part of the fannish maturation process.

I know some real fannish butterflies, and I'm not convinced I'm one of them yet. Reading and writing in a few different universes doesn't make me a broad-based media fan. But maybe there's a middle ground between fannish monogamy (serial or not) and total fannish butterfly-ness. Maybe I'm just a choosy butterfly: turning fannishly polyamorous, but only selectively. Or maybe I'm in the slow middle stages of some kind of progression, and eventually I'll spread my fannish wings and fly

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