Sunday, March 24, 2013

Teaching and Fandom

More cross-posting from facebook, a discussion with the author Rebecca Brown about teaching and fandom. I am printing my comments only:
I suspect writers end up teaching because it's something they are likely to qualified for, either because they studied English Lit. in college or because writing creds are considered a qualification for their particular teaching job. (Creative writing, for example.) And because writers almost never are able to make a living from writing.

I find fiction (and poetry) writing nothing like teaching. One is public and didactic. The other is private, masked, ambiguous. For me writing essays is painfully difficult, and teaching is even worse. I enjoy doing panels at cons, because I enjoy talking, and a panelist is not an authority the way a teacher is. I also enjoy writers' workshops, if they are a group of equals, helping each other out. Not if most members are paying one member to be an expert.

As far as fandom goes -- my feelings, as I said, are mixed. Right now I am having trouble with cons. I go and leave early if I can. If I can't, I hide in my hotel room or, in the case of the recent Chicago worldcon, I wander around the city. The Chicago Architectural Foundation shop is awesome. Downtown Chicago is amazing, one architectural monument after another.

When I moved to Minneapolis in the mid 1970s, I discovered the local fandom -- and found it not entirely sympathetic. One old-time fan told me, "You like reading and writing science fiction. MnSTF (the local fan organization) is not the right place for you." At the time, MnSTF was mostly about putting on Minicon, which they did very well, and playing bridge and going out for Chinese. I thought fandom ought to be about inclusiveness and dreams of a better society. Over time I found people more like me, and we built our own local fandom. Actually, many people built their own local fandoms. The result is a lot of local cons and fannish organizations. I'm not really an organization person, so what I mostly did was encourage and admire.


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