Monday, February 3, 2014

A Little Fandom I Possess, Where Thoughts and Feelings Dwell (An Anecdotal Book Review)

(Fabulous cover art by Noelle Stevenson.)
I have loved books before, and I have identified with characters before, but never have I so completely identified with a story and a protagonist as I do with Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl.

If you know me, you know I am a fangirl through and through. Fandom (the community surrounding a work of media, such as a TV show, movie, book, etc.) is a huge part of my life––even before I knew what being a fangirl was, I was involved in fandom (thank you Artemis Fowl and Harry Potter). I read and reread the books. (I have the first two books in the Artemis Fowl series on audiobook, and I have probably listened to each over ten times.) I wrote scary-bad fanfiction, and read fics both exceptional and wince-worthy. I even made friends with the authors of fanfiction stories I read (no middle-aged creepers, believe it or not). I was able to make connections with people across the globe because of the internet and fandom, with people who shared my interests and were willing to read essay-length rants about my personal life. These friendships got me through an incredibly hard period in my life, and I honestly don't know what the state of my mental health would be without them.

Then, in 2011, I started watching Glee, and because of that, I was coerced into joining Tumblr, and, well, it was a slippery slope from there, folks. To this day I still consider myself part of the Glee fandom, but in addition, I have also discovered and subsequently joined more fandoms than I can count on my fingers. I've also made even better friends through Tumblr, some of whom I consider to be some of my closest friends, despite our geographical differences.

So, when people say that the friends I met on the internet aren't real, or that my obsessions are unhealthy or childish, I understandably get kind of upset. It belittles the bonds I have made, ones that mean the world to me, as well as belittling the genuine interest and passion I have for the things I am a fan of.

The thing about fandom is that it takes the act of consuming media––say, reading a book, watching a television show, etc.––and makes is an active process. Not only do I enjoy the television show Doctor Who, but I also talk about it with other fans of the show, read analyses of a certain scenes, create, share, and view artwork and graphics inspired by the show. Fandom makes the viewer/reader/consumer-of-media an active part of the story, and it is wonderful, dare I say, magical.

Simon and Baz from the fictional Simon Snow series.
One of the things that makes Fangirl so wonderful is that Rowell truly seems to get fandom, and what it's like to be part of one. She treats fan culture with so much respect, respect that fans so rarely receive (I'm looking at you, Moffat). Cath's love of Simon Snow (a fictional Potter-esque book series) is a comfort for her in times of trouble, as well as a constant in her life, something to fall back on. Rowell doesn't let her character fall in to the obsessive, crazy fangirl trope either––she treats Cath's interest in Simon as valid, productive, and appreciated (Cath is the author of a hugely popular WIP Simon/Baz fanfic). In fact, none of Rowell's characters fall into cookie-cutter stereotypes: the suave hipster guy isn't the Guy Of Her Dreams, the love interest isn't Mysterious-and-Brooding, et cetera.

Cath, Levi, and Reagan.
Rowell also excels at dealing with Cath's introversion––every feeling she describes Cath having over social interaction is a feeling I have had myself at one point or another. Sometimes being alone, in bed, with a computer warming my lap is the best, most comfortable place I could be. Social interaction can be both enjoyable and exhausting, and Rowell gets that.

I haven't even touched on Rowell's writing style yet. A reviewer by the name of '"That's All" Ash' described Rowell's style thus:
"It’s like Rainbow Rowell writes in peanut butter and stolen moments and lazy eyelash wishes." (Source)
Cath in her Carry On, Simon shirt.
I wish I had written that sentence, because I couldn't have said it better myself. Fangirl is funny and smart, and deals with issues that young adults really worry about. (Will I make friends? Will I do well in school? What if my roommate hates me? What if I never become successful?) Rowell dishes out and abundance of small truths with utter nonchalance, in sentences that make you pause, and think, oh, yeah, that is so true. I never realized that. The dialogue will make you laugh and make you wince, and the story leaves you feeling happy and hopeful.

I was excited to read this book from the first time I heard about it, before it was even published. Finally, someone was writing about me––not someone with a similar personality, or similar goals, but someone whose whole being is nearly identical to mine. My one trepidation, though, was how Rowell would end the book. The thing I feared most, was an ending like this:

I would alway think fondly of my time as a die-hard fangirl, but my sister was right––the real world has more to offer me now. I've grown up. I have friends now, and a boyfriend, and I've written something original, so it's time to say goodbye to fandom and move on with my life. I'm not a silly kid anymore.

Bleh, bleh, BLEH. I want to go at my brain with a scrubbing brush for just having written that, however sarcastically. But Rowell didn't end her novel this way, and for that I want to bow down and kiss her feet.

I cannot tell you how many times I've been told my fangirlishness is "just a phase" and that I'll "grow out of it". Yeah, whatever you say, guys. My tendency towards fandom activity is a part of my personality, and while, sure, maybe when I'm much older, I won't spend hours at a time scrolling through my Tumblr dashboard, my enthusiasm for media isn't going to change. And get real––I'm always going to be a Potterhead.

And now, thanks to Ms. Rowell, whenever someone rolls their eyes at my antics and calls me immature, I can whip out my copy of Fangirl and wave it in their face, exclaiming, "Look! A successful adult novelist has justified my lifestyle! In book form! So suck it up and stop treating me like an ignorant child!" And while that probably won't change their mind whatsoever, it'll feel better that trying to silently curse the haters with Harry Potter spells.

Expecto patronum, losers.


P.S. – The title of this post is an adaptation of a Louisa May Alcott quotation:

"A little kingdom I possess, where thoughts and feelings dwell; And very hard the task I find of governing it well."
–– Louisa May Alcott

Sunday, January 5, 2014

An Introduction of Sorts – Or, Lindsey Rambles About Herself

So I guess you might be wondering...

Therefore, before I start posting on here, I'd like to give you a little insight into whose blatherings you'll be reading.

Ahem... Hello there! My name is Lindsey (middle name: Marie), I am––at present––a sixteen year old high school student, the founder and president of my school's Writers' Club, and the historian of my thespian troupe. I am an artist of many mediums, but I especially love writing and graphic design. I love stories in their many mediums, be they books, television shows, movies, plays, comics, or even video games. I am what you would call a huge nerd, and a huge fangirl, and I am equally proud of both.

I've wanted to start a blog for a while now, to try my hand at autobiographical storytelling and media commentary. I don't know how frequently this blog will be updated, but I hope that by publishing this introductory post, I might force myself to write more.

So here we go. Wish me luck?

Best wishes,