Life is full of change. I think we can all agree about that – cast your mind back even just a year and think how much is different. Perhaps you now have to tick a different box when a form you’re filling in asks what age group you belong to. Perhaps you’ve moved house, or school, or office. Maybe you have a new pet, or a different group of friends, or you’ve learnt a new skill. You have almost certainly changed your socks (if not, now is the time). As much as we sometimes resist change, it can be a really good thing. Imagine how boring things could get if nothing ever changed!
In a world that’s always changing, though, it’s sometimes nice to have something solid and unchanging to cling to. For me – and probably others – that’s fandom, at the moment. The thing about being a fan of something is that while it may evolve through various stages – see our Lifecycle of a Fandom series – your favourite series, film or book is likely to continue to exist, and even if you’re a fan of something that does disappear one day, your fandom is unlikely to do the same thing.
The plot of Beauty and the Beast, for example, is not going to magically vanish from your head in the unlikely event that all copies of it are withdrawn from shops and somebody swipes your personal copy while your back’s turned one fateful evening. You will still be able to write just as many fanfictions as you did before, and you’ll still be able to draw the characters just as well (or badly). Other people will still remember, and you’ll still be able to talk about it, exchange ideas, and create fanworks for each other. You don’t actually have to let go of it until you want to.
Some of you will, no doubt, be planning big changes in your lives. Perhaps you’re graduating, or learning to drive, or getting married – perhaps you’re not doing any such thing just yet, but one day things might change drastically for you. That’s OK. That happens. And fandom is one of those things you can cling onto in times of transition or upheaval. The characters and settings you love and admire – and those you like to boo and hiss at – will be there for as long as you need them, even after new instalments stop being produced. Whatever the world throws at you, you can cling to the fandoms you love for as long as you like. It’s up to you when you let them go.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that in times of upheaval you retreat into the DVD box set of your favourite TV series and stay there forever, but if you feel like you’re a long way from where you started out and you’re not quite comfortable there yet, it’s nice to have something reliable to go back to. And, of course, at least some of the people who share your fandom are likely to be around for you as well, to keep things feeling normal while you adjust to new circumstances.
This issue, Fandom Wanderers celebrates its first anniversary. For me, FW itself has now been a constant for an entire year, through moving house and making plans for the future, and some of you lovely Wanderers have been here all that time too. Honestly, when all your stuff is in boxes and you don’t remember which one you put your toothbrush in (the bottom one, it’s always in the bottom one) having that reliable thing to go back to is very reassuring. Thanks for giving us that, Wanderers, and we hope we, and your fandoms, can do the same for you.
Alright, mushy self-indulgent sentimental bit over (well, sort of) – basically, what I’m saying is that fandom can be a solid thing to hang onto when the world around you seems too fluid to grab. Don’t be afraid to hold onto it if you need it, Wanderers. Whether that means watching your favourite show from when you were four years old all over again, refusing to miss a single episode of your soap opera of choice, or carrying a copy of Sense & Sensibility everywhere you go (one exception – Les Miserables fans, if you’re going to carry the book wherever you go you might want to get it in digital format, for fear of back pain), if fandom is something that keeps you anchored when everything changes, that’s OK. And if, when things settle down again, you feel like you want to let go of that fandom, that’s alright too.
The thing about fandom is that it’s there until you choose to walk away from it (and then it’s usually there if you choose to come back). Enjoy that about it.
Eleanor Musgrove (has seen a lot of changes but has a lot of fandoms)