March 23, 2015 § 1 Comment

*cough click play cough*

Sarah writes,

I fell in love with Adam Cartwright when I was eight.  I am significantly older now, but still in love.  With the internet, I’ve discovered Bonanza fan fiction and streaming old Bonanza episodes.  I mean really!  It’s embarrassing.  Is this OK? How much is too much?  I’m a published novelist, and it interferes with my plotting! I have an app that blocks my access during work hours, but I still think about it! My husband thinks I’m insane, so I have to hide my fangirling from him.  I used to feel the same way about Paul Simon, but I appear to have grown out of that.

Let me just start by sending a giant thank you to my grandparents for never turning the TV off for a single second of my childhood. Because of them, Sarah, I am a 29-year-old woman who has spent more time on the Pondwhaterosa than dare I say any other millennial on the planet. I guess being able to answer your question is worth having to put up with all those hours of Judge Judy blasting at 700,000 decibels. Maaaaybe.

How much is too much? The fact that you have to hide the behavior from your spouse tells me that you might have already wandered into that territory. The problem with fangirling is that it is a bonanza. The word is defined as “a source of sudden wealth or great luck,” and boy do we feel like we’ve struck gold when we find a fic archive or a streaming site that feeds the beast. But like anyone who wins the lottery, we struggle to manage the wealth.

To me, there’s a difference between what I call “selective sharing” about fangirling in relationships and blatant deception. For example, if your significant other asks why you’re in a good mood, you don’t need to say, “Because these idiots on my TV screen just kissed, so excuse me as I barf rainbows riding into the sunset of creys on my unicorn.” Maybe just go for, “Something really exciting happened on my show this week.” Or “I’m reading the best fanfiction, so just ignore me if I grin like an idiot for no apparent reason.”

sherlockSo that being said, you don’t need to give your husband the plot points of the fic that you’re reading before bed. But if you’re spending vast amounts of time in fangirl world and have to lie about what you’ve been up to or why you’re spinning around in circles in a feels frenzy, then it can be problematic for any relationship. Like any addict, we lie to ourselves first before we start lying to others.  We become masters at avoiding the truth, distorting reality to justify our behavior to our loved ones.

It sounds like you’re not lying to yourself about how your Cartwright feels are interfering with your own writing, and you have already taken some solid steps to separate work from play. Maybe take a break from Bonanza, or even go on an Internet fast? I know that a weekend free of technology always helps my creative juices, so consider leaving Adam back at the ranch for a few days.

Above all Sarah, never ever feel ashamed about being a fanwoman. There is no show too old, too new, too anything, that should make you feel embarrassed about wanting to dig a little deeper into the story. I’m sure your capacity for imagination has served you well as a writer, so it’s normal to feed the fire from time to time. Just make sure it’s contained, so the whole Ponderosa doesn’t go up in smoke. And if your husband just doesn’t quite get it, tell him he can buy a copy of Fangirl Therapy in 2016! Published by Perigee Books/Penguin. Huzzah!

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