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Guilty Pleasure?

I had an interesting discussion today with a colleague.  I guess NPR is running a series of essays in which people talk about things they love and feel guilty letting anyone know about.  After he finished talking about his Marvel comic stash and how he hides them from his kids for various reasons, he looked at me expectantly.  "I don't have any guilty pleasures," I said, "unless you count eating way more ice cream than is good for me."

"What about all that Harry Potter stuff?" he asked.

"What about it?"

"Don't you feel a little ridiculous reading children's books about magic?"  The implications being that a) I'm too old and b) too educated to enjoy Harry Potter without feeling 'guilty' about it.

"Should I?" I answered.

"Cripes, Lark, you're a brilliant, highly educated woman and you don't feel the least embarrassed being caught with Severus Snape wallpaper on your computer?"

The answer that if I did I wouldn't have it there did not seem to satisfy him.  Frankly, I don't see a thing wrong with loving those books, and loving even more the brilliant fan fics those stories gave birth to, and I'm not afraid to say so (though perhaps scientists are supposed to be eccentric and therefore I'm being given a pass by my family and friends). 

So it got me thinking (always dangerous ;-) ) - do any of your RL family and friends know of your interest in/love for/obsession with the Harry Potter stories and characters and, if so, what do they think about it?  Is this a 'guilty pleasure' for any of you? 

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
kellychambliss
Sep. 16th, 2010 12:57 am (UTC)
I think fanfic is probably a "guilty" pleasure for me in that I would be uncomfortable having my colleagues know that I write it, especially the more kinky stuff. And I really don't want students reading it and snickering. (Just as I don't want students on my Facebook, either -- I want to keep those personal/professional lines drawn). But fanfic is not a "guilty" pleasure in the sense that I feel embarrassed for writing it, since I don't.

The only RL people who know of my fanfic writing are my partner and child (and I admit that I did feel a little diffident about telling her, since she really doesn't like HP. She has no issues with fanfic in general [she wrote excellent Star Trek fanfic herself], but she can't quite get past her feeling that HP is a bit silly. Still, she reads my fic, and if she feels any temptation to laugh about the whole business, she keeps it to herself /g/).

One other RL person knows of my interest in fanfic, though she doesn't know for sure that I write it (she probably suspects, though, just as I am fairly sure that she used to write in various fandoms herself).

As for HP in general, a lot of RL people know I'm really a fan (I've got Minerva computer wallpaper and a Minerva pic on my office door). I don't feel that it's a "guilty" pleasure at all. I have all sorts of children's lit obsessions, and I'm never shy about them. All my friends and colleagues know of them, so they're used to me in that regard.

I'm sorry your colleague feels he has to be embarrassed about his comics -- sad.
albalark
Sep. 16th, 2010 04:04 am (UTC)
I would be uncomfortable having my colleagues know that I write it, especially the more kinky stuff. And I really don't want students reading it and snickering.

Yes, I guess I see your point :-). It's a shame, though, that you can't own this stuff for all the world to see, because you are justified in being so proud of it. Even the 'kinky stuff' is just beautifully written. Oh, to live in a perfect world . . . .

she can't quite get past her feeling that HP is a bit silly

And Trek isn't? ::g:: My husband feels the same way, but then he's not much of a fiction reader of any kind. To each his or her own . . . I don't say anything about his fantasy baseball leagues, and he just rolls his eyes whenever I get too lost in the amazing world of HP fan fic and lets the fact that it's my turn to make dinner and it's an hour late slide. :-D

a Minerva pic on my office door

ooooo - now why didn't I think of that? I wonder if I can find an especially scowl-y picture of Severus to hang on my door when I don't want to be disturbed? ::hee::

I'm sorry your colleague feels he has to be embarrassed about his comics -- sad.

Yep, that's what I think, too. It's not like his comics are hurting anyone, and it's a shame that he thinks that being an adult means being Serious and hiding away a piece of himself lest he appear less than dignified. Meh on that.
atdelphi
Sep. 16th, 2010 01:18 am (UTC)
It's funny—most of my RL friends wouldn't bat an eye at learning I write smut, but I would be in for a ribbing if they knew I write fanfiction.

This past year, however, after awkwardly stumbling into the subject, I've started being open about my writing with one of my officemates. It's been odd, since I've never socialised with other fans in real time, but it's been refreshing too. I don't think I've ever considered it a guilty pleasure, though...just something that I enjoy, that many people I associate with don't see the appeal of, and that is generally not worth bringing up in mixed company.

...the fact that I write slash about the characters I do doesn't exactly help.
albalark
Sep. 16th, 2010 04:41 am (UTC)
most of my RL friends wouldn't bat an eye at learning I write smut, but I would be in for a ribbing if they knew I write fanfiction.

I guess that's because sex is a universal obsession, whereas HP is provence of a select few? XD I *love* taking people who think that fan fiction is something juvenile or unintelligent and sending them to read some of the really outstanding stuff. Most of them are awed at the talent and imagination on display - there are some truly brilliant writers at serious play here in JKR's world! ::fangirls you and your fellow writers with quiet fervor :-)::

...the fact that I write slash about the characters I do doesn't exactly help.

Yeah, my brothers have learned to ask before going off to read, though, to their credit, they won't refuse to read it just because it's slash. They don't get why male slash is so appealing, but femmeslash makes perfect sense to them. ::rolls eyes::
atdelphi
Sep. 17th, 2010 01:09 pm (UTC)
I think the viewpoint of most people I know is two-fold: 1) to be enthusiastic about anything is inherently uncool, and 2) writing for free means you're a bad writer. *g*
r_grayjoy
Sep. 16th, 2010 02:53 am (UTC)
I solemnly swear to never feel guilty about my pleasures! XD

Most of my real-life, not-fandom friends are fully aware of my fandom activities. Several of them have me friended on LJ. But then, I tend to hang out with geeks with all sorts of fangirl/fanboy tendencies anyway. So they might think my habits are a little odd, but probably no more odd than some of their own.

My mom betas my fic in a pinch. ;)

The only very clear divide I have is when it comes to people in my professional/academic environment. They do know that I'm a dork who goes to Harry Potter conventions and such, but they don't need to know about my fic habits and the whole of my fandom activities. I'm in a pretty open-minded field, though, so I'm not SUPER concerned about internet anonymity. People from school could find me here easily enough if they cared to look... but I doubt any of them care enough to be arsed to do it.

And good on you for being unashamed! \o/
albalark
Sep. 16th, 2010 06:09 am (UTC)
I solemnly swear to never feel guilty about my pleasures! XD

Hooray for you!! I'm right there with you. :-)

So they might think my habits are a little odd, but probably no more odd than some of their own.

I think we've all got our little quirks that others shrug their shoulders at. Live and let live and the world's a much happier place ^_^.

My mom betas my fic in a pinch. ;)

How cool is *that*?! Lucky you!!

They do know that I'm a dork who goes to Harry Potter conventions and such

I've noticed that such things are 'dorky' only if it's not something you're not interested in! ::ggg:: I'd love to go one someday - I'll bet it's a great deal of fun.

And good on you for being unashamed!

I'm an unabashed cheerleader for both JKR's stories and the fabulous fan fiction authors - the best way to make certain that something I love will stick around is to turn others on to it too! :-D
perverse_idyll
Sep. 16th, 2010 05:38 am (UTC)
Yes, it's a guilty pleasure. I could never tell anyone I work with or anyone in my family. They'd be horrified by the smut and by the fact that it's based on children's books (which makes it all the more pervy, you understand). They would also think I was throwing my time and 'talent' away by writing derivative works, although none of them ever read my attempts at original fiction anyway. But the pervasive belief that writing as a hobby, writing in one's spare time, ought to be done, if at all, only as preparation for The Novel that will eventually be shopped around - this is a cultural assumption that refuses to die. Even among people who don't read.

My colleagues have occasionally suffered through my vociferous opinions about the end of the Potter series and the 'meaning' of Snape, but even then I take care to keep myself in check. One of my employees in a gamer and he understands fannish obsession, but I think he'd be seriously weirded out if he knew his boss wrote slash.

I do have one young friend who's taken up writing, mostly fantasy-romance, with an eye toward publishing someday. I've been acting as a mentor and cheerleader, and it became increasingly obvious after we'd spent a lot of time discussing her work that I wasn't reciprocating. There's only so much postponement one can do before it becomes either suspect or insulting. So first I warned her that I wrote explicitly sexual stories. After some time had passed and I figured she'd probably adjusted to that idea, I broke down and explained the concept of fan fiction to her. Then I explained the concept of slash. Then I told her I read and wrote stories set in the world of Harry Potter, and that I was indeed a slash writer. She nearly drove off the highway. When she challenged me later (having heard me rant), "So, you write about Snape?" I conceded that yes, I did. We were in the car again, going to pick her niece up from school. She stopped at a crossing and ventured, "Sooo… who do you write him with?" And I smirked, "Guess," (which must have been a dead giveaway), and she shrieked, "NOT HARRY!?!" So I said, very smugly, "Of course Harry," and her voice went up an entire octave: "Oh my Goddddddd," and off she went into gales of laughter.

She's been equal parts curious and nervous ever since. I finally entrusted her with my online pseudonym and pointed her to "No Room for the Weak," since it's the shortest and least erotic of my fics. I also gave her the link to "The White Road," and I suspect she may have read it - or tried to - but she's never admitted as much.

That was enough of a coming-out process for me as a fanfic writer. I'm not ashamed of it, and I'm only uncomfortable with the disconnect between how people perceive me and the fact that I write shameless NC-17 stories. If I had to face censure, I'd undoubtedly rise up in wrath and argue my case without a shred of regret or doubt. Because there's just too damn much talent and laughter and pleasure and connection in this community for me to let anyone who's had no personal experience of fandom mock or scorn it.

Whoa, sorry, that got awfully tl;dr.
albalark
Sep. 17th, 2010 03:30 am (UTC)
They'd be horrified by the smut and by the fact that it's based on children's books (which makes it all the more pervy, you understand).

I guess I have a more open-minded set of family and friends - smut isn't considered shocking - though they're not so fond of slash. ::lol!:: As for the 'children's book' issue, as I pointed out to my colleague yesterday, past the first 3 books, they're no longer for the grade school set. They grew up with their initial audience (and all the better for it, for the most part). And, it's not as if children are reading the fan fic, anyway, so I don't see how anyone could consider explicit stories written by adults for adults to be pervy.

They would also think I was throwing my time and 'talent' away by writing derivative works, although none of them ever read my attempts at original fiction anyway.

That is truly sad . . . anyone who reads your beautiful prose would know you aren't throwing *anything* away. And, while you may be starting off with someone else's characters, there is nothing derivative about what you write - you are one of the most original writers in the fandom, and that's saying something considering all the talented people who have taken up the pen here. It must be very painful to have to close off a part of yourself that has so much meaning to you from the people you love. :-(

but I think he'd be seriously weirded out if he knew his boss wrote slash.

I know I weirded out my youngest brother the first time I sent him to read a fan fiction story that was slash! He got over it, though he would rather not read m/m, all things being equal. My husband is unbothered by the fact that I find sex between men hot.

I broke down and explained the concept of fan fiction to her.

I find it odd that anyone who both reads and writes would need that concept explained to them. :-D Who hasn't wanted a favorite story to keep going, or to change something about a story they didn't like? And it's not just fantasy novels where this happens - bookstore shelves are full of Pride and Prejudice fan fiction (that isn't half as good as anything you've written - ick!) that people actually pay large sums to read.

Then I explained the concept of slash. Then I told her I read and wrote stories set in the world of Harry Potter, and that I was indeed a slash writer. She nearly drove off the highway. When she challenged me later (having heard me rant), "So, you write about Snape?" I conceded that yes, I did. We were in the car again, going to pick her niece up from school. She stopped at a crossing and ventured, "Sooo… who do you write him with?" And I smirked, "Guess," (which must have been a dead giveaway), and she shrieked, "NOT HARRY!?!" So I said, very smugly, "Of course Harry," and her voice went up an entire octave: "Oh my Goddddddd," and off she went into gales of laughter.

*That's* a discussion I would have loved to have overheard!! ::gggg::

I also gave her the link to "The White Road," and I suspect she may have read it - or tried to - but she's never admitted as much.

I don't think she's read it, and the reason I say so is that that you wouldn't have been able to miss the gobsmacked look on her face if she had. If she has *any* clue about what makes writing worth reading, she will be able to recognize The White Road for the work of genius it is. Hell, I didn't even *like* Snarry and I was too enthralled by one of the most ravishing stories I have ever read *period* to even remember that!

I'm only uncomfortable with the disconnect between how people perceive me and the fact that I write shameless NC-17 stories.

It's they who have the problem, not you.

If I had to face censure, I'd undoubtedly rise up in wrath and argue my case without a shred of regret or doubt. Because there's just too damn much talent and laughter and pleasure and connection in this community for me to let anyone who's had no personal experience of fandom mock or scorn it.

Not to mention passion - which is one of the things that drew me here! If something moves you to the point that it inspires you to create beautiful things, it's worth acknowledging and celebrating and defending. No apologies needed! :-)
dickgloucester
Sep. 16th, 2010 09:23 pm (UTC)
My family knows. They think I am daft spending time on something so pointless and trivial. But then my family doesn't go in for being genuinely enthusiastic about anything - such an emotion is probably a sign of an unstable personality.

However, my sister and my mother have both read and liked my stories. My mother said I was wasting time writing fanfic and wants me to write something 'real'. *screams a bit*

No, I am not ashamed of it. I'm irritated that people think I ought to be, and find me embarrassing.

Oh dear. You seem to have caught me in ranty mood. Sorry.
albalark
Sep. 17th, 2010 04:58 am (UTC)
'Pointless' and 'trivial' are two words I'd *never* use to describe your writing Dickie! ::glowers disapprovingly at anyone who'd dare call it so::

My mother said I was wasting time writing fanfic and wants me to write something 'real'.

I'm sure your mother meant that as a compliment, even if it seemed backhanded. :-P


Don't feel as if you have to apologize for ranting - I'm good with being a sounding board. :-) ::hugs::
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