Not too long ago, my Twitter feed noted to me that I’d been followed by what I understand to be the Twitter account of one of the larger fan-organizations that has grow up around Robin Hobb. I’ll admit to being flattered by the follow (I post my thoughts on a number of things in several places–here, here, and here, among others–so I am clearly looking for attention, and I am just as clearly glad to find it; too, a major fan-group is a coup for someone else who very much enjoys the author’s work). But I also admit to being somewhat…concerned about the follow; my experience with fandoms has been…other than optimal, as I’ve noted before, and while it does not logically follow that present conditions will follow past experience, there is more to reason than logic. After all, if you see a wolf eat the last nine hands placed between its jaws, how likely are you to offer your hand as the tenth?
I’m willing to admit that my…apprehension about the follow is a result of my overall timorousness. I am a fearful person, risk-averse to what is likely an unhealthy extent, long accustomed to following rules because I am scared of the consequences of not doing so. And while I see others flout rules or look elsewhere when they ought to be enforcing them, while I see others act without so much concern, I know–I know–that if I put a toe out of line, it will be trod upon or cut off. I’m not one of Cinderella’s stepsisters; I do not think that my chances of a prince coming to sweep me away will be the better if I can fit my foot into a smaller shoe. In addition, people watching me, although I clearly want it in some ways, prickles me. I have been in positions where I’ve been…monitored closely, my actions subjected to constant review, and while I’ve not suffered such as much as many, it’s still not something I’m entirely at ease with–and fandoms, particularly the nerdier types, as I well know, attend to minutiae.
Some things, I might well be able to handle. I’ve moderated such comments as my blogs receive for some time, now, and I’ve seen the kinds of things that get posted. Hell, I’ve been getting written death threats since I was ten–and I’m not far from forty as I write this, although I’ve got a couple of years yet. I have received and earned no few insults, and I’ve gotten no dearth of “more constructive” criticism (some of which I’ve even taken to heart, if it can be believed). I don’t look forward to being subjected to censure and ridicule (again), just as I don’t look forward to being corrected (although I can accept it when I’m wrong; let me know the spinach is between my teeth, but do not expect me to be pleased that I had the spinach stuck there). But I can deal with them.
What I’m worried about, really, with this blog, with the other blogs, with being followed, with my wife and my daughter, is that I’m not good enough. It’s the impostor syndrome thing writ again and again, and while I eventually got over it in the classroom–for as much good as that did me–I feel an impostor in more and larger arenas than that. I am worried that I do not suffice, and I do not know how to do so–only how to stop being out where I can be seen or plow ahead.
I do not think I cannot be seen anymore.