Then I went in to the optometrist, and it was immediately clear to everyone involved that my new contacts were not what they ought to be. So they're ordering me another pair, and those will show up "this week" according to the optometrist, which may mean next week, but at least they're on their way. I don't have a specific time to plan around, but I can schedule this appointment around other plans whenever it happens. So yay for that.
I picked up a Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market. I believe the usage is incorrect in this title, because I believe the markets apply to more than one writer and more than one illustrator. But if they only apply to one, I hope it's me. markgritter assures me that I should not, in fact, return it to Barnes and Noble and apply to be someone's secretary or God forbid go back to nuclear physics. So I press onwards.
I read a lot while my back was making me miserable, and yes, I know, you're reeling from the shock of it. Poor dears. Anyway, reading Moonwise got me thinking about how I have to be grateful to Mercedes Lackey. Moonwise, you see, seems to me to be a very genre-y book. It reminded me of a dozen different things. It made me want to reread a dozen different things. I have heard praises sung of interstitiality -- and in fact I love some works that get called interstitial -- but Moonwise seemed to me to be thoroughly stitial. Rooted in its genre. Able to make me think of Lord Dunsany and alecaustin and pameladean and Charles de Lint and T.H. White and all sorts of other not-immediately similar writers. It isn't all that referential to other books in its genre, but it feels to me that it's connected to other books in its genre.
And I suddenly remembered when I first became aware of the concept of a fandom -- not even an organized fandom, really. Just that idea that people who feel very strongly about the same books as one does might feel very strongly about some other things in common as well. And might do something about it. Together, even. I was 12. I was reading one of Mercedes Lackey's urban fantasy novels, and the main characters watch "The Princess Bride" on their date and listen to some Jethro Tull, and it just hit me: there might be others out there. There might be people for whom my loved and familiar things were their loved and familiar things, instead of the strange things that made their parents look at me funny. There might be people who wanted to approach strange things in the same way as I did, or at least in congruous ways. And it might be related to the books we read in common.
Holy crap, said my twelve-year-old brain.
Now, I realize that "The Princess Bride" is not, shall we say, the most removed from the fantasy genre that a movie ever could be. Nor is Jethro Tull the least geek-friendly band in the world. But that might be part of the point. When I was 12, I had my parents, who did not at that point preferentially read speculative fiction (though they read some of it, more than many people do). Their friendships had very little to do with what books their friends read. We talked about books inside the family, not outside it. And when I was 12, when I was reading whatever Mercedes Lackey novel it was, I was just starting to have a scottjames. But he and I were reading different trashy teen fantasies at that point. We didn't have a lot of common reference points. What we had was sort of an approach. Hmmm, said twelve-year-old brain. Maybe that'll be enough.
And it was, sort of. It was enough for Scott and me, certainly. It was enough that when the next Mercedes Lackey book I bought had an address in the back for a newsletter, I sent off for it. I got pen-pals. I talked to them about books and about my writing. It started to look like I could keep living in the world where books--geeky books, at that!--were important, even after I left my parents' house. It started to look like I didn't have to blush and shut up when I made references to a bit of geekage. It started to look like I didn't have to care if I didn't meet some people's standards for what a teenage girl was supposed to be, because they didn't meet mine, either, and it wasn't just me. I wasn't alone. I could hope for friends on the terms and topics that interested me. I didn't have to learn to speak Husker Football as a second language. The things I liked could be a boon and not a barrier in making friends.
I still remember the incoherent joy at this idea. It's settled down now, sort of. All fandoms are composed of human beings, and all human beings are fallible. But fallible is such a huge step up from what I was expecting at the time that I was totally willing to take it. Absolutely.
Sometimes I envy fannish kids, running around with absolute certainty that their freakazoid child ideas will be fine with their parents' friends. But I don't think I'd give up that moment of revelation, for myself. For my potential future kids, well, they're stuck with us, I'm afraid. There will be no hiding that Mommy's friends talk on and on about books. It's one of those things that works out either way, I think. I hope.
Still, Mercedes Lackey. Haven't picked up one of her books in years, but this is why they're still on the shelves. What they did in my life went far beyond a rational assessment of what was in the books themselves. A lot of books can be like that, with the right timing.
And speaking of which, I'd better get back to mine.