My Fans, All Two Of You

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017-09-02 12:00:00 No comments


Steve and I were talking about the way Blizzard has cultivated an absolutely frothing level of devoting in the fans for Overwatch. It's to the point where a character that is only shown in passing on a poster suddenly inspires fanart and cosplay.

MENTAL EXERCISE FOR THE READER: You have just created something that inspires this level of fervent response from your fans. How do you feel about it?

MENTAL EXERCISE FOR THE READER #2: Did you automatically assume that response was positive?

I don't have a big fanbase. There's a lady I know in Alaska (I think she's still there, at least) who is a massive fan of Flight Of The Vajra. There's friends, and friends of friends, and some of the folks who hooked up with me at conventions.

It's a small pool of people, and it's small by design.

I've talked before about how this is both a boon and a bust. It's a boon because it means I don't have to worry about disappointing zillions of people by saying one word wrong. I don't lose a lot of sleep wondering if I'm going to wake up and find beheaded rubber chickens hitting my front door or what have you. The fact that the circle is as small as it is tends to mean most of the people in it are not loonies, and that if they are, it's easy to distance myself from them.

The bust is in that I don't get much in the way of feedback. Sometimes you want to know that what you're doing isn't terminally stupid or horribly offensive. But then again, if the pool of folks you've cultivated is a good one, they'll tell you — and they tend to do these things in a much more controlled, private, polite way than if you're a "name" of any kind.

I also don't make much money, if anything, from this work. But I never set out to do this stuff because I thought I could make a full-blown way of life out of it. Okay, small lie there: I did, at one point ... until I found out I was already far better off, financially speaking, in the line of work I was already in. No point in trading up a good thing. I don't want to write as a full-time job, because then I turn something I love into a duty, and I yoke my financial success to the fickleness of peoples' tastes. Bad ideas all around.

Also, I keep coming back to the whole notion of how much responsibility you want to assume through your creative work. I'm not crazy about the idea of tons and tons of people suddenly latching onto something I've done. For one, if they do so, it's not mine anymore but theirs — although I've been cultivating the assumption that as soon as I type THE END the thing in question isn't really mine anymore to begin with. The smaller the number of people who want to make it theirs, the better a chance I have not of wresting it back from them, but understanding what it is about the work they have come to make theirs in the first place.

I don't ask for much, and again, that is by design.