For the Love of the Game

Related fic: Than Fade Away (post-VOY)

Just recently I read about SatireWire shutting down, though it happened half a year ago. After citing creative differences, the sole satirist went on to blame burnout, if not in so many words. Today I was looking through Daypop and found a blog entry that related the SatireWire grand exit to the perils of doing what you love for a living.

Burnout is a danger to fan writers, too. The legal tender of fandom is fame and feedback, and fans may end up writing long after the muse has gone because they can’t give up the steady paycheck. I’m not addicted to feedback (or I’d have died of the DT’s long ago), but I’m sentimental about the good old days when the muse was writing 200k epics. I keep hanging around, hoping that the glory days of 2001 will return, or writing the esoteric pairings or Borg-victory plots which still interest me.

I don’t mean the burnout caused by fandom wankery, though I’ve seen my share of that. I used to think I was protecting my fan self from RL by hiding my identity, but I realized a while back that fans are much more of a danger to my RL self than RL people are to my hobby. This horror story of late-night harassment is a prime specimen of the viciousness of fandom, but that’s not my topic.

Whether you’re a fan writer, a professional author, a humorist, or even a blogger, burnout is always a risk. The advantage of getting paid for your hobby is that then you get to do it at least 40 hours a week. Those 40 hours are a dead loss if you’re working some non-beloved job in order to make ends meet and support your avocation. I’d gladly risk burnout for those 40 hours, not to mention the fifteen I spend commuting.

I don’t think you can save your love from burnout just by saving it from the nine-to-five hamster wheel. All those BOFQ’s and burned-out fan writers demostrate otherwise. Deadlines or financial stress or fan harassment can wear you out. Maybe you’ll be too lazy to do what you love. Ayn Rand said it was the hardest thing to do what you really want. She would have been livid at anyone who suggested chasing your dreams was a ruinous and destructive way to think.

But then again, Ayn Rand was an INTJ. If you’re the kind of person who chases your dreams, you’re probably the kind of person who catches them.

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