I made the above banner way back in 2011 and couldn’t resist using it for this page! That’s also when I wrote a lot of this essay. I found the document sitting on a hard drive when I did a huge digital clean-up this last year. It is currently 2021, and everything in it was still relevant! I added and changed a few minor things, but it’s awesome to feel the same way about my time in these fandoms as I did 10 years ago. I hope I read this in another 10 years and still feel the same way.

I’ve been a part of two Fandoms: Harry Potter (2002 – 2008) and Twilight (2008 – 2015). Nowadays, I more casually dabble in Disney and D&D, but it’s nothing near as intense as the first two. My time in these Fandoms has given me so many wonderful memories and experiences. I owe so much to the inspiration these books have given me. Though my friends and family may call me a dork and tell me I’m insane, I wouldn’t take back a moment of it.

There were 4,000 people at my movie theater for the Midnight Showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. As I sat there, one amongst thousands, I suddenly felt a desire to tell each and every one of them how Harry Potter had changed my life and why it meant more to me than anyone else could imagine. How many others felt the same?

So, here are the top 5 things Fandom has given me:

1. Potterphilia

Be warned: I did not understand audio mixing when I made this, so it gets a little loud in the beginning. You may want to turn down your speakers.

Back in 2005 (my junior year of high school), I made my first ever movie – Potterphilia. It was shot on a tiny, handheld Mini-DV camera, edited using Window’s Moviemaker, and shown at a school talent show. I was thrilled when people actually laughed at it (or perhaps they were laughing at me, but I didn’t really care). Further, and both posted it on their websites (this was before Youtube was very popular) and hundreds of people commented on it. Never before had I experienced something so exhilarating (even if people were calling me crazy).

Five years later, I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Digital Filmmaking and Video Production. It all started with this video and I can’t help but think I wouldn’t have continued making movies if Potterphilia hadn’t gotten the reaction it did. I wouldn’t have my career. It’s nuts!

2. Relationships

I have met hundreds of incredible people online due to Fandom, and have formed relationships with some of them akin to that of the people in my “real life.”

Though those relationships are too numerous to name here, I will mention one. I met Dori, aka: xsecretxkeeperx, when I started reading her Twilight fanfiction. She quickly became one of my favorite authors – I even fangirl’d in my diary when she liked a banner I made for her story.

Dori and I meeting in person – 2010

We talked off and on in some online forums for a while, before I meekly sent her a link to a new story I was trying to write, An Introduction to Swirl and Daisy, and asked for her opinion. I was completely stunned when she offered to beta it.

Since then, she’s become one of my closest friends. We used to spend hours every week on the phone – it was effortless. I have always considered her a kindred spirit. She has since officiated my wedding and moved out to Colorado Springs. I get to see her in person several times a week! How special is that?

Dori officiating our wedding in 2019.

Friendships all over the world have come about because of fandom. 3 of Adam’s groomsmen were people he had met through World of Warcraft and played with for years. These friendships aren’t just “internet” relationships. They are just as real and tangible as those formed by meeting in person first, sometimes they are even stronger.

3. New Places, New Experiences

In January 2009, my best friend Kara and I went to New York for a week to see Dan Radcliffe perform in Equus. I was still in college, broke, and had no money to afford this (I think I paid for most of it on credit cards), but it is an experience I will treasure for the rest of my life. 12 years later, I’m glad I did something this stupid when I was 20, lol.

Kara and I touring New York

In November 2009, I went out to Los Angeles, California for the New Moon premiere. I waited in line for three days, sleeping on the streets and making new friends (hello, Chatzy Mafia). I was so sick. But it was worth it. I got Robert Pattinson’s autograph. Oh, my heart!

Camping out on the streets of L.A. for the New Moon Premiere

In July 2010, I had the opportunity to experience Comic Con and speak on the Twilight Fanfiction Panel. The whole weekend was brilliant – I got to meet so many incredible people and experience a lot of wonderful things.

San Diego Comic Con 2010

Since then, I have traveled to other places, like Vegas, Seattle, and Indianapolis for fandom-related meet-ups, and had people travel to Colorado. It’s all about a global community that loves the same things.

4. Graphic Design/Website Design

I went to school to produce videos, but my skill set reaches far beyond that. I taught myself Photoshop and Lightroom, and a good friend from the Twilight fandom helped me learn WordPress. All of this happened because I wanted to make banners for my fanfictions, and then I wanted to learn how to make good banners for my stories.

My very first attempt at a banner, all the way back in 2005.

Would I have ever opened up Photoshop if I wasn’t interested in making a HP banner for my fanfiction? Probably not. Or if I did, it would be very rare. The Fandoms I was in gave me the will to practice and learn design, in a way that school never could inspire. It’s something that was quite useful as I stretched myself in the professional world.

A compilation of some of my work in the Twilight fandom.

Banner-making led me to another great friend in the Fandom – ms. ambrosia. Not only did she patiently teach me how to build websites/blogs and use WordPress, we started running our own Twilight graphics website. The experience this has given me has been invaluable with my current job.

As crazy as it sounds, this website, DINKyouverymuch, very much exists because of these fandom experiences.

5. Writing

To express my angst as a teenager, I wrote Harry Potter fanfiction… really horrible, bad, angsty fanfiction. Sometimes I wrote by myself, and other times my best friend, Kara, and I would team up. We spent so many hours just having a blast writing together in high school. I took some AP classes in my junior and senior years and some of the details are fuzzy, but I remember that while I passed my AP US History class, I didn’t score high enough on the actual AP test to get college credit. HOWEVER, I was one of the only students in my class to pass the AP English test. I always chalked this up to all the extra time I spent writing with Kara, terrible and unreadable as it may have been.

Writing is one of those things that I will leave for several years and then come back to. That’s what happened when I started writing An Introduction to Swirl and Daisy, which ended up being tremendously popular. That’s kind of what has happened with this blog, in fact.

I may not be the best writer. I may fall out of practice and have to find my way back to my voice, but fandom has often been my muse – the thing that inspired me to start again. I am really grateful for the gift of being able to write and express myself when I need or want to.

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