I recently read a blog entitled, “Dear Fake Geek Girls, Please Go Away.” The idea was that geek has become chic and that, just like with other trends, there’s a level of poser-ism that accompanies any new thing. The author, Tara Tiger Brown, states that,
Being really passionate or skillful at something is not something you can fake; it takes a lot of hard work to be a geek. Being a geek isn’t something you so much decide to do, but realize you are after the fact. People who are obsessed with something often don’t even know it until others point it out to them, they are just doing what they like without thinking about the how or why.
This really got me thinking. When did I start identifying as a “geek” or “nerd”? (FYI, I don’t really go in for the idea that there is a distinction. For me they pretty much mean the same thing. Nomenclaturists take your debate elsewhere.) I have certainly been called these names by friends and bullies growing up, but I don’t think it was until college that I really embraced my nerdiness as an identifying factor. And it was even much later until I started participating in the nerd/geek community outside my own circle of friends.
So what makes me a nerd/geek? Lots of things. My nerd dance-card is full of stereotypical likes, interests, and hobbies. But I think the single most thing is my love of science fiction and fantasy. I read at least fifty books a year. I have collected over two thousand books in my upstairs library alone. My dream, since I was about twelve years old was to have a library with sliding ladders and a balcony.
I go to author signings and conventions. I’ve met Brandon Sanderson twice. I have spent time in an elevator with George R.R. Martin and I got to ask him a ton of questions. This was before his success on HBO, naturally. And I’ve seen Patrick Rothfuss speak about censorship and pornography at the Library of Congress. I’m officially his Fanatical Minion #3!!! Suck it Fanatical Minions 4 – infinity!
I love podcasts about writing and reading. Some of the better one’s include: Sword and Laser with Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt, Writing Excuses with Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, and Mary Robinette Kowel, and Adventures in SciFi Publishing. Also, I recently came across this gem, which may be my new most favorite thing ever:
One of my favorite pastimes is reading and following author blogs. I visit author’s sites such as: John Scalzi, Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, Brent Weeks, George R.R. Martin, and Jim Butcher. I also check out Laurell K Hamilton and Charlaine Harris’ sites to see what’s new with Anita and Sookie. Not only do I get the latest news from these authors, but I get a sense of participation and I learn about new things. I turns out there is a large intersection of what interests me and what interests my favorite authors. Whether it’s gaming, art, music, history, the publication industry, politics, or some awesome randomness on the web; I am constantly exposed to new and interesting thoughts and ideas.
I remember reading somewhere that C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were part of a writer’s group called the Inklings. I think that must have been an amazing thing to witness. Can you imagine sitting in a pub with them and their friends? Getting to hear all the incidentals of the things they were researching and creating? I feel the same way when I think about the artist community of expatriates congregating in Paris after World War I. I sometimes think, what an amazing time to be alive. (It’s that thing that Woody Allen was talking about in his movie Midnight In Paris. It’s a nostalgia for a time in which one did not exist.) But here’s the thing, we live in an amazing time too! For me, this means I can get online and witness the public interchange of ideas and awesomeness between authors from the comfort of my own home. I might not be able to afford to fly to Paris, but I can sit in a cafe in my own town and commune with the great authors of my time. I’m giddy just thinking about it!
This is what I think Tara Tiger Brown was alluding to. I’ve been excited about this for years, long before I ever called myself a nerd. Long before geek was chic. It’s something that defines me and it’s also something that often distinguishes me in a circle of friends who have their own unique and nerdy passions. I’m the book and author girl. Where Tara and I differ is that I don’t feel territorial about my geekiness. At the end of the day, I’m just me and that is in no way impacted by whether it’s cool to be me or not. Other people’s interests or lack-thereof don’t matter in that way. If they did, I would never have developed my nerdy-self in the first place.