Feeling really pensive today. Excuse me while I reminisce about days long gone.
9 came out 9 years ago today. Little did I know it would be one of the most influential fandoms I would be in.
Thing is, 9 kinda... saved me in a lot of ways. In 2009, I was in a really bad place; I was at a university I hated, I had a job I despised, I felt like I was floundering around with no direction. I HATED my life. I CONSTANTLY wanted to die. I can’t tell you how many times I thought about jumping in front of the bus I took to school on an almost daily basis.
9 gave me something to look forward to again. It gave me a reason to get excited. The world, the characters, the story, it all intrigued me in a way I had forgotten I could be.
My days on the 9 Forum are some of my best memories. I loved everyone’s characters and stories. I haven’t been that excited about OCs and fanfiction since Invader Zim. Sure, I’ve had smatterings of intrigue for fandoms here and there, but nothing that took over my brain the way 9 did.
17 started out as a self-insert. It’s why I was shy about partnering her with 6, because I felt “too old” to be doing such things. But god, it felt good to pretend for a minute that I would overcome my struggles the way she did when I had no future to look forward to.
It’s weird how rapidly the internet changes. I despise that cringe compilations are a thing. I hate seeing someone else’s art being publicly shamed just for drawing things similar to what I did, simply for wanting to live vicariously through your characters. Not even anything risqué, just for wanting to feel loved when it feels like nobody in meat space does. And if writing stories and drawing art of your self insert is what gets you through the day, then by all means, do it!
Chester’s kinda the same way. He’s less of a self insert, but I definitely created him when my future was uncertain. I was about to lose my job and spent 6-7 months worrying about immigration and scrambling to get freelance work. Truth is, I was afraid I would lose EVERYTHING. If I didn’t get my residency, I don’t know what I would do. Probably go back to wishing for death. Chester helped me get excited about MAKING something. He let me forget about my anxieties for a bit and focus on something positive.
Cindara, too. I never really paired her with Dororo, but having her as a source of venting when I hated the world helped me get through that period of my life.
I do tend to retreat into fandoms when life is going wrong. It’s why I get so happy when people tell me my art has touched them in some way, or when they get inspired to make their own stories with their own characters. It reminds me to keep living; to keep creating. I want to keep that feeling forever.
So... you know... be kind to people because you never know what they’re going through.
While the 9 fandom had it’s share of drama, the good outweighed the bad for me. I still talk to some people from those days. Maybe not on the level I used to, but it’s weird how 9 years can change a person. It’s so cool seeing where people are now. Some have moved countries, got married, had children, gotten careers, gone to school, etc. And I sincerely hope everyone from that fandom are in a better place than they were 9 years ago.
During the last dying gasps of my time being active in the 9 fandom, I finally started to get my footing in life. I’m an animator now: a goal that seemed impossible for me back then. I have a long-term partner. I was convinced I would die alone back in 2009. I live in Canada with permanent residency. That ESPECIALLY seemed like something that would never happen.
But here I am. I survived. Thanks in part to the people who took the time to comment on my art and stories, the people who drew my characters, the people whose characters I had a blast drawing. I only regret not having time to draw everyone’s OCs that I loved.
I know I’m not really active online anymore. I know I don’t chat as much as I used to. But it’s because I’m living my life. I’m happy. I’m happier than I’ve ever been. If I could go back and talk to myself 9 years ago, I would say, “Hang on. You are going to be happy again. Just keep making art.”