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What was the deal with my obsessive childhood interests?
August 25, 2013 6:06 PM   Subscribe

I was a raging fan of several different media properties as a kid. I'd like to read or learn more about individuals who are likewise obsessed.

When I was a kid--from the time I was about six or so, until my late teens--I would often get obsessively into something for anywhere between a few weeks through a few years. Usually, this would be a television show (The Super Mario Bros. Super Show was the first one--later, Space Cases, Alien Nation, and ALL THE STAR TREKS), but sometimes it was a band (the Beatles, for all of sixth grade), book series, or period of history (the Renaissance, after visiting my local RenFest). I would think endlessly about this subject, draw dozens of pieces of fan art, write stories, act out narratives with my toys, and consume huge numbers of library books on the subject.

This was viewed as largely negative within my family; my parents often commented that I was "obsessed," and to be fair, as a child, I was happy talking endlessly about the subject or reading or creating art solely about that and rather less into, say, whatever was going on in school. Some of these subjects had a quasi-romantic component--I thought a male character or person featured was cute--but not all of them. I struggled a bit with anxiety later in high school and was dealing with some tumult at home (death of a parent) from age 8 onward, but never engaged in classic obsessive-compulsive behaviors. I'm not entirely sure the behavior was even abnormal, although the scope and age of these interests seemed distinct from the band crushes of other middle school girls. I once spent several months drawing Andy Kaufman paper dolls and trying to teach myself to speak like Latka from Taxi.

I'm pretty zen about this now--it doesn't upset me, and I seem to have channeled all that research energy into a successful creative career--but I'm curious whether these behaviors were particularly abnormal, and where I can read more about all-consuming childhood interests. Googling hasn't been particularly fruitful--there's quite a bit of parents worrying about children genuinely obsessively counting, or very young children being hung up on dinosaurs or vacuum cleaners, but not much that has resonated with my experiences.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi to Human Relations (34 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is pretty widely recognized/often stereotyped behavior on the autism spectrum. I don't have a source for you to read but you may be interested in watching the character of Max on NBC's Parenthood -- Max has Asperger's and his "raging fandom" of bugs and lizards is a frequent plot point.
posted by telegraph at 6:14 PM on August 25, 2013


I think this is pretty normal among creative people. I'm reminded of C. S. Lewis's description in his memoir Surprised by Joy of his childhood obsessions with Norse mythology, Wagner, etc.
posted by zeri at 6:21 PM on August 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I did this constantly as a kid. Like you, it was often about media and culture stuff. In fact, my personal narrative about it as an adult was that it was my weird misfit way of starting on the path to a career in media. Because seriously I was the only seven year old in town who was obsessed with 50's sitcoms, and the only twelve year old who'd read every book in the library about the Elizabethan era, and, yeah, Trekkie, obvs.

You're a writer. People who grow up to be creative have to start by consuming a lot of other creative output. Also, I don't know if this is true for you necessarily, but I grew up in a non-creative family in an insular part of the US that doesn't much value culture, media, or the arts. I didn't have a lot of creative outlets or ways of getting close to that world. I couldn't just go to a museum or get an internship somewhere. You know?

The only other person I've ever met who hearkened back to my awkward obsessions was this intern we once had at work who was from rural Michigan and who did things like running a messageboard for Charles In Charge fandom. And, again, he was a creative person who wanted to make art/media who grew up in a remote area with little access through traditional channels.
posted by Sara C. at 6:22 PM on August 25, 2013 [11 favorites]


I think this is pretty normal for bright kids who know how to use a library (or I guess the internet)-- ask me about my prairie homestead phase, my medieval midwife phase, or my years-long crush on Taran the Assistant Pig-Keeper. You could probably pathologize it if you really wanted to, but on preview there seem to be a lot of us who are doing just fine making careers out of weird obsessions.
posted by oinopaponton at 6:25 PM on August 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


This was completely me. I obsessed over weird things that people didn't really "get," and obsessed over (usually male) characters that I would want to emulate or look like. The very earliest one I can remember, when I was very young, is borrowing every single Garfield comic book from our public library and wanting to sleep in a box and be a (male, apparently) cat.

I was also obsessed with comedy (funny that that seems to be one of your focuses too) and would watch TV with a notebook and write down every line of dialogue I thought was exceptionally funny and save it all for my "reference," and read them when I wasn't doing anything else.

I've noted several times that this resembles what people usually observe about autistic boys, but it doesn't feel the same to me-- it wasn't an obsession with airplanes or banks or animals like most people recall. It had a very specifically human, literary component.

I was actually obsessed with Conan O'Brien for awhile as a teenager, ha, and remember that he talked about hoidng fake "talk shows" in his garage with one of his young siblings(?), something that I've actually read about several talk show hosts now. So I think it probably is a pretty normal creative-type thing.

I grew up in a non-creative family in an insular part of the US that doesn't much value culture, media, or the arts

Me too. Other people seemed to have chimed in and said the same things I was trying to say much better!
posted by stoneandstar at 6:28 PM on August 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have OCD and I too have the "obsessive" desire to know a lot about a particular topic. This may sound weird, but the two in my mind are not related.

My OCD manifested itself in the classic obsessions: fear of causing harm to another, fear of making a mistake, fear of being embarrassed or behaving in a socially unacceptable manner, need for order, symmetry, or exactness and excessive doubt and the need for constant reassurance. My compulsions to manage these thoughts were mainly checking and being stuck on words, images or thoughts, usually disturbing, that won't go away. My fandom obsessions were and are a basic manifestation of the fact that I get really curious about a lot of things and have the time, energy and resources to devote to learning as much or as little about something that I wanted to.

That ability to delve deep into something and to appreciate it is a gift. I'm sorry that it was treated negatively when you were a kid. It is something to be treasured and proud of.
posted by tafetta, darling! at 6:29 PM on August 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh, also I think for kids that grew up before the internet, this type of thing was likely to be much more splintered-- random old sitcoms or talk show hosts or bit characters or seemingly arbitrary historical periods. With the advent of the internet, I think certain obsessions get more cultivated and mainstreamed (like the online Harry Potter community of yore). I remember talking to a lot of people on the internet who were obsessed with Harry Potter or certain specific musical theater, &c. Those were the big communities? Maybe.
posted by stoneandstar at 6:30 PM on August 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think this is fairly common for kids. My brother obsessed over bags and backpacks for a while, scheming a way to get a new backpack when his current one wasn't enough/suitable. Later, it was Oakley sunglasses. I was fascinated with barbed wire, and I was sad that the only library book on the topic couldn't be checked out. Neither he nor I seem to have such obsessions or fixations in adulthood.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:40 PM on August 25, 2013


Yeah, gonna jump on the bandwagon with this one. I did a lot of this sort of intense creative processing - writing or drawing or building things related to my current interests, following rabbit-holes of related information, consuming media over and over and OVER. I probably still have, somewhere, the boring-as-hell but painstakingly-detailed narrative accounts of my first two years at overnight camp. (Camp was definitely one of my obsessions, and it was definitely an escapism/emotional processing thing.)

In hindsight, it seems to me a pretty normal use of some creative talent and a lot of creative interest to filter the world. Building narratives around things helped me make sense of them, so coming up with stories for my plastic horses to act out or trying to figure out a way to fit myself into Jareth's Goblin Kingdom doesn't seem that weird.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:40 PM on August 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


I did that too, but what all of the things I obsessed over seemed to have in common was an idea of completion and balance. Mostly this showed up in the form of collections, where I would want to assemble every part of a thing and become really focused on that, make sure I'd seen every episode of a show, and the stories I focused on always had a sense of balance in their characters that I would try to emulate in real life-- the way that the three protagonists of the Harry Potter series balance each other, for example. I would hate to be "missing" things, especially when I played with things from a set and would lose one, that would really upset me. It also made me less likely to focus on things that I perceived as not harmonious or somehow disjointed (like Edmund in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe). I did tend to always want to complete books and series of books and tended to power through them even if I wasn't enjoying them or didn't know what was going on, and I hated reading or watching things with references I didn't understand and would read the thing being referenced so that I could be "in" on it even if I had no idea what was going on in the referenced material. (This led me to read Macbeth at 10 and I seriously had no idea what happened in that play until I reread it several years later.)

I know it's weird to describe characters that balance one another in friends groups as something similar to wanting an entire complete set of plush cats, but that's the narrative I've always had in my head to describe the things I obsessively focused on as a kid. I had the same sort of relationship with them that you do-- I could talk about them for hours, read reference books on them cover to cover, memorize trivia about them, etc. I am younger than you, so I did do this on the internet as well, and it's what led me into figuring out how to download mods for video games (via The Sims and the Petz series), fanfiction and fanart (Harry Potter), forums and roleplaying (Neopets) and probably a lot of other things besides.
posted by NoraReed at 6:56 PM on August 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


I did this too, and still do to a certain extent (although it now mostly takes the form of reading all the things about the thing, and less creating things about the thing).

I went to high school with Conan and he was a very nice guy.
posted by rtha at 7:00 PM on August 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


One of my favorite examples of having a passion like this is Yale historian Joanne Freeman's obsession with Alexander Hamilton, which began when she was 12 and never let up. I think it's pretty common for it to happen in spurts. In fact, I think it's a principle of progressive education that children should be encouraged to take up focused themes for a while, and hang everything (math lessons, reading lessons, etc.) onto one functional, meaningful, relevant hook, because that's just how kids learn best. I vaguely recall a diagram by someone famous (John Dewey?) explaining a thematic unit on "boats" like that. I suspect what you were doing was just the practical, ordinary thing that kids who like learning tend to do, and that's what a whole school of thought in education thinks ought to happen more, albeit with some guidance to work in a balanced list of learning objectives.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 7:03 PM on August 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Me too. The X-Files, Animorphs, Buffy, Star Wars. Some of it's stuck around - for the last three days I have not been able to do anything except read everything on the internet I can find about Star Wars - and I will say that it is much more disruptive to my adult life than it was when I was in fifth grade. Although it definitely stifled some of my social interactions and pegged me as the "weird kid," but I probably would've been anyway, you know? I did have some other OCD stuff that teachers noticed over the years - in particular, it was very important to me that things on my desk or whatever be exactly symmetrical - but it never really impeded me.

Looking back - and thinking about my latest work-stress-related binge - my most intense periods of obsession correlate to times of severe stress and/or alienation from my peers or family. I was very unhappy (bored in school, few friends) in late elementary school and middle school, and again for a while in high school, and again for a while in college - and those are exactly the times when I got really into some show or book series and spent 100% of my waking hours consuming that show or writing fanfiction or drawing pictures of it or whatever. YMMV, of course, but I've long suspected that my obsessions with fictional universes peak when I am trying hard to avoid the real world.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 7:08 PM on August 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


It seems pretty normal to me. I didn't focus on as many different things as you did, it sounds like, but I had an INTENSE Ancient Egypt phase. I read every single nonfiction & fiction book on it I could find, I did Ancient Egypt-related crafts, I had a themed birthday party, and so much more. In my family it was not seen as a negative - more on the neutral-to-positive side (at least I was learning something).

I totally still do this as an adult too - I will get really, really into something and spend 90% of my unstructured time with it. It's usually a subject I read about (blogs, message boards, books, etc) - but it's also been a game I play, or something else. I don't see it as harmful, since it doesn't interfere with my life in any way - I still work, spend time with friends, etc - it's just what I focus on when I am not doing something else.
posted by insectosaurus at 7:25 PM on August 25, 2013


I did (and still do, to a certain extent) this with fandom. I was a precocious only child who preferred reading to social interaction, so spending time in, say, the Harry Potter universe, whether it was the books or fan fiction, was way more exciting than playing Monopoly with the neighbors. It got to the point where Harry, Ron, and Hermione were as good as friends, and creating and reading fanfic was a good way to keep in touch with them, so to speak.


Nowadays, I like to think I'm more socially well-adjusted, but I still tend to view particularly appealing characters as my friends, and I like to imagine what Rory and Amy/Sherlock and John/CJ and Toby are up to right now. This peaks when I am bored, lonely, or both.

I have a cousin who got much deeper into his obsessions, which ranged from the Civil War (he dressed as a Union soldier every day for months and made his mother bake him hard tack) to Bob Dylan (grew out his hair, got chunky glasses, wore skinny ties, wrote folk songs). I'm not sure whether he was more bored than I was, or more obsessed, or simply more industrious.
posted by coppermoss at 7:28 PM on August 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't have a lot of time to describe it, but my experience in childhood/adolescence was similar, so I would not categorize your behavior as abnormal. I think I was pretty good at not yammering on to adults about my interests but I was both self-conscious and little too aware of adult expectations of behavior. My fellow female friends were of a similar bent. (I suspect you and I would have gotten on well as youngsters.) We were all in a gifted program in school, but I'm not sure that's the determining factor. I think when you are a kid you are more free to delve deeply into subjects that light a fire inside you.
posted by stowaway at 7:38 PM on August 25, 2013


Joining the chorus of me toos - and frankly, I still do this to an extent. The amount of digging I did to explore the depths of the Tales of Symphonia backstories and history is rather staggering, truth be told, and I've spent upwards of a week researching tattoos when I don't have one (nor have any plans to get one). I still write fanfiction too, although not as obsessively as I did when I was younger; I think part of it is just my introverted personality, coupled with how the subjects were so much more engaging than the mundane reality of life (I was a bright kid, so school and other stuff failed to really engage my attention; thankfully I'm now more judicious with my time because such obsessiveness can be really disruptive in adult life...) It is a form of escapism, but a pretty harmless one.

I don't mind this kind of behaviour, really - I was never socially graceful as a child, and picking apart fictional characters to find out what makes them tick, given their attitudes/backstories/whatever, actually helped me to understand and be more empathetic towards human behaviours better in real life. So I count this as a win, at the end the day.
posted by Zelos at 7:44 PM on August 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ha. I don't know if you've had enough of other people's stories, but the year I was eleven I needed to know everything about the movie and book Gone With the Wind. I read the (thousand page) book eight times, saw the (four hour plus) movie more times than I can count, and read all the trivia books and 'making of's I could order from the library. I can still tell you the names of the actors that played all the minor characters from the Tarleton twins to Bonnie Blue Butler. I also had an obsessive Elvis phase. This was in the early 1990s, just in case you thought I was normal.

I do remember from developmental psychology classes that the desire to comprehensively organize a large amount of information is a very normal stage of childhood development, though it is "boys'" interests you tend to hear more about: dinosaurs (at a slightly younger age) plus cars, comics, and baseball cards. I would say that kind of obsessive culture consumption you're describing is a combination of that organizational stage of brain development, plus a creative person's developing curiosity about the kind of art they'd some day like to make, plus a good dose of pre-adolescent crush.

Like you, my obsessions were in part driven by romantic feelings (towards men who would have been 50+ years my senior, if they hadn't already been dead) but it's more like that part of my brain that was gearing up to think really, really intensively and exhaustingly about my own interpersonal relationships was practicing by thinking about the relationships in Gone With the Wind. It's funny, but as I've settled into a serious relationship and stopped having regular crushes that take up all my attention, my consumption - and production - of culture has received a new infusion of energy. I really do think the part of my brain that has crushes and the part that writes stories are located right next to each other and occasionally overlap.

Finally, I feel like you probably know more about this than me, but do you identify the way you felt as a kid with the behaviors that distinguish the fandoms now? I don't know if there's a Gone With the Wind fandom out there but I also went through an X-Files phase, and it's astonishing to think that if I'd been born just a few years later, I could have connected with thousands and thousands of people on the internet who felt the way I did, instead of spending so many solitary nights clipping the plot summaries of individual episodes out of the TV guide to put into my Fox Mulder scrapbook.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 7:58 PM on August 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


So many resonant and wonderful stories here, guys. I actually came of age with one of the first waves of fandom on the internet--my X-files obsession peaked right about the time that the term "shipping" was coined, just a few years before Harry Potter fandom brought it all into the mainstream. But I do agree with the theories that internet fandom focused and streamlined these interests--maybe part of it is that one could so much more easily complete your library of theoretical knowledge on a subject if there was a fandom, a wealth of other obsessees.

By the way, the Lewis book seems wonderful. I think you would all relate to this. Please, keep the anecdotes coming if you have them. The odd child inside of me is pretty overjoyed to have found kindred spirits!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:24 PM on August 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, who the hell knows what "normal" is, right? However obviously many MeFites had similar experiences as you (myself included) so you're definitely not alone! And considering that MeFites on average are pretty smart and interesting, I am going to unscientifically conclude that this is a hallmark of smart and interesting people. I mean, who wants to be around people who *aren't* curious?
posted by radioamy at 10:25 PM on August 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


IIRC, Mary Pipher writes about this in Reviving Ophelia, as something very normal for girls to go through in the tween-to-adolescent years.

I went through much the same thing, having periods of being obsessed with the New Kids on the Block, the Holocaust, musical theater, various bands, the Baby-Sitters Club, and countless other things. So did lots of my friends - it never occurred to me that this wasn't 100% normal and healthy!
posted by lunasol at 11:02 PM on August 25, 2013


I think it has something to do with the young brain and its desire to learn, learn, learn. That plus the mimicry thing that we primates do. Youths look to find their place in the world, and as they mature, they try different things out. Diving in whole-hog is part of that continuum. They see a person or lifestyle that they like, and try to emulate it.

I think it is completely normal. Not that everyone does it, but that it is one of those things that lots of people do.

(It's also an ADD trait. We spend our lives in scattered thought land, so when we find something that is so damned interesting that it shuts all that down, we dive into it for the sweet, sweet relief of focus.)
posted by gjc at 2:21 AM on August 26, 2013


Hoo yes; reading about fishing and bicycles from age 11-16. I think I can still remember the entire ABU range for '82, and why the Falcon Black Diamond was the commuter bike of the year.
posted by scruss at 2:58 AM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


One more to say this strikes me as totally normal. I went through phases of obsession with architecture and spent countless hours reading about architectural styles and making an enormous Hypercard stack about them. So much time, when I was 9 or so, spent carefully copying floor plans and images out of books, PIXEL BY PIXEL, to illustrate my project, since scanners and Flickr and downloaded stock images weren't a thing yet.

At other times it was engagement with particular science fiction or fantasy authors -- I'd go on binges and read everything they'd written. I also had a phase of being really interested in magic tricks, and another phase when I took out everything I could find in the library about historical fashions and costumes, and another where I had a thing about fairy tales of different cultures. And then later I started working on a fantasy novel of my own and created a huge three-ring binder full of maps, timelines, lexicons, fashions, social customs, etc. At one point, though I was too young to drive, I collected brochures for luxury automobiles and actually wrote away to the local Lexus dealership asking them for literature. (They sent it.)

Likewise, my younger brother went through phases with coin collecting, learning various languages, memorizing short stories to perform aloud; at one point he had a frighteningly encyclopedic knowledge of all the Pacific battles in World War II.

Later in life, those habits served both of us pretty well, I think: in college I was able to get really, deeply into prep for term papers that interested me; and I now work in a creative and technical field where it's often helpful to be able to research something deeply and quickly, or intensively teach myself a new technical skill. And my brother acts semi-professionally and reports having a similar experience prepping for his roles.

Confession: I'm on a little bit of a Lego Technic kick right now. I am currently working through this awesome book and making model machines during my lunch breaks. Luckily, my husband finds this charming. But then, he goes on research binges of his own.
posted by shattersock at 3:56 AM on August 26, 2013


My family has a long history of obsessive fandom behaviour so while my interests were definitely odd, my behaviour was regarded as normal - but I was definitely not like my peers.

I taught myself to read and had various obsession throughout my childhood. Each lasted roughly a year or so, but I am still interested to some degree in these topics: costume/fashion history, archaeology, the poet Rupert Brooke, Regency England, early modern church architeture, calligraphy, Scandinavian folklore, the actor Matthew Modine, and crochet.

Probably tells you why I struggled to make friends in school!

In my undergraduate days I developed a small obsession with Lord Byron (sex on legs - even after all these years) but that was quickly turned into an academic interest for early 20th C poetry and art. Academic interest sounds so much better, mmm? Let's not forget that the internet had happened at this point and I obsessed over The X-Files too.

My obsessiveness waned after I turned 25 or so. I am still passionate about things but they no longer consume me to the same point.
posted by kariebookish at 5:05 AM on August 26, 2013


There is a reason that my username is dragon related; for the several years around when we got the internet, I was obsessed with Anne McCaffrey and Pern. Later, it was other things. I still do this, but as rtha says, it's more a read all the things compulsion now than a make all the things compulsion.
posted by ocherdraco at 6:44 AM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, when I was 10 I tried to teach myself Tolkein's elvish, at 12 I memorized the layout of the Titanic's cabins...when I was 19 I could have told you anything you'd like to know about the development of the modern bicycle...then came the Imagist poets and their various relationships, followed by women's fashion in the period 1880-1940...my friends are sick to death of my pet topics but READ ALL THE THINGS! But it sure turns out great when my job needs a researcher.

Regarding pathologization, you would need to experience significant disruption of your life or internal distress for this to be A Problem. If you are somehow very miserable because of it, then perhaps you want a diagnosis. But if you are happy, then proceed. You are an interesting person!
posted by epanalepsis at 9:28 AM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I just want to chime in as another one with obsessive childhood interests - just for instance, when Laura Ingalls Wilder had name cards, I had to have them too - and so I designed my own with construction paper and felt-tips. That was just one of my phases. I wish I had the internet as a child, but alas! I agree with the commenter above that pre-Internet "fans" (to lump everyone into a category for convenience) didn't have the opportunity for community and connection that we do now unless they were lucky enough to know someone who could introduce them to the SCA or something like that. If you were stuck in the suburbs like I was you were likely SOL.

Might I add, my cooking phase was warmly welcomed by my family as it saved my mom a chore that she hated!

I still have fannish interests and write fanfic. I don't think it's unhealthy, nor do I think it's a sign of autism spectrum disorder, or OCD, or any other pathology. In fact, I think it is absolutely normal for a bright, creative and curious youngster to have "fandoms" of whatever interest. Normal, normal, normal! If your childhood obsession was sports or cheerleading or Being Popular, you would be regarded as mainstream and no-one would surmise you had a pathology. Thankfully, I think bright, creative kids have more of a niche and are more integrated into mainstream society now; look at the Harry Potter and Hunger Games fandoms, for instance.

You got a great foundation for your writing career there. It is such an asset for a creative person to have intense interests, because that gives you more to write or paint or make music about.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:49 AM on August 26, 2013


Oh course you did that. We know who we are. Perfectly normal. Just don't expect those, um, 'ordinary' people to understand. You're fine.
posted by Goofyy at 11:28 AM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I did this too. Both with fandom/media stuff and other weird and obscure interests. Like the summer I was ten and felt I needed to make my own complete and cross referenced encyclopedia of Greek mythology (it took up about 7 five subject notebooks; still have it packed in a trunk somewhere), or when I became obsessed with 1950's rock and roll the summer I was 13.

To be honest, I still get this way, especially with fandom stuff, although I like to think that I channel a lot of that obsessive energy into my job. But I still find myself getting interested in something new and figuring out a few months later that my family and friends are kind of sick of hearing about it. Yeah, in my family too it was kind of a point of contention. My dad tried to be supportive I think, but I think my mom thought I was insane to be quite frank. She was always kind of critical of it. For what it's worth, I've been told by my therapist that I exhibit some symptoms of Asperger's, with my "intensely circumscribed interests" being just one of the symptoms she listed as being flags for that. But I don't think being this way necessarily indicates that it's part of any kind of disorder.
posted by katyggls at 1:55 PM on August 26, 2013


Another one who doesn't really find this strange at all. (Though I wasn't into pop culture as a child - big dork; no TV.)

But I really came in here to recommend a book, which I think you might like, if you haven't already read it.

When I saw this question I immediately though of The Wilder Life. Both because the author talks about her own childhood obsession and because she gets into more modern (i.e. internet-having, fandom-like) expressions of that same obsession that children and adults have today.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 1:58 PM on August 26, 2013


Wow. Reading the review of The Wilder Life, I see that my obsession with The Little House books was somewhat mild -- I only wore old-fashioned clothes when I could and re-read them constantly. (Still do, every now and then.) I did try to churn butter, but that may have been my dad's idea (Girl Scout badge, maybe?) And somewhere in the bonnet phase we were given a Little House recipe book, so clearly family was encouraging me in this.

It seems like the writing part of your obsessions is probably the start of being a writer (I didn't have that part). But wanting to read everything about something, build your own model castle, dress like Laura Ingalls Wilder or Amy March, yeah, I think a lot of us did that. I learned Elvish script from the Tolkien books when I was eleven, to the point of writing my diary entries in it, not because I loved the books (I've never made it past book two) but because one of my best friends was obsessed with them. She learned a lot of Elvish words too, but she convinced me to learn the alphabet so that we could write notes together in it.

I'm still obsessed with Buffy enough to read swathes of writing about it (the latest blue thread sent me down a new path that'll take awhile to read), rewatch it, and I even convinced my t.v. apathetic mom to watch it with me (we're in season 7).
posted by Margalo Epps at 8:55 PM on August 26, 2013


I did this, and I always figured it was because I was an only child in a small town right before the internet. I liked to copy things: star maps, the family trees of Greek gods, Garfield comics. I agree: it seems like it had to do with installing and then lighting up systems in my mind. I found the combination of order with complexity totally intoxicating.
posted by macinchik at 10:33 PM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I acted out Little Women with my Mme. Alexander dolls, and then wrote new adventures starring the March girls. I always wanted to direct, I guess.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:00 AM on September 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


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