In a lot of ways, the trickiest--and most interesting--part of running for TAFF has been the word limits. The ballot itself, most of all, which calls for a campaign platform of 100 words or less. I knew, of course, that I wouldn't win the race with those 100 words (my platform is actually 99), and probably wouldn't lose it there. But writing the platform was still difficult, and in some ways a valuable exercise. What do I really need to say about myself, in this context? What can I assume you know? What don't you care about? Does every candidate throw away her first draft? I'd better assume most of the voters have at least seen my name--a large part of why I'm running is to visit the people whose zines I've been reading and responding to, the British fans on my mailing list, and even the ones I've heard of in other people's articles. Martin Smith I know, but parts of Croydon fandom are fabulous monsters.

As a supplement and an additional ad for TAFF as a concept and institution, Andy Hooper offered us each 750 words in his new fanzine The Jezail, for a "fannish autobiography." I've never been any good at "tell me about yourself": when I join a new apa and need to do an introzine (which has now happened 15 or 20 times), I tend to provide some very basic information (like my address and maybe what I do for a living) and dive right into the mailing comments, letting the more interesting and complicated stuff come out that way.

Between the two self-portraits, I find myself amazed that I ever felt the need to pad school term papers. But everything has its proper length: what I need to say may take three lines, or ten pages. I understand why TAFF platforms have to be short, and why Andy Hooper didn't want to offer four people unlimited space in his fanzine. The formal restrictions might even have improved the work, by requiring editing. "Omit needless words," Strunk and White say: there's nothing like the knowledge that if I keep this word, another has to go, to drive the point home and make me ask whether each word is needed, and why.

A TAFF platform isn't exactly a pick-up line: it's more like trying to figure out what to wear to a party. What first impression am I trying to make? (And will anyone believe it, after however many years of paper crossing the ocean?) It's clear from our platforms that Victor, Ulrika, Tom, and I are very different people: in the Spring, one of us will get to live up to those 100 words, or supplement them, or prove that they're so completely off-base that British fandom will think they were written by someone else. (Ghost-writing a TAFF platform seems like a very odd idea--all of this year's candidates do a lot of our fanac in writing, and might be more likely to write a platform for a friend than to ask someone to do ours--but I can't prove it's never happened.)

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Copyright 1997 Vicki Rosenzweig.

Last modified 24 November 1997.