It’s hardly a secret that I’ve been looking for a “home” of some sort when it comes to fandom since Livejournal imploded and stopped being what fandom needed. I tried Tumblr, Facebook, MeWe, and my own forum spaces but not necessarily in that order. Nothing really clicked for me, no matter how many people I lured into those spaces. I like to think I really tried to embrace the communities that were haphazardly built in those spaces but they lacked something and even now, I’m not sure what it was.
Last year, around this time, we set up a couple of Discord servers (CrossRoads & Just Write). Just another experiment, I thought, as we started using the servers and putting out links. We moved the podcast to Crossroads as it was just easier (and free) to produce the podcast there with the chat much better than what we’d been dealing with elsewhere. That part worked really well, and over the past year, we’ve built a nice community. Recently, we’ve been adding specialized channels on both servers for different fandoms and writing endeavors.
It’s been interesting, and at times startling, to see the servers expand and grow as members join. CrossRoads has close to 800 members and Just Write has recently gone over 500 members. Both servers are active, entertaining, and supportive communities—we’re very invested in continuing to encourage those environments going forward. It’s interesting to be in a true multi-fandom space as we often, and I’m no exception, silo ourselves into specific fandom spaces. I believe this to be our detriment both as writers and readers.
Fandom siloing and in-group dynamics lead to isolation and, at times, situations develop that lead to abusive, cliquish behavior. In-jokes become a form of gatekeeping that established members use to gaslight and abuse new members. Most good people would be appalled to be accused of such behavior, but then they blindly engage in those kinds of behaviors in a… herdish manner. It’ll only be much later when they look back on that behavior that they realize what they’ve been engaging in snotty-mean-girl behavior. Or maybe they never realize it at all.
When you laugh at someone’s ignorance regarding a group in-joke or an event they weren’t present for and act like they’re not entitled to be a part of it, then you’re being a real asshole, and that’s the truth. Don’t be an asshole.
CrossRoads is our social/fandom server, and it’s my hope that it will be a place of welcome where we make friends and support each other through our mutual dismay over whatever fandom nonsense has happened. It’s just it’s really nice to have a place to bitch about the things that disappoint us and it’s also pretty damn great to have a place to celebrate what makes us happy as well.
Just Write is a workspace. We write, discuss craft, bitch about writing, bitch about not writing, hold each other accountable, conduct writing sprints, and share a truly creative space. Sharing a space with a group of writers who share your struggles, failures, and successes is the kind of priceless experience you really can’t buy no matter what anyone tells you. Writing retreats and conferences try to sell you these connections but it’s been my experience that they often fall short of meeting the expectations they try to build up.
I often say that writing is an isolating endeavor. That’s true enough, we are often alone in our heads with the characters we create and the worlds we build. Being a writer before the Internet really took off was truly isolating in a way that, at the time, didn’t bother me. When I needed to know something, I took myself off to the library and dived into a card catalog, then I would spend the afternoon searching for the books I’d put on my list.
Finding out the smallest details could take hours, honestly. If I needed to know how long it would take to fly from New York to Dallas—well, let’s just say I went through the motions of booking a flight more than once before “changing my mind” just short of offering up a credit card and AAA was a great place to get road maps. Now with a few clicks of my mouse, Google will offer up all those details in just a few moments.
The Internet has changed the way we research, the way we socialize, and the way we meet people. It’s no wonder, I suppose, that it would change the way I write. The last time my connection went down, I was left adrift and within a half-hour, I was stymied with the fact that I couldn’t use Google to find out how long the year was on Mars. I tried to ask Alexa and she helpfully let me know she didn’t have an Internet connection. Googling on my phone sucks ass, by the way, but I did it. It felt primitive as fuck. The web has spoiled my ass rotten.
Thank fuck the library doesn’t have a card catalog in public anymore—I’ve already forgotten how to fucking use that thing.