When I put out a call for people to ask me questions
in March chaila
said:‘I am curious about your online/fannish history, if you want to talk about it. How did you end up at LB and/or on Dreamwidth? Have you been part of other fannish/media online communities?’
Looking back, I’ve been online for a looong time. I mean, I remember dial up.
The first place I spent a lot of time was message boards – I was on this one called “Smile and Act Nice” for a few years, and I met a few nice people (although I was, as teenagers often are on the internet, a bit of a loser – may have deliberately started a flame war with another board) but I didn’t really find my
people if you know what I mean. As message boards started to dwindle in popularity, “Smile and Act Nice” introduced dedicated boards which were kind of like your own journal. I kept one of those for a while before I started looking around for other journal services and found Livejournal. The opening of “The Social Network” is such a trip for me – it feels like five minutes since LJ was huge.
Livejournal was a very similar experience to message boards for me – met a few cool people but didn’t really find my clan. I was running a personal day to day LJ while I was in college, then I added a book blog for a bit when I was at uni. That led me to look into the wider book blogging community which mostly seemed to be happening on Blogger or Wordpress back then (or at least a lot of the people I wanted to talk to were on those platforms). I remember it being very difficult to get people from other platforms to come over to Livejournal and to be honest it felt like being on LJ instead of the other platforms kind of wasn’t “done” if you wanted to be a serious book blogger. So, I moved platforms again – this time to Blogger.
I met a lot of interesting people through that blog and I started feeling part of an online community rather than just like the girl looking in. People could find me somewhere, so they’d engage in conversation with me and I could easily drop by their places all the time. I enjoyed hanging out in the book blogging world so much because it felt inviting and easy to connect with (it was a lot smaller then, especially the British section). Again, looking back that probably had a lot to do with the people I surrounded myself with. They really made everything feel so easy. I now know there are some established book blogging faces that would have made me feel less like part of the community if they’d been the first people I’d encountered. Instead I found this fab bunch of ladies to talk to.
At first I was more involved with the lit-fic/general fiction scene and then my interests (and my confidence) expanded, which is mostly thanks to a whole load of YA bloggers, but particularly my two partners at Lady Business.
I met Ana through her blog after I’d been lurking for probably a couple of years. In the end I just left her a lot of comments because I was pretty desperate to be friends with her. Her style of blogging and her thoughtfulness was something I wanted so badly to bring to my own writing. I’ve always been a fantasy girl and we also had enough similar taste in media that when she rec’d things totally outside my usual zone I felt comfortable giving them a go. I found lots of new things through her posts: YA – Ana was the one who brought me to that whole wonderful side of literature. I always say that if I want to be friends with someone I’m not classy about it – I just chuck myself at them and hope I stick. That’s pretty much how it went down.
I can’t totally remember how I found Renay’s blog initially – I think it was probably through a link to Nerds Heart YA. Anyway, I really liked that project and I loved reading Renay’s posts no matter what she talked about. Renay has this really energetic style that is kind of irresistible and she puts so much passion into everything she talks about. In my head I was just like – let’s hang out. But while I said above that I kind of threw myself at Ana I think I was more reserved when trying to connect with Renay because I was in a place then where rejection was starting to feel like the inevitable result of trying to make friends too enthusiastically. Saying that, I probably did still talk to her a lot because I can’t really help myself.
Renay is the one who encouraged me to move to Dreamwidth. Blogger was going through a Google buy out and it felt like the right time to be moving platforms again. I’d used Wordpress elsewhere and knew it just wasn’t the tool for me (it seems to have a lot of formatting kinks, especially around line breaks and I can’t be bothered with that). Dreamwidth reminded me a lot of the ease of LJ – if you know a few bits of simple code you can get by. So, I let Renay talk me around quite easily and I shifted everything across (which is why my older posts have some images issues). I think it surprised her how fast I moved! I haven’t really looked back since, even if it was initially hard to get none DW people to come say ‘Hi!’ at my new place.
The way that I ended up on Lady Business – I think it was kind of through a mis-understanding initially? Feel free to correct me ladies, but I seem to remember Renay proposed a co-blog after an initial idea of an SFF recs mailing list fell through. She thought I was really tight with Ana and Ana thought I was really close with Renay when really I was just starting to become friends with both of them through comment chat. All of a sudden there’s the potential for us to run a co-blog together. Rlly, is the girl who jumps on friends going to turn down that kind of offer from two of her favourite bloggers? Oh no, I was on
As for other media and fannish communities I’m afraid book blogging was my first. I do sometimes feel like such a newbie even though I’ve been book blogging for something like six years and obviously I was around on the internet before then. It always seems like everyone else was searching out their fandom corners way before me. Now, I’m a little bit afraid of other media fandom communities tbh (music circles especially). They just seem so serious and a little bit terrifying, although I’m sure that’s more to do with being an outsider than their actual composition. I suspect once you find your people in a section of media fandom everything seems less strict and you start to develop your own rules no matter what the wider community tries to enforce. I should probably dip my toe in other circles because I’m sure there are lots of exciting discoveries I could make, but as book bloggers have started to diversify and talk about other interests and I’ve found some random connections in different fandoms just by link hopping I just haven’t found the motivation to go and scope out whole new areas.