Sunday, May 3, 2015
Little Miss Crabby Pants Has A Come To Jesus Moment
The romance community as I knew it is on life support.
We are fractured.
We are broken.
Others have said this before. Others began saying it years ago. And I dismissed those others. Because I felt as long as there was a gasp of breath in my body, the community would live on. It would evolve, it would change, but the seeds that were planted would still exist. As long as there was one blogger out there, as long as there was one lone voice typing out in the wilderness - the community would live on. And then? Lots of stuff happened.
Some will point to the widespread use of promo and ARCs as the problem. Some will point to that the fractious political climate and social injustices in Real Life now spilling over into other areas that, in a perfect world, should be our safe havens. Some will point to things like Katherine Hale, the entire debacle that is the Hugo Awards, and the complete eroding of trust that many have felt in the wake of the Ellora's Cave lawsuit and the handling of the Dear Author disclosure incident.
For me, personally, it's not one thing. It's all those things piled on top of each other. And then, you know, I've got a Real Life to live. I'll be blunt. I'm tired of feeling like the lone voice in the wilderness when nobody really seems to care anymore. Now, to be fair, I think they do care. I just think for the sake of sanity we've all burrowed into our personal bunkers with a stash of caffeine, a fair amount of chocolate and a stack of romance novels that, ironically, none of us feel like reading at the moment. And that's the crux of it right there:
We don't feel like reading. I know I'm not alone, I see you on Twitter. We don't feel like reading. All this stuff? The what I see as an eroding of a community? It has made us sad. It has broken our desire, that one safe haven we could always go to - reading. You know what I feel like doing right now - other than nothing? Playing Candy Crush and watching Law & Order reruns. That's what I have energy for. Because when I look around the "community" as I see it today? I feel spent.
I'm struggling. Mightily. I know this sounds completely pathetic. We're talking about blogging. We're talking about reading and discussing romance novels for cripes sake. But there's no joy in Mudville. I'm full up. I'm tapped out. I'm fully aware I'm not working on a cure for cancer, or taking care of terminally ill children, or finding my life force sucked away by working a seriously draining career like social work. But when something you once took so much joy in is no longer bringing you joy - when you look around and all you feel is sadness and you think about what the word "community" should truly mean?
I'm a problem.
I need to get my head right. I need to find the joy again. I'm not sure how I'm going to do that. "Letting go" seems like the obvious answer - but it's hard to do that when you know you can't fix the problem by yourself. The community as a whole has to want to fix it - and from where I'm sitting? There are more than a few who seem perfectly content to wash their hands of it and traipse merrily along playing follow the leader. I want to rail. I want to point fingers. I want to be angry. I want to screech and yell and say to people, "WTF is wrong with you??!?!?!?!"
That solves nothing.
And at this point I've been around too long and have invested too much of myself and possibly planted a teeny, tiny, modicum of joy into someone's life by keeping this blog going for 12 years even if it was only in the form of a smile, or a giggle, or making them pick up that really awesome western to read that they loved when hey, they didn't know they even liked westerns.
Is the community dead? Not entirely. I catch glimpses of it on Twitter. I see echoes of it at Heroes & Heartbreakers (although, ironically, they are owned by a publisher - go figure). I see All About Romance standing tall with some infused energy into the Old Gray Lady of our corner of the Internet. Which means I can whine, be unhappy, be a cranky malcontent - and that solves what exactly? Nothing. All I can do is offer some advice. To you, yes - but mostly this advice is for me.
Find your community. Find your tribe. Hold on to your Twitter friends, your Facebook group, or even better? Start your own blog. Find your voice. Even if you think you've got nothing to say - trust me, you do. You don't need to be Big Business. You don't need to review or accept promo or take ARCs. You can write silly little blog posts about the illogically thinking Greek Tycoon hero you read about last night, or the heroine who actually, bless her heart, saves herself instead of waiting for the Greek Tycoon to do it, or how crazy your cat acts when she's all high on catnip. Yes, it's about what you say - but more importantly - it's the way you say it.
Find your joy again Romancelandia. Find the love. I'll be over here trying to find mine.