THANK YOU, MURDERATI!

by J.D. Rhoades

I honestly don’t remember if it was JT, or Pari, or both who asked me to join Murderati back in 2007. I’d met and liked them both at various conferences. When I saw the roster of other people who’d been posting there or who’d be joining at the same time, I saw some other names that pleased me. These were folks who I’d met, hung out with, had a great time with, and—this is the important part—whose work I liked and admired. Pari and JT , of course, but also people like Louise Ure, Toni McGee Causey, Alexandra Sokoloff and Robert Gregory Browne. So I said sure, that’d be cool, especially since I would only be doing one every two weeks.

Great, I was told. You’re following Ken Bruen.

Say what?

You’ve got to understand something. I fucking idolized Ken Bruen. I still do. THE GUARDS knocked me flat on my ass, and I quickly gobbled up everything of his I could get my hands on (and still do). He is an amazing writer, a master, a true poet of this genre, as well as a heck of a nice guy. I knew there was no way in hell anyone was going to want to read a thing I wrote if it followed one of Ken’s amazing pieces.

It got worse. I started looking at who else I was going to be blogging with, reading some of the ones I hadn’t already read, and I realized: ALL of these people were better writers than I was. They were more talented, more disciplined, wittier, better looking, and more successful.

Damn, I thought, I am in WAY over my head.

But it’s like playing music, or acting, or sex: you get better at it by doing it with people way better than you. And as I read my fellow ‘Rati’s books and blog posts, I learned a lot, and not just about writing. I still refer people who ask me about story structure to Alex’s excellent posts on the subject, and I have her story elements checklist saved to a file on my computer that I often pull up. Rob did a great post on free tools for writers that’s still very useful. Tess’s posts, including this one, taught me a lot about fan expectations and how one who deals with the reading public should have a thick skin. Toni’s blog about motherhood, Dear God, the Stick Turned Blue, made me laugh and brought tears to my eyes in the same post. Cornelia’s unflinchingly honest entry about clinical depression and better living through chemistry, Why I Say Yes to Drugs, was a source of inspiration and comfort to me. And that’s just a small sample. Reading those posts, and dozens of other ones by the smart, funny, informed, fearless, honest, and incredibly talented writers here made me want to write, and write better, because it was such an honor to be in company like this.

And I can’t forget the commenters here. Not just my fellow ‘Rati, who showed up to offer their own perspectives in comments, but the people like Jake, Reine, Kaye, Patti, Dave, David, Stacey, Bryon, Tom, Christa, Shizuka, Judy, K.D., R.J., B.G., P.K. the Bookeemonster, Stephen, other Stephen, and so many others who offered support, advice, and jokes to all of us. (I have to pause here to mention commenter and fellow writer Wilfred Bereswill, who left us, suddenly and far too soon, a few weeks ago. RIP, sir.)

The decision to leave regular blogging here was a tough one, and I put it off for a long time. I still miss it sometimes, but the reasons I set out here for leaving are still there.

So thank you, my fellow writers at Murderati. Thank you, readers who took the time and energy to share your ideas, knowledge and support with us. You made me sharper. You made me work harder. You made me braver.

You made me better.

11 thoughts on “THANK YOU, MURDERATI!

  1. Alexandra Sokoloff

    What a great retrospective, Dusty. I loved being reminded of those greatest hits. And I think that all of us felt that "in over my head" feeling about the other authors. It made us all better at the beginning. But I agree – it was the backbloggers that KEPT us striving to be better.

  2. JT Ellison

    Dusty, I've so missed you. It's great to see you back here. Thank you for reminding us what the spirit of Murderati was all about.

  3. Kaye Barley

    J.D. Rhoades – it was always only in your own mind that you weren't as much, as talented, as everything, as each of these people you've mentioned. You have no idea, obviously, how very much you've touched so many. Honey, you just rock.

  4. KDJames

    JD, it's hard to believe you ever felt "less than" — I agree with Kaye on that. I always looked forward to your posts and it's so good to hear your voice again.

    But I do agree with the rest of this post, about how much I learned from everyone. Such a wealth of knowledge and experience was shared over here. In the posts and the comments. Yes, this place made me better too. In so many ways.

    Well, there was a lot of room for improvement. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I think I'm going to have to make time to go back and read some of the older posts I missed. Now that there won't be any new content. Sigh. That still hasn't really sunk in yet, even with all these goodbyes.

  5. KDJames

    Um, there's another comment from me. One in which I actually respond to the post.

    Am I the only one who keeps getting sent to the dungeon?

    ::sobbing::

    It's so cold and dark down there. The spiders' eyes… glow. I feel so alone.

  6. Jake Nantz

    Dusty,
    I would never have been here if it weren't for you. You answered an email from a wannabe writer who was a fan of your work. Hell, I just sent that email on a lark, thinking there's no way he'll respond. You were the first to show me how awesome and welcoming the mystery community truly is. Then JT, and Toni, and Louise, and Pari, and everyone made me feel so much a part of something, even when I was only where I was. Y'know, I may not be published, but I'm so much closer because of everyone here, and that all came from you being cool enough to answer a note from a fellow North Carolinian. You and Alex (who ran up and hugged me the first time she met me in person) being local (at the time) just made it cooler. I will always remember that kindness you showed me, and I will always have the friendships with the people here as a result.

    For that, more than anything else, I thank you. And for that, I guess I can forgive you for being a unc fan.

    And I hadn't heard about W.B. Bummer. He was a good dude. RIP.

  7. Pari Noskin

    Dusty,
    What an incredible treat to read your words here again. Thank you so much! I hadn't heard about Will either . . . so sad.

    What everyone has said here about the sharing in this community and the incredible warmth of Murderati, well, it's all true.

  8. Shizuka

    Thanks for saying goodbye.
    Your post actually made me feel better about Murderati ending — I clinked on the past posts you mentioned and realized that there's still rich stuff in the archives I haven't explored. So for a while, at least, I'll have those posts to read.

  9. Allison Davis

    Dusty

    But what about the sex? is it any better? Ok just kidding. It was always good to see another working lawyer could make it as a writer and do it well. I read your books because of the blogs and i think that's the point. That and all the other wisdom that you aptly point out.

    As KD says and Jake illustrates, we will miss each other. Thanks for being on board and alm your hard work.

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