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.
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.