Flashback Friday: A Life with a Voice

Today’s flashback Friday is probably predictable but I feels like it bears acknowledging and even celebrating. About 11 years ago, I heard from Rhonda. Obviously, that was nothing unusual but the content of our discussion was. You see that she had a new idea, one that would soon take on a life of its own.

Let me paint the picture. The year was 2010. Rhonda and I had been friends for about six years at that point and touring buddies for the last five. We had discovered that we had a similar touring philosophy. For instance, we very much appreciated partying before and after shows with many vodka tonics consumed. We also saw the band for more than a bunch of pretty boys but as super smart artists who made us think and made us feel. Soon enough, we found ourselves dissecting everything Duran we could. Beyond all of that, we also were so intrigued by what we saw at shows, what we read on message boards and what we heard when talking to other fans. It seemed that Duranies were just as interesting as the band’s music and videos. Yeah, soon enough our discussions also included the Duran Duran fandom. What made this fandom like others? What made it different? Why?

This is where our Social Science backgrounds came into play. Instead of just batting around different ideas, we decided to dive in and learn as much as we could. I think we read every book we could find at the time about fandom. What is it exactly? How does it function? We read general theory books and we read about specific fan communities all in the quest to understand ourselves and our own fandom. Soon enough, all this research became an outline, which became a draft. This first attempt at writing tried to explain what fandom is using examples from the Duran fandom. It was pretty academic and pretty dry but probably necessary in order for us to really get it.

Through this process, Rhonda came up with a wild idea. (Actually, I think her husband might have suggested it but Rhonda took the idea and ran with it.) Yep, that idea became this blog you see here. I remember hearing her enthusiasm as she listed all of the reasons that it would benefit us. We would get to learn more about our fan community, she said. It would give us more practice writing. Comments would provide feedback to our ideas and writing. Plus, we could talk about being Duran fans each and everyday! Who could ask for more!?! If my memory serves me correctly, I think I was a bit dubious despite all of those points being totally valid and right on. I expressed my big concern, which was time. How much time would this take? She reassured me that we didn’t have to write much, just a paragraph or two. (Okay, seriously, who was she kidding with that? We both can write a lot when we get started on a topic! This blog post is an example.) We never really talked about readers as I think we both assumed that we wouldn’t get any. Certainly, we didn’t talk about criticism or negative comments. Again, we didn’t think anyone in their right minds would read it. Most importantly, we never put a timeline to this. We never said that we would do it for a year or five or ten or now 11.

Of course, as you now know, we are still around. I cannot say that it has always been easy or smooth sailing. I’m thankful that Rhonda has always taken on the maintenance and creation of the site. (I’m not that good with technology. I know that she says that she isn’t that great either, but she is lying. She is and I’m always impressed with what she has been able to do.) More importantly, she has put up with me when something has not worked on my end and has shown great patience in getting it fixed with/or for me. Anyway, I’m lucky that I don’t have to do much besides write, video blog or brainstorm ideas.

Throughout the past 11 years, we have somehow managed to convince people to read. We know that some people read everyday while others check in just when something catches their eyes. Please know this. We appreciate each and every one of you, no matter how often you read. Of course, we have been lucky to have so many people throughout our tenure supporting us, either on social media, through comments on here, or even in real life. While, yes, we have had our share of negative statements, criticisms and even attacks, for the most part, we have experienced overwhelming positive responses. Again, speaking for all of us, we thank you.

In looking back, it is hard to articulate what this blog has meant to me, personally. I could be very academic and say that it has made me a better writer and thinker. But I could be far more open and admit that writing about fandom and my fandom has personally made me get to know myself better, which is sometimes super uncomfortable. It has also challenged my thinking, which is always good for me. More importantly and significantly, it gave me a voice in our fan community. As many of you know, I can be pretty introverted when you meet me in person. I tend to hold back in social settings as I try to get to know people. In many ways, I do the same thing online. I’m not particularly chatty as I often feel like I don’t have much to offer or to add to the conversation. I could have spent all of my time in this fan community as a quiet lurker. I could have felt pretty invisible (Ha! Go me for throwing in a Duran reference!) and unimportant. Gaining and using one’s voice is so important in all aspects of life that I think I’m just now figuring out. Sure, some of that has come about through support of family and friends along with therapy but it has also come as a result of this blog and everything that has come with it, including our meetups and convention. I may not matter much to this community but being a part of this has allowed me to be a part, which I will always be forever grateful.

Happy 11th birthday/anniversary to us (on the 13th, anyway!)!

-A

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